However, producer Salim Akil has revealed that the Pierce daughters, Anissa/Thunder (Nefessa Williams) and Jennifer/Lightning (China Anne McClain), will appear on the planned Painkiller spin-off.
Bringing the Pain
The upcoming seventh episode of Lightning’s fourth season will be a “backdoor pilot” concentrating on supporting character Khalil Payne (Jordan Calloway).
Jennifer’s former classmate and romantic interest, Khalil, was injured in an accident and outfitted with a metallic spine. He was then brainwashed into joining the sinister 100 organization and later the ACA.
This included overriding his personality, becoming a ruthless killer.
Briefly killed then returned to life, Khalil broke free of his control to stop the ACA. Khalil now wrestles with his noble personality clashing with the murderous Painkiller persona.
Inspired by today
Akil confirmed that the pilot episode will have Thunder and Lightning appearing.
While it’s logical for Jennifer to show up given her past with Khalil, it’s surprising as McClain had stated she was planning to leave the show even before it was announced the fourth season would be the last.
While Lightning has never shied away from topical matters, both Calloway and Akil admit the new spin-off is inspired more by recent events such as the Black Lives Matter movement.
Calloway stated that the movement “ignited this drive for more shows of color. I’m excited about the whole world that Salim has created and how he wants to show different cultures. He also wants to show different ethnic backgrounds. Also, different colors of Black, not just that Black is all the same, but all of the different, other aspects of what makes Black.”
Akil also compared the struggles of the title character to today’s culture:
“With Khalil, I wanted to get into the idea of the duality of Black men. How, in some cases, you’re one person in one area of your life and you have to be another person. I’m trying to figure that out with this character: how do you bring those two parts of you together without sacrificing who you truly are?”
The backdoor pilot has Khalil relocating to the city of Akashic Valley. At first, trying to find a peaceful life, circumstances force him to harness the Painkiller persona to fight a deadly threat.
The cast has been expanding, with Sibongile Mlambo, Alexander Hodge, and James Roch joining in various roles.
Mlambo plays Maya, a street-tough leader. Hodge will be Philky, a bartender and Payne’s tech whiz helper. Roch will play “Cousin Donald,” a former Army medic aiding Payne.
It’s unsure whether Thunder and Lightning would become regulars if Painkiller is picked up for a full series. However, their presence indicates that Black Lightning‘s world will continue even when the show ends this season.
Black Lightning airs on Mondays on the CW.