The first thing you notice about Netflix's Raising Dion, is an emotion: Grief. Mark Warren (executive producer Michael B. Jordan) is dead after a mysterious tragedy. Meanwhile, his wife Nicole, (Alisha Wainwright) and adorable 7-year-old son Dion (Ja'Siah Young), are left to mourn him — and maybe attempt to rebuild their lives. It’s a feat that's especially difficult given that Mark’s body was never found after he allegedly drowned in a river. How can anyone move on when there’s no tangible proof that their loved one is really dead?
Nicole and Dion's loss hangs over the series, which follows the mother-son duo on a near-impossible adventure. Second-grader Dion has started exhibiting superpowers, and Nicole needs to figure out how to save her son from himself, as well as from the dubious entities who know about his abilities.
By the time Raising Dion’s premiere, “How Do You Raise a Superhero?,” wraps, we learn Mark may just be able to fill in some of the superhero blanks for his family. Some form of Mark is still hanging around on this plane of existence. Totally dead people don’t show up as shadowy ghostlike figures on the perimeter of their old cabin to inform their family members danger is lurking in the vicinity. Yet, that is exactly what Mark does to close out “Raise a Superhero.”
It’s an unsettling scene that is bound to leave fans wondering what’s going on with Mark and whether he’s really dead at all. Mercifully, Raising Dion does answer that question. You just have to pay very close attention to the fifth episode of the season, “Days of Mark’s Future Past,” and finale “Storm Killer” to find the answer.
It is those two installments that reveal the DNA-shifting backstory of Raising Dion, and the true villain of this story (don’t worry, it’s not Mark!).
The backbone of “Mark’s Future Past” is to explain when Mark got his superpowers, and how he really died. The tale begins in 2010, when Mark and his best friend Pat (Jason Ritter) go to Northern Iceland to research the Northern Lights. Mark observes the phenomenon on the ice, up close and personal. Pat, on the other hand, stays inside the warm embrace of a heated yurt to mind the data. When a freak solar flare hits, it drops massive amounts of suspicious radiation onto the dozens of witnesses on the ice. For them, it is a delightful and strangely beautiful experience.
As we learn throughout Raising Dion season 1, it appears these individuals are standing in the portion of ground that is resistant to the negative effects of the radiation. In the coming years, Mark starts to notice he is displaying superpowers including invisibility and teleportation. Soon enough, Mark finds a woman named Charlotte (Deirdre Lovejoy) on a message board who is describing similar abilities. They agree to meet in Charlotte’s hometown of New Orleans. There, it is confirmed she too, was in Iceland on that fateful 2010 day, standing on that safe patch of ground. And she too, can become invisible.
Unfortunately for the Warrens, the day Mark learns these facts is also the day he “dies.”
The finale, “Storm Killer,” tells us Pat was also dealing with his own superpower problems during Mark’s period of self discovery. Only Pat was not as lucky as his best friend. Since he ended up away from the safe ice during the 2010 Iceland solar flare, he was violently affected by the radiation rather than improved by it. Good old Pat is actually the “Crooked Man,” the villain eliminating all of the superpowered people who keep disappearing throughout Dion.
As Pat explains in “Storm Killer,” he has been absorbing the other powered people to keep himself as healthy as possible. One of those people was Mark, whom he didn’t exactly mean to kill. Instead, Pat went as his storm form to New Orleans to absorb Charlotte, having no clue Mark would be there. “Suddenly he was there and I couldn’t stop,” Pat complains. “I couldn’t stop!”
This means Pat also absorbed people like Charlotte, Jill Noonan (Diana Chiritescu), who disappeared during the premiere episode storm near the Warrens’ cabin, as well as Walter Mills (Marc Menchaca), and Pat's own girlfriend Kerry Phillips (Ariana Guerra).
Yet there is some good news, as evidenced by Mark’s repeated appearances throughout Raising Dion as a ghost. Since Pat absorbed people like Mark, rather than murdered them, their essences remained inside of Pat through supernatural means. When Pat would become the Crooked Man and turn into a storm, the powered people would also be temporarily unleashed as part of that storm. Their energies still exist. That is how Mark was able to visit his family multiple times over the season.
For example, Nicole and Dion saw Mark at the cabin in the premiere because Pat flew over there to consume poor Jill. Mark confirms this explanation in the finale with his last words to Dion, telling his son, “Energy never dies. It just takes a different form. So whatever that thing was, it’s still out there.” The subtext of this speech is that Mark will always be out there, even when he disappears from vision.
If Netflix does renew Raising Dion for a second season, expect to see television’s tiniest superhero move heaven and earth — literally — to get his dad back.