Fire Water Burn

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Young Justice Season 1, Episode 12

“Homefront”

SUMMARY: With their teammates incapacitated, Robin and Artemis must fend off two robots with elemental powers who have invaded Mt. Justice.


Syd: Since we just had an episode focusing on the two most powerful members of the team, now we get one that tries to demonstrate that the two members with no superpowers are still useful. It’s a time-honored superhero team tradition.

Margaret: It starts with Artemis flashing back to her sister packing to run away. Their mother isn’t getting out of jail any time soon and she refuses to live in the same house as their father.

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Syd: This is a variation on the old kid running away to join the circus trope, but since they already have Dick who was in the circus as a kid, they instead have Cheshire run away to join a ninja dojo, and if I had known that was an option, I would not be writing this blog right now.

Margaret: It’s certainly an appealing option. As the Alice in Wonderland poster on her side of the wall alluded to, this scene also reveals that Artemis’ sister is Cheshire.

Syd: Artemis and Cheshire have never been sisters in any continuity before this. In fact, in any continuity where Artemis appears, she had always been completely white, so they changed Artemis’ race so she and Cheshire could be sisters. This changes not only their backstory, but those of their parents, too. On this show, their parents have the same names as Artemis’ parents from comics, but the same ethnicity as Cheshire’s. I think this is a positive change, as the two characters being sisters allows for some compelling character dynamics, but I’m at a loss to explain how Kaldur becoming Aqualad caused this change in continuity, as it would involve time travel and genetic engineering. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Orm is responsible. Good old Orm – bringing families together! He’s so not evil!

Margaret: It’s certainly a quandry. I’m going to say that a solo adventure by Kaldur causes him to go back in time and cause Artemis and Cheshire’s mom and dad to meet.

Syd: How romantic! By the way, notice that Cheshire is wearing a half shirt, in case you were worried there would be a female main character whose midriff remained hidden. Anyway, after the flashback, Artemis wakes up and attends her first day at Gotham Academy. The first person she meets is Bette Kane. 60 year old comics fans who stopped reading Batman comics in 1966 might recognize her as Batgirl. Anyone younger than that would struggle to place the name or fail to recognize it at all. You see, about 5 years after she was introduced, she was supplanted as Batgirl by Barbara Gordon – a character created for the Batman television show. Starting in the late 80s, there have been several attempts to bring Bette back under a new superhero identity, but none of them have been successful and they’re generally pretty sad.

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Margaret: Speaking of Barbara we meet her talking to Dick. So, that’s quite a lot of the Batfamily in about five minutes!

Syd: It happens when you’re in Gotham. Just about everyone you bump into there either worked with or fought Batman. Dick comes over and takes a selfie with Artemis, saying, “We’ll laugh about this someday.” He’s right, but at the time, that must have seemed so creepy to Artemis.

Margaret: Of course, this means that Dick now knows Artemis’ full real name. It’s not like she’s doing a lot to hide it, of course, but he’s now got the full ability to find out that she’s related to Cheshire and from that her full backstory.

Syd: Well, sure, but he’s good at keeping secrets. He won’t tell the audience.

Red Tornado has monitor duty at the Watchtower, so he wouldn’t be around if Mt. Justice were, say, attacked by robots. This is important because he explains that he has to cover for Green Arrow, who has an “interpersonal event” with Black Canary. I love the robo-speak and how “interpersonal event” sounds so much more natural than “hot date.” I might start referring to all of my social interactions that way.

Margaret: It also lends to just how secret are Oliver and Laurel’s secret identities? If all of the Justice League know that Green Arrow and Black Canary are in a relationship, that sort of lends to knowing about Oliver and Laurel are their secret identities.

Syd: I think that all of the Justice League know each other’s secret identities. We know that Superman and Batman socialize out of costume. We know that J’onn knows Superman and Dr. Fate’s identities. J’onn and Zatara seem to go by their real names.

Margaret: So, that must mean that the entire Justice League either knows Artemis’s full backstory or – at the very least – that she isn’t really Oliver’s niece. If they know Green Arrow is Oliver Queen, they would know that he doesn’t have a sister and therefore couldn’t have a niece.

Syd: Or maybe the whole League doesn’t necessarily know about the Young Justice team. I guess we’ll find out more later.

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Dick and Artemis show up at Mt. Justice in time to be attacked by a pair robots who are wielding fire and water respectively to destroy the base. They escape into an air vent, because when you are being attacked by fire and water under the earth, you use air to your advantage.

Margaret: Like another great animated series, they’re putting their faith in the Airbenders. They find a place to watch the security cam footage to find out what happened. What they find is Aqualad entering the garage to talk to the others. It gets very awkward.

Syd: Aqualad is trying to find out which of his teammates might be the mole by asking about whether they are having trouble balancing school with superheroics. He is fucking terrible at investigations. I don’t think he’s ever going to find the mole. I mean, if there is a mole – you’ll get no spoilers out of me.

Margaret: Just the fact that he is so terrible at investigating makes me wonder if Kaldur is actually the mole.

Syd: Then the robot attack starts and the video cuts out. Dick notes, “All four are dead,” before clarifying, “The cameras!” I love the writing on this show. There’s such poetry to Dick’s wordplay, like when he says the robots are “user unfriendly.”

Margaret: Robin is very word conscious. I have a feeling it’s because Batman is very taciturn, so he studied every word that Bruce ever said to him. Now it’s just a habit.

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Meanwhile, the rest of the team is incapacitated and Megan is unconscious with Aqualad in a cage of fire. Poor Megan is always unconscious. Brother and Sister robot give them a time limit to give themselves up, or they will drown and burn everyone else. They start to shrink the fire cage and flood the room, which floods more of the base.

Syd: The water robot floods the hallway, and as while they’re trying to swim away, the robot grabs Artemis and Robin stabs him in the eye with an arrow. I know he’s just a robot, but seeing anyone stabbed in the eye is really uncomfortable.

Margaret: After being stabbed, he’s sparking underwater, too. That should have done way more damage to him or electrocuted Robin and Artemis. It’s similar to the firing guns underwater from the Kaldur episode. It makes no scientific sense, but I guess they have to animate it to show the hit had an impact.

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Syd: While they’re catching their breath, we see once again why Dick isn’t leading this team – he is atrocious at pep talks. After noting that Artemis looks distraught, he tells her, “Get traught or get dead.” How is that supposed to help?

Margaret: This is having Robin revert to more of his Batman side. I think he’s trying to shake her into action, but it’s really not a good move. Instead, it just kicks up her flight response to 11. She asks him how he can be so calm and he responds, “Practice. I’ve been doing this since I was nine.” And at this point, I just have to go, Holy shit, what the actual fuck, Batman! How is this man a member of the League of Justice when he has a child of nine risk his life for him? That is just so beyond messed up. I really am floored by just how insane that is and how it is treated as almost a throwaway line.

Syd: Robin radios Kid Flash to ask how to make an electromagnetic pulse, which means that Wally just knows how to make an EMP off the top of his head.

Margaret: That is a strange turn of events. Wally is being shown as smart and useful. What is happening?!

Syd: Well, he is the one who decoded the science of superspeed at the age of 14. He knows science, even if he’s deficient in other ways. As for being useful, he and Conner create a diversion while they are both incapacitated to allow Robin to execute his EMP plan. Apparently, he has nerves of steel. Of course, it doesn’t entirely work, because Robin needs some metal to make a connection, and before he can, he gets hit with a wave.

Margaret: Artemis, in the vent, escapes and finds herself in Roy’s trophy room. She thinks about her sister leaving her with the words, “In this family, it’s every girl for herself.” Instead of caving to her fears, Artemis accepts the others as her new family and decides to save them. Realizing Wally has one of her arrows as a trophy, she takes it to complete the connection to the EMP with the metal of her arrowhead.

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Syd: So, once again, Wally saves the day. If it weren’t for his souvenir case, Artemis would have split and left the Team to their fate. Your case for him being the worst seems to be getting shaky this episode.

Margaret: Oh, goddamit. Wally is still the worst! In fact, that entire trophy shelf is kind of creepy. That’s something a serial killer does.

Syd: So the day is saved and a few hours later, Red Tornado shows up and gets zapped by his sister, and the three robots fly off together. Hey, remember in episode 3, when Tommy O. Morrow was trying to reprogram Red Tornado? I wonder if this is related.

Margaret: Nah, I doubt it. This show never plans things ahead like that. I’m sure it’s unrelated.

GRADING THE EPISODE

Syd: A-. Finally, we get some real character development for Artemis and a really tense home invasion story.

Margaret: I’m at an A. I like Artemis, and it was an interesting pair up to put her and Robin together. Wally actually used his smarts to be useful and it seems as if things are ramping up in the connective plot department.

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