Young Justice Season 1, Episode 26
SUMMARY: With the Justice League under the control of Klarion, it is up to the kids to free them from their mind control and thwart the Light’s plan.
Syd: We start under Washington D.C. with Roy getting his cheek sliced by an arrow. Two things are notable about this: One, that after the previous episode’s ending, Roy is now being hunted by the Justice League, and Two, that this show will never shy away from blood, which may not be unusual nowadays, but is markedly different than the cartoons I watched as a child featuring the same characters.
Margaret: From his run from the Justice League, we can assume that Roy has broken his initial brainwashing, though we still don’t know why he did what he did.
Syd: Well, what’s nice about the cold opening is the ambiguity. We don’t know who the good guys are yet. Are a brainwashed Justice League chasing a Red Arrow who has broken his programming, or is a Justice League that has overcome their initial assault by Vandal Savage now hunting the traitorous Red Arrow?
Margaret: Luckily, we quickly find out the crux of the matter. After cutting to the Cove, through a debriefing of Batman and Red Tornado we find out that Roy is actually a clone that replaced the original Speedy as soon as he became Green Arrow’s sidekick.
Syd: So that means that the original Roy was in Project Cadmus throughout this series – including the World Without Grownups story (Episode 19 – “Misplaced”). So, all of the adults who usually work in Cadmus would have been absent at that time. Did Lex Luthor hire children to guard Speedy? Come to think of it, we know that Red Tornado was considered an “adult” for the purposes of Klarion’s spell. Did Lex build robot children?
Margaret: It’s totally possible! However, the entire thing seems suspect. We know that Roy put an alien thing in Batman. Does it work on Red Tornado? That’s for anyone to see. Neither of them seem to be at all concerned about the fact that the entire Watchtower is compromised, which is insanely weird. Of course, the Team doesn’t know that – only the audience does. It’s a very weird moment of audience, “Wait what do we actually know?”
It would make total sense for Batman to have a backup plan to make sure he wasn’t compromised by a mole he might have suspected for awhile. That’s a very Batman thing. However, his lack of information on a Watchtower we know is compromised is very weird. Something is off.
Syd: This is a nice tense moment, because when *SPOILERS* it turns out that the Justice League is under Klarion’s control, you realize, that he created a scenario where he used what the Team knows about the League and some details that turn out to be true to create a convincing lie. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The original Team is dismayed by the news. Zatanna offers a comforting hand on Robin’s shoulder, while Artemis hoverhands Wally. I think this is the first time that Artemis comes off as the awkward dork in their relationship. I don’t like it.
Margaret: Honestly, that’s one of the few times I like their relationship. It shows just how emotionally stunted Artemis is, too. It’s not just Wally that is the worst with something, Artemis has a hard time trusting and comforting. It bring a dynamic to the whole thing that I found interesting.
As Batman leaves, Red Tornado suddenly shuts down with no reason, leaving the Team in complete confusion as to why.
Syd: Robin knows that something is fishy because Batman referred to the Team as “kids,” which Batman never does. This is such classic Robin. I love this idea of solving mysteries by noticing meaningless details, like in one of my favorite comic book moments ever, from The Brave and the Bold #54:
Robin knows what’s up. Real kids in 1963 don’t use square words like “music” and Batman doesn’t call the Team “kids.” (Also, Batman doesn’t use hip language – he hates rock and roll. Don’t argue with me, it’s canon.)
Margaret: Zatanna, also, can sense a low level magic field on Red Tornado that she also sensed on Batman. It’s an interesting way the pair of them managed to come to the same conclusion: something is wrong with the Batman and Red Tornado and that might mean the Justice League, too. They find a Starro chip in his hand and have to wonder why he has that. Of course, we as the audience already know.
It seems clear that the cliff hanger of the last episode was not off screen resolved, so it leads me to wonder why in the world Batman would even tell the Team about Clone Roy. It makes no sense. He could have easily just chipped the entire Team while they had no idea what was going on. It makes absolutely no sense to put them on alert and then leave.
Syd: I think the idea was that no league member that they trusted implicitly could have acted quickly enough to chip all of them before they noticed something was wrong and started fighting back. Then again, the Flash was already under the Light’s control, which you would think would have made this episode much shorter.
Margaret: And as soon as Batman leaves, Red Tornado randomly tries to chip whoever is closest. It doesn’t seem to be a solid plan. If they were going to try and chip the Team, Batman should have stayed. Two of the Justice League against their proteges would certainly have been more of a fight. Instead, it’s just Red Tornado, who immediately fails. Good for plot, but terribly for evil plan believability.
Syd: Maybe the Light was overconfident? That’s the best I have. Honestly, seven criminal masterminds should have been able to think this through more carefully. They had SO MUCH time to plan this.
Anyway, the Team decides split up. Half stay to transfer Red Tornado’s mind into his Secret Identity’s body to get him working again. When Black Canary teleports in to check on them, she is having none of this.
Margaret: As soon as Red Tornado wakes up in his new body, he yells at the Team to get out of the Cave. Black Canary immediately screams and blows part of the John Smith body, giving him a creepy Terminator vibe. They manage to subdue Black Canary with some proper teamwork and then fly out using Sphere’s technology.
Syd: The Bioship team’s first priority is finding Roy. He was last seen at the Hall of Justice, and Kaldur knows where his weapons cache in D.C. is. When they get there, he is waiting with an arrow ready. To make sure that Kaldur isn’t being controlled, he asks him to tell him something only they know – who broke his heart. Kaldur says that Tula broke his heart by choosing his best friend over him, and then Roy broke his heart right now. I have to say, this moment was really sweet, but I wish there had been more moments between Kaldur and Roy earlier in the series to build up their relationship.
Margaret: That, to me, seems a bit weird as we’ve already seen that while the Justice League members are not themselves, they still seem to have their memories. So, it could have been pretty easy for a Starro controlled person to just think of an old memory and spit it out to Roy.
Syd: Yes, but Roy doesn’t know that. The point of the scene wasn’t that Roy thought of a clever way to determine who to trust, but to underline Kaldur’s emotions at that moment, which is great, because Kaldur is so often neglected on this show.
Margaret: I completely agree that Kaldur is often neglected. It’s something I’ve said multiple times – as I really like Kaldur. However I dislike the fact that an emotional moment is so used in a way that seems to be very transparent. I couldn’t enjoy it because all that was yelling through my head was, “This is a very poor litmus test Roy!”
Syd: I don’t know what from previous in the series made you expect Roy to be smart.
Margaret: I don’t need Roy to be smart, but both parties are being dumb in this matter. There is absolutely no reason for Kaldur to trust Roy as all their information is tainted – it came from a controlled Batman. Roy shouldn’t trust Kaldur because he happened to know a super obvious fact of his Atlantean life. On both sides there’s an idiot ball and I get they have to just get over it and move on, but it seemed far too pat to me in the moment.
Syd: Agreed, but at least we get them sharing what they know in the next scene, so we get the whole story. And honestly, if Roy had turned out to still be under the Light’s control, it’s not like the Team couldn’t have taken him down at any moment. So, to the exposition!
Margaret: I think you mean the flashbacks! As we have quite a few. We see multiple times where Roy’s programming took over. His anger at not being made a part of the Justice League in the first episode, his drive to strike out and prove himself, his distrust in everyone else on the Team. All of those things were programmed. There was even a cute trigger word: “Broken Arrow.” The term was brought up in a very non sequitur/bad joke way about halfway through the season.
Syd: I honestly didn’t expect anything at the time, because it was on the same level as all of Sportsmaster’s “jokes.”
Margaret: Right! I never expected it to mean anything. It was a really neat callback and an explanation to what I assumed was a truly bad joke at the time.
Syd: Back on the Watchtower, Black Canary and the Reds – Arrow and Tornado – report back to Vandal Savage, only for him to reveal that Klarion had been remote controlling everyone, so they knew when the mind control was broken on those three. With their ruse a failure and the three Leaguers held captive by Hal Jordan, Vandal takes a prime opportunity to start monologuing.
Margaret: Thus starts the season loose end wrap up. Vandal Savage tells his captives how he believes that the Justice League have actually stunted progress and so he has seen to it personally to counteract that. In a lot of desaturated flashbacks, we see all the different ways in the various episodes previous that have brought us to this point by lies, science and mind magic. In other words, he has planned for this day for years and there is nothing they can do to stop him!
It is a moment best exemplified by Buddy Pine:
Syd: Wait, so they do a cutaway to the Light’s operatives, and one of them – blink and you’ll miss it – was to Orm. That’s the reveal? That’s how they’re telling us that Orm was evil the whole time? Fuck that. Until we get something more concrete, I’m still going to assume that Orm isn’t evil. In fact, I know Orm wasn’t evil, because he had the last sample of Starro’s arm and he turned it over to STAR Labs, not to any organization run by the Light, requiring Klarion to disappear all of the adults in the world so that Eddie Nigma could steal Starro, which would have been completely unnecessary if Orm were evil. The editor of this episode is trying to libel the perfectly innocent Prince of Atlantis.
Margaret: As he monologues, the Team have infiltrated the base and start to apply their anti-patch to whoever they see. It’s incredibly effective, but Klarion immediately starts to realize that he is losing mind controlled robots. And, also, that three of those are Black Canary, Red Tornado and Red Arrow.
Syd: Klarion calls in six mind controlled Justice Leaguers – the original members of the Justice League, except for the Flash – and there’s a fight scene that the non-infected Justice League members lose badly. In one moment, Superman and Wonder Woman pull off Red Tornado’s limbs like they were making a wish on a wishbone, and it’s wonderful, because basically, they could do that to anyone at any time, but because it’s a children’s cartoon show, they chose the one person who could be reassembled. Sure, you could argue that the Light needed some of the Justice League alive, but you honestly couldn’t tell me that Red Arrow would have been THAT useful.
Margaret: Due to the fact that they have engineered some form of antidote, Savage decides that none of the Team needs to be taken alive. This raises the stakes for our heros! Any one of them could die!
Syd: Dr. Fate, Icon, and Captain Marvel teleport in. The former two get deprogrammed in short order. Captain Marvel flies at Zatanna, who magically makes him turn back into Billy Batson, who is not mind controlled, and crashes into her. It’s a cute moment, which is followed by the pathos of her unsuccessfully trying to remove Dr. Fate’s helmet and finding that the magic holding her father captive is too strong.
Margaret: It’s also interesting to me that Billy isn’t infected by Starro, but Captain Marvel is. I feel like they still need to disinfect Captain Marvel because as soon as he Shazams again, he’s going to be Light controlled, right?
Syd: Eh. They’ll cross that bridge when they get to it. In the meantime, Robin fights Batman, Superboy fights Superman, and Miss Martian fights J’onn. Megan is able to mentally overwhelm her uncle, but the two most popular D.C. heroes require teamwork to take down.
Margaret: The best of this team up is BB8 outright crushing Superman when he tries to attack Conner.
Syd: Also great is Superboy fastball-specialling Robin. Anyway, once Batman is down, Robin uses some kryptonite that he stole from the batcave to take down Superman. Robin remarks on how whelmingly penetrable the batcave turned out to be.
Margaret: No matter the situation, Robin certainly has the undefined words for it!
Savage and Klarion realize that this battle is lost, but they decide to leave it as it is because the Justice League must be alive for ‘Phase 2’. They disappear in a void of Klarion’s making just in time for the clock to strike midnight. And that means everyone must kiss! Wally finally kisses Artemis. Conner and Megan kiss, Zatanna grabs Dick for a kiss. Rocket kisses Kaldur on the cheek right by his lips.
Poor Red Tornado, limbs still torn off, comments that, “Human customs still elude me.” Yes. It is pretty rude for everyone to make out while he’s still drawn and quartered.
Syd: Oh, I’m sure Wonder Woman kissed him shortly after. Things worked out for everyone.
Margaret: Wait, Wonder Woman is in this show?
Syd: Sorry, I meant Captain Atom.
Superboy and Superman have a scene together where they reveal each other’s secret identities – which serves as a symbol for their willingness to form a closer bond and for Superman to finally accept Superboy, despite his inauspicious origins. However, knowing that they both have the same voice actor, I was just picturing Nolan North talking to himself as I know he did to record this.
Margaret: In the wrap up, Red Arrow is trying to figure out who he is and what that means for his life. He calls himself a traitor and refuses to go by Roy. He is determined to find Speedy, no matter what it takes.
Syd: Unfortunately, that may be harder than it seems, as Ra’s Al-Ghul, Queen Bee, and Ocean Master are already in Project Cadmus, gathering up whatever resources they can before the Justice League raids them. They take Match and Speedy. Guardian seems to be mind controlled. Amanda Spence is on the ground, perhaps dead, but almost certainly dead.
Margaret: Also, Speedy has an arm off!
At the end of this episode, we learn that six members of the Justice League were missing for 16 hours: Martian Manhunter, Hawkwoman, John Stewart Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman. No one has any idea what they did in that time, but that certainly seems like it will come into play in Season 2. It’s a good cliffhanger, but I also feel as if little was actually resolved in this season closer. The League and the Team now know everything we did, but there is little actual plot resolvement with the Light, just another hinted at plan.
Don’t get me wrong, I like it, but I got to the end and thought, “Wait that’s the end?”
Syd: The Light’s initial salvo was thwarted, all of the Team members got some character development, and there is a mystery to keep you tuning in. I’d say that’s a pretty successful first season.
GRADING THE EPISODE
Syd: This is an A end to the season. This is why this needed a second season. It leaves you with a mystery, sure, but it also leaves you with characters you care about and want to see more of.
Margaret: This is definitely an A episode. There were parts where I simply wasn’t taking notes because I was so invested in the fights and the story. It was a satisfying end to the season and set up a mystery for next one that has me invested. Man, this is a really good show!