Spoilers ahead for anyone not caught up on The CW’s Black Lightning.
Before the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl, and not counting the fictional sports hero Rocky Balboa, Jill Scott was about as close as you could come to royalty in the City of Brotherly Love. The singer-songwriter/poet/actor/model/blue-collar hero is the definition of a multi-hyphenate, so imagine my surprise and delight to see her star on The CW’s Black Lightning as an imposing yet soft-spoken villain at, or very near, the top of the food chain.
If you’re not watching Black Lightning–and you should be–Scott plays a character by the name of Lady Eve. Now since this is a DC Comics show, you might expect there to be some strong connections to the character of the same name, but so far, it doesn’t look like that’s the case. In the comics, Lady Eve was a high-ranking member of the Kobra Cult, a lover of its snake-themed leader Kobra, and eventually the leader of her own faction that split off from the villainous group. Though the world-terrorist cult often clashed with the superhero team the Outsiders (including Black Lightning), they seem to be only a very loose inspiration for the show’s villainous forces behind the scenes. So what part does Lady Eve have to play in all of this?
This version of the character envisions her as the very rich owner of Freeland’s Blackbird Funeral Home, a creepy enough part to play and a decent cover story for Eve’s role in the shadowy organization that’s yet to be revealed. But then there’s this:
Yeah, so there’s Grammy-winner Jill Scott, casually poking away at a corpse–who’s already undergone an autopsy, by the way, as you can tell from the Y-shaped cuts–and sucking out all the various bodily fluids in preparation for embalming. That’s weird enough, the fact that the very wealthy owner of the funeral home is doing the dirty work while dressed in her finest clothes (I’m in awe of her many pearl accoutrements and fantastic hairdo) and also dressing down her lieutenant Tobias Whale (Marvin ‘Krondon’ Jones III) for his failure to kill Black Lightning. The point is clear: Lady Eve is not afraid to get her hands dirty, and even though she barely speaks above a whisper, Tobias gets that point … almost literally, because Eve jabs the embalming wand near his face a couple of times to make sure her message is delivered.
But that’s not the weirdest part.
The weirdest part is that the person on the table is still alive! I’m not sure who this was supposed to be, whether a random corpse that made its way to Blackbird or one of the 100 who was killed in the line of duty, but the fact that the body’s either been reanimated or is in the process of it is downright bizarre. Before this reveal, Lady Eve was educating Whale on the history of African beliefs about albinos, how certain cultures killed people afflicted with albinism in order to grind up their bones into a magic powder. This smacks of voodoo to me, maybe not historically but it’s definitely familiar when it comes to fiction.
Is this some strange departure from the comics? Is Lady Eve a Marie Laveau-type character using voodoo in her machinations, in service of either her own ends or the organization she works with? Or was I hallucinating and should maybe seek medical attention? Whatever it is, I love it. Be sure to let me know your thoughts in the comments!
And for more on Black Lightning, take a look at these recent write-ups:
- ‘Black Lightning’: Christine Adams on Lynn’s Pivotal Role in Investigating Green Light
- ‘Black Lightning’: Two Scenes Suggest Two Wildly Different Directions for the Show
- ‘Black Lightning’: Who Is the Villain Tobias Whale?
- ‘Black Lightning’: Salim Akil on His Vision for the Show and the Consequences of Violence
- ‘Black Lightning': Cress Williams on Rebirth and the Importance of Representation