Justice League (Season 1, Ep 23): Metamorphosis Part 2

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:

The Justice League fights Rex Mason. He wins the fight against Superman, Martian Manhunter, Lantern, Hawkgirl, and Batman. He then gets away and finds Sapphire inside her penthouse apartment. There, he talks to her and learns that she still loves him. He also realizes that he was manipulated by her father, Simon Stagg, into believing that she wanted to leave him for Green Lantern. Mason returns to Stagg Enterprises and confronts her father. Simon Stagg is in the process of preparing to make more Metamorphos when Mason arrives. A fight ensues causing Stagg’s machine to break before completing the process properly. Stagg’s consciousness is accidentally transferred into the mutagens in the machine, creating a Synthoid monster. The monster knocks out Mason and leaves.

The Justice League arrives at Stagg Enterprises and finds an unconscious Stagg and Mason. After they wake up Mason, he apologizes for attacking them earlier and warns them about the synthoid monster. The monster – with Stagg’s consciousness – kidnaps Sapphire in order to keep her away from Mason. The Justice League and Mason chase them down. Batman figures out what polypetide compound will neutralize the Synthoid. Mason changes his own body into that peptide and destroys the monster, freeing Sapphire in the process. As the episode ends, we learn that Mason survives. He and Sapphire leave together.

THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:

While Stagg films the fight, Mason prepares to blast a down Green Lantern with more fire. As he throws, Superman arrives and deflects the blast. Mason turns his hand into a knife and attacks Superman next but his blows do not harm the Man of Steel at all. Superman shoves him backward about 100 feet where he crashes into a stack of crate boxes.

Superman goes to pick him up and orders him to come along quietly. Mason emits kryptonite from his hands. Superman cries out and coughs. Lantern calls to his former friend to stop and says that he is killing Superman. Mason suddenly seems to want to stop but is unable.

Mason: What is happening to me?

Just then, Hawkgirl arrives, mace in hand, and clubs Mason in the head. His head explodes… before reforming a moment later. Mason throws up a substance that sticks to Hawkgirl’s wings, causing her to crash. Stagg looks on gleefully.

Batman lassos Mason’s arms to his side and knocks hi to the ground. Martian Manhunter arrives as well. Mason calls to everyone to stay back as J’onn transforms himself into an enormous dragon. Mason transforms as well – turning the lower half of his body into an enormous spring. He turns his right hand into an ax and attacks J’onn. When Manhunter wraps himself around Mason, Mason in turn emits an electrical charge that causes J’onn to collapse to the ground. Batman throws an exploding Batarang at him next. Mason responds by turning his arms into streams of water and steam.

Lantern yells “enough” and puts a green orb around his friend. He tells the others that it will not hold him for long. We see Mason escape by turning his body into water and running into the ground beneath them. He leaves the scene and floats as part of the water away from them via the sewer line.

Back at her apartment, Sapphire weeps. Her bathroom sink faucet begins to shake. Mason pours himself out of her facet and onto the floor. He retakes his humanoid form and asks her “how could you?” As he berates her about knowing that she wants to leave him for Lantern, Sapphire slaps him.

Sapphire: Shut up and get this through that thick head of yours. I love you, you big dope. And I always will no matter what.

Mason says again that he saw pictures and Sapphire replies that whatever he saw was a lie. She asked who showed them to him and he suddenly realizes that he has been manipulated.

Mason: Good Lord, how could I have been so blind?

Rex Mason turns into a vapor and then flies away as Sapphire shouts at him to come back.

Elsewhere, Stagg is showing a video to the business man who declined his Metamorpho offer in Part 1. Seeing Mason successfully fight off the Justice League, the business man now saw he will buy the Metamorpho product. Simon instructs him to set up a meeting for tomorrow and to bring his checkbook.

Stagg: A toast, Java, to unbridled capitalism.

Java tells his boss that he does not understand how Stagg plans to get Mason to work for him. Stagg replies that Mason was merely a prototype and that he does not need Mason anymore now that he knows the process works.

We see that Mason is in the form of water on the floor. He takes a humanoid form and grabs Stagg by the throat before punching him. When Java charges at Mason, he punches the huge man, knocking him out, without looking back at him. Mason grabs Stagg again and asks Stagg why he did this to him.

Mason: Was it because I asked to many questions about your pet project or was it because I took your daughter?

Stagg: You leave her out of this. I’ll never let you touch her.

^my face when Stagg said that

Mason turns his fist into ice and tries to punch Stagg again. The old man rolls away. As Mason prepares to charge him again, Java begins spraying him with something. Mason freezes.

Stagg: Fun science fact. All chemical reactions stop at sub-zero temperatures.

He knocks on the now frozen Mason and congratulates Java for doing good work. Stagg leaves. Java asks Stagg what he should do with Mason and the old man tells him to “dump him.”

Sometime later, Lantern is speaking with Sapphire. She explains what happened but says she hs no idea where he went. Lantern puts a hand on her shoulder and assures her that they will find him. She smiles and says that she can see why Mason always looked up to him. Lantern is flabbergasted and says that Mason is the one who has it made. Sapphire tells Lantern that Mason always watches the news and sees him helping people. She tells him that she believes Mason would change places with him in a second.

Green Lantern: The grass always looks greener.

Sometime later, we see a frozen Mason in the back of a van being hauled somewhere. His eyes blink. Two men in the front are discussing industrial waste management as a growth business. Abruptly, Mason cuts through the wall separating the front and the back of the van and asks if they mind if he takes the wheel. The van crashes. The two men in the front run out asking what that thing is. They start firing machine guns at their van and one of them asks the other if they got him. Mason answers their question by rolling out of the van – in the form of a giant spiked ball – and knocking them down and out.

Back at Stagg Enterprises, Stagg is mixing chemical compounds. Java asks him if that’s the stuff and Stagg says that he was luckily able to get another sample of the mutagen, no thanks to him. He tells Java that now they can shift to full scale production. Mason breaks down the wall.

Mason: Not if I can help it.

Stagg yells at Java to stop him. Mason sees him grab for the freeze gun and throws something over it to clog it. When Java fires the gun, it explodes. Mason turns to break Stagg’s machine. Stagg shouts at him to stop but he breaks it anyway. The machine – which is attached to Stagg by electrical wires and a helmet on his head – shocks Stagg. The mutagen sample explodes out of the machine.

Mason grabs Stagg and the old man seems empty. He shakes him and asks if he can hear him. He still does not answer. However, the mutagen sample coalesces into an enormous humanoid blob. As the blob’s head moves, it briefly takes on the shape of Stagg’s head. The giant humanoid blob destroys the side of the building and walks out.

Later, Batman is checking Stagg’s pulse. He tells Lantern that it looks like they are too late. Lantern sees Mason beneath a boulder and says maybe not. He lifts the boulder off of his friend using his ring. When Mason wakes up, Lantern immediately puts a green force field around him and asks if he has not already done enough. Mason tells him that what happened here was not him. He tells them Stagg made some kind of synthetic monster. Lantern asks Mason why he is supposed to believe him and Mason apologizes for going off earlier. He tells Lantern that they can has that out later. He warns though that there is a monster on the loose out there.

Elsewhere in the city, people on the street notice the street shaking. A man says it felt like an earthquake. A woman screams as a skyscraper tall green monster steps around a corner and growls. The police arrive and immediately open fire. It has no effect on the monster and they then yell to fall back. The monster proceeds to destroy property until Superman and Hawkgirl arrive. Superman punches the monster. When it punches back, he crashes to the ground. He tells Hawkgirl who lands next to him that it is like punching dough.

Back at Stagg Enterprises, Batman gets a call from Hawkgirl that confirms Mason’s story about another monster. Mason asks Batman and Green Lantern if he can help. They ask him about the monster and he says that when he broke Stagg’s machine, the mutagen compound came to life. Lantern tries to leave without him but Mason says that he cannot beat it alone. Batman agrees with Mason and tells the two of them to go while he tests the compound looking for a weakness.

Superman and Hawkgirl fight the monster together. Neither of them are having success. J’onn, Lantern, and Mason show up after the monster has left Superman and Hawkgirl behind. Martian Manhunter says that he can sense a mind within the otherwise mindless monster. Mason wonders aloud if part of Stagg’s consciousness transferred into the creature. When they ask Mason what he would be after, Mason merely says “oh no.”

Alone in her apartment, Sapphire is watching the news broadcast about the monster who just defeated the Justice League. She turns the TV off and asks aloud, “oh Rex, what’s happening to you?”

Just then, through her penthouse window, we see the green monster looking inside. It reaches inside, grabs her in one giant hand, and scales up a building with her like King Kong. The Justice League and Mason attack the Synthoid monster to little avail.

Batman calls Lantern and says that the creature is composed of artificial proteins and he says they can destroy it with a complex polypeptide. Lantern asks him how long it will take to make something and Batman says that it will take days. Mason says that he can turn himself into the chemical and Lantern says no as it will destroy him. Mason knocks Lantern out and says that he does not have time to argue because Sapphire needs him. When Batman calls again, Mason answers and asks what the formula is.

The Monster is carrying Sapphire up a building that looks like the Empire State Building. Mason arrives and yells out at Stagg. Sapphire now sees that the monster is not Rex. When she looks up at it, its head shapeshifts to look like Stagg’s head. The monster calls back “Mason!” Mason tells him that it’s over and advises him to let her go. The Monster says “never.”

We see Mason’s body change to an orange color. They look at each other and he tells her that he loves her just before he leaps into the monster’s mouth.

On the ground below, Lantern looks up and yells out for Mace. Just then, the monster drops Sapphire. Lantern manages to catch her just before she hits the ground.

On the top of the tower, the monster writhes in pain.

In his hospital bed, Stagg sits up and yells out in pain.

The monster explodes as Stagg slumps back unconscious on his bed.

Sometime later, Lantern is trying to console Sapphire. Lantern tells her that Mason was a good man and a real hero. She says that it would have meant a lot to Mason to hear that. Her tear falls onto the orange goo splattered onto the ground by her feet. The goo begins to move. The Justice League gets ready to fight a returned Stagg… just before the shape forms into Mason.

Mason: I wouldn’t want to do that again.

As they embrace, Hawkgirl asks Lantern if he is still dreaming about the road not taken. He asks her “what do you think?”

REACTION:

We have another hero in the universe. As most good hero journeys often do, this one begins with an attempt to murder several members of the Justice League.

To be fair, they tried to murder him, too. Lots of attempted murder in this episode. Mason made several efforts to use lethal force to someone’s head during the various fight scenes. In return, Hawkgirl literally explodes Mason’s head. I don’t think she could have possibly known for sure this would not kill him. I guess it’s good for the kids at home that his exploded head pulled itself back together.

At some point after this episode ends, how does that conversation with GL and Mason go?

Mason: Sorry I tried to kill you.
GL: If Sapphire was my girl, and I thought someone was trying to steal her away, I’d commit atrocities, too.

Then maybe they hug? It’s all weirder because Sapphire really was pretty flirtatious with Green Lantern. She decided to introduce herself to him, in Part 1, in an almost too small towel. She hugs him. She kisses him on the cheek. They were constantly standing too close to each other.

Changing direction…

It is not explained how Mason (and then Stagg) know how to use their new powers. They just know. Mason’s knowledge is deep enough that he can turn himself into a specific chemical compound at will. He was able to create kryptonite from his own body. Usually in a superhero story, we get a comedic montage of a young hero learning how to use his powers. I feel a little bit cheated with Mason. (Yes, I know his hero name is “Metamorpho.” I’ll stick with Mason.)

Speaking of his powers… he took out several members of the Justice League with ease. He has to rank up there among the most powerful quasi hero characters in DC, right? Well, as long as the person he is fighting does not know his weakness. That weakness seems solvable, too, if he can get together with the right science team to build him a device or a suit or something.

Back to the romance angle – as this is basically a romance two-parter.

Sapphire turns out to be a blonde bombshell who actually loved Rex Mason. She loved him for more reasons than his looks. I guess that’s understandable. He’s a military hero AND now a superhero. Also, her insane overbearing father is responsible for how he looks. It would be poor form to break up right away. I can’t help but remember, though, that Rex Mason seemed pretty ready to hook up with the attendant on the train when Part 1 started. I am not at all certain that he would have remained true to Sapphire in the event the roles here had been reversed. Also as mentioned, Sapphire was weirdly flirtatious with Green Lantern.

What I am getting at here, kids, is that I am not sold on the Sapphire/Rex Mason love story. It does not seem made to last, in my opinion.

The Mason/Sapphire romance was designed, I think, to steer GL in the direction of wanting a romantic partner and possibly a family. Hawkgirl seems to be the likely romantic candidate there. I thought their relationship might take a step farther but this episode. In a sense, it does. Hawkgirl is now actively fishing for information about his romantic interests.

[For whatever it’s worth, I found the Batman/Wonder Woman thing to be way more interesting.]

Last thoughts on this story:

Did Simon Stagg die? He kind of sits up in his bed, cries out, and then lays down as the Synthoid Monster dies. I’m going to guess he lived and that moment was his consciousness returning to him from its connection to the monster. I don’t mind the open-ended nature of that story inasmuch as it means we can revisit Stagg sometime later. If we do revisit these characters again, perhaps we’ll learn a little bit more about Java.

Overall this is a good story. I would have liked a little bit more backstory about Mason/Stagg and their company, and I would have liked the writers to at least attempt to provide an explanation AT ALL for the science behind Metamorpho. But there’s only so much story you can tell in this format. For what it is, this is executed relatively well. The bigger arc Green Lantern / Hawkgirl relationship stuff moves forward. Let’s see if it actually gets anywhere by the end of this season which is now almost over.

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