Young Justice Season 1, Episode 23
SUMMARY: When Red Arrow joins the Team in tracking down Sportsmaster, Artemis is eager to prove her worth to the Team. However, her eagerness to complete the mission on her own leads to the mission’s failure.
Syd: Our episode starts with a shot of a spider web, and then a shot of The Black Spider – as voiced by Josh Keaton, who has experience playing spider themed superheroes.
Margaret: This is the DC evil version of Spider-Man, right?
Syd: I guess? Honestly, I’ve only seen this character in Young Justice comics and cartoons. I think the reference is that Greg Weisman, Peter David, and Josh Keaton have all done extensive Spider-Man work and this is a shout-out for the fans. Who knows? Maybe this Black Spider character has deep resonance for the themes of this episode.
Margaret: As I have assumed this is a Spider-Man allusion, I’m assuming him attacking a ‘crusading’ journalist is a bit of jab at the photojournalist Peter Parker.
Syd: That’s kind of an oblique reference. That seems as unlikely as including Bernell Jones as a character in a cameo in the first season of a series to have something pay off in the third. Probably just a coincidence.
Margaret: A coincidence. Uh huh.
Syd: Anyway, Green Arrow and Artemis show up and save Bernell when he is dropped from a window. Bernell’s daughter seems really impressed as anyone would be. Fuck yeah, archery!
Margaret: Together, Green Arrow and Artemis stop Black Spider and Artemis is effusively happy about this success.
Syd: She has the beautiful line, “Did you see the look on his mask?” The dialogue is on point this episode. Of course, that doesn’t forgive Sportsmaster’s lines about freeing Ivo from the ::sigh:: “penalty box.”
Margaret: Cutting to Belle Reve, Sportsmaster is there for nefarious purposes and horrible sports references. We see Ivo visiting Tom Morrow for unknown reasons.
Syd: It turns out the meeting was an alibi to cover for Ivo’s escape. The Ivo meeting with Morrow was just a robot. It’s a shame because I totally ship Ivo/Morrow. Mad Science Bros.
Margaret: At this point I have to wonder what resources are available to inmates. It’s shown that the Ivo talking to Tom is a life-life automaton of some sort that Strange shuts down after Ivo has left. What is the point of that! Either the inmates have an irresponsible amount of dangerous material available to them, or Dr. Strange is horribly negligent. Either way, it should certainly warrant an outside investigation on Belle Reve.
Syd: I think the resources available to them depend on how closely they are working with Strange – who we have established is involved with the Light.
Margaret: True! It just seems like way more than is necessary. With that close of an association with the Light, just let him escape. There doesn’t seem to be a great need for an expensive robot to be in the room with Tom when the only witness is Strange himself.
Syd: I think the Audio-Animatronics show was for the surveillance cameras. It helps establish that Strange didn’t facilitate the escape. Also, it’s cooler visually than Strange just letting Ivo free.
Margaret: This is true. It’s a minor quibble, just one that caught me.
Syd: Back in Gotham, Artemis recounts her latest exploits with her mother.
Margaret: Paula says that she is pleased Artemis found her place with the Team and was worried at first when Batman and Green Arrow approached her. Unknown to Artemis, she was approached first as they wanted to clear it with her guardian before actually bringing it to the both of them. She tells Artemis that due to her past crimes as Huntress, she wanted to make sure Artemis did not follow her path.
Holy crap! Paula was Huntress! That’s actually a name I know. There was a Helena Bertinelli that was Huntress on Arrow. She was kind of obsessed with Oliver and was a rich white woman, so this is different.
Syd: Remember, this is a different universe from Arrow. In this universe, Kaldur’ahm is Aqualad. We have to assume that in this reality, Aqualad helped Helena Bertinelli work through her issues. He really turned her life around, hence why she isn’t Huntress.
Margaret: Totally possible! Artemis, meanwhile, is starting to fear that her placement on the Team was done out of pity rather than them recognizing her as a talent that should be recruited.
Syd: Artemis decides that she is in fact unique and essential to the Team and then confidently enters Mt. Justice, where she finds out that Red Arrow has decided to join the team temporarily, which may have left them with one archer too many. This episode is kind of interesting on a meta level, knowing that when the series was first pitched, Greg Weisman had wanted Red Arrow to be a regular member of the team, but Brandon Vietti had pulled for Artemis to be the resident archer. I don’t know the reason for each creator’s decision, but I can see how someone might want as much of the Silver Age Teen Titans back together as possible while someone else might not want a team overloaded with white dudes. Whatever their reasoning, when Vietti won out, there might have been some concern that in a world that already had Green and Red Arrows, Artemis was redundant. This episode confronts that concern head on.
Margaret: Back with the bad guys, Klarion is upset that Sportsmaster brought him Ivo instead of Tom Morrow and displays that with the perfectly snotty response, “I didn’t order this, take it back.”
Syd: I think I like how Peter David writes Klarion, despite not liking him under any other circumstances.
Margaret: Inside, Green Arrow debriefs the Team that they found Sportsmaster through facial recognition software and that a small team should go and track him. Despite splitting them and not putting Artemis on this mission, she insists on going.
Syd: Wally shows uncharacteristic sensitivity, noting how Artemis seemed put off and seemingly came along on the mission because she has something to prove, he tries to reassure her in his characteristically awkward way. Artemis catches his meaning, and after several episodes of them being shipped, here I really felt a connection and understanding between them.
Margaret: This is one of the few instances where Wally is not the worst. He is sincere and empathetic. It really threw me off.
Syd: Anyway, when the Team lands in New Orleans, Cheshire ambushes Artemis. Could I just say that Cheshire is awesome? Because she’s so awesome.
Margaret: Red Arrow and Artemis fight Cheshire and she essentially toys with them. At one point, she pulls off her mask to kiss Roy while she has him pinned, telling him, “A kiss is just a kiss.” Almost immediately, Wally runs up and knocks her away with the retort, “And a sai is just a sai.” Dammit, Wally, don’t make me try and like you.
Syd: Ok, so Cheshire doesn’t reveal the secret of why she’s working with Sportsmaster, nor Artemis’ secret of her family ties, but she’s fine with revealing Roy’s secrets. I mean, clearly, this is an established relationship, right? When Artemis says, incredulously, “You two are dating?” all Roy can offer is a weak “No,” as if in an anime and he’s saying, “It’s not like I like her or anything. Baka.”
Margaret: Throughout the fight, Artemis plants quite a few trackers on Cheshire and the train that passes. Roy accuses her of being disloyal, which leads to her tossing the tracker to him. However, Wally snatches it from Roy and hands it back. They really are shipping these two pretty hard.
Syd: The action in this section moves too fast and it’s hard to follow. I guess with the way modern action movies go, that’s a weird complaint – it’s not Michael Bay level incoherent, but I did find it hard to keep up. It’s just that this episode has so many good character beats, but the action sequences are not working for me at all.
Margaret: Artemis follows Cheshire’s tracker without telling anyone. Of course, Cheshire knew that Artemis had put a tracer on her and, in fact, also knew that Red Arrow was following Artemis. Showing her a feed of the outside on a tablet, she alerts Artemis to the fact that Sportsmaster is waiting to javelin Red Arrow from above. To save him from that, she shoots an explosive arrow at the door, initiating a fight.
Syd: Roy chastises Artemis for not radioing the rest of the team, to which Artemis snidely replies, “Artemis to Red Arrow, look out.” Again, there is a huge gulf in this episode between how fun and engaging the dialogue is and how frustratingly lackluster the action is.
Margaret: Curious as to what Red Tornado needs an apartment for when he doesn’t eat, sleep or change clothes, Zatanna, Megan and Conner invade his privacy and find a robotic body. They’re caught by Red Tornado in the act, who reveals that he was building an android to download his consciousness into in order to better interact with humans.
Syd: Zatanna magics up some pants for the android, which she recognizes as essential for human interaction, though, as a human, I find my best interactions have been without them.
Margaret: As Roy fights Sportsmaster, Artemis clashes with Cheshire until Wally runs in to help, relieving Artemis to run to the back room. There, she sees most of the Light with the starfish tentacle. When she attempts to hold them there, Klarion turns the Light to ice and teleports everyone away.
Syd: The Team meets back up at Mt. Justice, where Roy reveals that Artemis had ditched the team to take on the villains by herself, thinking that she could prove her worth by taking them in on her own, though ultimately she may have been responsible for the mission’s failure. Wally takes this harder than anyone, but Kaldur chalks it up to a simple mistake. Margaret and I might argue about who is the worst, but I think we can agree that Kaldur is a pretty stand-up guy.
Margaret: I love Kaldur! He’s a good leader and a good guy. I wish there was more arcs focusing on him.
Syd: When Artemis returns to her home, she finds Sportsmaster waiting for her. Of course, Sportsmaster is also her father, which is news to people watching the show, but people who read the comic already knew. I kind of like that the revelation is given enough weight that it feels momentous, but not so much that it feels like the only purpose of the scene is to reveal something that everyone in the scene already knows. That’s a hard thing to pull off.
Margaret: Agreed. I haven’t read the comics, so that was quite a bombshell to me! But, I liked how it was handled and how the focus of the scene wasn’t the reveal, but a testing of Artemis’ loyalties – not from the Team but from the other side. It’s a nice character development beat to end the episode on.
GRADING THE EPISODE:
Margaret: I’m at a B+ for this episode. I liked finding out more about Artemis’ past, but it also feels like a step backward for them to doubt Artemis’ loyalty all over again.
Syd: I’ll give it a C+. The actual plot was hard to follow and it didn’t really feel resolved by the end. It was fun, but not really fulfilling.