Young Justice Season 1, Episode 10
SUMMARY: Lex Luthor is targeted for assassination by The League of Shadows and it is up to Red Arrow to protect him and ensure that Lex can mediate the Rhelasian peace talks. Meanwhile, Miss Martian and Superboy have their first day of school.
Syd: The episode begins with Cat Grant reporting from a peace summit between North and South Rhelasia – which seem to be the DC Universe’s analogs for North and South Korea. You may be wondering why the Daily Planet would be sending their gossip columnist to report on a peace summit, but you’re forgetting that this is an alternate reality where Kaldur’ahm became Aqualad instead of Garth, which led Cat Grant on a completely different career path. In this reality, Cat reports on more substantial geopolitical stories, but that means that she never had the opportunity to start her own media empire or to date Harrison Ford.
Margaret: The first signs of Kaldur’s choice being good for Atlantis, but not the best for the people on the surface. Who wouldn’t want to own a media empire and date Harrison Ford? Though, I think I would prefer hard news as opposed to gossip, but Catco has shown to report on world events, not just celebrities, so I would say she ends up in a much more powerful position in the Garth Aqualad world.
Syd: Roy Harper shows up tracking Cheshire, who is looking to assassinate the unnamed arbitrator of the peace talks. As we mentioned way back in “Infiltrator,” Cheshire’s name was never said in the episode. How does Roy know who she is? The Justice League has a file on her, which apparently lists her exact height, but Roy isn’t in direct contact with the Justice League – he has to contact Kaldur to get this information. Keeping in mind that Roy recognizes Ra’s Al-Ghul on sight, one has to wonder what previous encounters he has had with the League of Shadows since he separated from Green Arrow.
Margaret: It’s possible that Artemis told them something of Chesire, but that seems unlikely considering her desire to hide anything about her past from the others. If Roy’s had run ins with Ra’s Al-Ghul and the League before that might explain why he’s definitely not trusting of Artemis on sight.
Syd: Artemis has not been confirmed to be affiliated with the League of Shadows and the fact that I can’t think of any other plausible explanation for her character should not be taken as a spoiler.
Margaret: True, but we do know as an audience, that Chesire and Artemis know each other and that Cheshire is a member of the League. We don’t know much about Artemis’ past, but we do know that she doesn’t want her team members to know about it and at some point her father probably sent her to kill people – I started to assume she was in some way affiliated with them in the past.
Syd: You’re jumping to a lot of conclusions, and none of those conclusions involve aliens or dinosaurs, so I’m not interested.
Margaret: The assassination attempt is thwarted and it is revealed that Lex Luthor is the arbitrator of the peace talks, meaning Roy just saved his life. Roy is convinced that Luthor is up to something, but he responds that peace is better for his business, even going so far as attempting to hire Roy as his bodyguard for the rest of the talks to assure his safety.
Syd: There’s something superficial and easy about having all of Luthor’s thought processes and dialogue boil down to business deals and making money, but this interpretation of the character is so slick and charming that he is a joy to watch regardless.
Margaret: It’s the first day of school for Megan and Superboy. They’re getting ready to go in the garage, with Superboy being followed around by the large ball they found in the desert. It’s pretty cute and reminds me of a large BB-8. Of course, this is way before The Force Awakens, but it’s still adorable. However, it doesn’t seem like they’ve looked into the ball at all since the last episode. Neither J’onn nor Red Tornado seem at all concerned about this strange large droid they found in the desert that’s now trailing after Superboy like a puppy.
Syd: It is kind of bizarre how completely incurious the Justice League members are about this BB-8. If we’re supposed to be unconcerned about it, you’d think they’d at least have a throwaway line of dialogue about why J’onn and Tornado think it’s harmless.
Margaret: Maybe this is like The Sixth Sense and only the teenagers can see BB-8. They’re not commenting because they don’t know it’s there.
Syd: At this point, Superboy needs a secret identity, because he can’t just go to school under the name Superboy. You would think that this would have been taken care of sometime before the first day of school. What name is he registered under? Can any teenager just show up the first day of school and start taking classes?
Margaret: Neither he nor Megan have any transcripts from their (nonexistent) previous school, either. Those could be forged, but it’s something they would have had to think about before. I get that it’s important for the both of them to interact with normal people, but it also makes me wonder if they shouldn’t be homeschooled.
Syd: J’onn suggests the name John for Superboy, which is the same name he gave himself and Red Tornado. I love the idea that J’onn only learned one Earth name and is sticking to it no matter what.
Margaret: I also like that he’s continually suggested it to other people who need Earth identities and they take him up on it. To me, that means a good portion of the Justice League have the first name John, which is hilarious.
Syd: Megan steps in and gives Superboy her favorite Earth name, Conner, which he agrees to. For a surname, J’onn suggests “Kent,” which Megan assumes is in honor of the late Kent Nelson. It’s a good thing that she made that connection, or else J’onn would have totally just given away Superman’s secret identity.
Margaret: Right, it would have been quite an awkward conversation if they asked J’onn ‘Why Kent?’ No one but the trusted Justice League members seem to know Superman is Clark Kent.
Syd: The only ones who are confirmed not to know Superman’s secret identity are Megan and Conner.
Margaret: True! But, don’t you think the others would tell Conner who his father is if they knew?
Syd: Unless they thought it wouldn’t help. Keep in mind that Batman knows who Clark is and he didn’t see fit to tell Conner. Why would Dick or Wally?
Margaret: Well, that I would expect of Batman. While he’s more caring in this series, he still is someone who spies on his charges and Thinks He Knows Best. I would imagine that Wally and Dick would be more sympathetic to Conner, especially as Superman is essentially his father. Maybe it wouldn’t help, but he should probably know his name.
Syd: To complete his disguise as a human, Conner turns his Superboy t-shirt inside out. So I guess the Justice League never bought him another kind of t-shirt? Now he’s going to be made fun of for being the dork in the inside-out t-shirt.
Meanwhile, in Rhelasia, Roy is interrogating Cheshire. This is a beautifully choreographed scene. There’s something oddly flirtatious and even sexual about it. It reminds me of something. Like something about Cheshire liking rough sex…? And that being in a comic that DC actually published…? Oh God, I thought I’d blocked Rise of Arsenal out of my mind! I need whiskey!
Margaret: Wait, what the hell? Did that actually happen?
Syd: No, of course not, I would have remembered something like that.
Margaret: Oh. My. God.
Syd: Anyway, Cheshire doesn’t give up any information, though she does almost slip and reveal that she knows Artemis’ name before correcting herself to “Ar…chery Girl.” Roy gives as good as he gets until Sportsmaster blows up the back wall of Cheshire’s cell and breaks her out. Fuck him for splitting the two of them up – they’re magical together.
Margaret: It leads to a chase scene, with Roy seemingly losing their trail. However, though he’s only been solo for a little while, he has some pretty great tricks up his sleeve, firing a grappling arrow onto Sportsmaster’s helicopter. Cheshire quickly cuts the rope, leaving the arrowhead still in the frame. It looks like Roy has lost them, but he actually has a tracker in the arrow, meaning he can stealthily follow behind them. It’s pretty quick thinking on his part.
Once he catches up, he finds out who is behind the attacks: Ra’s Al Ghul. That makes sense; this was clearly League business and if that’s the case, Ra’s is going to have to show up sometime.
Syd: Ra’s spots Roy and sics Cheshire and Sportsmaster on him. Sportsmaster quips, “I hear you go by Red Arrow now. More like Broken Arrow.” Sweet burn! I would have gone with, “More like Jerk Arrow!” but his was pretty good for off the top of his head.
Meanwhile, half a world away, Megan and Conner get to school, where Conner immediately accosts Marvin. You know how they say that on your first day in prison, you should pick a fight with the biggest guy there? This is like that, except instead of the biggest guy, it’s the nerdy kid from the first season of Super Friends. Conner had assumed that Marvin was some kind of metahuman because he was wearing a superhero emblem on his shirt. Then he looked around and noticed that most of the kids at school had some kind of symbol on their shirts. I think it’s cute that Conner never realized that non-superheroes wear symbols on their clothes, too, but it also makes sense, because all of his social interactions so far have been with superheroes.
Margaret: It definitely makes sense that he would assume that a symbol on a shirt would equal a superhero to Conner. He doesn’t understand fan culture yet. It’s starting to make sense as to why the Justice League was eager to get Megan and Conner to start school, they really need to learn how human culture works. Megan, having seemingly been obsessed with it for years, does a much better job of blending in.
Syd: The upshot of this is that Mal Duncan – who actually is the biggest guy there – doesn’t take kindly to the new kid starting trouble. Also, his girlfriend thinks Conner is “fine.” There’s going to be some conflict between Mal and Conner.
Margaret: I think they’re kind of trying to paint Mal as the big guy and possibly a bully for singling out Conner, but I actually respect Mal. He sticks up for a random skater kid and tells someone who is strong enough to pick and hold someone up by the collar to put him down.
Syd: I think you’re misreading how we’re supposed to see Mal. He’s Conner’s rival but he isn’t a bad guy.
Margaret: Totally possible! They do have him as already ready to fight Conner upon first meeting, but there are definitely justifiable reasons for his aggressiveness.
Syd: Meanwhile, Megan is invited to try out for the cheerleading squad, which raises the troubling question – what the hell kind of school has cheerleading tryouts on their first day?!
Margaret: I guess it’s the same trope as having all the important end of year stuff all at the same time. I bet their school also has finals, prom and graduation in the last two weeks of school.
Syd: While Roy is investigating ninja crime in Rhelasia, Snapper Carr is teaching a class on the Rhelasian conflict. Snapper Carr has a long history with the Justice League as a hip young person that the kids reading the comics could relate to. He was modeled after Gerald “Kookie” Kookson from the television show 77 Sunset Strip, who is another hip teen character that nobody today remembers or cares about. When Snapper Carr was announced as an editor at Catco in Season 2 of Supergirl, I looked up what Snapper did for a living, because “editor” didn’t sound right. It turns out he worked at STAR Labs in Justice League comics, but he was a television news reporter on the Justice League cartoon and a high school civics teacher on this show, because although people remember his name and so they work him in as a reference, nobody cares who he is or what he does.
Margaret: He’s drawn sporting a soul patch, which already made me wary of the character. It’s interesting that Snapper’s defining characteristic is that he really doesn’t have one other than having an identifiable name.
Syd: Also, snapping. He snaps his fingers.
Margaret: That kind of makes it worse.
Syd: Megan likens the conflict between North and South Rhelasia to her own homeworld, where the White Martians are treated like second class citizens by the Green Martian majority. Even as a Green Martian, she sympathizes with the plight of the White Martians. That story seems to directly contradict what we know about Martian race relations on Supergirl.
… Or does it? …
FAN THEORY TIME!
The Martian holocaust that J’onn described as killing off the Green Martians on Supergirl never really happened. We never should have believed it, because the person who told us about it is a known liar and con artist. Yes, I know J’onn is a well known and beloved superhero, but he’s also the guy who impersonated a high ranking government official for years in order to illegally take control of a government agency and who repeatedly impersonated Kara Danvers for the sole purpose of lying to her boss. He’s not particularly honest or trustworthy. He also introduced himself of the last Martian, which we know isn’t true, because we see another Martian still alive later in the series. If he wanted us to think of him as forthright, then his reaction to seeing another Martian on Earth should have been more like, “I thought they were all dead!” than “I don’t consider that race to be people.”
Imagine if the situation were reversed – if the last white man on Earth escaped to Mars. He probably wouldn’t introduce himself as the last Caucasian, because the Martians wouldn’t know what that meant, but if he were being straight with them, he wouldn’t call himself the last human, either. If a Latina woman followed him to Mars and the entire time she was there, the Last Caucasian referred to her as a “thing” and “it,” I could only conclude that he’s insane, racist, or insanely racist. I’m pretty sure that the White Martians were an oppressed minority on Supergirl’s CWverse Mars, too.
So if the Green Martians weren’t systematically killed, then why did J’onn say that he was the last Martian? My best guess is that he was referring to the growing social acceptance of interracial marriage on Mars, When he found out that his own wife was 1/16th white, he declared himself the last full-blooded Real Martian and fucked off to Earth. Good riddance. Mars is better off without him.
With that out of the way, can we talk about how messed up it is that a species of shapeshifters differentiates their races by skin color?
Margaret: I never trusted the CBS version of J’onn J’onzz just due to the way the way they set up his narrative. I’m not sure I would go so far as to equate him to the Martian version of Green Power. His only redeeming point is clearly caring about the Danvers sisters, but even that could be faked in order to gain the trust of someone who is as strong as he is and has a relationship with Superman. The entire J’onn storyline in Supergirl is incredibly hard to reconcile, I’d certainly be inclined to believe his entire story was a lie.
Syd: Well, it’s definitely a lie. The question is whether he’s also lying to himself. It’s definitely worse if he really does believe that he is “The Last Martian.”
Margaret: Ooh, interesting. Perhaps he’s justified everything to himself, as villains tend to do in order to believe they’re in the right. Honestly, the problem is that the writers’ lazy world building ignored already established facts that now makes the character of J’onn unreliable at best and a downright bigoted evil at worst. The moment you start to think of an entire other race as inhuman is the moment you cross over into the villainous category. And, also, yes, it’s pretty ridiculous that a shapeshifter species discriminates each other based on something they can change at will. What’s to stop them from just shapeshifting into each other in order to escape persecution? It’s never explained why they don’t attempt that.
Syd: Maybe they have some other way of distinguishing each other – like they smell different or their minds sound different (keeping in mind they’re also telepathic) – but that doesn’t explain why they would call each other “white” or “green.”
Margaret: Megan, as we saw from one of the flashes when restoring Superboy’s memory, wants to be a cheerleader. She tries out and is hazed by the other girls dropping a bucket of water over her. Conner, outraged at seeing Megan as being potentially humiliated, breaks part of the benches and runs down to protect her, only to trip and then fall the rest of the way down. The bucket of water turns out to be just an initiation ritual and the rest of the squad look toward Conner with puzzled expressions, calling him Megan’s boyfriend. After the tryout, we see Megan wearing Conner’s jacket and he carries her books home, like an adorable part of a 50s TV series. It’s super cute.
Syd: Oh, hey, you’re right, we did see Megan dressed as a cheerleader in that flash of memory. Was she remembering the future? Or did she cosplay as a cheerleader on Mars? Or is there a third option that may contain spoilers? We’ll just have to wait a few episodes, by which time we’ll completely have forgotten about this, and then we’ll go, “Oh yeah! That explains it!” and it’ll be really satisfying.
Margaret: Something about your answer makes me think it’s definitely the cosplay explanation.
Syd: Roy tells Lex that ninjas are trying to kill them, and Lex is completely unfazed. I love his nonchalant attitude that this is unsurprising behavior for ninjas and it’s no worse than the Justice League also having it in for him. I also love his completely justified surety that Roy wasn’t going to let ninjas kill anyone on his watch.
Margaret: I imagine he’s so used to threats on his life by now that he’s like, “Oh, it’s Tuesday? Must be another attempt on my life. Cool.” It’s wonderfully infuriating to watch Luthor manipulate Roy. He knows that while Roy hates him, he would never let the League kill him and jeopardize the peace summit. He really does have it all figured out, it seems.
Syd: Cheshire takes a traditional Rhelasian tea ceremony as an opportunity to make an attempt on Luthor’s life. Fortunately, Roy had the foresight to call in Aqualad to help him. Aqualad forms a water shield to protect the assembled diplomats from the blast of a bomb hidden in a tea tray. Then the big climactic fight scene breaks out.
Cheshire mocks Roy for calling in a sidekick to help him. You can tell she’s really getting under his skin. Then he shoots out the sprinklers, providing Kaldur with enough water to create a giant sea serpent to loose on the ninjas. It’s totally awesome.
Margaret: We often sort of gloss over the big fight scenes, as it’s hard to discuss something that mostly relies on the visual and there isn’t usually much to dissect in them. This was a particularly interesting one, however, and it involves some quick thinking to use elements to their advantage, which I really enjoyed. Roy shooting out the sprinklers so Kaldur could use his magic was fantastic. Plus, funny banter.
Syd: In all the confusion, what with the sprinklers and the serpent and the flurry of ninjas, one of the ninjas got close enough to try to kill Lex Luthor, but he is dispatched by Luthor’s personal assistant Mercy Graves and her cyborg arm. Oh, I should probably point out… Mercy is a damn cyborg on this show! What the Hell?!
Margaret: I’m not sure who Mercy Graves is, other than Luthor’s personal assistant, but now we know why he wasn’t too worried about ninjas. Of course, that’s a trick that only works once. Now people will factor her cyborg hand into attempts on Luthor’s life.
Syd: Now, this is a huge change from the previously established DC Animated canon, and, as we all know, all changes stem from Kaldur becoming Aqualad instead of Garth. So this can only mean that in this reality the accident at STAR Labs that caused Vic Stone to lose most of his body was not averted by Kaldur as I had previously assumed, but instead happened to Mercy Graves. Unfortunately, the damage to her was more severe and affected her vocal chords, making her incapable of speech, but in her mind, she was thinking, “Boo-yah!”
Margaret: The peace treaty is signed, so Roy and Kaldur leave the summit and discuss the fact that there might be a mole in the Young Justice League giving the League of Shadows information. Kaldur tells Roy that he will be investigating it quietly as to not alarm the team. He also points out that Roy called the Young Justice instead of Green Arrow or the Justice League, leading Roy to finally admit that the team has his respect and he will help out if he’s ever needed. It’s a nice come around for Roy, when he’s previously been pretty surly and rude to everyone since the pilot.
Syd: Then we find out that Lex Luthor was really working with Ra’s Al-Ghul the whole time. This ending really bothers me. I don’t like how they have to have all the villains working together. It seems like more of a problem when the heroes have battles raging on multiple fronts than when there is one underlying problem that they have to deal with. It just doesn’t reflect anything in real life – where your enemies come from a variety of sources and a variety of motivations and may not even know about each other or be working toward common goals, let alone be willing to join forces against you – not to mention your opponents who are working towards common goals with you. I guess it’s supposed to be tense that Young Justice has a corporate threat and a ninja threat working together, but I like Lex having his own non-ninja thing going.
GRADING THIS EPISODE
Syd: A+. Despite a lackluster twist ending, I loved this episode. Cheshire and Roy are great as are Megan and Conner. Just a great job all around.
Margaret: I’m at a B for this episode. I liked it well enough, but I liked the previous episode quite a bit more.