The best part of having superhero powers, according to the Pierce Sisters?
Saying goodbye to your period cramps.
Where do I sign up?
Anissa’s trying to help Jennifer find her way out of her depression with a little exercise. (For the record, I hate exercise, even though I know it’s good for my mental health. But, if Nafessa Williams showed up at my doorstep in those spandex leggings, I wouldn’t turn her away. Just saying.)
Jennifer’s happy to say goodbye to period pain, but the real pain she’s concerned about is her pain-in-the-ass older sister. When is Anissa going to get back into her vibrant dating life?
YES. JENNIFER. THANK! YOU! WHEN.
Turns out that “when” is NOW. Right this moment. After an Eleven Episode Dry Spell (how did we ever make it through?!?!?), tonight is the night that Anissa Pierce is getting back in the saddle. And let me tell you, that woman doesn’t play around.
Anissa finds herself at a lounge bar with a perfect outfit, perfect smokey eye, and perfect glass of wine. She catches eyes with Zoe B, the sweet songbird playing acoustic guitar, and never lets go. She knows exactly what she’s doing; sleek, quite, powerful. She pulls the woman in. One step, then another.
She goes to up Zoe, biting her lip, fluttering her lashes, lowering her voice in that way that always makes me blush and look away from the TV. She asks, “So, what happens when we finish staring at each other?… I say we sit, talk, get to know each other for a bit. I watch you say goodnight to your last guests. Then, you sing me a song. Naked. In heels, of course.”
Just like that, Anissa Pierce is back in the game.
That entire scene left me a mush of my former self, so I don’t know how Zoe B pulls it together. Somehow she does and the next morning, after a presumed sex filled night, they find themselves swimming in bikinis at her private rooftop pool. Did you hear me say private rooftop pool? That’s right. Anissa sure knows how to pick ‘em.
Too bad Anissa has to get to class before it’s too late, and no amount of promised heels and pouty lips can make her stay.
She does, however, come back later. For a private party that Zoe’s hosting. They look amazing together, making out underneath some really spectacular lighting.
Which is, obviously, the absolute worst time for Grace Choi to walk back in all of our lives.
Grace is working as a waitress for the catered event (side note: how much money does this Zoe girl have? Is that what acoustic guitar pays these days?). She turns her head before its too late, but Anissa catches her anyway. She works that awkward half wave of “Oh Shit! My old boo seeing me with my new boo!”. Grace escapes to the patio.
Outside, Anissa stumbles her way into a weak apology.
“Ummm, How have you been?”
[… the withering silence of an ex-girlfriend planning how she’s going to burn all of your prized possessions like she’s Angela Bassett and the entire world is the set of Waiting to Exhale…]
“Ummm, look, I’m sorry I haven’t called in a minute. Things have been real crazy.”
“I can tell.”
And with that, Grace pushes past Anissa and back out of her life.
Putting Grace’s sad puppy face breaking my heart aside for the moment – this is not the tone I expected for the long promised return to Anissa’s love life. At all.
Anissa’s major love story last year involved grappling with the moral responsibility of her super powers while protecting Grace from homophobic bigots – heavy themes that were more traditionally in line with the series. It was an avenue of exploration that I absolutely adored. Comparatively, last night’s arc full of rooftop pools, private jets, and catered parties felt cookie cutter-ed out of Gossip Girl and dropped in the middle of Freeland. At my most generous, it was jarring and out of place with the narrative structure Black Lightning has constructed thus far.
It was also a damn good time. For a show with “light” in its title, Black Lightning’s most comfortable wrestling with darkness. Some of last night’s rollout was awkward, but it also infused levity into a show that takes itself incredibly seriously. Last week’s season premiere opened with the death of a young black boy and on-screen mentions of the abuse of enslaved black women. This week, Anissa made out with a hot singer and wore a bikini in the middle of the day. I’ll take my gasps of fresh air where I can find them. If I can get them while also deep belly laughing at Anissa’s hickie, so large it could be seen from Mars? Even better.
Zoe B’s introduction also provides an opportunity to re-consider what little we know of Anissa’s love life.
We know that she dated Chenoa, her girlfriend at the start of the series, with whom she shared a groundbreaking scene of television, for months without ever introducing her to her parents. Perhaps that’s not strange for some romances, but we also know that Anissa is incredibly close with her family. Still, her parents couldn’t even remember Chenoa’s name. Chenoa and Anissa break up after Chenoa finds Anissa on a date with Grace! Literally catching them mid bumb-n-grind on the dance floor! At the time I was willing to sidestep all the drama because I love Anissa so much, but stay with me, because I’m building a case.
Grace and Anissa date for a few episodes, getting close enough that Anissa saves her life, and then… they fizzle out? At least once after their final on-screen appearance, we see Anissa flex some of her mighty strong game over the phone, leaving one of those “Hey Baby” voicemails that had me weak at the knees. Ahem. Sorry. Back to matters at hand. Last night we found out that they haven’t spoken in months. No official break up or anything. Anissa just straight up ghosted ol’ girl.
Now, Anissa is dating again. Rather than rekindle her romance with Grace, she starts up a new fling with Zoe B! I don’t think Zoe’s going to be around for a long time. Something about that jet-setting, private party, lifestyle doesn’t scream the “life long committed partner ready to take on the struggle” that Anissa needs.
Your honor I present this dossier of evidence to ask you: What if Anissa Pierce has been a Shane McCutcheon this whole time?
LE GASP! Could it be? In each of the three relationships we’ve seen thus far, Anissa runs the same game. She’s hot, she grabs attention, she pursues, she deflects, she holds up walls and then… she bolts. There’s a pattern emerging, and it’s one in which my beloved social justice warrior Anissa Pierce is the exact kind of good-for-nuthin’ player you wouldn’t want your best friend dating. I’m sorry, but it’s true.
I also still love her and, given the chance, I would 100% shoot my shot like it’s the first act of Hamilton. That’s the thing about a Shane, you always know they’re bad for you, and still you can’t turn away. (Ask Carmen de la Pica Morales. She knows what I’m talking about.)
These are breadcrumbs! Maybe I’m reading the stars all wrong.
Maybe Grace is going to help Anissa grow out of her commitment-phobia. Who knows where our journey will lead? One thing is for certain, Nafessa Williams promises that this year Anissa “is a little bit more interested in the romantic side of her life.” I can’t wait to watch more of this cat-and-mouse game, already in progress.
Do you know who is less excited about Anissa dipping back into the deep end? Her father. It starts when Thunder joins Black Lightning on a mission to find Wendy Hernandez, a so-called “Green Light Baby” who was freed from the ASA’s pods during a violent incident involving the death of another ASA captive. Thunder and Black Lightning team up with Gambi to bring Wendy in safely, before the police can do greater harm. Oh, and that cutaway to dynamic duo putting on superhero uniforms for the first time this year? PERFECTION.
Gambi’s research reveals that Wendy was one of the original participants in the same Freeland Experiment that gave Jefferson his powers, meaning that she’s been held in captivity for over 30 years! It’s horrifying. She’s alone. She has no one. The last time she was walking this earth, Boy George and The Culture Club had a #1 record.
Wendy packs more wind power than Tyra Banks working the hair fans on a Victoria’s Secret runway. Out of fear, she’s wreaking havoc all across Freeland. Unfortunately the first time Black Lightning and Thunder arrive on the scene, she’s already long gone. They clean up her mess while bystanders cheer. Anissa grandstands a bit for the crowd, taking bows on top of police cars and slapping High Fives. Jefferson’s more than a bit annoyed at Anissa’s “smile for the cameras” approach to superhero-ing. I get that; he spent most of his life as Black Lighting on the run from the law. He’s always been more of a vigilante Batman than government approved Superman, you know? The hero we need, but not the hero we deserve.
What happens next is when I think he crossed the line. Black Lightning eventually does find Wendy, convincing her to return to the pods under Lynn’s care. Thunder missed out, because Anissa was busy making out. Jefferson gets one good look at Anissa’s hickie and hits the roof! She’s being reckless, he worries. Posing for pictures, skipping superhero duty to get hot and heavy under her clothes – it’s the start of bad news! Supposedly. (I don’t think kissing girls instead of spending another crime-fighting night on the town with Pops is going to be the reason Anissa ends up in harms way, but we’ll see). He warns Anissa, this is how you end up dead.
Anissa’s biting response? Pick a new song, Dad.
I have a feeling that this is the beginning of a new chapter for Thunder and Black Lightning. One in which they have to find a way to work as equals, or they won’t work together at all.
Elsewhere in “where do I fit in” news, Lynn’s having trouble finding her footing at the ASA. She made a deal with the duplicitous government agency so she could try to change the system from the inside, and now she’s realizing how dirty that system really is. Issa Williams – dubbed “bodybag boy” by ASA Agent O’Dell (black Hollywood legendary director/actor Bill Duke), because sometimes we really don’t know how to love ourselves – is turned over to Lynn for observation. Issa’s family has turned their back on him, so Lynn brings him home to have dinner with the Pierces.
Turns out, Issa’s super secret superpower is that he can make anyone tell the truth, as long as he looks them in the eyes. It doesn’t take long for the Pierce’s Huxtable family dinner to turn into an episode Keeping Up With the Khardasians. Luckily Jefferson figures out the real deal before it’s too late, though the background reaction shot of Jennifer and Anissa realizing how close they came to spilling their Lightning family secrets is hilarious. Jennifer befriends Issa with a little rooftop hang and some light teenage marijuana smoking; she knows what it’s like to be out of control.
Lynn’s left to give Issa awful news. His powers were formed artificially from Green Light, he was not born with them, and that means that his cells won’t stabilize. Eventually, they will break down. His only choice is certain death, or to be held in suspension inside of the ASA’s pods. He chooses the former – a short life reunited with his family instead of a long life alone in fear. It’s a choice no one should ever have to make.
Oh! And Tobias Whale is still up to no good! He’s killing off anyone who ever knew him and planning to turn the Green Light Babies into an army of super soldiers that he can sell in an international arms race. Yeah, because that doesn’t sound like slavery AT ALL. Khalil wants to get back with Jennifer, but she doesn’t forgive him for nearly killing her dad. Will things work out for those two crazy kids? *shrug emoji* Do I care about any of this more than I care about whose bed Anissa will land in next?
No, I do not.
Ok! That’s it for me! We’re 19 days away from the midterm elections! Grab a few friends and set a voting plan! Friends who vote together, stay together! (Have two free hours this weekend? Here’s how to find a volunteer shift for a campaign at your nearest swing district!)
Until next week!