Of all the surprises in Black Lightning's final season, few were as stunning as Jennifer Pierce/Lightning's story. Early on in the season, Jennifer, played by China Anne McClain, flew up into the ionosphere despite the protestation of her family only to end up overpowered by energy. Her loved ones were able to save her by collecting Jennifer's energy from the ionosphere and, with an assist from a device from STAR Labs, put her back together. But the Jennifer who came back was different. Now going by JJ -- and played by Laura Kariuki -- this new Jennifer looked and even at times behaved differently than she once did. And in the final episode of Black Lightning, there was one more surprise in store for Jennifer/JJ.
Warning: spoilers for the series finale of Black Lightning, "The Book of Resurrection: Chapter Two: Closure", below.
From the moment that JJ emerged, some little things didn't seem quite right with her as compared with Jen. Jefferson (Cress William) was skeptical from the beginning, but the rest of the family embraced JJ. Slowly, though, Lynn (Christine Stewart) started to have some slight suspicions after running a few tests and some of JJ's behaviors -- especially after Tobias Whale (Marvin "Krondon" Jones III) nullified metahuman powers -- hinted that something was amiss as well, especially when she returned to the ionosphere to recharge her powers and the energy there kept trying to reach out and grab her. As it turns out, JJ wasn't actually Jennifer at all and that energy was the real Jen trying to reclaim herself.
As the final episode revealed, JJ was an entity that lives in the ionosphere. A life form that has no body and exists only in the darkness there, JJ was envious of the lives of humans and resentful of Jen, who kept flying up there. She eventually "jacked" Jen's DNA and took over her life, albeit with a different body. Jen's energy remained in the ionosphere and eventually, she managed to put herself back together. She returned to Earth, squared off with JJ, and ultimately defeated her, reclaiming her life.
Kariuki coming on as JJ in the final season of Black Lightning was a product of McClain's departure. Last year, McClain took to social media to reveal that she would be leaving Black Lightning in its fourth and final season, telling fans that she wouldn't be in the full season. McClain did return for the series finale, though, something that showrunner Salim Akil told Entertainment Weekly gave them a chance to "throw a curveball" in the story.
"Just the idea of other realms," Akil said of the inspiration for the JJ/Jen twist. "The idea there's the Akashic realm, the spiritual realm. If you keep going up there and borrowing energy, how would someone feel about that? I thought it was just a great pivot in terms of bringing someone into the role that looked absolutely nothing like her. I wanted to see if I could convince people and the family that this was Jennifer, and I wanted to, just as people were about to accept her, throw a curveball because I did want China in the finale. And she was nice enough to come and she was just a joy to work with."
What did you think about the Black Lightning series finale? How do you feel about the JJ/Jen twist? Let us know in the comments.