The Worst Birthday Ever

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Young Justice Season 1, Episode 20

“Coldhearted”

SUMMARY: While the Justice League is occupied fighting a team of ice-powered villains, it is up to Kid Flash to deliver a heart to an ailing Queen. However, Vandal Savage and Count Vertigo are trying to stop the organ transplant from happening.


Syd: Those of you who have been reading this blog and know what we think of Wally will know how much we were looking forward to this – a whole episode of his own.

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Margaret: UUUUGHHHHHH!! Not to mention, who the hell sets an alarm for 7:16 on their 16th birthday unless they are a total jerk?

Syd: My theory: His clock is set 15 minutes fast so that he isn’t late for school. Then he sets the alarm 16 minutes late because he’s an idiot.

Margaret: ….acceptable. I have set my alarm ten minutes ahead to trick my sleep brain to get up.

Syd: Anyway, once he gets up, his cast is off – meaning that healing from being punched by a god takes a about 42 days.

Margaret: I like how they kept with the cast for so long. It’s a good consistency.

Syd: Wally is excited to for his surprise party at the cave – which you would think a group of people with secret identities would be better at hiding from him. His aunt Iris wishes him happy birthday on the news and gives him his present – announcing a snow day from his school.

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Margaret: As Wally enters the Cove for his Surprise Party, it announces that due to the extreme weather that Zeta Tubes are now offline. Wally enters and is glad that he made it to his ‘surprise’ party before he’s locked out. Upon entering, The Team, along with a few League Members are there to celebrate. Immediately, Wally turns into a creep toward Megan, expecting and angling toward a ‘birthday kiss’ and attempting to coax a kiss from her despite her obvious attempts to put him off.

It’s really gross that he just expects her to give him a kiss because it is his birthday, despite no confirmation that she has any interest in him.

Syd: Really? Because I expect all of my friends to kiss me on my birthday and I am continually disappointed. Anyway, as we have said many times – and it deserves to be reiterated this episode – Wally is the worst. Fortunately, Artemis as someone who has been harboring a semi-crush on Wally (that I think we were supposed to know about by this point?) was gleeful to throw some cold water on the proceedings by informing him of what everyone else already knew – that Megan and Conner had been a couple for months.

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Margaret: I’m almost positive we should know that Artemis and Wally are a show approved ship by now by the way they continually pair them up no matter the situation. They are continually attempting to show Wally and Artemis either jealous or supporting the other. It’s clear why it has to be Artemis that breaks Wally’s delusions that Megan might at all be interested in him.

Syd: At this point, Batman contacts the Team to let them know that the snowstorm across the entire United States was not just happenstance but the work of villains as yet unknown. He calls upon the Team to work with the Justice League to combat the sources of the snow, dividing them into strike forces – which, by the way, was the first indication that Zatanna is now officially on the Team. She had been a recurring cast member for a bit, but this is the actual confirmation that she is now a recognized Superhero, which sort of feels like it needed more explanation. The way this show doles out information is really satisfying, but a little bit frustrating. Everyone in the room knows that Zatanna is one of them, so that doesn’t need explanation for them – and in that regard, the information is given very naturally and organically – but the audience didn’t know until this point, so someone who wasn’t paying close enough attention could miss something crucial.

Margaret: With Zatanna I kind of understand. I felt like it was understood that due to the conversations before the world split incident and the fact that she moved into the Cove afterward meant that she was going to be a part of the Team. It was that which made everything seem so much more bittersweet. Zatanna got what she wanted: to be a part of a team her own age. However, the price was her father. It’s a very poignant and understated moment that I agree is better done without calling attention to it. I like that Zatanna is now a part of the Team with no ceremony. It underlines both the sacrifice and now Zatanna’s place in their world.

Syd: So, when the missions are doled out Wally is surprised and dismayed that he is being left out of the big Superhero punch up. With the airlines and Zeta-Tubes non-operational, Wally is the fastest mode of transport for a heart that a little girl needs for a transplant – a mission that Batman deems a priority. Wally can’t argue that saving someone’s life is important, but can’t help being frustrated that he is the only one left out of the first team-up with the Justice League. Batman, predictably, doesn’t care.

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Margaret: This scene is the essence of why I hate Wally. He is given a special mission, one that is only doable by him because of the Zeta-Tubes being down which involves a very selfless and heroic mission: saving a young girl’s life by bringing her a heart. Unfortunately, because Wally is the worst, he is less concerned about saving one young woman than he is protecting his own pride and proving himself on his birthday. That, to me, is just the epitome of selfishness. He doesn’t care about saving a young girl’s life, he only cares about his own prestige. It is only when Batman chides him about saving one girl that he actually – RELUCTANTLY, MIND YOU – agrees to take this mission. It’s insane that for Wally ‘saving an anonymous young girl’s life’ is a character driven moment. That’s insane! You know what? Fuck you, Wally. That’s so coldhearted. And I don’t care if that is a pun for this episode.

Though, man. I have been incredibly harsh against Wally. I wonder if a lot of people are thinking the same way. I don’t like Wally, but I also don’t really want him to die in this plot. I’d feel really bad about that. This can’t be where Wally dies, right?

Syd: Well said. Though if they were setting up for Wally’s death, they would want to give him a Big Hero Moment like saving a little girl’s life.

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Mattie Harcourt, fresh from her blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo on Supergirl shows up for a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo on this show, delivering a heart for Wally to run across the country. I’m glad that she shows up in anything at all, frankly, but I really wish Supergirl’s supporting cast got any representation in other media.

Anyway, Wally decides against hitting on her at that moment, so that’s a point in his favor, right?

Margaret: GOD I hate Wally because of this. Yeah, a young girl’s very life is on the line, this is the PERFECT TIME to hit on a doctor, right Wally? Ugh.

Syd: On the way, Vandal Savage seems to have taken an interest in Kid Flash’s mission. He delays him by assaulting the police officers clearing the street for him, forcing Wally to come to their aid by fighting Savage.

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Margaret: Why is Wally even engaging with Savage?! He has his own mission: to get the heart to the hospital. He could easily outrun Savage and the troopers were obviously there just to escort. It just seems to fuel into his need to take a big guy down rather than be the hero that delivers the heart and it is so annoying.

Syd: I want to give him some credit. Savage could have killed the officers who were there to help him and he does know that he’s the only superhero in the area who could stop him, but on the other hand, he also knows that the heart he’s transporting is fragile and taking part in a super battle endangers his primary mission.

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Margaret: When Wally slides into the hospital with time left to spare, he is told that the transplantee died twelve minutes ago. The fight he had with Vandal Savage took fifteen. Consumed with guilt, he collapses on a bench inside the hotel and gives the heart to the nurse.

Syd: One point in the show’s favor, if not Wally’s – the show knows when Wally screws up. When he does something wrong, he is made aware of it and he pays for it. As frustrated as we are with him, it seems like there’s hope for him and we as the audience aren’t meant to read his screw-ups as admirable. Case in point, he believes that he has failed the mission by his own incompetence, but the show allows him a shot at redemption. Doctors rush in asking for the heart and Wally figures out that the nurse who told him that Queen Perdita of Vlatava – the heart’s recipient – was dead was in fact working for Count Vertigo, next in line for Vlatava’s throne. That means that if he’s fast enough, and Sonic-the-Hedgehogs hard enough, he can confront Vertigo and recover the heart, which he does.

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Margaret: However, apparently, despite Wally’s intervention, Iris reports that the young queen died on the operating table, leaving Count Vertigo in charge as the King. He approaches Wally to gloat and to tell him how everything was a waste of resources, as the queen died despite his machinations as well as Wally’s heroics. He was meant to be the King of Vltava.

Syd: Oh, but then there’s a double twist! It turns out that Perdita wasn’t dead and this was all a sting operation. She had recorded Vertigo’s inadvertent confession to attempted regicide, which voids his diplomatic immunity. The reports of Perdita’s death were part of a setup that Wally had manufactured to take down Count Vertigo. Werner Vertigo (wait a minute – his real name is Count Vertigo? Count Werner Vertigo?!) is arrested on the spot and hauled off to Belle Reve.

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Margaret: The Justice League track down the ice villains to Belle Reve, but Doctor Strange affirms that they were all locked down at the time of the crisis. Of course, he’s part of the Light, so his word is suspect.

As the episode closes, we hear that Wally’s true souvenir was the carrier of the heart, not the staff. The very fact that that was his take away really just goes to show that Wally was not a hero before this and reaffirms my decision that he was the worst. He certainly grew in this episode, but that doesn’t mean he was not the worst before or after this.

Syd: Wally is on the road to becoming a hero. Don’t be so coldhearted.

Margaret: Booooooooooo!

GRADING THE EPISODE

Syd: A. This was a nice self-contained story that fleshes Wally out a bit, which he was in dire need of.

Margaret: I think I’m at a B+. This episode actually made me not hate Wally. I still don’t really like him, but I no longer actively dislike him. He’s still the worst, though.

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