A few weeks ago, a group of journalists were invited to drop by the set of Black Lightning in Atlanta to talk to the cast and creator about the CW’s latest superhero show — one that really doesn’t feel like a superhero show at all, in the best of ways. One of the big teases we got at the time was about Green Light, a highly addictive drug that was going to become a plague upon the people of Freeland.
Christine Adams, who plays Lynn Pierce, spoke to me in a one-on-one interview not only about the dilemma Lynn faces in trying to keep her family together while acknowledging that the city needs Black Lightning to return, but also how she might deal with her daughters getting powers as well. But one of the most exciting teases is how Lynn will also play a pivotal role in the understanding of Green Light, as well as uncovering how Jefferson first got his powers.
Adams also spoke about Lynn’s tension with Gambi over what’s best for Jefferson, how much she knows about Jefferson’s past with Tobias, as well how showrunner Salim Akil assured her that her character was not going to become the typically forgotten wife just because she doesn’t have powers. (Finally!)
QUESTION: Lynn has taken such a hard line with Jefferson in the past being Black Lightning, but now that her daughters have been in peril, will that change?
ADAMS: Yeah, it’s sort of the eternal conflict that they’re in, because she loves and respects Jeff for who he is and what his reasons for wanting to go out there and be Black Lightning — they’re all good reasons! — but she, you know, even back then when they were together there was always a sense of ‘is he going to come home, what state is he going to come home in, is he going to come home alive,’ he was endangering himself every evening, and I think that she always felt like it was sort of questionable, what he was going to be drawn to, more like an addiction than just going out and doing good in the world. But obviously when her daughters are in danger, then it’s a different set of circumstances.
I think what’s good about the show is that it’s not always black and white, there’s always grey areas, and as we get later on in the series and Anissa is starting to discover her powers, and Jennifer is too, it’s going to be difficult, because on the one hand she doesn’t want them going out and doing what her dad did, because she knows how dangerous that can be. But on the other hand, she knows that she doesn’t have the power to stop them. But she knows that she and Jeff have raised them to go out and do good in the world; that’s kinda been their overarching message for these girls, to go out and do good, use whatever power and intelligence you have to do good. So there’s a real conflict there with a constant push and pull, so I think that’s kind of an interesting thing to play.
On the one hand she’s saying you can’t do this, but on the other she understands why and if anyone can you can, and on another level her job as a scientist and a medical professional means that she is sort of curious to figure out what this puzzle is, and wait a second how did they get these powers and how do they work and how can I help them? And also, I’m the only one who can be there for them when they come home battered and bruised, because they can’t go to a regular hospital or urgent care, just pop in and … because there are things happening with their body that just can’t be know by regular people. So she has to be there.
Often in these shows, if characters don’t have powers, the writers don’t know what to do with them. What I like about Black Lightning is that Lynn seems very proactive in battling alongside her family, but in a different way, one the show is actually sensitive to.
ADAMS: Totally, that’s been one of the things that Salim has been really good at, and so often with these shows the wife or the mother just becomes a kind of secondary character that turns up in a superficial way. And actually with Lynn, again, you see her trying to solve the puzzle and put the pieces together and dig into the past and dig into how Jefferson became who he is. So you’ll start to see her relationship with Gambi, and how that starts to grow and what that really means, and their conflict and how they’re adversaries, and enemies but friends. So she becomes even more of the fabric of the story rather than less, which is great.
Can you talk about Lynn’s involvement with Green Light?
ADAMS: Yes, so Green Light is obviously this drug that’s kinda part of the community in Freeland and has been for a long time, and in some ways related to how Jeff got his superpowers. And we don’t know how directly yet, but we’re starting to get a sense, and Lynn gets a sample of this Green Light and starts to break it down and the molecular compound of it, and starts to see similarities in what’s in it and what’s happening with Jeff. So she’s the one who starts to unlock this initial mystery, and you’ll see that Green Light goes way back, and is way more complex and intricate and devastating in a way that’s so interesting. When I read it in the script I was like oh my God, this is brilliant. And it’s still rooted in a reality, even though it’s this thing that superheroes have or maybe have ingested or imbibed in some way, it still feels like something that you’ve seen in the newspaper or that you’ve read about in the way that it comes into the community and that it dominates the community.