Jupiter’s Legacy Forgot To Explain Who Dr. Richard Is — So We Will

Photo: courtesy of Netflix.
Spoilers are ahead. Most of the plot of Netflix's Jupiter's Legacy focuses on five of the six original heroes and how they got their powers — but very little time is spent on the sixth. Dr. Richard Conrad (David Julian Hirsh) is the final member of Sheldon Sampson's (Josh Duhamel) vision to join the expedition that will eventually grant them superpowers. The rest of the group finds Richard floating in the ocean after a shipwreck, and they rescue him only to immediately throw him back into mortal peril as they traverse the dangerous island. And although that is about all we know about the guy, he's kind of an important character.
In addition to gaining super strength, super speed, and the power to fly from the glowing alien thing on the island — he also got a Power Rod (at least that's what he's calling it) that allows him to teleport. Fitz (Mike Wade) complains more than once that the doctor got a bonus power, but in the present day, Richard — wherever he is — no longer has it. Instead, George's (Matt Lanter) son Hutch (Ian Quinlan) wields the Power Rod.

How did Richard lose his power stick?

Because Richard gets almost no screen time, it certainly seems like his entire existence (at least in this first season) is just background for Hutch ending up with the teleportation stick. Richard is never shown in the present timeline, and Jupiter's Legacy doesn't even really treat his absence like a mystery. Meanwhile, Skyfox is also missing in the present timeline, but that's propped up as a central mystery. We learn that he supposedly turned on the Union of Justice and his son Hutch is determined to find him. We learn absolutely nothing of importance about poor Dr. Conrad, whose superhero name you'd only know if you watched the credits, because that also gets no explanation. (He's called Blue Bolt, seemingly for his blue costume and bolt, or rod, of power. These heroes were really creative.)
The series never tells us how Hutch got the Power Rod, but those who care to get know this unknowable central character can read between some of the lines. While some of the original Union members were miffed about Richard's new toy, George seemed fine with it — Fitz was actually the most jealous. Based on that scene alone, it doesn't make a lot of sense that George would have stolen the rod, but if he did turn on the heroes later, perhaps stealing the rod was part of it. It's possible, and more likely, that George — who is handy with technology — simply created another version of the rod for his son after discovering that Hutch didn't have any powers of his own. That's what happens in the comics. Besides, Hutch's rod also only listens to him, so it's more likely to be a new device.

Who even is Richard?

Rods aside, Jupiter's Legacy really needs to explain who the hell this guy is. We learn that he's a doctor, and there are several hints that he's gay and lost his partner in the shipwreck. But we get almost nothing else about a man who should very much be a main character in the story of the original six heroes. He was so important to the original comic that he got his own spinoff called Jupiter's Circle, which further explored his backstory of being a gay hero struggling to hide two identities — his hero alter ego and his sexual orientation. The comic's beginning takes place in the '30s, long before same-sex sexual behavior was decriminalized in all 50 states.
This is a genuinely interesting backstory that viewers deserved to at least get a taste of in season 1, especially since it seems like Richard's mere existence sets up a clash with Sheldon, obtusely idealistic view of America and his obsession with '50s-era ideals. He honest to god told a group of adults who had just been newly adorned with superpowers by a glowing orb to "watch the swearing" because Richard said "assholes." I cannot. Did The Utopian kick Richard out of the group for not adhering to his old-fashioned moral standards? Who are we to ask these questions of an entire season dedicated to revealing origin stories for a league of superheroes?
It's possible that a second season would tell us more about Richard, but the biggest cliffhanger at the end of season 1 appears to be Hutch's quest to find his dad. Richard's disappearance is just as intriguing, and Hutch has a built-in reason to find his way to the original rod-weilder. Until then, we'll have to suffice with the research we did ourselves. And maybe Jupiter's Legacy will make some amends in season 2, but I won't hold my breath.

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