Fans and critics alike have been raving about The CW’s DC Comics series, Black Lightning, which wraps up its inaugural season Tuesday night.
One of the major adversaries of Black Lightning/Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) has been Tobias Whale, a crime leader and villain prominent in the comics.
The character, a black with albinism, is the leader of Freeland’s most feared gang — The 100. Before Black Lightning struck down in Freeland, Whale was a politician, rising up the ranks of local government through corrupt and illegal means. He was brought down by Alvin Pierce, Jefferson’s father. Enraged, Tobias murdered Alvin and was driven underground into exile, where he began to rebuild, growing into the violent and methodical leader of The 100. Black Lightning’s return has ignited Tobias’ desire to emerge from the shadows and face his biggest adversary.
We spoke with rapper and actor Marvin “Krondon” Jones III about the role while on the set of the show a few months ago.
Although Tobias is a villain, we do see several different sides of him. One grey area is when he tells Lala (Will Catlett) that he went too far in “in killing someone’s mother.” When we asked Jones whether there is a line Tobias won’t cross or if he just doesn’t want things to get too messy, he said, “I think it is a little bit of both. I do play the villain, but the villain has so many layers to him. With Tobias, we really want to humanize him just a much and we want to show the layers and textures that every person has. I think one thing is that the character is very relatable. Like this guy may be around the corner from you or something. Every character is relatable. Jefferson Pierce could be my dad. The sisters…everyone is relatable. There is a storyline for everyone.”
During the season we’ve seen Tobias slowly emerge from the underground, even walking in Garfield High School during daylight in last week’s episode. At the time when we asked Jones if Tobias would eventually come out and not be hidden from the greater public, he responded, “I think he’s going to have to. He’s not too narcissistic, but he is. He doesn’t necessarily do things based off of narcissism, but then again, he does in a way — the way he lives, the way he dresses, who he’s around. He doesn’t want to stay in the shadows. Anyone who has power suppressed, they eat themselves up. Even if they may be in a safe place or a safe zone. We become our own worst enemy in that place.”
Class and status is a huge component of the show so far and we got Jones to chime in on that with us in relation to his character. “There’s a duality there. You see the different elements and you see, even in Tobias, this guy who has all this power and this position…and he still makes some questionable decisions. The things that we do always 99 percent of the time are motivated by a need for something. Tobias’ need to be accepted, to be looked as a higher-up, the class thing, the way he talks down…he is creating this hierarchy, and it creates this class thing that you are speaking about.”
Black Lightning’s Season 1 finale airs this Tuesday.