In this week’s episode, Refraction, the characters spend most of their time dealing with the fall out from last week’s episode, Metamorphosis. Refraction, in its various definitions, refers to a bending or changing of light to alter the way things are seen. In this episode, various agents, including the Jonah juice cure-all, Jonah himself, Leslie, and Molly, alter the perceptions and dynamic of Pride and the kids. But change is not necessarily good, and the metamorphosis that was referred to in the last episode is going to be complex and difficult for the characters, at the very least.
In the opening flashback we watch Victor and Janet Stein meet for the first time. He uses a pick up line that compares light refraction to time travel, then insults her intelligence when she doesn’t fall for it. She takes the bait. The scene changes to Victor holding newborn Chase as Janet watches. He’s in awe of his child, declaring that Chase is the only thing that matters.
Flash forward to Victor picking up middle school aged Chase from a lacrosse championship. They argue, and Victor strikes Chase in the head twice, knocking his head into the car window. The scene goes to black, implying he knocked Chase unconscious.
What happened during those 10ish years we skipped, to make Victor change from the man who was excited by science and devoted to his loved ones, to a violently abusive husband and father who only cared about science as a business?
In the present day, Victor has fallen asleep in his lab after being cured by Jonah. He’s woken up when he hears Chase’s voice coming from his time machine TV:
“Dad, I hope you get this in time. I know it’s a long shot, and […]. I just wanted to tell you I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all of it. And, please, whatever you do, Dad, don’t pick up the fistigons. Whatever you do, Dad, don’t pick up the Fisti-”
We know this is a future Chase because he has a full beard, plus he’s wearing a suit and glasses, making him look like an academic, or a benign politician.
Victor watches, but is confused by what he’s seeing.
Catherine searches Alex’s room while he’s in the shower, looking for evidence that he knows about the Pride and the ceremony murders. Geoffrey suggests that Alex could be acting strange lately because he’s having a thing with Nico. Catherine is almost convinced, until Alex comes into the room and closes his computer a little too quickly when he sees her near it. Catherine is a scary, coldhearted mom. She’s using prosecutor talk on her son. Hopefully she won’t convict him.
Catherine and Geoffrey turn to discussing the Molly problem. She has a solution, but it requires Dale and Stacy to keep quiet and cooperate, never a sure thing.
Victor is flying high on the intoxicating effects of the Jonah juice. He’s solved an unsolvable technological problem overnight. He’s in love with Chase and Janet and the world, and plans to go to the high school open house, for the first time ever, to thank all of Chase’s teachers for their good work.
Chase blames Janet for missing the signs of Victor’s brain tumor because she was caught up in her affair with Robert. He assumes she’s about to leave Victor, but she explains that she wants to stay and make their family work, if Victor’s personality changes last.
Meanwhile, Robert is preparing to move out of his family’s home and into the apartment he rented to share with Janet. He assures Nico that he loves her and will still be there for her.
Leslie is at the hospital, presiding over the death of an elderly church member. Before the doctor can turn off life support, Frank steps in with a pair of glowing healing gloves Jonah has given him, and brings back the dying man. Leslie is furious. She thinks that Frank doesn’t understand the weight and consequences of faith healing. What if word gets out that he can do this? Frank says that he’s counting on word spreading.
The kids gather before school to touch base on Alex’s progress with the video (still decrypting). Molly confesses that she accidentally told the truth to Catherine last night. That sets off an argument, with most blaming Molly for being younger and more irresponsible, and Molly pointing out that they shut her out and won’t listen to her.
Molly storms away to find new friends, in the form of becoming the manager for the dance troupe, meaning she’ll do their grunt work. Karolina finds her and cheers her up with a show of support. Karolina feels the two of them need to stick together, since they’re the only two who have powers and understand what it’s like.
Dale and Stacy are busy examining the Jonah juice that Dale pocketed in episode 6. They agree that it’s better if Jonah doesn’t know that they have some of his cure-all serum. His DNA acts in an unusual way that allows it to heal, but also sounds ominous:
Dale: When we synthesize DNA, we take every precaution to not stretch genetic code in such a way that it creates a toxin or a disease, but…
Stacy: Jonah’s DNA in this serum, when stretched, does the opposite. It creates healing.
Dale: I know. It’s like a crazy malware in a computer virus. It spreads.
Dale spills a drop of the serum on his arm, which is quickly absorbed. Its luminescence is visible flowing down nearby veins. He’s shaken, but seems okay. Stacy goes to get them a snack. When she returns, Dale is in a manic phase, almost like he’s on a hallucinogen. He loves Stacy, and Molly, and Geoffrey, and crocs, which, we all have to agree, are a gift from God to everyone with tired feet.
Leslie confronts Jonah about his undermining of her authority in the church, something she’s worked hard to build up, based on her father’s legacy. Jonah tells her that it’s time to move beyond the church and put all of her focus on the Pride. The church is his religion, and it’s going down. She needs to distance herself from it.
Frank commandeers Vaughn to help him choose furniture from the storage room for his new office. He finds the desk that belonged to David, Leslie’s father. Inside it is a photo of school-aged Leslie and adult Jonah.
gala high school open house time. Like the gala in episode 6, the open house is an excuse to throw combinations of characters together with little to no planning. The kids are worried about how their parents will react to falling grades and dropping out of extracurriculars, but the parents are only at the open house to continue their own power struggles.
Robert is still living under the delusion that Janet will be moving in with him, despite the signals she’s been sending since their affair was revealed. Nico tries to let him down easy, but he won’t listen.
Leslie and Tina agree that they are each other’s right hands in Pride. Tina is very angry at Robert. Leslie knows that Janet and Robert are about to end their affair, and it would mean so much to Jonah if Tina would take him back. There seems to be code involved in this statement, because Tina perks up at the mention of Jonah, and says, “Family is everything, isn’t it?” What kind of reward could Jonah still have to offer Tina, the wealthy CEO of a huge tech company?
Leslie moves on to intimidating Janet into staying away from Robert. Janet is defensive, but tells Leslie that the affair is over. Victor overhears the conversation, and steps in front of Robert. He thanks Robert for taking care of Janet when he couldn’t, then yanks Robert closer, in a Trump-style aggressive handshake. Janet rescues Robert, dragging Victor off to meet Chase’s physics teacher.
Dale is going through withdrawal from the Jonah juice, which causes depression and mood swings. As Dale says, if it’s putting him in a funk, what will it do to Victor? Did Jonah give Victor an enhancement that altered his brain chemistry and caused his personality change to begin with?
Catherine and Geoffrey corner Dale and Stacy to talk about their solution for the Molly problem. Catherine drew up the Hernandez will before they died, and she’s remembered a certain clause that could help this situation. They want to extract Molly from the situation before she tells anyone else.
Chase and Karolina notice the Yorkes and the Wilders having a meeting. Chase orders Karolina to text everyone to meet up, as if she’s his secretary. Karolina, who is a princess in her church, glows, and can fly, is nobody’s freakin’ secretary, so she tells Chase to do it himself. It was his idea, after all. He says okay, but is confused. Your interactions with women are problematic, Chase, face it.
Frank catches up to Leslie and shows her the photo he found. When Frank asks who Jonah really is, Leslie seems to confess everything. She tells Frank that Jonah is the being of pure light that her father wrote about. She kept information about Jonah from Frank because she’s ashamed about her relationship with Jonah.
Victor is returning to something close to his former self. He waits until the lacrosse coach is alone, then throws the coach against a stone pillar and threatens bodily harm if Chase isn’t reinstated onto the team. Sadly, the coach agrees and walks away mumbling about entitled private school parents. This isn’t actually unusual behavior to him.
Robert and Janet finally have a moment alone together, which she uses to break it off with him. He just can’t take a hint, and continues to try to talk her into leaving Victor, sure that the cycle of abuse will start again. She tells him to stay out of her business and things he knows nothing about. She’s been given a second chance (“a moment”), and she’s going to take it. I don’t know which is sadder, Janet having no concept of self left other than as Victor’s wife, or Robert needing to lean on a woman so badly that he’ll humiliate himself like this.
Tina has been watching them, and steps out of the shadows when Janet leaves.
Alex and Nico wait at Timely Coffee for the video to finish decrypting. It’s very close. Nico insists that Alex explain how he knew her Mom’s office password while they wait.
Molly and Gert return home to find Stacy and Dale packing Molly’s things. They’re sending her to live with her second cousin Graciella, a stranger to Molly. Being sent away is Molly’s worst nightmare, but Gert tells her she has to go for now, to protect their plan.
Victor finds Chase working on the fistigons in the lab. He’s reverted to Evil Victor, and become even worse. They argue, and it turns violent. Victor picks up the fistigons and fires at Chase. Before he can fire a second time, Janet shoots him in the chest. Guess the moment’s over.
Bearded Chase will be so disappointed that Evil Victor picked up the fistigons.
Are the healing gloves step one in Jonah’s diabolical plan to break Frank and Leslie up by having him become a famous faith healer? Or is he getting ready to throw Frank under the bus as a fake, as one of the scandals that brings the church down?
I don’t believe for a minute that Leslie is actually ashamed of her relationship with Jonah. She spent the entire open house as Jonah’s enforcer. This is one more step in the plan to end the church and focus on Pride.
The reason why Alex knows Tina’s password had better be epic, after teasing it for three episodes.
Are the Runaways ever going to actually run away? They have a lot of excuses for inaction, while their parents continue to commit crimes. It’s starting to seem weird that they aren’t practicing their powers or actively figuring out where they’ll go when they send in their anonymous tips on their parents. Meanwhile, their storylines have come to a virtual standstill.
The Pride has the more interesting storylines right now, and they’ve been humanized to the point that only a few seem like monsters. It’s been made clear that Jonah exploits their weaknesses, and the trio of Shakespearean witches, Tina, Leslie and Catherine, act as enforcers when Jonah’s enticements aren’t enough.