Young Justice Season 1, Episode 24
SUMMARY: A string of robberies seems to be linked to the circus where Robin used to work. Robin sets out to save the circus’ reputation and find the real thief, while Red Arrow tries to determine which member of the Team is the mole.
Syd: We start at the circus in Bruges, with our heroes posing as a family of acrobats – the Dangers. All of their names are alliterative, because their parents thought they were clever.
Margaret: They always knew they were going to be a circus act and had the foresight to name them appropriately! Robin, who grew up in a circus, should be in his element. However, he caught a 24-hour flu and therefore misses his catch and almost falls. Superboy and Megan subtly use their powers to save him.
Syd: Robin chastises Megan for using her powers publicly, potentially compromising their cover. Frankly, I think that telekinesis would make a way better circus act than acrobatics, but then I don’t call the shots.
Margaret: In a flashback, Robin gives a debrief that someone in the circus is stealing weapons tech throughout Europe. The thefts coincide with stops on Haly’s Circus so Batman is sending them undercover in order to catch who it is.
Syd: Roy insinuates himself into the Team, because of the group that Robin has assembled – Artemis, Miss Martian, and Superboy – Roy is convinced that one is the mole and could be sabotaging the mission. I get his logic, that those are the three who are the newest and whom they know the least about, but you’d think if they were going to pull something, they would have done it before they had a Justice League member accompanying them and watching them with obvious suspicion.
Margaret: Agreed. I see what he’s trying to accomplish, but by insisting on attending as a public member as opposed to just accompanying them secretly and watching from afar he all but ensures that no one is going to try anything, therefore defeating the purpose of him coming along in the first place.
Backstage at Haly’s, an agent from Interpol arrives, suspicious of the circus and convinced that Haly is to blame for the thefts.
Syd: The Interpol agent, King Faraday is someone I immediately distrust, because he has Lex Luthor’s voice. Look, I know that this show has a lot of recognizable voices, but Clancy Brown can’t be anyone else in my mind. It makes The Shawshank Redemption more interesting.
Margaret: Captain Hadley can’t be Lex Luthor, he has too much hair.
Syd: Lex Luthor can buy wigs!
Conner thinks that the Team’s presence is unnecessary with Interpol already on the case, but Robin says that Batman thinks otherwise. A shadowy figure breaks into a warehouse with an acrobatic feat that makes Roy think that he is definitely Carlo (who is a character in this episode I guess?) which is how we know that it is definitely not Carlo.
Margaret: Everyone gets into position and Conner decides this is a good time to use one of the shields that Lex gave him. Conner! What are you doing!? Those things are from Lex, there is no way anything good comes out of it.
Syd: The thief breathes fire like the fire breathing circus performer whose name I refuse to remember, setting off a crate of live ammunition. He escapes while the rest of the Team has to tend to Miss Martian (who is weak to extreme heat, being Martian) and Robin (who is weak to being sick, being human).
Margaret: Superboy is adamant that they follow after the bad guys and it is only when Robin reminds him that the Team is more important and that they need to get Megan to safety. It’s clear the shields are making Superboy more like Match: violent and impulsive.
Syd: Haly insists to King Faraday that no one in his circus was out the night of the robbery, which we know is untrue because the “Dangers” were out in their superhero identities. They think that the entire circus is involved, because the thieves (or thief – as they have only seen one at a time, dressed the same way) has the abilities of every member of the circus. Robin thinks that can’t be the case and is dead set on clearing Haly’s name, due to them having worked together when he was in the circus.
Margaret: After Robin storms off, he walks down a line of posters, stopping in front of one advertising “The Flying Graysons.” Then, he gets a call from Wally, who is trying to find out where he is and why he left Wally behind.
Syd: So, it turns out that this mission was not ordered – nor even known about – by the Justice League. This was a personal mission for Robin. He didn’t want Wally, who knows his personal motivation, to come along and question him. Wally insists that’s what best friends are for. These past few episodes, Wally has been so not the worst. Where was this sweetheart Wally in the first half of the season?
Margaret: Except that he is making a bologna sandwich and bologna is so gross.
Syd: Meanwhile, at the circus, Superboy blows Red Arrow’s cover. Because of his super hearing, he knows that Roy is just there because he thinks one of them is a traitor.
Margaret: Roy, still suspicious of everyone, escalates the fight until the still somewhat ‘roided out Superboy threatens to rip off his head. Way to make it seem like you’re trustworthy, Conner.
Syd: Artemis flat out tells him, “None of us are perfect, but any one of us would give our lives for this team.” That’s kind of obvious to anyone watching the Team’s adventures. The problem with this mole hunt subplot is that, although we as an audience know that there has to be a traitor, because it would be a huge anticlimax otherwise, any one of them being the traitor would be heartbreaking.
Margaret: Everyone is packing up the train to Geneva when Ray the Roustabout offers to help Megan with her luggage. Almost immediately, she is stricken by the same flu that Robin had.They find out that Ray rubbed Robin’s head for luck right before his own sickness, meaning there is a connection to Ray and the virus.
Syd: They go through the mystery portion of this episode in a hurry and reach the conclusion that Ray is actually the Parasite, who has been absorbing everyone’s abilities. That was fairly useful when he had circus abilities, but downright dangerous now that he has shapeshifting and telekinesis, too.
Margaret: Conner tracks Parasite and puts on another shield in order to combat him, chasing him to the roof of the train to do epic battle.
Syd: Hooray! Train fight! Those are always the best!
Margaret: During the fight, Parasite manages to grab onto Conner and steal his shield enhanced powers. The entire time he keeps using food terms and talking about how he’s ‘satiated’ by stealing Conner’s powers. It’s pretty gross. Using those powers, he fire eyes the bows out of Red Arrow and Artemis’ hands and then flies off.
Robin points out that Parasite stole powers that Superboy doesn’t even have, so Superboy covers his tracks by saying he has the genetic potential for it, which must be enough for Parasite. Conner, stop lying!
Syd: During the fight, Robin had managed to steal a flash drive off of Parasite that had the plans for the black hole generating device that Ray was stealing parts for. Good thing he doesn’t need that drive, or else he would have to come back to get it. Robin figures out that he’s working for Intergang and that they will need a boson collider from Geneva to finish the device. There are a lot of questions that are neither asked nor answered, like why Ugly Mannheim wants to open a black hole or why the circus’ tour seemed to coincide with the parts he needed. I guess that doesn’t matter when there are villains to punch.
Margaret: They make their way to the boson collider and Robin says they need a plan in order to distract or disable Parasite so they can turn off the device. As he’s speaking, the shield raging Superboy Leroy Jenkins right into the fray with a considerate shout to alert Parasite that he’s charging.
Syd: It’s a good thing that the Team was there to stop him, because Parasite was about to open a black hole in Geneva while he was still in Geneva. He clearly didn’t think this plan through.
Margaret: As Superboy charges in, Roy is about to interrupt the fight so that Parasite can’t steal even more Kryptonian powers. However, Megan stops him. She formulates a plan based on the idea that if he got her strengths, he also got her weaknesses and that means he will be weak to fire and they can use that against him.
Syd: Ok, this whole idea of Parasite absorbing people’s weaknesses along with their strengths makes no sense. So he’s weak to fire because he has Martian powers, but is he less weak because he also has the powers of several humans, who are more resistant to heat than Martians? Also, speaking of having the powers of multiple humans, humans are susceptible to broken bones. Prior to getting Martian powers, was he getting stronger AND more brittle with each human he fed off of? Did he also absorb Robin’s powers for wordplay? Why didn’t he use that? Is it because Kryptonians are wordplay resistant? I don’t get Parasite at all.
I mean, there’s a tendency in a lot of science fiction to view humans as the default “normal” and whatever qualities aliens have as something extra on top of the normal qualities of humans – and that’s actually justified in Parasite’s case, because he is a human and the abilities he gains when he feeds off of people are the ones that are an addition to his natural abilities. However, that isn’t how his powers work in this series, where Megan and Conner’s powers are treated as an innate part of their biology, and extrapolating out, Parasite gains everyone’s abilities, even if they aren’t “superhuman.” It’s a neat idea, but you run into problems when you also have him absorbing “weaknesses” and then try to extrapolate out what that means when he feeds on humans. How many human weaknesses had he been absorbing? Did he gain alcoholism? Anxiety? Depression? Conversely, was he more resistant to depression because he has the combined serotonin of a whole circus? Also, even if no one in the circus had skin problems, would Parasite be prone to breakouts just because he had the combined oils from the skins of everyone he had absorbed (including multiple teenagers)? Is that why his skin looks like that?
The more I think about it, though, the more interested I am in the mental aspect of Parasite’s powers – and we know that there is a mental aspect, because Parasite immediately knows how to use all of the powers he absorbs and the firebreather’s ability is definitely a learned skill, not a physical capability. One might naturally assume that along with powers, he also absorbs people’s trauma and chemical imbalances. In a dark and edgy reimagining, I’m sure you could have him gain the madness of the entire circus. However, logically, he is also absorbing the whole circus’ coping mechanisms, so as he becomes stronger (and more brittle), he’s also becoming SUPER well-adjusted.
Margaret: Artemis and Roy distract Parasite and then trick him into igniting flammable gas with his fire eyes. The weakness absorption plan works and he passes out, just in time for Interpol to come and arrest with him with an inhibitor. Artemis holds out a and to help Roy up and he accepts because apparently he now trusts them all. Seeing them work in the field has shown him that none of them could be the mole, so therefore there is no mole on the team. What horribly flawed logic.
Syd: Roy is kind of dumb.
Margaret: With Haly’s Circus saved, Dick tells Jack that the Dangers will be leaving. Haly thanks him, seeing through the Danger act and knowing they were responsible for helping him.
Then, he calls Robin by his real first name, to which he stutters and attempts to cover. Haly, however, tells Dick that some things never change and he would never forget the sight of a Grayson on the trapeze. It’s a really sweet scene and a nice way to cap off this insight into Dick’s past.
GRADING THE EPISODE:
Margaret: I’m at an A for this. I loved this episode. It was really cute and I liked seeing more about the circus where Dick grew up.
Syd: Absolutely an A. This was a wonderful one-off mission.