We are back with episode two of Jupiter’s Legacy and Mark Millar and Frank Quitely never cease to amaze us. Their story brought to the screen by Netflix and showrunner Steven S. DeKnight captures all of the nitty-gritty we know from the comics. In the premiere episode, Brandon (Andrew Horton) struggles with his father, Sheldon’s (Josh Duhamel) unrealistic expectations. In episode two, “Paper and Stone,” the team deals with the aftermath of the Blackstar (Tyler Mane) incident.
Disclaimer: This is a recap and, by nature, will contain spoilers for Jupiter’s Legacy. If you haven’t watched it, I highly suggest you do so. Viewers can find the entire first season here on Netflix.
“Paper and Stone” opens right where “By Dawn’s Early Light” leaves off – with Blackstar facing his clone’s dead body. Blackstar is confident that this is a clone of him since the real him would have eaten Brandon alive. Blackstar taunts Sheldon for not locking up his son for killing someone and that they can’t keep this hidden forever. After Blackstar is taken away, the team tries to figure out what exactly is going on. Clearly, this is a clone of sorts, but where and why are the real questions.
Outside of The Union headquarters, Grace (Leslie Bibb) holds a press conference for the Blackstar incident. A reporter shares that a poll suggests that a large group of Americans support Brandon’s actions. This upsets Sheldon, who takes over and tells everyone that those people need to rethink the world they want. He reminds them that lethal force without due process is not justice. This doesn’t sit well with the crowd who feel that they aren’t truly being protected against these supervillains.
Back on the Sampson farm, Brandon is doing a bit of target practice when Sheldon stops for a chat. Sheldon tries to remind him that what he did to Blackstar, he can’t take back. That he needs to be the ideal. Brandon makes a smart remark about Chloe (Elena Kampouris) not even showing up to help, but Sheldon brushes it off. Brandon is angry that Sheldon feels like he isn’t living up to his father’s expectations, but Chloe can get high, drunk and talk badly about the family all the time and no one bats an eye. Sheldon, however, feels like Brandon should be better than that and not let himself sink to her level.
Brandon tries to open up to Sheldon about how he felt during the Blackstar situation. How he watched his friends die and ultimately had to choose between saving his father or allowing Blackstar to walk away alive. Brandon asks Sheldon if he would have made the same choice if the situation was reversed. Sheldon doesn’t answer; instead gives a speech about how no matter what, the Code needs to stand. He is pretty much saying that he wouldn’t have killed Blackstar to save his son’s life in a roundabout way.
Brandon feels like the only choice he had was to kill or let everyone die. Sheldon again argues back that there is always another choice, but Brandon doesn’t believe it. Sheldon puts an end to the conversation by telling Brandon he needs to lay low until things quiet down and essentially grounds him. Brandon tries to fight back, but Sheldon remains firm on his choice.
In 1929, a younger Sheldon arrives at Sampson Steel to meet with Walter (Ben Daniels) before their father’s (Richard Blackburn) funeral. Sheldon had a suit cleaned even though it is going to be a closed casket. Walter tells him that the tie Sheldon always thought was his father’s favorite isn’t true. In fact, anytime Sheldon would leave, their dad would swap ties to a different one. It seems that Sheldon didn’t know everything about their father.
Walter warns Sheldon that the board wants to shut down Sampson Steel, but Sheldon argues that they can’t allow that to happen. His father would never allow their workers to lose their jobs. But Walter tells him that they don’t have a choice. He has been trying everything he can and nothing is working. As the fighting grows louder, Willie (Tyrone Benskin) arrives with worse news. A reporter has written a piece on Sheldon and Watler’s father and how he ripped off the workers of Sampson Steel.
Sheldon rushes over to The United Front, searching for a G. Kennedy who just so happens to be Grace. He accuses her of lying about his father and exploiting his death for readers. Grace stands by the truth and believes that he is just a lawyer trying to rattle her into printing a retraction. Sheldon admits to being his son, which takes Grace by surprise. She tries to offer her condolences on losing his father, but he doesn’t want to hear it. He argues that his father helped build America and make it what it is and all they are doing is trying to ruin a good man’s name.
In the present, Petra/Flare II (Tenika Davis) is talking with her father Fitz/Flare (Mike Wade) about the Blackstar incident. She struggles with losing her friends during the fight and wonders if this is the right path. Things are changing and those bank robbers they used to fight are not killing people. Fitz reminds her that he never wanted her to follow in his footsteps. He worries that she will get herself as badly hurt as he did, but he couldn’t be prouder of her. Not for staying alive, but being better than him in so many ways.
“Paper and Stone” shifts to Sheldon popping in to visit Chloe at her apartment. He tries to bring a peace offering of sorts, but she can’t eat gluten. The two start to discuss Chloe’s upcoming shot, but she realizes he has other reasons for visiting. Sheldon shifts the conversation to the upcoming funeral and wants her to be there and Brandon could really use her support. Chloe has no idea what she could say to him, but Sheldon knows that he is willing to listen to her over anyone else.
Sheldon struggles to understand why he can’t get through to Brandon and Chloe tries to share how they feel. She feels like Sheldon can’t separate his role as The Utopian to be the father they really needed. It is always a fight between the two of them that boils down to the fact that Chloe is who she is and Sheldon doesn’t like it and tries to change her. Sheldon’s attacks against her have been going on for so long that the only thing Chloe knows how to do is fight.
Sheldon tries to tell her that they are bigger than this, but Chloe knows that isn’t true. The only way to break the cycle is for one of them to change and she knows that will never happen. He tries to turn it back on her by saying that this is just an excuse and Chloe needs to stop pointing fingers at others for her mistakes before realizing that he is doing precisely what Chloe just said. He decides it is best to leave than to keep going and asks if she will make it to the funeral, but she still isn’t sure.
Back in 1929, Walter is running the numbers for Sampson Steel when Sheldon shows up demanding the lawyer sue The United Front. Walter breaks the news that what Grace reported on was correct. Their father used the worker’s pension fund to back the expansion. Sheldon refuses to believe that any of this is true and demands Walter double-check everything. Walter, however, knows that Sheldon has no idea what their father was really up to, the things he needed to do to run a successful steel company.
Sheldon is angry that Walter doesn’t think he understands, that he has been working there since he was 15. But Walter reminds him that he has been practically living there every day and knows far more than Sheldon ever will about the company and their father. Walter has been trying to keep the company afloat while Sheldon was out arguing with the press and getting a new suit. Walter breaks the news that they have to shut down production to save enough money to not go out of business.
Sheldon tries to override the choice, but Walter stands firm. Sheldon heads downstairs and tries to appease the workers who are angry the mill is closing and their pensions. He tries to promise them that they are doing everything they can to reopen the mill and fix his father’s mistake, but no one wants to believe him. Willie and Fitz stop the men from beating the crap out of Sheldon. They remind them that their families need them and it isn’t worth spending the night in a jail cell over.
Later on, Sheldon is preparing for the funeral and talking with Jane (Meg Steedle) when he breaks down to her about his father and how he couldn’t do anything to stop him. She reminds him that no matter what, he couldn’t save him.
In the present, Brandon is at the Sampson farm getting ready for the funeral. Brandon tries to tell Grace that he isn’t able to do this, that he can’t face the families of the three supers who died. Grace tells him that he needs to speak from his heart and that fear comes with everything, but so does getting through the fear. At the funeral, the priest speaks in front of the crowd and as the camera pans past Sheldon, we see him thinking about his father’s funeral. In the present, he looks up to the sky for Chloe, but Grace tells him that she probably isn’t coming.
At the 1929 funeral, Sheldon gives a speech about how you don’t really know something until they are truly gone. How when someone dies, the lies that brought you together are wiped away. As he continues, he starts suffering from these spasms before falling over in a full-blown seizure. Walter, Meg and George (Matt Lanter) rush forward to help him.
In the present, Brandon steps forward to give the final goodbye speech and talks about how they were so much more than the superhero identities, but friends and family. Brandon apologizes for not being able to do more to save them. He shares that they are all falling short of the idea of greatness, but those who were lost achieved it. That they have their all and died heroes. Afterward, Fitz and Petra approach Brandon and share that they feel Brandon made the right choice during the Blackstar incident.
Brandon steps away to meet with Barry’s wife, Karen (Jaime Slater), to try and talk with her. She asks if he could have Walter erase her daughter’s memories, but Brandon reminds her that he doesn’t do that. While they are talking, a police officer (Robert B. Kennedy) comes forward with money they raised for her and her family. After she departs, the officer tells Brandon that they think what he did was right as well and that may be what they need to do is kill all of the supervillains instead of locking them up.
After the funeral, Sheldon and Grace her at home talking about what happened at the funeral. Sheldon could overhear people praising Brandon for what he did to Blackstar. When Grace isn’t responding to him, he starts to argue with her. She points out that the world isn’t what Sheldon wants it to be and there is nothing he can do. He argues that there are no expectations, they do not kill. But she knows there are because if there weren’t, they would be dead. Things are changing whether they like it or not.
“Paper and Stone” jumps to the past where Sheldon is in a hospital bed surrounded by Jane, Walter and George. Walter and George bicker back and forth when Jane finally has enough. Out of nowhere, Sheldon goes into a fit and has a vision of his father stepping off the ledge, his pocket watch, a windmill, a boat, a group of people and a mysterious island, among other things. He hears his father’s voice telling him to find this island and save America.
Sheldon eventually calms down and tries to share with Walter and Jane that he saw something and tries to describe it but is struggling. He tells them he thinks it is a message from their father and as the camera pans out, we see that behind Walter is a man with severe damage to his skull staring down at Sheldon. And this is where episode two of Jupiter’s Legacy comes to a close.
This episode is definitely less superhero crime-fighting but still packs a significant emotional punch right into your stomach. We are really getting the chance to see the internal and external struggles that Sheldon, Brandon and Chloe are going through. How being raised by a man who struggles to separate life as The Utopian from life as a parent has affected them in their own ways. Brandon is fighting to be this ideal hero in his father’s eyes while Chloe has outright rebelled.
This unrealistic expectation is made even more apparent by the way others are reacting to the Blackstar situation. Grace wants Sheldon to go easy on Brandon for having to make such a difficult choice while Fitz and others even feel like he made the right choice. There is a small part during the beginning of the show where Fitz and Petra have their own discussion about the incident. Fitz’s attitude and how he talks and treats Petra is a complete 180 from how Sheldon acts with Brandon and Chloe. It is a small but impactful reminder about how severe Sheldon is about the Code.
The 1929 storyline is heating up as we are finally getting to see the central characters come together (in good and bad ways) and getting Sheldon’s first vision at the end was terrific. I said it in the first episode’s quick review, but I am so happy that we are getting two fully fleshed-out stories. They could have easily treated the past as simple flashbacks, but doing it this way makes it that much more impactful. What happens in the past directly affects that current situation. Honestly, one can’t be told without the other.