"Flashback" is the fourteenth episode of the third season of Static Shock. It first aired on June 7, 2003.
The city of Dakota dedicates a statue to the rescue workers who helped with the Dakota riots 5 years earlier, especially Jean Hawkins, who was fatally wounded by a stray bullet in the line of duty. After watching the televised dedication on which his family appeared, Virgil chooses to spend some time alone. Robert suggests to Sharon that Virgil hasn't quite come to terms with Jean's death, since he was only a child when it happened.
At a clock tower, Virgil somberly watches over an electrical projection of his mother when Gear passes by. Virgil admits to Richie that he's starting to lose his memory of what his mother was like and is scared of that happening. A sudden scream alerts Static and Gear to Ebon chasing a girl. As she is saved, the girl introduces herself as Nina Crocker when Ebon tries to corner her again. This causes Nina's Bang Baby powers to activate, encircling Static, Gear and herself in a bubble that takes them back in time by ten minutes. The group quickly evacuates before they can encounter their past selves in a paradox.
At the Abandoned Gas Station of Solitude, Nina explains that she was exposed to the Big Bang by chance when she took a bicycle ride nearby, and her time travel powers started manifesting a month prior. She'd been searching for Static and Gear to join them, but Ebon found her first, intending to use her powers to help him avoid police pursuit. Using readings from Back-Pack, Gear creates a device from his VCR remote so Nina can accurately control her powers, rechristening Nina as a new hero named Timezone.
With this prospect, Static proposes going back to the Dakota riots to change history and save his mother, despite Gear's caution against altering the past. Timezone interjects, pointing out she has a say in this, but supports Static as she wants help people with her powers. Just as Gear sets the timer to go back, Ebon shows up and steals the remote. Static zaps both Ebon and the timer and short circuits the device, causing Timezone to take everyone back in time to the riots.
Reaching the riots, Static and Gear find that they have split up from Timezone and Ebon, and separate to find them. While on the lookout, Static finds his mother and trails her, saving her from being crushed by a burning building. Taking her to a roof, Static reveals his true identity to a shocked Jean, and explains the source of his powers. Despite her surprise, Jean nonetheless tells Static she is proud of him, and the two share a hug.
Observing police helicopters circling the riots, Jean informs Virgil she is needed as a medical officer, but Virgil pleads with her to stay, admitting that in his timeline Jean was "hurt". Jean gently explains that she needs to go back to work and help others who are hurt, and suggests that Virgil saving her earlier might have changed the timeline. Just then, Gear calls Static to inform him that Backpack traced Nina's energy to Alva Industries, and finds Ebon driving away with Nina and a tanker of Bang Baby gas. Realizing Ebon wants to set off a larger Big Bang, Static flies off - but not before asking Jean to stay put, and the two share a heartfelt farewell. As Jean watches her son leave, she receives a call from her colleague about children injured in the riots.
Catching up to Ebon, Static tangles with Ebon while Gear barely stops the truck from heading into the riots, crashing it into the gas station that would become their future headquarters, causing a fire to break out. Upon learning from Nina that Ebon has the remote, Gear informs Static as Virgil manages to wrest the remote from Ebon, tossing it to Gear. Gear points out that the remote has become damaged and doesn't have much energy left. Before the team can figure out a way to remove the tanker, Timezone's powers begin triggering again, catching everyone in her bubble. To Static's horror, he sees Jean disembark from an ambulance to respond to the fire, but is unable to stop the time travel process.
Back in their own time, Timezone has managed to bring everyone and the tanker. Static demands to be sent back in time, but Gear points out the remote has become so damaged it can't take him back any further than two or three years. Gear suggests that Jean might still be alive due to their intervention, prompting Static to fly back home. At the same time, Nina decides that her powers are too dangerous, and takes the remote to travel back in time to prevent herself from ever becoming a Bang Baby, leaving Gear with an unconscious Ebon and the tanker.
Back home, Virgil runs from room to room calling for Jean, but finds her memorial photo still on the fireplace, realizing that Jean didn't make it. Sadly, Virgil asks why his mother didn't stay safe, but Robert comes in and explains that it wasn't in Jean's nature to stay on the sidelines when people needed help; she also had a stubborn streak which she passed to her kids. Musing, Robert recalls some testimony from Jean's co-workers that night: she kept saying she was proud of Virgil and referred to him as her "superhero." Robert is certain that Jean would be proud of Virgil if she was still alive, pulling his son into a hug. Looking back at his mom's picture, Virgil smiles as he finally comes to terms with her death.
The next day, Virgil and Richie are walking into school when they see Nina and some other girls playing basketball, now a normal kid without any powers. Richie figures that Nina must've stolen her own bike so she wouldn't go for a ride near the docks, and her history as Timezone was erased from existence. Virgil tries to wrap his head around the idea of the time paradox, much to Richie's amusement.
- Virgil's grief from losing his mother is revisited following the events of "Tantrum", and he finally receives closure.
Home video releases
- Nina is constantly referred to as Timezone in the episode, but the credits call her "Nina/Flashback".
- No director is credited.
- When Ebon gloats about his plan to the tied up Timezone, her hands are behind her back. But when Gear saves her from the truck, her hands are by her sides.
- At the beginning of the episode, it's stated that Jean was killed by a stray gunshot, but when Virgil traveled back in time, she was nearly killed by a collapsing wall only to be saved by Virgil. It most likely means Virgil's attempt to change history was part of a Predestination paradox. In this case, Virgil believed he had altered history by saving his mother from the wall but was actually setting history in place for her to be killed by a stray bullet. Ultimately, by trying to save her, he inadvertently set up the events that led to her death anyway.
Robert: (to Sharon) Sometimes I still think Virgil can't handle your mother's death. He was so young.