Misery in Space

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Young Justice Season 2, Episode 2

“Earthlings”

SUMMARY: On the planet Rann, the Team attempts to destroy the Krolotean zeta platform, which would prevent Kroloteans from teleporting to and from Earth. This affords the perfect opportunity for Conner and Garfield to work through personal emotional trauma.


Syd: So this episode opens in a forest on Rann, where Superboy, Miss Martian, Beast Boy, and an as-yet unidentified woman are being attacked by some sort of crab robot tank. This in media res opening is a good way to cut right to the action, because once the flashback starts, we are treated to a lot of dry exposition, though we have no context for this action and don’t really know what’s going on.

Margaret: But first! We get to see what the animals on Rann are like and they are little bird dragons that are super adorable. They remind me of green Lockheeds and I would like twenty, please.

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Syd: Beast Boy is with you. I love how he is immediately taken with alien animals – as much as Adam is taken with alien humans, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Margaret: I love Garfield’s enthusiasm with everything. It’s like they found a way to make an exuberant character that is not the worst, like Wally is. It’s also very cute that he calls Megan ‘sis’. It makes sense, as they’re now literally blood related, but it’s the emotional connection that I like.

Syd: So we flash back to our heroes arriving on Rann. Adam Strange starts introducing the Team to his Rannian contacts in Rannian before Megan gets the idea to psychically translate for them, sparing the audience subtitles.

Margaret: It is immediately apparent that Adam and Sardath’s daughter Alanna have a thing for each other.

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Syd: This show’s lightning fast shipping strikes again. So anyway, Sardath reexplains that the Justice League are wanted criminals on Rann due to their actions on Rimbor and further explains that they know about the Justice League because of intelligence the Kroloteans gathered on Earth.

Margaret: Sardath asks the others if they are associated with “those criminals” and Megan gives the very diplomatic and precise answer of, “We are not members of the League.” Even as the picture of her uncle is right there in the background. It is very technically true, but it is kind of lying in the spirit of the question.

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Syd: I mean, yeah, her uncle is clearly visible, but I’m sure everyone from the solar system looks the same to the Rannians. Speaking of which, it’s weird that Superboy is the one who takes umbrage to being referred to as an Earthling. Not only is he half human, but he’s from Earth and has never lived anywhere but Earth. Megan is the only one of their party who is not actually an Earthling and she seems fine with being lumped in with them.

Margaret: I assumed that Superboy was taking umbrage with continually being called Earthling as if it were a slur. He decides to defend himself by pointing out that of the people on Rann right now, only Strange is 100% human – which is what most people would consider ‘Earthling’. Megan is Martian, Conner is half Kryptonian, Garfield – by blood transfusion – has Martian blood. I guess it could be a matter of definition: point of origin or species.

Syd: The Rannians, for a civilization that has contact with alien worlds, is very xenophobic. Like how they seem to casually use the term “Krolotean” just to mean “thief” in their language. The Kroloteans are starting to seem more and more like Space Romani, and it’s making me sympathetic to them in a way the series might not intend.

Margaret: To a certain extent I agree that the way other aliens seem to treat them makes me wish to be sympathetic. However, the Kroloteans are also definitely kidnapping humans for experiments and wanting to take over planets. The Kroloteans are definitely not good guys in the light of that.

Syd: I guess my point isn’t that Kroloteans are good guys, but just that they are a people – the same way we’re Americans and Americans do shitty things all the time. I am not trying to defend the specific Kroloteans we see on the show, but also, I very strongly feel that I shouldn’t have to defend a race, if that makes sense.

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Margaret: It does! And, well, I don’t know how I can transition from space racism to Zeta Shield technology, but that’s what I kind of have to do? Sardath reveals that he’s been working on a technology called a Zeta Shield, which would make it so that no one could Zeta Tube on or off Earth, which is handy to stop an invasion. There is a Krolotean platform located on Rann that the Team will go to disable while Sardath will finish his design. Alanna will act as the Team’s guide.

Syd: And now the actual episode begins! Our heroes board a train that is being inspected by the Rannian Science Command, which is some sort of space authority. Adam Strange creates a diversion by quoting Lewis Carroll at them. Apparently the Science Command has standing orders to apprehend anyone Jabberwocking.

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Margaret: There’s no Lewis Carroll on Rann? What kind of horrible hellscape is this! This is exactly why xenophobia is bad!

Syd: Also why the Kroloteans are missing a prime opportunity to make a fortune pirating Earth poetry, literature, and film onto Rann. Meanwhile, Beast Boy takes an opportunity to start reminiscing with Megan and Conner about their relationship. Apparently he took their break up hard – or at least harder than Megan did.

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Margaret: I don’t know if that’s fair! Both Megan and Conner are clearly uncomfortable witnessing Alanna’s moment of intimacy with Adam. And Megan’s general way of dealing with things that are uncomfortable or painful is to bury it and pretend as if everything is okay. That’s what she did with her White Martian past and that seems to be what she is doing here with her break up with Conner. I find it very sweet that Garfield is trying to make Megan and Conner feel better, but that’s definitely not something he can fix.

Syd: So, in the forest, there’s a brief scene about how everything is trying to kill them, including burping quicksand, which was kind of adorable. Once they reach the Krolotean zeta platforms, Megan and Gar set up bombs, but then the Kroloteans from the previous episode teleport in and all hell breaks loose. Then there’s an action sequence and this is where we came in.

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Margaret: The action sequence is entertaining, but it seems to be leading up to other things. We learn that Megan – unlike Blue Beetle – cannot understand Krolotean. It’s too alien of a language for her to try to psychically understand it without them realizing what she is doing. Blue Beetle, however, had no trouble with it, which is surprising.

Syd: So, running from the Krolotean crab mechas, Megan and Garfield get separated from Conner and Alanna. Conner and Alanna hide in a cave, where Alanna, sensing the palpable awkwardness radiating off of Megan and Conner, asks how long the two of them were together. Conner answers, “All my life.” I guess with all that was going on in the first season, it didn’t occur to me how strange it was that Conner got involved with someone so soon after being created – especially with someone over 40 years his senior. Even considering their biology and maturity levels, the gap in their experience is significant. Conner tries to brush off Alanna’s questions about their relationship saying, “It’s complicated and weird.” Alanna points out that her boyfriend is an alien.

Margaret: So is Megan! It’s good for commiseration, but isn’t really a way to show how her relationship might be ‘weirder’ than Conner and Megan.

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Syd: Especially since Alanna and Adam are WAY more biologically similar than Conner and Megan. As Conner mentions, Megan, as shapeshifter, isn’t tied to a physical form, whereas Conner, as an engineered lifeform, never changes his. In a way I understand Alanna’s assertion that they should work well together because of that rather than in spite of it, but I can also imagine that being a point of conflict and resentment in a relationship.

Margaret: I can definitely see it from both angles. Conner brings up that she is with La’gann now and while he dislikes him, he treats her well. Alanna, trying to be helpful, tells him that Megan clearly still cares about him and that she may see the error of her ways in breaking up with him. Then, the bombshell drops that it was Conner that broke up with Megan, not the other way around. Apparently, she forced his hand. And what! All this dancing around why they broke up and what happened is certainly interesting for a mystery, but it is also frustrating. What happened! How would Megan ever force Conner to break up with her?

Syd: Well, we don’t find out this episode. Anyway, we cut to Megan and Gar playing in the trees, and they are so cute together. I love it.

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Margaret: As they race toward the agreed upon meet up – the monorail – Gar is distracted by a waterfall. He immediately stops and is reminded of the car crash that killed his mother. This is the first time we we really find out what happened to her. Apparently, Queen Bee had her killed.

Syd: It’s really chilling that they reflect his emotional trauma by having him turn into a human for the first time in two episodes. Apparently, he can take shapes other than animals, but he chooses not to. It’s kind of a disturbing thought that he doesn’t want to be human because it reminds him of a time in his life that is painful for him to think about.

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Margaret: Megan attempts to comfort him by saying she wished she had been there to help or do something. She urges Gar that they have to keep moving to get back and meet the others. Of course, they are interrupted by the crab robot tank, which knocks them out and takes them captive. With them as prisoners, apparently they are satisfied and decide to leave Rann.

Syd: Meanwhile, Alanna and Conner fight Mechas. Conner uses superspeed, which is one of his capabilities that he seems to draw on sparingly. Alanna co-opts Adam’s Jabberwock diversion to lure one of the mechas into burping quicksand, but saves the pilot before the mecha is destroyed.

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Margaret: I like that Alanna saves the pilot once she destroyed his machine. That’s nice character moment. Conner smashes the last mech and pulls Megan and Gar out. While Megan remains unconscious, he and Beast Boy decide to take on the big ship.

Syd: As Garfield smashes the ship in gorilla form, Conner remarks, “Kid, you may just change my mind about monkeys, yet.” Have Conner’s feelings about monkeys been established? I don’t recall him saying anything about monkeys this season. You would think they would say something if we were to infer he has some sort of standing relationship to monkeys.

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Margaret: Meanwhile, back on the surface, Megan wakes up. After finding she and Gar were kidnapped, they hear three of the Kroloteans waving for pick up. Unceremoniously, she telekinetically grabs one and then apparently mind kills him. After her eyes turn green, the creature’s eyes go glassy and he starts to drool out the side of his mouth before being dropped on the ground, where he remains motionless. Megan yanks his sash off and when Gar and Superboy returns, tosses it to him as a ‘souvenir’. Oh. My. God. Megan, what in the absolute hell are you doing?! That is so cold and horrible.

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Syd: Well, we have already seen Megan mindblast Ojo and Psimon. Now is just the first time that we see an outsider’s reaction. Alanna is confused, whereas Conner looks really upset. However, Megan psychically cuts Conner off when he tries to confront her, which actually makes things worse.

Margaret: It is really disturbing to me how casually this came across from Megan’s point of view. What in the world happened in those five years that made her so cavalier about something like that?

GRADING THE EPISODE

Syd: B+? The action was good, and everything was beautiful, but I kind of wanted more out of this. We got some character development from Beast Boy, but Conner and Megan – who, obviously, were the real draw – just inched forward. Then we see Megan kill someone with her mind.

Margaret: I’m at a B+, too. I liked the interactions between Megan and Beast Boy, however I also definitely am starting to feel like I’m floundering a bit without the stuff that happened in the five years before this. It’s an interesting story telling technique, but it also sometimes feel like they are hiding things from the audience simply for false suspense.

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