Things started off wild and only got bigger in the season two premiere of Black Lightning tonight, culminating with a shocking moment that will change the relationship between two of the show's characters forever.
Spoilers ahead for Black Lightning's season two premiere, "The Book of Consequences: Rise of the Greenlight Babies."
Black Lightning has tackled police violence and corruption throughout its run, beginning with the first episode's cold open and rolling through to the first moments of tonight's episode. Through it all, though, the view of police has not drifted into hostility or cynicism, in large part due to the role played by Deputy Chief Bill Henderson (Damon Gupton).
Originally a supporting character for Superman, Henderson appeared in the original Black Lightning comics and in the TV show has been reinvented somewhat: rather than an older, white man who represents the system, Gupton's younger, African-American version of Henderson is a principled cop who finds himself stuck between corrupt co-workers and a violent vigilante who he hunted for years.
Tonight, Henderson finally put together that his old friend Jefferson Pierce (Cress Willias) is Black Lightning, the vigilante in question -- and he isn't happy about it.
"I think it happened kind of fast so I don't know, and when we think in the timeframe in the first season to the second season, I don't know if I had a lot of time to do it, but I think for story purposes to move things forward, he had to come to that realization pretty fairly quickly," Gupton said during a recent set visit. "I think there might have been a subtle hint at the end of last season, but it really is a big, immediate revelation that I was not supposed to talk about."
How will he react? Well, tonight's episode was a bit of a clue.
'I think it'll be very hot and hurt, that conversation," Gupton teased. "This is his lifelong friend, that's quite a betrayal. I would like to see that discovery get fleshed out, the lingering effects of the discovery in their relationship too late. It's not just clean, it can't be clean, and it just can't be messy for a day or a scene or even a week. That it has to linger, the trust issue. Because honestly, I don't know what he's going to do to me for the sake of Freeland, or for the sake of protecting his family or his powers. I don't know what I might have to do to him, you know what I mean?"
For his part, Jefferson does not know what to do yet -- and he probably won't until Henderson makes his first move. According to Williams, things are still up in the air for a handful more episodes at least.
"He's real conflicted. I think Jefferson doesn't fault Henderson at all," Williams said. "If anything, he is regretting that he didn't tell him sooner. It's putting the ball into Henderson's court, it's really a big unknown. I think we're halfway through the season, it's still unknown as far as, will their friendship survive? Because, again, these things happen, which is very personal, but there's no time to actually sit down to have a conversation. He's deputy chief now so he's got more on his plate, I've got the Black Lightning thing on my plate, I got the family on my plate, I got the job on my plate. And we have no time to really have this conversation and he's also … Henderson is coming to grips with it and so I think initially he's not even ready to talk. So we're still in limbo right now as far as I would hope and I would guess that we would come to some sort of friendship again, but right now it's a bit up in the air."
Even if there was time to sit down and talk, Henderson explicitly says he is not ready yet in tonight's episode.1comments
"It's not crisp and clean," Williams said. "I want our show to resemble life as much as possible. Life with just the fantastical part of superpowers on it. And when we do that I think that's when we're at our best. And that's what life is like."
Black Lightning airs at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW, following episodes of The Flash.