One thing the CW’s Arrowverse will always be able to lord over Marvel’s cinematic universe is the fact that it’s been featuring a number of different queer characters for years at this point, whereas Marvel Studios is only just now getting around to bothering to let audiences have a little queer representation, as a treat.
Black Lightning isn’t the first of the Arrowverse shows to put a queer superhero right in the middle of all the action and drama, but in this week’s episode, the series took a brief pause from the ongoing war plaguing Freeland in order to focus on love. Because “The Book of War: Chapter Two: Freedom Ain’t Free” is the penultimate episode of Black Lightning’s third season it’s both dense with plot and predominantly focused on establishing just how dangerous a threat the villain Gravedigger (guest star Wayne Brady) is.
In a twist that strongly echoes Christopher Priest’s The Crew, Gravedigger reveals he developed his abilities as a result of unwanted experimentation conducted by the U.S. government that left him empowered, but unique among other metahumans and baseline humans in one important way. While the results of Lynn Stewart’s meta serum—which imbues the user with powers—are temporary on most people, they’re quite permanent on Gravedigger, giving him the potential to be one of the most powerful metahumans on the planet.
With Gravedigger now physically in Freeland, the whole of Team Lightning and his new would-be Outsiders are put on high alert because the American Security Agency (A.S.A.) has made it clear that if they’re unable to stop him, the government won’t hesitate to simply drop a bomb on the city rather than run the risk of villain living. Everyone knows that it’s more than possible they could very well end up dying within a matter of hours depending on how things turn out, and so, in an attempt to relish the time they still have together, Anissa and Grace Choi gather their friends and family to share a meal together and to make an announcement.
Grace and Anissa not only want to get married, the pair insist on wedding immediately, and when their friends and family show up for dinner, they’re shocked to realize they’ve walked into an impromptu ceremony. With Gambi willing to officiate, there’s no reason Anissa and Grace can’t get hitched right then and there, and while Lynn and Jefferson are initially alarmed at their daughter’s sudden decision to marry someone she kinda sorta only barely knows, it doesn’t take much to convince them to get on board.
A gay couple deciding to get married because they’re not sure whether or not they’re going to survive the week isn’t exactly revolutionary or the most significant kind of queer representation one might pay much attention to. But at the same time, it’s kind of wild that a network TV show about a family of superheroes made a point of highlighting a queer, interracial couple (in which neither person is white) in the midst of a plotline about saving a city from destruction.
Of course, this could all be pretense for something tragic in Black Lightning’s season finale, because the show’s been building towards a conflict that could very well lead to a character dying in battle. But hopefully, what Grace and Anissa have built together won’t be for naught, and Black Lightning plans to use this new facet of their relationship to explore what married life is like for a pair of superheroes who save the world together.
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