Dick Grayson and Jefferson Pierce infiltrate Gretchen Goode's Hollywood mansion at the same time she appears in a premier of her studio's newest blockbuster, The Great Khan. Dick explains that the Motherbox left by Dreamer with Superboy has pinpointed Apokoliptan tech, and they are there to investigate.
Unbeknownst to Pierce, Oracle is coordinating with Grayson. She aids him in bypassing Goode's home security system, and expresses concern that the job is too easy—a sentiment Pierce shared.
Back in Hollywood, Grayson is confident that they can use the Motherbox to boom tube out at the first sign of danger, and they enter the mansion. All communications are cut off when Pierce closes the door. A robotic computer senses the intrusion, and a portal swallows both Grayson and Pierce into the ground.
Aquaman is initially reluctant to get involved due to the illegal nature of their mission, but Oracle informs him that nobody from their little group was available even to provide backup. Left with no choice, Aquaman agrees to go.
When Wyynde insists on following him to watch his back. Kaldur is initially reluctant, but eventually relents when Wyynde reminds him that they have both undergone military training, and unlike Kaldur, Wyynde did not drop out of the Conservatory of Sorcery and could beat Kaldur's ass any day of the week.
While driving home, Malcolm Duncan and a heavily pregnant Karen Beecher discuss whether their unborn child would test positive for the Meta-Gene, even if both parents were flatline humans. Mal thought it would be cool if their "daughter" had special powers, but Karen thought their "son" did not need to be a meta to be cool. Karen is fine with letting nature take its course, but Mal wonders whether altering their child's genomes could give them an edge in life.
The conversation ends when Karen informs Mal that she thought her water just broke.
Silas and Victor have made up, and the former is preparing to leave when Beast Boy and Geo-Force returned from a mission. Beast Boy looks like he was covered in blood, but he grumpily explains it's ketchup, barbecue sauce, and hoisin sauce. Geo-Force is extremely amused at the situation—a villain calling himself the Condiment King.
Halo congratulates the pair on another mission well done, with #WeAreAllOutsiders still going strong. Geo-Force awkwardly excuses himself to the showers, while Helga examines the wrist that Beast Boy sprained during their successful defusion of the restaurant hostage crisis.
Noting that Halo is hurting from the seeming rejection, Helga dissuades Halo from informing Geo-Force of her terminal illness, at least until she communicates with her mentor that evening. Halo agrees.
Meanwhile, Aquaman and Wyynde are outside Goode's mansion and are preparing to enter. While Oracle informs him she is preparing to distract Granny, Aquaman has a better solution—ring the door and get invited inside. Once again, Oracle's feed cuts off when the door is closed.
Goode is not fooled by Aquaman's pleasantries, and asks him what they are doing there. Aquaman explains, and asks to be taken to his friends. Granny agrees to do so, and instructs Overlord to take them to the trespassers. Oracle becomes very uncomfortable with the turn of events, and prepares her backup plan.
After a difficult labor, Karen gives birth to a baby girl. But there is a complication—the baby has blue fingers and lips, a sign of cyanosis.
Back at the Hub, Beast Boy and Victor discuss the latter's tech, with Victor showing Garfield his ability to emulate Blue Beetle's cannon. Intent on testing the limits of Victor's new powers, Beast Boy puts 225 pounds on a bicep curl machine and invites him to try it. Victor's first attempt causes him to throw the weights clean through the ceiling.
Geo-Force is on the roof, looking at the Halloween picture of himself and Halo. He is interrupted by Helga, to whom he confides that he had been avoiding Violet and made himself very difficult to talk to. He leaves to talk to her, but Helga dissuades him from doing so. Violet feels out of control, she tells him, and Violet needed to be in control first. She distracts him by showing him the Outsiders' social media feed on her phone, encouraging him to respond to the Outsiders' fans, especially the ones from Markovia. It could be his ticket back.
At the Ivy University Hospital, Karen is suited up as Bumblebee, preparing to go into her baby girl and fix the hole in her heart. Mal tries to dissuade her—she had just given birth. But the roads were blocked due to heavy snow, so the heart surgeon could not come to the hospital. Karen tells Mal both of them will be fine. She shrinks down, flies into the syringe of the assisting nurse, and is injected into her daughter.
Gretchen Goode, Aquaman, and Wyynde are in a red cube, moving down in an otherworldly dimension that Goode calls her X-Pit. It is where those who she deems to require correction and discipline are brought to—including Grayson and Pierce who are now catatonic from torture. She is willing to let them go, provided Aquaman and Wyynde leave the safety of the cube to retrieve them.
The X-Pit immediately affects both of them, but Wynnde discovers that activating his Atlantean sorcery helps mitigate the Pit's effects. They successfully retrieve the missing agents, and Overlord brings them back to Goode's mansion. Aquaman tries to leave, but Goode stops them—she wants them to leave behind the Motherbox Grayson is carrying. Aquaman refuses, as the Motherbox is a sentient being.
Goode then insists that Grayson be brought back to the X-Pit for more punishment, but Aquaman refuses again. She decides that he needs to be punished, and commands Jefferson and Richard to attack.
Back in the Ivy University Hospital, Karen has finished the patch on her daughter's heart, which stabilized the baby. Karen asks for a minute to rest before she comes out, and deactivates the field. She then shrinks down to the subatomic level, where she examines her daughter's DNA helix.
- She flashes back to her dissertation, where she isolated her own genome, and added genes that would enhance the subject's physiology. She submitted the dissertation to help spark a debate on the ethics of artificially enhancing the genes of humanity. A debate that she now faces internally as she holds a strand of genetic sequence while beholding her daughter's DNA.
At the mansion, Grayson attacks Wyynde while Pierce attacks Aquaman. Both men were easily subdued; even Pierce's electrical attack were absorbed by Kaldur's Atlantean sorcery. When Aquaman points out that they cannot beat the Atlanteans, the enraged Goode orders Overlord to kill Motherbox. An Apokoliptan laser emerges from a wall and starts to blast the Motherbox.
The Motherbox's pain is felt by both Victor Stone and Halo at the Hub. Victor creates a boom tube, which takes both Geo-Force and Beast Boy by surprise. Victor, Halo, Geo-Force, and Beast Boy leap into the boom tube and emerged in Goode's mansion. Victor destroys the laser, while Halo cures Motherbox. She then bathes Grayson and Pierce in a purple aura while incants in what Gretchen Goode recognizes as the tongue of the Old Gods, removing their brainwashing.
Gretchen is furious at seeing Garfield, and threatens to drop all of the assembled into the X-Pit. Just then, the Batplane fires a missile towards Goode, cutting her off in mid-sentence—courtesy of Oracle. Pierce catches a glimpse of a Bat-drone before everyone quickly departs in a boom tube made by Victor Stone.
Alone, Goode lifts a small bluish box from the floor, revealing the contents to be Overlord, a miniature robot computer. She comforts it, telling it that everything will be all right.
An exhausted Karen looks at her daughter, telling her that everything will be all right. When Mal questions her as to what she had done, she only answered that she did the right thing.
Back at the Hub, Jefferson Pierce has seemingly recovered from his ordeal, but Dick Grayson is suffering from the aftereffects. Oracle is by his side, telling him he'll be all right. Watching them, Wyynde tells Aquaman that Grayson will be fine, but the only appeal in the surface world for him is that Kaldur is there.
At the same time, Geo-Force finally gets the courage to approach Violet. He apologizes for his behavior, and they hug. Helga Jace, however, does not seem to be pleased with the reconciliation. She immediately sends a text message: "Complications."
The Ultra-Humanite receives Helga's text, assuring her that arrangements have been made to get her kids out, and that she must be ready. Contact will be made soon...
The title may refer to the mysteries surrounding Gretchen Goode, who was an unknown factor as far as the heroes are concerned. It may also refer to Karen Beecher's gene splicing technology, which, as far as ethics was concerned, is an unknown factor. It may also allude to the X-Pit, with "X" being a mathematical constant for the unknown factor. Finally, an "unknown factor" alludes to an equation, linking it to the "Anti-Life Equation" Gretchen Goode allegedly found.
Cast and characters
- Nightwing and Black Lightning follow up on the hint they got about Granny Goodness from Metron in the previous episode.
- Nightwing uses the Motherbox that Dreamer lent them, also in the previous episode.
- Brion and Violet make up after their relationship became strained in "Elder Wisdom", when she told him that Gabrielle was indirectly responsible for his parents' death in "Princes All".
- Violet is still keeping her terminal illness a secret from Brion ever since Helga Jace told her about it in "Early Warning".
- The device that Granny and Desaad have been building and was seen in "Influence" is revealed to be the X-Pit.
- The picture that Brion has on his phone of himself and Violet with skeleton faces painted on was taken during Halloween night in "True Heroes".
- The Anti-Life Equation is brought up again after being previously mentioned by Desaad in "Evolution".
- Number 16: Karen is lying next to her sleeping daughter on January 22 at 00:16 EST.
- End credits shot: Rhea Beecher-Duncan sound asleep in her hospital crib.
- Mal mentions Ryan fetched the Bumblebee suit from Ray Palmer's lab. Ryan Choi is Ray's successor as the Atom in the comics.
- This is the first episode to have a post-credits scene.
- Helga Jace and Granny Goodness are shown to be reading the exact same book, The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe. This book already appeared twice insofar: in "Homefront" and "Satisfaction".
- What is Infinity Incorporated? (Answer #1, Answer #2)
- What "arrangements" has Ultra-Humanite made in regards to Helga Jace? (Answer)
- What did Granny Goodness mean by saying she had discovered the Anti-Life Equation? (Answer)