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"Flashpoint" is the tenth episode of the second season of Justice League Unlimited. It originally aired on July 2, 2005. It is the second episode of the four-part finale of the Cadmus story arc.

Plot

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Inside Project Cadmus, Captain Atom attacks Superman. In addition to his super-strength, Atom can produce red sun energy blasts that weaken Superman. Huntress takes Question out of the building and calls the Watchtower for an emergency teleport.

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Captain Atom gives it everything he's got, but is no match for Superman's strength, and Superman is forced to give him a severe beating, coming dangerously close to cracking his containment suit, before Atom finally stays down. But when Cadmus doctors arrive to see to Atom, Superman tells them to back off – Captain Atom is one of the League. No one tries to interfere as Superman carries him out and back to the Watchtower.

Superman visits Question in the infirmary, who confesses that he was afraid Superman was coming close to killing Luthor. Superman insists that that would be impossible, but Question reminds him that Luthor and Cadmus have been remarkably effective in bringing out his worst side.

Superman tells Kara the truth about Hamilton, and together they storm up to the bridge, looking to assemble a team to go down and smash Cadmus before they make another move against the League. J'onn J'onzz and Green Arrow remind them exactly why they can't do that – because they are committed to upholding the law, and Cadmus may actually be a legitimate, albeit secret, branch of the government. Furthermore, such action is precisely why ordinary humans fear the League. Superman is still not convinced.

Working in his laboratory at Lexcorp, Lex Luthor receives a call from Amanda Waller about the break-out. She warns him that if Question has gotten evidence to implicate Luthor, Cadmus will cut him loose. Seeming unconcerned, Luthor strides to a targeting computer in his lab that has just beeped ready, and presses "Enter."

The debate aboard the Watchtower is interrupted when the computer announces that the binary fusion cannon is preparing to fire. Horrified, J'onn tries to override the system, but he is locked out; as a last resort he tears the circuitry out of the control panel, but the system re-routes. Superman hurtles out of the station and to the mouth of the cannon, but is a split second too late: the laser fires down at the Earth's surface.

Down below, people are going about their daily lives, but pause when they see the sky light up: the beam lances down and hits an abandoned building marked "Condemned." The building is vaporized, and a massive shock wave ripples out, hitting the surrounding city with the force of an earthquake.

Aboard the Watchtower, the discharge has drained the station's power for a whole hour. Even without sensors or communications, J'onn can tell that the League has fired on Cadmus's headquarters.

Several things happen at once: J'onn receives an angry call from The President of the United States on a special hotline, but swears that the League was not responsible for the blast. At the same time, Flash leads a rescue team down to the surface to help those caught in the shockwave. Meanwhile, the President receives a call from Waller, who reveals that the facility that was destroyed was empty – they'd evacuated an hour earlier because of the break-in by Superman.

Waller advises The President in the strongest terms to order retaliation: in her eyes, the blast was clearly retribution for taking Question, and the League and the government are officially at war. The President is reluctant to order retaliation, and tells Waller to stand by.

The League is at its best on the ground, rescuing people trapped by the devastation. But things turn ugly as rumors start to fly that the League fired the cannon at the ground.

At Cadmus's new facility, Waller becomes tired of waiting, convinced that they need to act. She orders Galatea to take command of an army of Ultimen clones.

Continuity

  • The episode picks up directly from the events of "Question Authority."
  • In the infirmary, Question makes a joking reference to a goading remark Huntress made to him in "Double Date."
  • Green Arrow reminds Superman that, according to Batman in "Initiation," his job is to keep the League honest.
  • As far as the series shows, the fusion cannon was last fired in "Dark Heart."
  • J'onn makes reference to the events of Justice League, "Starcrossed" stating that the reason the fusion cannon was installed on the second Watchtower was to prevent another crisis of the kind that happened during the Thanagarian invasion – to wit, the first Watchtower having no weapons, Batman had to destroy the Thanagarians' planet-side weapon by taking the tower out of orbit and piloting it on a suicide course.

Background Information

Trivia

  • The scenes immediately preceding the impact of the laser blast pays tribute to the ending of Sidney Lumet's 1964 film Fail-Safe, which likewise ends with scenes of everyday life, interrupted by a rumble that precedes a nuclear explosion.
  • There is also a possible tribute to the controversial "Daisy ad" which was aired during the 1964 U.S. Presidential election campaign, and showed a child picking flowers before the blast.
  • Both film and commercial were likewise parodied in the episode "Sideshow Bob's Last Gleaming" of The Simpsons.
  • Second and last time Question's face is seen.

Cast

Actor Role
Carl Lumbly J'onn J'onzz
George Newbern Superman
Michael Rosenbaum Flash
Amy Acker Huntress
Clancy Brown Lex Luthor
Jeffrey Combs The Question
Chris Cox Captain Atom
Dana Delany Lois Lane
Robert Forster The President
CCH Pounder Amanda Waller
Kin Shriner Green Arrow
Nicholle Tom Supergirl
Galatea

Uncredited Appearances

Quotes

The Question: You were right. I am the ugliest guy of all time.
Huntress: Not in my eyes.


Green Arrow: Batman said I was supposed to keep you guys honest.
Superman: Do I look like Batman to you?
Flash: Actually, you kinda do. Especially when you're all scowly like that.


Green Arrow: Look, I'm an old lefty. The government must do for people what people can't do for themselves. The people sure can't protect themselves from the likes of us.


Previous episode:
"Question Authority"
Cadmus Story Arc Next episode:
"Panic in the Sky"

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