DC TV Watch: ‘Black Lightning’ Finale Marvin “Krondon” Jones III Interview

Welcome back to The Hollywood Reporter‘s weekly DC TV Watch, a rundown of all things DC Comics on the small screen. Every Saturday, we round up the major twists, epic fights, new mysteries and anything else that goes down on The CW’s Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl and Black Lightning and Fox’s Gotham. Note: Supergirl did not air a new episode this week.

Black Lightning

Buckle up | There’s only one episode of Black Lightning left in the first season, and star Marvin “Krondon” Jones III, who plays criminal mastermind Tobias Whale, promises “twists and turns” throughout the entire finale. “It’s directed by our executive producer and creator Salim Akil and he directed the first episode so it’s poetic he’s closing out the season,” Jones tells THR. “It’s just action-packed. This finale was one of the hardest to shoot for me, for Cress [Williams], for everyone else. It was strenuous, hard work because of all the action. It’s so unpredictable. I haven’t seen it yet myself but expect to be blown away. You won’t know what’s coming to the last minute.”

Face-to-face, finally | In this week’s episode, Tobias and Black Lightning’s long-standing rivalry finally came to a head when the two metahumans faced off for the first time all season. Tobias actually gained the upper hand in the brutal fight, with Jefferson dying for a short minute before his daughters used their powers to restart his heart. Tobias still believes Black Lightning is dead, which will certainly be an advantage for Jefferson heading into the finale. Jones loved finally getting to film an action scene with Williams in this episode, but bemoaned having to shoot a shirtless scene. “I hope I wasn’t too fat!” he says with a deep laugh. “I’m a little subconscious about those kinds of scenes. But it was incredible. Throughout the course of the season, we haven’t had many scenes together. This was like our second scene together ever. But we have this intense rivalry so it was great to finally be in that scene. And it was a lot of work, we didn’t use that many stunts. It was 90 percent all us, that’s why you are able to see all those close ups of our faces.”

Secret plans, revealed? | This week’s hour also gave viewers more insight into what Tobias really wants. After killing Lady Eve (Jill Scott), he’s now forced to report to ASA operative Martin Proctor (Gregg Henry). Not one to follow orders lightly, Tobias is already planning to kill Proctor and take control of shadowy organization ASA. As for how he’ll do that in the finale, Jones is cagey. “You don’t want to miss the finale because it is going to answer every question that you have,” Jones says. “You know what Tobias is out for, let’s see if he gets it.” But as for why Tobias is so determined to make sure the ASA experiment on Freeland succeeds, Jones reveals he’s invested purely for selfish gain. “He just wants to be in control and get rid of and eradicate anything he doesn’t have control over,” Jones says. “He wants to be at the helm of not just the underworld workings but even the overworld as far as politics and the social happenings in Freeland. He wants power he used to have. It seems like the ASA is government or backed by the government, so coming from politics he’s longing for that power again. The experiment is just a byproduct and what will give him that control again. And if he doesn’t get control over it, there is the possibility that more superheroes will emerge with the idea to take him down.”

Power over the dead | One answer did come in this week’s episode about what’s going on with resurrected Lala (William Catlett). Turns out Tobias has been pulling his strings with some kind of psychic hold over him. By using the same phrase over and over, he’s able to reduce Lala into a cowering, obedient minion, in stark contrast to the headstrong, disloyal gangster Lala used to be. “It’s safe to say Tobias is a control freak, huh?” Jones says with a laugh. “Tobias, being who he is, is privy to so many things in the metahuman world and he’s always using them for his personal gain and to get back to the position from whence he came. With Lala, that’s just a pawn in his game. At the beginning of the season, he was a wildcard that couldn’t be controlled so he was ‘sent away’ for a while and now he’s been put under some good control. He’s reaching his potential under Tobias’ mental direction.”

What’s in store for the future | With an early season two renewal for Black Lightning announced last week, it’s safe to assume Black Lightning will survive whatever showdown he has with Tobias in the season one finale. But what does that mean for Tobias’ fate? “I don’t know,” admits Jones about whether he’s returning for season two. “The end of the story which we’re about to air in a few days, I would hope you, the viewer, the reader, will be able to answer that question yourself. From what I’ve seen in the comics, Tobias Whale doesn’t die or go away permanently. So I’m hoping the writers follow the comics in that way. I hope I’m around and they don’t get rid of me.”

What doesn’t kill him makes him stronger | The secret that Jones has been using to make Tobias the most formidable villain of all the CW superhero series is by making him as human as possible. “He’s relatable to all kinds of people, whether you have albinism or not, whether you’re black or not, whether you’re the villain or not, he’s got some parts to him that everyone relates to in the way he feels or carries himself with his insecurities,” Jones says. “You don’t see that very often in the comic book genre. There’s an honesty there and I’m just trying to make it as authentic as I can.” Since Jones is also an African-American man with albinism, he jumped at the chance to play Tobias back when he was first cast on the series. “I knew it was a great opportunity to break a stigma, an undeserving stigma about people with visual uniqueness,” he says. “The cliché of diversity is that it’s pigeon holed with an unnecessary parameter and limitation when it comes to what is diversity and makes someone diverse. Diversity has no limitation or ceiling – men, women, black, Asian, Latino, white, gay, whatever have you, we have to be all-inclusive. You can’t exclude anyone when you talk about diversity and that’s the beautiful thing about our show – I get to play an African-American man with albinism in a pivotal role on a network television show.” He adds that it’s a great opportunity to “dispel those limitations that are set in Hollywood and society,” as he is “one of the first ever African-American’s with albinism to have such a big role.” 

Breaking barriers | As for why it’s taken so long for television to portray a black man with albinism in such a big role, Jones equates it to fear. “You look at the people involved, the powers that be, and you have to wonder, ‘What are you scared of?'” he says. “It’s coming from a place of ignorance and bias. But it’s just based in fear.” In this day and age of Hollywood pushing for diverse and inclusive representation, Jones says it’s so important to remember that “diversity includes everyone.” He hopes to continue to improve upon diversity and inclusion by showing that “casting the right person who can do the job and tell the story” regardless of their race, gender or any kind of otherness is a step in the right direction. “Can they do the work? To an extent, of course; I can’t play an Italian mobster, don’t cast me in that movie,” Jones says. “But if you take a role and the breakdown says black man, African-Americans come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, colors, mixes, a beautiful spectrum just like Caucasian and Latino people do. I am proof of that. I’m just going to keep doing good work and use my platform to show what the world looks like. The more we change our worldview, the more roles open up and we get wonderful people of color like Salim Akil, Mara Brock Akil, Ryan Coogler, Ava Duvernay who create beautiful stories full of diversity because they see a different worldview.”

Legends of Tomorrow

More magic | Now it’s clear why Legends of Tomorrow season four has enlisted Matt Ryan’s John Constantine as a series regular. In the season three finale, the Legends were enjoying a well-earned vacation after defeating Mallus (with a giant Beebo, no less!) when they were oh-so-rudely interrupted by Constantine. He brought with him a severed dragon head and the news that the Legends had once again put the world (and timeline) in jeopardy while saving the world (and timeline). By letting Mallus out of his cage to kill him once and for all, the Legends opened a door through which monsters and mythical creatures have escaped. This represents yet another tonal shift for the ever-changing series, as season four will deal with the Legends, aided by Constantine, hunting down and defeating all kinds of magical, mythical monsters, which is something this series has only dabbled in before. It also means that Constantine will play more of a role than new member aboard the Waverider: he’ll be the only one with knowledge of the problems the team will encounter, rendering all the other scientists and experts almost useless. Will he be taking over the mantle of Captain from Sara (Caity Lotz) because of his expertise in the new mission? Hopefully she still stays on as leader, because she’s truly grown into her role this season.

Who’s gone for good, and who’s returning next season? | With the revolving door of Legends characters continuing to spin, the season three finale said goodbye (again) to original Captain of the Waverider, Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill). He sacrificed himself (again) to save the team, this time seemingly for good. As a series regular in the first two seasons and only a recurring guest star in season three, it’s unlikely that Rip will get another last minute reprieve and this death will most likely stick. Death needs to have stakes, and with Rip’s death fake out in the last season finale, Legends needs to make good on this twist and kill him for good, or else the audience will start to distrust every twist moving forward. The same goes with Damien Darhk (Neil McDonough), who also sacrificed himself to save his daughter by taking her place as the vessel for demon Mallus (voiced by John Noble). He’s died and been brought back to life countless times on the Arrow-verse, so his death in the season three finale also needs to stick. As much comedy and wit as he brought to the superhero shows, his continued survival is becoming a joke at this point. This needs to be Damien Darhk’s final goodbye. As for Legends team member Amaya (Maisie Richardson-Sellers), she finally left the team to return to her original time period and village, breaking up with Nate (Nick Zano) in the process. But since she kept her memories (and is still a series regular in season four), expect to see her return to the team in some capacity next season, if only temporarily.

The Flash

Sign of things to come | The return of Danny Trejo’s Breacher in this week’s episode of The Flash introduced a new dilemma for Cisco (Carlos Valdes), and it doesn’t mean anything good for the future of Team Flash. In a poignant subplot about how when a metahuman with vibe powers gets old their powers stop working, Breacher told Cisco he was accepting his fate and officially retiring. That means there’s now an opening for Breacher’s job, and he wants Cisco to take over. The job perks are undeniable: get to travel to all different kinds of dimensions and work with his girlfriend Gypsy (Jessica Camacho) every day. But he would have to leave Team Flash. The shock on Cisco’s face when Breacher offered him the position was more profound than expected. Is Cisco actually considering leaving Team Flash? He didn’t refuse right away, which makes it clear that he’s not writing the idea off immediately. It’s more likely that this means something big and traumatic is going to happen to Team Flash in the finale, and this job offer gives Cisco the perfect opportunity to get away and take some time off to heal mentally and emotionally. Is another big death coming down the pike?

Too far | The resurgence of the storyline of The Thinker drugging his wife to make her love him despite her wanting to escape plays no better now than when it was first introduced. Especially in this age of #MeToo, drugging a woman to take away her agency is horrifying to watch, and it’s only getting worse the more and more it happens. The Flash is dragging out this storyline. It needs to be resolved ASAP, hopefully with Marlize (Kim Engelbrecht) getting her revenge on DeVoe (formerly played by Neil Sandilands) and being the secret weapon that Team Flash needs in defeating The Thinker.

Return of evil Wells | The Thinking Cap did exactly what THR predicted it would: begin to turn Harry (Tom Cavanagh) back into the same evil Wells character from season one. In this week’s episode, he turned Gideon (voiced by Morena Baccarin) back on, and the AI was surprised to hear from Wells for the first time in over three years. It could be that Harry, using the Thinking Cap to come up with a way to beat DeVoe, is just using another tool at his disposal with Gideon. But how would Earth-2 Harry even know about Earth-1 Harry/Wells/Thawne’s (Matt Letscher) secret time vault with Gideon in the first place unless the Thinking Cap has corrupted his mind to the point of him becoming the villain once more?

Arrow

Guess who’s back … again? | Just one week after Thea’s (Willa Holland) big exit from the series with Roy (Colton Haynes) by her side, The CW has announced that Haynes is returning to Arrow as a series regular in season seven. This left fans scratching their heads, as Thea left Star City (and the series) with Roy to find and destroy the three remaining Lazarus Pits. If they’re going off on a big adventure together, why is Roy returning to the series in such a permanent capacity … without Thea? And why did this announcement come so soon after the couple left the series? No matter how the show explains his return, this doesn’t mean anything good for Thea’s fate. Roy would only return to Star City if something goes wrong on his mission with Speedy and she gets hurt again (or worse, dies), or if they break up, and he has nowhere else to go. There’s just no way Roy would leave her on her own when they had such an emotional reunion and vowed to be together moving forward, especially when he was the one pushing to leave Star City in the first place. So does this mean Thea will have one last appearance on the series to wrap up her story (again) and to help explain Roy’s return to Star City, or will Roy have to do that all on his own? This likely won’t happen until next season, but let the speculation begin.  

Gotham

The king is dead, long live the king | Just as THR predicted last week, Gotham’s version of the Joker is in fact Jerome’s (Cameron Monaghan) twin brother Jeremiah. After Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) shot and killed Jerome in this week’s episode, the proto-version of the Joker had the last laugh. He sent his twin brother a package before he died, and when Jeremiah opened it he was hit with a special version of laughing gas that transformed him into the maniacally laughing clown prince of crime fans recognize from the comics. Jerome’s death combined with Jeremiah’s transformation are ushering in a new chapter of Gotham, and this time the writers finally aren’t going to hold back with the Joker mythology. Now viewers just have to wait and see how Monaghan differentiates this Joker from the role he’s been playing for years.

Gotham airs Thursdays on Fox. The Flash and Black Lightning air Tuesdays; Arrow airs Thursdays; and Supergirl returns Monday and Legends of Tomorrow will return for season four, all on The CW.

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