Justice League (Season 1, Ep 22): Metamorphosis Part 1

Hi! Welcome to my episode-by-episode recap of, and reaction to Justice League. There will be no spoilers beyond the current episode. As is my custom with recaps, I will give you a short summary recap followed by a long and unnecessarily helpfully detailed version. My reaction will follow at the end if you just want to scroll past all of the recap.

If you want to see my prior Justice League episode reviews, click HERE:

THE QUICK AND CLEAN SUMMARY:

At the scene of a train accident, Green Lantern runs into his old military buddy Rex Mason. He is introspective and a bit jealous of Mason’s wealth and beautiful fiancé. While still at his friend’s penthouse, Lantern learns that Mason is working for Stagg Enterprises. He accuses his friend of carrying illegal mutagen cargo when Batman informs him that the substance was responsible for the accident.

Mason – taking Lantern’s information – accuses his boss of sending the illegal mutagens on the train with a different Stagg employee – Java – who also rode the line that day. He decides to quit and to take the boss’s daughter – his secret girlfriend – to Chicago with him when he takes a new job. In an act of revenge, Stagg decides to test experimental mutagens on Mason. After the test is successful, Mason is now physically unattractive (so much so that Sapphire faints upon seeing him) but has significant mutant powers – shapeshifting and the ability to emit fire from his hands, among other things. Stagg convinces Mason that Lantern is responsible for his accident because Lantern wants to steal away Sapphire from him. The episode ends with Mason fighting and beating Lantern unconscious.

THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:

The episode begins on the site of an oil drilling derrick. Abruptly, an alarm sounds and a worker shouts about methane gas. The workers flee the scene as the methane below ground catches fire and the derrick explodes. As they flee, we see that this entire scene is being shown on a TV screen in a board room.

A white haired man tells a room of other men that they have a problem. Another man, with a mustache and glasses, protests and says that it was merely an accident. The white haired man says that they were lucky this time. He adds though that unsafe conditions like this have led the Union to demand higher wages. He says the insurance companies will not cover the risk, either. The white haired man tells them that he has a solution. The first man tells him, Mr. Stagg, to please enlighten them.

Stagg introduces them to Metamorpho – a chemically altered worker who will not only survive harsh conditions but will thrive in them. The board immediately stops his presentation and says they are not interested in a non-practical fantasy solution. Stagg says that it is no mere fantasy and assures them Stagg Industries has sunk a fortune into Metamorpho’s development. The Board dismisses him anyway and adjourns.

After the board members leave the room, Stagg talks to himself.

Stagg: They want proof, I’ll give them proof. All I need is a volunteer.

Sometime later, Stagg is on the phone with a hulking man, carrying a briefcase, who calls him boss. The hulking man says that he has them right here and Stagg tells him to be careful. He says that he needs the mutagen samples. Stagg tells the man not to let them out of his sight.

Just then, we see the man on a train. He attempts to put the briefcase in the overhead compartment. It is too large to fit so he holds it in his lap instead.

Not long later, a man approaches Stagg’s worker and says he will have to check the briefcase. He then takes it from him and overrides his protests by saying that it is regulation.

Elsewhere on the train, a handsome man named Mr. Mason is offered champagne by the ride attendant.

Mason: Only if you’ll join me.
Attendant: Maybe when I’m off duty. ::winks::
Mason: Now that’s service.

In the compartment where the mutagen samples are now kept, we see the briefcase falls to the floor from a pile of luggage as the train shakes a bit. When the briefcase hits the ground, it breaks open, and a mutagen vial falls out and breaks – emitting a pink smoke into the air.

The substance of the vial burns through the floor and effects the train’s undercarriage. This causes a large shake of the train that sends the attendant falling into Mason’s lap. The brake on the train appears now to be broken. We see the the train has accelerated to 204.2 miles per hour and climbing. The train engineer calls ahead to clear the tracks as they are now a run away. The attendant looks flirtatiously at Mason as he buckles her into a lap belt next to him. He says that they are about to experience a bumpy ride. The train crashes into a car that did not manage to get off of the track in time. Just when it appears the train is about to crash, a green glow surrounds it.

Green Lantern uses his ring to stop the train but with only limited success. The train crashes into the station and breaks through a wall in the terminal. However, Lantern’s efforts prevent the damage to all from being too severe.

Sometime later, a worker is telling Lantern that if he had not slowed the train down, everything would have been a lot worse. Mason speaks up and says his pal is always saving the day. Green Lantern is delighted to see his old friend Rex Mason. Mason points out that John is still in uniform though not standard Marine Corps issue. John says that he signed up with a new unit. Mason invites Lantern to get together sometime so that they can catch up.

We see them again after they have gotten together. Mason has a huge penthouse apartment. Lantern comments on it and Rex Mason says that working for Stagg Industries has some perks. He suggests that Lantern must also be making a fortune as a superhero and John replies to him that it does not work that way.

John: I’ve hardly got more than the clothes on my back.
Woman: [entering room in only a skimpy towel] Well then, we simply must take you shopping.

Mason introduces John to his fiancé, Sapphire Stagg.

At the scene of the train crash, the press are asking a man for information regarding how it occurred. As they speak, we see Batman moving silently in the background. He takes a sample of the spilled mutagen substance and puts it into a vial.

Back at Mason’s penthouse, John asks his friend about dating the boss’s daughter and Mason – with an arm around Sapphire – says that the job has great perks. She says that the only thing is that her daddy does not know yet. John says Mason always did like living dangerously. Sapphire leaves but on her way out of the room she tells Mr. Stewart that she likes living dangerously too. John asks Mason if the old man would approve and he tells Lantern that nobody is good enough for Simon Stagg’s little girl. She agrees and says that her dad would blow a gasket if he found out. As both men watch her leaving the room, Mason reminds John that he saw her first.

John excuses himself to speak on a comms device with Batman. Batman tells him that someone on the train was illegally carrying a mutagen compound. John immediately confronts Mason and asks for an explanation, noting that only someone working for a place like Stagg could get their hands on those kinds of compounds. Mason asks John if he believes that he is crazy. He says he would not take that type of risk. John replies that Mason always said he would do anything to get ahead. Mason tells John that he has nothing more to say and John leaves him a device and asks him to call if he changes his mind about talking.

Back at Stagg Enterprises, Stagg chides the large hulking man about letting the briefcase out of his sight. He says covering up the large man’s involvement will cost him a fortune. Mason arrives to Stagg’s office and Java, the hulking man, leaves. Stagg immediately tells Mason that he is glad he was not hurt and he promises to sue the train company. Mason wastes no time asking why Java was on the train and he asks whether the man was transporting illegal mutagens.

Stagg tells him not to worry about it but Mason presses him and says that he has not yet heard a denial. Stagg warns him to stay out of this.

Stagg: I made you and I can just as easily unmake you.

Mason leaves and calls “Saph” saying that they have to talk.

Sometime later, Java drives Stagg somewhere. The older man has a bouquet of red roses. Sapphire opens the door and her father asks her what is wrong, noting that she said it was urgent that they speak. Once inside, Stagg sees Mason and asks what he is doing there.

Mason: I’ve accepted a job offer in Chicago.
Sapphire: And I’m going with him.

Initially Stagg says that she cannot go. She pushes back and says that she is not his little girl anymore. Mason advises him not to try to stop them. Stagg changes his approach and says that all he has ever wanted is for her to be happy. He asks her if she is sure and when she says yes, he tells them to go with his blessings.

Mason: I’ll clean out my desk tonight. No hard feelings… dad?
Stagg: [visibly angry] Good night.

Outside, back in the car, Java asks Stagg what happened. Stagg replies that he found his volunteer.

Later that night, Stagg is back in his office, putting his things in boxes. As he stares at a photo of himself and John, in Marines uniforms, we see a sign blinking that there is a security breach on the 3rd floor. Mason calls to security but gets no answer. We see that the security guard is unconscious on the floor by the phone.

Mason leaves on his own to look around. As he steps on a spot on the floor, a clear barrier rises up from the floor all around him. Just as quickly, a device drops down over him emitting a pink gas into the air he is breathing. He coughs and pounds his fist on the barrier to no avail. Just then, something else from above sprays onto him causing him to cry out in pain. He collapses.

When Mason wakes up, Java is over him taking pictures and Stagg tells him that there has been an accident. Sapphire runs in and asks if Rex is okay. When she sees him, she gasps, and then faints. He asks her to tell him what is wrong. Stagg only warns him to brace himself. Mason walks to a mirror and sees that his face has been significantly altered. His skin is a pale gray, his face is disfigured, and all of his hair is gone. Mason pounds on the mirror with his fists, breaking it, and shouting ‘no!’

Stagg tells Java to stop him. The giant man grabs Mason’s wrist – but the disfigured Mason shapeshifts out of the larger man’s grip. He punches Java, knocking him out cold. Mason takes one long last look at the still unconscious Sapphire before running out of the room, breaking doors in his wake. When Sapphire wakes up, she asks for Rex. Her father tells her not to worry and that he is there for her. As she cries in his arms, Lantern flies in through the room’s open window. He asks what he can do and Stagg tells him that he is too late.

Outside, we see Mason running in a hospital gown down an alley. He runs into two people who are terrified of the sight of him. Mason is so traumatized by their reaction to him that he walks backward into the street where he is hit by an oncoming truck.

Mason – splatters – all over the truck’s windshield. As police arrive to investigate the accident, Mason’s splatter begins to re-coalesce into a humanoid shape. Mason asks for someone to help him but a police officer opens fire on him instead. The officer then calls for backup and Mason runs away. He sees holes in a manhole cover and oozes through them into the sewer below the street.

Sometime later, as witnesses are giving police reports, a jubilant Stagg asks Java if he is recording what he is hearing about Mason’s ability to withstand bullets. Lantern and Sapphire are there also. Lantern says that he cannot believe Mason did all of this and Sapphire says that he did not mean to, she is sure of it. She asks John to help him. John says that he will find him even if he has to call in the whole Justice League. She hugs him and thanks him. Then she kisses him on the cheek.

Stagg returns to his office, after, and finds Mason at his desk reading about the Metamorpho Project. Mason tells him that the project worked. Furious, he asks Stagg who is responsible. Stagg – with an enlarged fist around his throat – agrees to talk. He tells Mason that Sapphire had nothing to do with this.

Mason: What are you talking about?
Stagg: See for yourself. [hands over photos of Sapphire kissing Lantern]

Mason, furious, sets the photos on fire with his hands.

Superman, Hawkgirl, and Green Lantern are flying over the city in search of Mason. Their search is interrupted by a bank robbery. The robbers do not get far. John lands in front of their truck and cuts it in half with his ring when they try to run him over. As John bends a giant piece of metal to restrain the two men until the police can arrive, a third that he did not see stands up and points a gun at is back. We hear a sound and a moment later we see Hawkgirl dragging the unconscious third man to where the first two are being held. She tells Lantern that his work was pretty darn sloppy. He apologizes and she asks if he wants to talk about it.

Lantern tells Hawkgirl that running into Mason after all of these years got him thinking about the choices he has made in his life.

Lantern: Maybe I could have ben like him – wealthy, successful…
Hawkgirl: engaged to a beautiful woman.

Just then, Mason calls John from the device Lantern left with him earlier in the episode. He tells John that they have to talk. Lantern tells Hawkgirl to stay with the criminals until the police arrive and he leaves in a hurry. She yells at him to wait but he is already gone.

When John arrives, Mason attacks him immediately with a stream of flame from his hands.

Mason: I knew you were jealous but I never thought you’d go this far.

John protests that he does not know what the other man is talking about. Some distance away, Stagg and Java are filming the fight. Stagg wants potential buyers to see what his creation can really do. Stagg is excited about the potential military application of his formula.

Mason and Lantern continue to fight and Lantern tells him that he is making a big mistake. Mason lands a significant punch to John, knocking him out. The green nimbus around John disappears. Mason tells an unconscious Lantern that he is the one who made the mistake and he says ominously that it will be his last.

to be continued

REACTION:

Ah yes, the “superheroes are secretly poor and lonely” storyline. Well, one or the other for most of them, at least.

Surely the Justice League has some kind of financial arrangement with the U.N. or something. Or Bruce Wayne put everyone on some kind of company salary. Right?

Looking back at this episode, Mason is not a particularly likeable “tragic” character. I mean, he was definitely flirting with that train attendant despite being engaged to Sapphire. He smugly called his future father-in-law “dad” after announces in the most abrupt way possible that he is dating his daughter AND that he is moving her away… and oh yeah, he is also quitting his job immediately and with no notice.

He was not an outright bad guy, though, at least not until he planned to murder the Green Lantern.

While Mason is fuming over his wrong interpretation of his flirty fiancé kissing John on the cheek, John’s story arc with Hawkgirl continues to move forward. They are definitely closing in on an open romance.

I can kind of guess where this story is going in Part 2 but we’ll see how the writers pull it off.

Prediction:

  1. Sapphire loves Mason despite his changed appearance
  2. Hawkgirl and Lantern’s nascent relationship… progresses
  3. Metamorpho figures out – eventually – that Stagg is playing him before deciding to make the most of his new life circumstances.

NOTE:

If you are a keen eared listener, then you might have noticed that Danica McKellar (i.e. ‘Winnie Cooper’ of Wonder Years fame) was the voice for Sapphire. She has been doing voice work for DC for years, though primarily as Frost.

You probably could not tell that Richard Moll was Java, though, given that he was not using his typical speaking voice.

Tom Sizemore was the voice of Rex Mason.

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