CW’s newest superhero TV show Black Lightning (executive producer: Mara Brock Akil) is electrifying for all the right reasons: social commentary, a dope soundtrack, the high-powered action scenes, its ruthless villain, and most importantly the badass, cornrow-sporting superhero known as Thunder. The soon-to-be alias is that of Jefferson Pierce’s (a.k.a Black Lightning) oldest daughter Anissa. The teacher and activist first showed signs of her budding powers in the premiere episode when a late-night trip to the bathroom resulted in a crushed sink. Anissa displaying a mix of confusion and curiosity stared at her hands in awe, clearly wondering the same thing viewers were: what are Anissa’s powers on Black Lightning?
So far Black Lightning has stayed pretty true to the comics when it comes to Anissa’s character. If this continues, when she officially taps into her full “Thunder” abilities Anissa will be able to completely manipulate density — meaning she's got super strength — which allows her to deliver devastating blows and to create shockwaves along the ground. She also possesses invulnerability, which means that punching her in the face or body might lead to a broken hand when her powers are activated.
Spoilers! In the most recent episode titled "Lawanda: The Book of Hope," Anissa tries to make sense of what previously happened to her sink. She explains to her girlfriend that she had the strangest thing happen — though unfortunately, Anissa’s girlfriend brushes off the broken sink and the nerves surrounding the entire incident as being no more than the result of old porcelain and post-traumatic stress. She even goes so far as to suggest that Anissa see a therapist, which isn’t a terrible suggestion, but her girlfriend is way off base in thinking that trauma could cause someone to crumble an entire sink from the wall. Nonetheless — for the time being — Anissa agrees, though she’s clearly still interested in finding out what’s really happening inside of her.
Anissa is the first Pierce daughter to show signs of superhero abilities like her father. Although her younger sister Jennifer, a.k.a. Lightning, should be activating her powers any day now. Neither daughter knows that their father is a secret vigilante in Freeland, but both possess the same amount of ferocity for justice as he does — particularly Anissa.
In the premiere episode Anissa was all about protesting the 100 gang which subsequently landed her in jail. Next, when a member harassed her sister and grabbed her arm, Anissa drop-flipped him with ease giving viewers the first taste of her super strength. Filming scenes like this is what makes actress Nafessa Williams, who plays Anissa, so excited about the role.
"I love that I'm able to be active on a show. This is really what sets [Anissa/Thunder] apart from every other role I’ve ever played," Williams told Bustle. "I was athletic going up so it takes me back to my days keeping my body back in shape." And while Williams makes it clear that she won't do all of her own stunts on the show, she does a good bit of them.
At the end of the most recent episode, Anissa, unable to sleep, takes a trip to a drugstore for a sleep aid. There she stumbles upon a robbery in progress. Anissa freezes in fear as the armed robber orders for her to get on the floor. She is just about to listen when her breathing becomes labored, as if something is transforming inside of her. When the robber grabs her head in an attempt to force her down, Thunder is awakened, and Anissa throws the robber over multiple aisles with ease. And unlike the reaction she had after breaking the sink, this time Anissa looked empowered.
There's no telling when or if Anissa will tell her family about her new-found powers, though this definitely won't be the last time fans see them. And one can only imagine what it will be like in the Pierce household when Jennifer's powers finally arrive too. Because you know what they say: where there's Thunder, there's Lightning.