Black Lightning: Wallace Smith Teases Detective Shakur's Role in Final Series Episodes

At the end of Season 3 of Black Lightning, the titular hero lost a major ally when police chief Bill Henderson died fighting alongside him in the Markovian War. The painful loss of his lifelong friend sent Black Lightning/Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) into a deep depression, but also had a major impact on another character -- Detective Hassan Shakur. Played by Wallace Smith, Detective Shakur had been mentored by Henderson during his time with the Freeland Police Department and soon followed in his mentor's footsteps to ally with the hero.

While much of Season 4 has been spent dealing with the fallout of the Markovian War and other atrocities the people of Freeland have dealt with as well as the rise of Tobias Whale (Marvin "Krondon" Jones III), Detective Shakur has slowly established himself as someone that Black Lightning can trust and, as the series heads into its final episodes, Smith tells that viewers will see the detective forge a relationship with the hero that is very much in keeping with his mentor's and, in a sense, finishing some unfinished business for Henderson.

"His mindset is definitely to, in a sense, carry on the work of his mentor. And I think, you know, when you think of people grieving a friend or the loss of a friend, there's a certain level of passion that they had as far as finishing some unfinished business for them," Smith said in a recent interview. "I feel like that's pretty much his motivation, right? So, he comes to Freeland and he's like 'yo, where are you? We haven't seen you in a year' going into Season Four. And it sets the stage for him to go on this journey of finding Black Lightning. So, I think his mentality going into things would be like 'I need to do this for my mentor' but then he ends up finding out through this new chief of police and the different rivals in Freeland that there's a lot of corruption underneath a lot of stuff."

He continued, "So, I think every episode, they tried to show another way that he's getting closer to getting into that position that Henderson had with Black Lightning, and I think in episodes nine and ten and for the rest of the series, ten, eleven, twelve, and thirteen, you will definitely see that relationship with him and Black Lightning forge that unity that Henderson had with Black Lightning."

These final episodes will also see Detective Shakur dealing with another form of trauma -- something showrunner Salim Akil has previously said is the real "big bad" of the season -- with the corruption within the police department.

"I think the thing that Black Lightning does and that Salim does very well, he doesn't apologize for black people having the experiences that they've had in life. So, I think when you look at the justice system, whether that's state or local law enforcement, there are things that we see on the news, you know, sometimes we're like 'why didn't somebody stop that? Why didn't somebody tell their police friend, hey you know I don't think this is a good idea?'" Smith said. "So, I do think that is a part of his trauma because you see things where he's looking at the chief kind of with one eye, like wait a minute, this doesn't make any sense. Although he doesn't have the gravitas to stop her because she's the chief, it's these little offenses that he keeps putting in the back of his head. And I think that is what leads him closer to be like 'I need to have this relationship with Black Lighting.'"


He continued, "And I think without Black Lightning, you would probably see a more violent, explosive detective. But I think because Black Lightning represents hope and because he has a track record of saving Freeland, I think that's what stabilizes. We see that in the bar. He says as he gives his speech his experience that he's had personally with Black Lightning that keeps him tempered through the chief's crazy rants and the DEGs she wants to develop. And it's so cool because you're going to see these last couple episodes how they really lift all of those issues and bring them full speed ahead. And people will find out why the chief is the way that she is, there's this whole underground thing that if the series wasn't ending, they probably would have taken more time to kind of dig out. But I think all of those components are there for him with the trauma and trying to fit within this system."

Black Lightning airs Mondays at 9/8c on The CW.