"Shock to the System" is the series premiere of Static Shock. It first aired on September 23, 2000.
In a warehouse situated somewhere in Dakota, a masked teenager thwarts an electronics robbery, wielding a variety of electrical powers and flying around on a manhole cover. Magnetically removing their metal weapons, he subdues them in short order, sticks them to the ceiling by their coats, and finally creates a sign suspended in midair, directing the police—just arriving on the scene—to the building. Watching his handiwork, he thinks back to two days ago, when in his own words, he was the last person anyone would call "hero material".
Virgil Hawkins, an ordinary kid living in a black neighborhood, heads from home, with his sister Sharon and father Robert, to high school, with one thing in mind: To ask Frieda Goren to homecoming, with some coaching from his best friend, Richie. As he works his way around to the subject, though, he runs afoul of Francis "F-Stop" Stone, and nearly receives a beating, but is saved thanks to the intervention of another of his friends, Wade. Coming home from school, though, Virgil runs into Francis again, flanked by his friends, and soon finds himself cornered in the back of an alley. There, he is held back as Francis pounds him mercilessly, only stopping when Wade happens by again. Warned by their lookout, the bullies make a break for it while Wade finds his beaten friend, and orders him to meet him under the bridge in half an hour, not listening to his protests that that's when he has to meet his dad.
Thirty minutes later, still not too sure about it, Virgil meets Wade, alongside the rest of his "crew", and is stunned when they ask him to join them. Wade tells him he won't always be around to save him from Francis, but that joining them will keep him safe. Virgil, well aware of the dangers of joining a gang—and, indeed, his father's stance on the subject—is unsure. A while later, he comes home, writing off his injuries on the very flimsy excuse of "football injuries" before he goes to his room. Upstairs, he receives a call from Richie, who has already heard about his apparently joining Wade (he protests that he just gave a sort of noncommittal nod), as has most of the neighborhood. Richie himself can't believe it, as Virgil's own mother died from gang fire. Virgil, realizing how bad the situation is, begins trying to think of a way out when Wade calls on another line, telling him to meet at the dock, now, and hangs up.
He arrives at the dock, finding Wade and the rest of his gang preparing for a huge throw-down with Francis' gang, as well as a great deal of large metal canisters. When he is handed a gun, Virgil realizes exactly how bad the situation is, and throwing it into the water, tries to back out; unfortunately, he finds himself face-to-face with Francis himself. Just then, police helicopters arrive, casting a searchlight on everyone and breaking up the fight. Everybody scatters, ignoring orders to stay where they are, until finally, a canister of tear gas is fired down—right next to one of the canisters, causing an explosion and the release of a cloud of purple gas. Everybody who breathes it in begins coughing, then exhibiting strange physical reactions; one's face begins to stretch, as another's eyes begin glowing, while police move in with gas masks on. Virgil himself crawls over a fence, on the edge of the spreading cloud, and falls over the side.
The next thing he knows, he is in his bedroom, both alive and free. Soon, however, Virgil also realizes that his own blanket is clinging to him with inexplicable fervor. He narrowly gets it off of himself, and goes to the bathroom to shave—when the razor begins buzzing as soon as he approaches it, even though it's not even plugged in. He drops it, stunned, and realizes that he himself is somehow giving off electricity. Excited, he calls Richie, and tells him to meet him at the junkyard, where Virgil is already showing an impressive control over his abilities, he glides around on the hood of a car, showing off. Richie watches and concludes that he could be a superhero, just as Virgil crashes into a pile of cars. Back at Virgil's house, they go through a series of potential costumes, before finally settling the one he will go on to use in the fight at the warehouse.
Back at the warehouse, Virgil lets the burglars drop from the ceiling to the floor, allowing the police to arrest them. A moment later, he notices that among the electronics in the warehouse are the new lab computers for his own school. Meanwhile, as the students work on setting up the homecoming, Richie tries to cover for his friend until Virgil arrives, in costume, personally delivering the computers and introducing himself as Static: "I put a shock to your system!" He then proceeds to single-handedly put up most of the decorations, turn the lights on, and blow an electric heart in Frieda's direction, causing her hair to stand on end, as he wonders why it's never this easy for Virgil. Richie, watching with the rest of the crowd, muses that he's "a natural".
Elsewhere, in a hospital, several of the gang members exposed to the gas continue to mutate in a variety of unsightly ways, with the doctors helpless to do anything and waiting for a haz-mat team to arrive. Among them is Francis, literally burning up, until he breaks free of his bed restraints, and blasts out the window. Landing on the streets below, surrounded by fire, he remarks that "This is going to be fun", and strides off into the city...
- The fates of many of the teenagers affected by the Big Bang, including Francis Stone's transformation into Hotstreak, were revealed in the next episode, "Aftershock".
- In the episode "Flashback", it's revealed that Nina Crocker was taking a ride on her bike when the Big Bang happened.
- As revealed in the episode "Child's Play", Dwayne McCall was also affected by the Big Bang while he was looking for his runaway dog.
- Madelyn Spaulding and a homeless man are revealed to also have been affected by the Big Bang in the episode "Attack of the Living Brain Puppets".
- GenomaTech scientist Donald Todd eventually discovers a cure for the Quantum Vapor in the series finale "Power Outage". In the same episode, the Meta-Breed attempt to revive the Big Bang like it happened in this episode.
Home video releases
- Static Shock: The New Kid (DVD)
- Static Shock: The Complete First Season (DVD)
- Young Justice: Invasion – Game of Illusions: Season 2 Part 2
- When the canisters of gas blow up the resulting explosion is reused footage from the gas canisters that Superman ignites in the Superman: The Animated Series episode "The Way of All Flesh".
- One of the costumes Virgil tries on bears a strong resemblance to that of Black Vulcan, another black superhero with electrical powers from Super Friends. Black Vulcan was originally voiced by Buster Jones, but Phil LaMarr went on to play a parody version of him (stressing the political correctness of his character) in Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law.
- Richie remarks that F-Stop makes "Norman Bates look like Mister Rogers", referring to the psychotic killer in Psycho and the children's educator Fred Rogers.
- Despite that in subsequent episodes many of the affected teenagers by the Big Bang appear, some teenagers like Wade and Duke, along with members of their gang and the three teen bullies who made up Francis' gang, never appeared again in the series, leaving their fates unknown, as it could be possible that they managed to escape from the docks, but it could also be possible that they mutated or died (the latter happens in the original comics, being the most likely).
- The pilot episode begins with camera shots of various parts of Dakota, in it, the Hawkin residence is depicted as an apartment when later episodes show them residing in a townhouse.
|Phil LaMarr||Static/Virgil Hawkins|
|Jason Marsden||Richie Foley|
|Danica McKellar||Frieda Goren|
|Kevin Michael Richardson|| Robert Hawkins|
Wade's crew (uncredited)
|Michele Morgan|| Sharon Hawkins|
Wade's crew (uncredited)
|Danny Cooksey||Francis "F-Stop" Stone|
Frieda: (to Virgil about her prospective dates for the Homecoming dance) Isn't it wild? I'm juggling three hotties!
Virgil: (while looking at the inside of the house Wade and his gang are in) This place should be on that show, "This Old Warehouse".