8:15am PT by Sydney Bucksbaum
DC TV Watch: Cress Williams Breaks Down All Those 'Black Lightning' Deaths
Welcome back to The Hollywood Reporter's weekly DC TV Watch, a rundown of all things DC Comics on the small screen. Every Friday, we round up the major twists, epic fights, new mysteries and anything else that goes down on The CW's Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl and Black Lightning and Fox's Gotham. Note: Supergirl did not air a new episode this week.
Mass casualties | Black Lightning just raised the stakes by killing off the villain many expected to last the duration of the season, if not the series. Lady Eve (Jill Scott) was unceremoniously and unexpectedly killed during this week's hour. Tobias had Lady Eve and her employees killed using guns that shot electrical surges so that Black Lightning/Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) would be blamed. The public had no idea that local businesswoman Lady Eve was the head of Freeland's underground criminal organization, making it look like the once-beloved vigilante went rogue and killed innocent people. "I was shocked," Williams says of the decision to kill off Lady Eve so early.
Lady Eve wasn't the only major casualty in this week's episode. Before she was killed, she had Gambi (James Remar) don his own vigilante uniform to carry out a hit on Tobias' right-hand man Joey Toledo (Eric Mendenhall) in a bid to send a message: stay in line or you're next. Losing his longtime associate and enforcer sent Tobias over the edge and out for blood. And in a shootout with Black Lightning, Tobias' sister Tori (Edwina Findley) was caught in the crossfire and died while Tobias was shot but dragged away to safety. "If you’re not afraid to kill people off, it raises the stakes," Williams says of losing so many major characters in one fell swoop. "Sometimes you watch shows where you can never really sit on the edge of your seat because you’re like, 'I know they’re not going. I know they’re not dying.' I was sad to see [Scott] go, but also at the same time, our show is a bit quirky, so we always jokingly say that nobody’s really dead necessarily."
That couldn't be more of an understatement, as the final moments of the episode took the formerly grounded series (metahuman powers aside) and shot it into the magical/mystical realm. Lala (William Catlett), killed by Tobias back in the second episode of the series, suddenly came back to life in a motel room. Standing over him was LaWanda (Tracey Bonner), who Lala had killed earlier, also looking very much alive. "Do you believe in the resurrection, Latavius?" she asked him before turning into white smoke, entering his body and leaving a brand of her face on his chest. For a series that made it clear that it only wanted to deal with real-life issues like racism, gun violence, gangs and drugs, this was decidedly a move that came from out of left field. "This episode, when I read it, I was in my dressing room and when I got to the last page — word had already come out around us that Lala’s coming back so that wasn’t a shock, I saw that," Williams says. "But then when I saw LaWanda show up, I — and I’m not much of an expletive guy — but I was like, 'Oh s—t!' Like out loud in my own dressing room, I said that. There’s so many weird things going on."
As for what those resurrections mean for the mythology of the series, Williams is tight-lipped. "It’s hard to tease it without spoiling it," he says. "I can just say that Lala has a great journey that keeps you guessing. The last thing we saw was him seemingly choked out, so it’s going to keep everyone guessing and hopefully keep generating conversations where people have theories. That’ll keep going. We don’t give it to you right away."
With Lady Eve gone, Black Lightning has now paved the way for Tobias to become the major big bad with no obstacles keeping him down. And now that his sister Tori has been killed because of Black Lightning, the war waged between the two superpowered men will accelerate in the second half of the season. "It kind of, in my opinion, evens the playing field," Williams says. "We see that, for Jefferson, his desire to take Tobias down is personal. It is about the community but it's also rooted in the personal: he killed my father. So now with Tobias, he has something personal because in his mind I killed his sister. It raises it up for him to be a personal vendetta as well."
Since Tobias' hired guns used high-tech weapons that simulated Black Lightning's metahuman blasts, the superhero and icon of Freeland will find himself facing the anger of the community and Inspector Henderson (Damon Gupton) for the first time for "going too far." "He’s going to be a fugitive for a while," Williams reveals. "We’ve seen already this season that he’s bold in being Black Lightning. He walks down the middle of the street and is not really hiding, and now we’re going to see him have to do things a different way because of this fugitive status."
Strongest endurance alive | This week's episode of The Flash was one of the all-time best hours of the series to date, as the show broke formula and set aside any Thinker drama for essentially a bottle episode. While it wasn't a traditional bottle episode (defined as an hour of TV taking place in only one location), all the events took place within an eight-minute segment, and the majority of the action happened in only a millisecond. Barry (Grant Gustin) had to enter Flashtime when a nuclear bomb went off, and moved so fast that he was able to run through an infinite amount of attempts to stop the bomb from destroying Central City. He had help with Earth-2's Jesse Quick (Violett Beane) and Earth-3's Jay Garrick (John Wesley Shipp), but Barry eventually had to finish the mission on his own. Out of the three speedsters, he was the only one strong enough to survive moving through Flashtime for an extended period of time. His endurance, speed and skills (speedster veteran Jay didn't even know that Flashtime existed until Barry taught him) makes him the most powerful speedster yet, but if he's always this powerful, The Flash is really going to have to level up all the future villains and obstacles to make it a fair fight. It is satisfying to see how strong Barry has become, because he's acting more and more like the Flash from the comics. Four years in to his hero journey, it's about time.
New era of speedsters | After struggling to keep up with Barry, Jay realized it was time to hang up his Flash hat and train a new protege back on his Earth. While he didn't name any names, he did let slip that his trainee was a "her." While THR previously predicted that the mysterious wedding crasher who knows the Speed Force language (played by Jessica Parker Kennedy) was Barry and Iris' (Candice Patton) future daughter Dawn Allen, maybe she is actually the Earth-3 speedster who will take over for Jay Garrick. If she's from another Earth, she can't be the daughter of Earth-1's Barry and Iris, but she could still be Earth-3's version of Dawn Allen, one-half of the "Tornado Twins" with her brother Don, ripped straight from the comics. Or perhaps Jay's new mentee is Jenni Ognats aka XS, Dawn's daughter and Barry's granddaughter? The Flash could be going two different ways with this reveal: either Jay's new trainee is the same mysterious girl popping up at different moments of this season, or she will be a completely new character from Earth-3 that hasn't been introduced yet in addition to the wedding crasher/STAR Labs stalker. Either way, both girls have equal chances of being an iconic DC Comics speedster. There's just no telling which will be which, but at least The Flash is getting a healthy influx of female superheroes this season.
Breaking bad | Or maybe all those predictions are wrong and Kennedy's wedding crasher character is actually going to be a villain. After she ran into Harry (Tom Cavanagh) and Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) at Jitters, the way she dropped her cheerful smile once they left was downright eerie. She had clearly been planning to run into them, adding them to her list of awkward first encounters meant to look random. What is her goal? Is she really from the future and is just trying to meet her parents and their friends? Or is she more sinister, and is working with the Thinker? The fact that she's just watching from afar and orchestrating meet-cutes with everyone isn't hurting anyone ... at least, not yet. It's more likely that she's a female speedster from either the future or an alternate Earth here for a harmless mission of her own. Keeping her storyline separate from the Thinker would be the right call and if she's coming from the future to live among her family, that could be a direct tie-in to the story of Don Allen's son Bart aka Impulse from the comics.
Legends of Tomorrow
Too soon | After only one week of Sara (Caity Lotz) and Ava (Jes Macallan) happily enjoying their new relationship, Legends of Tomorrow threw a wrench into the equation. When Rip (Arthur Darvill) saw that the two fierce female leaders were in a relationship, he ordered Gideon to make sure that Sara never finds out the "truth" about Ava. Since this is one of the only lesbian relationships on television right now that's not only satisfying for viewers but also doesn't make their sexuality the most important part of their story, it's disappointing that the show couldn't let them enjoy their happiness for longer than one week. TV shows need drama to be interesting, sure, but there could have been other storylines to promote drama instead of one of the few responsible LGBTQ relationships in the comic book world.
Back in action | Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) made his big return to Arrow this week, and so did Speedy, aka Thea (Willa Holland) suiting up once more and going back into the field. Romantic reunion between the two star-crossed loves aside, it was a breath of fresh air having Green Arrow (Stephen Amell), Spartan (David Ramsey) and Speedy together on a mission with Overwatch (Emily Bett Rickards) on comms saving Roy from the big bad. It truly felt like old times, the real Original Team Arrow from back when the series was in its prime. Without all the new recruits whining about not being treated like equals, the differences between the professionals and the amateurs was even more clear, proving that Arrow works best when it works with the original DNA of the show. Hopefully, with Dinah (Juliana Harkavy) getting left out of the mission because of her actions in recent weeks, the new recruits might finally start to understand the chain of command and Arrow can put this whole OTA vs. NTA war to rest.
Classic look | As Gotham continues to bring Ivy Pepper's (Peyton List) story closer to its comic book canon, the Fox series also had some fun in bringing Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) a little closer to his as well. While Bruce (David Mazouz) was under Ivy's hallucinogenic spell, he saw Gordon at a party rocking the iconic Commissioner Gordon mustache ripped straight from the source material. After three and a half seasons of McKenzie's more youthful take on the classic Batman character, it was quite a thrill seeing him adopt the more mature look, even if only for a dream sequence. Even Gordon's reaction to Bruce telling him about seeing him with a mustache was hilarious: "Clearly that's a very dangerous toxin." Hopefully this one scene will be enough to tide Batman fans over for a long time, since Gotham has made its anti-mustache stance very clear.
Arrival of the caped crusader | Gotham finally did it. The Batman prequel series actually introduced a full-blown, adult Batman. It was the arrival no one saw coming ... at least, not for another few years at least. Once the party scene faded away and Bruce got closer to death in the real world, Bruce saw a hallucination of the adult version of Batman, cape, cowl, growly voice and all. The grown man is the personification of who Bruce "really is" on the inside, and while he thinks the vision was negative, it's actually quite a good sign of what's to come. The hallucination was enough to scare him into finally burying the hatchet and reaching out to Alfred (Sean Pertwee). Plus, it also shows how Bruce's black leather jacket and mask that he wears while training to be a vigilante is only a small taste of what Gotham will eventually serve up when the teen becomes Batman for real. And now fans know that Gotham isn't afraid to really go there with the iconic DC Comics hero.
Gotham airs Thursdays on Fox. Legends of Tomorrow airs Mondays;The Flash and Black Lightning air Tuesdays; Arrow airs Thursdays; and Supergirl returns Monday, April 16, all on The CW.