Black Lightning viewers may be saying goodbye to the series after four seasons, but they're also getting a chance to check out the show's future with Monday night's episode "Painkiller"- a backdoor spinoff pilot for Jordan Calloway's Khalil Payne aka Painkiller. In the episode, Khalil attempts to start a new life and to keep his darker, deadlier side in check. But the past isn't willing to let go of Khalil so easily. To be the hero the world and those who care about him need him to be, Khalil will need to move beyond delivering punishment to bringing about justice. Looking ahead to the possibility of the pilot being picked up, Calloway explained what would make Painkiller from Cress Williams-starring The CW series.
"With Black Lightning, we have more of a familial aspect that we're dealing with. In [the "Painkiller" pilot], you have that as well. But what I like [is] "Painkiller" dives into the psyche of a damaged Black man. You get to see, it's kind of the setup of if you were on an island with the person that you hated the most, how would you survive? That's what I love about Painkiller, where you have Khalil dealing with his other half of himself, the yin and the yang aspect of it," Calloway explained during his interview with EW. "You get to see this journey where both of them are going to have to come to an understanding of one another. They don't get to just get rid of the other. It's not an enemy that you can fight and get rid of. This is a continual journey, continual uphill battle that we're going to see between the two, especially when there's damage that's caused by the murder of your own mother." Of course, with Black Lightning ending its run there's no way Khalil won't appear at least one more time- right? "Come on now, man. You really think Khalil or Painkiller would allow this to be the last season and he not show up," Calloway teased. "Come on now, you got to stay tuned!"
Black Lightning Season 4, Episode 7 "Painkiller": PAINKILLER – Khalil Payne (Jordan Calloway) is a young man ridden with the guilt of his troubled past from his former life in Freeland City, where, as a super-enhanced killing machine known as Painkiller, he was both a member of Tobias Whale's gang and a weapon of Agent Odell and the shadowy ASA. After attempting to bury the darker, devastatingly lethal Painkiller part of his persona, Khalil has distanced himself away from everyone he knows and loves in a new city, Akashic Valley, in order to find peace…but peace never comes easy for men with pasts like Khalil Payne and Painkiller. As his violent, destructive history crashes his idyllic new beginning, Khalil is thrusted back into action with a new mission – bring justice where he once gave out punishment – but to do that, he will first have to deal with and harness his darker side, Painkiller. Written and directed by Salim Akil.
"When we first started the 'Black Lighting' journey, I knew that Jefferson Pierce and his family of powerful Black Women would be a unique addition to the superhero genre," said executive producer Salim Akil in a statement when news of the series ending was first announced. "The love that Blerds and all comic book fans around the globe have shown this series over the past three seasons proved what we imagined, Black People Want To See Themselves in all their complexities."
Akil continues, "Thank you to the phenomenal cast, writers, and crew without whom none of this would've been possible. I'm incredibly proud of the work we've been able to do and the moments we've been able to create in bringing DC's first African-American family of superheroes to life for the culture. I'm very grateful to Peter Roth, Warner Bros. TV, Mark Pedowitz, The CW Network, and Greg Berlanti for their partnership and support of my vision at every step of this journey. While Season Four may be the end of one journey, I'm extremely excited to usher in a new chapter and continued collaboration with The CW as we tell the story of Painkiller."
The CW's Black Lightning and the Painkiller pilot are produced by Berlanti Productions, Akil Productions, and DC Entertainment in association with Warner Bros. Television. Based on characters created for DC by Tony Isabella with Eddy Newell, the Painkiller character first appeared in comic book form in 1995.