Diary of a Mad Black Manta

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Young Justice Season 2, Episode 3

“Alienated”

SUMMARY: Discovering that they committed atrocities on Rimbor while under the Light’s control, six members of the Justice League turn themselves in to the authorities, but first they do battle under a volcano with Black Manta’s troops led by Black Manta’s son, Kaldur’ahm.


Margaret: We start out with a VO of Godfrey being terrible – as he always is, talking about the Justice League trying to find a way to root out aliens who are disguising themselves as people. Bumblebee and Blue Beetle enter a diner and we learn that the program is coming from the restaurant’s TV set.

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Syd: So the “Bibbo” who is watching Godfrey’s show – as we soon see – is actually a Krolotean in a fleshy mech suit, which makes me wonder – why is an alien watching anti-alien propaganda? Is this an alien with emotional issues, or is this like those assholes who are totally progressive, for reals, and think Donald Trump is HILARIOUS. Either way, I think I hate this alien.

Margaret: I assumed it was part of his disguise. Of COURSE I’m not an alien, I like Godfrey, who hate aliens! No aliens here in this diner wearing people suits!

Syd: Then he’s drawing too much attention to himself. No wonder he got found out.

Margaret: Somehow he immediately recognizes Karen and Jaime out of costume and that means they must be coming after him, so Bibbo bolts out the back. How did he recognize them? They look very different when they’re in their superhero outfits.

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Syd: Maybe he runs out whenever a customer comes in because he doesn’t know how to run a diner. This was just the first time anyone chased after him. That also explains why he had his space vehicle in such a convenient place. He probably gets a lot of use out of it.

Margaret: Yeah, and why he didn’t have any customers. Also, can we talk about that he just had some sort of crazy speed scooter just hiding in the sewer behind the diner? Why a sewer? Theses aliens have the ability to make bodies that look human enough to fool people for years…they aren’t smart enough to find a better hiding place for their escape vehicles?

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Syd: Maybe on Krolotea, people just flush their old cars when they’re done with them, and this guy assumed that’s how it works on Earth too. Completely unsuspicious.

Margaret: How did they not get found out sooner!? I’m just imagining some random guy trying to flush his car down a toilet and his neighbor just walking by and shrugging. I know Manhattanites generally mind their own business, but that’s ridiculous!

Syd: While Blue Beetle is talking to himself, the Krolotean speeds off to rendezvous with Black Manta in a huge Manta Ship – also completely inconspicuous.

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Margaret: Seriously. I’m starting to wonder if all of this just shows how horribly incompetent the Justice League is. These aliens are not really hiding. How was this not discovered sooner?

Syd: Back in STAR Labs, Megan, Gar, Conner, and Adam return to Earth, having successfully set up a Zeta shield to prevent interplanetary travel and keep the plot from getting completely out of hand. Adam says that it won’t affect their Zeta tube usage, but I feel like the Justice League could have gotten a lot of use out of the instantaneous interstellar travel they just shut themselves off from.

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Margaret: I imagine that’s something they could revoke once the third season hits, as it doesn’t seem as if it is exactly permanent. Megan also tells the others that they have more information on what happened during the missing 16 hours. As she has been doing a lot, she relies on psychic telepathy to show the others what she learned from the Krolotean she mind killed. However, she uses the term ‘successfully interrogated’. WTF Megan?

Syd: Well, she was successful. She wasn’t wrong about that. I should point out that it is not revealed if this is something she has done before. Is she trying to hide her mind blasting, or does she just not bring it up because the Justice League is not comfortable talking about it?

Margaret: She doesn’t act like someone who is hiding anything. She doesn’t hide what she does from Alanna and she doesn’t seem to think twice about pulling off the sash and tossing it to Gar. It’s not brought up if she’s done this before and that’s actually a bit more disturbing. Does the Justice League know that’s how she interrogates people and is just fine with it?

Syd: Or maybe they aren’t entirely fine with it, but tolerate it because it’s so effective.

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Margaret: As I said, more disturbing. Mind killing aside, she relays the information that the Kroloteans paid off a Rannian official to land a station on Rann and then hid one in New Orleans. The Light used the mind controlled Justice Leaguers to attack a planet called Rimbor, fighting everyone and tearing everything apart they could find while conspicuously shouting in a multitude of alien languages that they were the Justice League. I would say that is ridiculous and everyone should have seen through just how ridiculous it is for a group of bad guys to do that, but….Riddler.

Syd: Captain Atom asks Green Lantern the very reasonable question of how he possibly could not have known about any of this. John says that Rimbor isn’t part of his sector, so he wasn’t appraised, but he’ll go off to Oa to consult with the Green Lantern Corps. Seriously, though, I’m sort of disturbed by how the Green Lantern Corps is being run. Surely, Rimbor’s Green Lantern knew about this or Rann’s Green Lantern or one of the myriad Green Lanterns throughout the galaxy. I feel like a Green Lantern being involved in an interplanetary assault would at the very least reflect badly on the Corps. Shouldn’t there have been some sort of disciplinary proceedings? At the VERY LEAST, John could have been told. What sort of organization is this in charge of regulating the most powerful military force in the universe?

Margaret: Maybe John isn’t actually a member of the Green Lantern Corps. Maybe he just randomly found a ring and has been using the powers, lying to everyone else about trips to Oa. That’s my explanation.

Syd: That’s… completely plausible. Anyway, in the Hall of Justice, Catherine Cobert is giving a guided tour, which seems outside of her job description as public affairs officer, but maybe she does this for fun? It gives us a chance to see the Appellaxians, the alien threat that first brought the League together and to show that public opinion is turning against the League, even among people who are taking a tour of the League’s headquarters.

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Margaret: One of the three people she’s giving the tour to whispers sotto voce that G. Gordon Godfrey says the Justice League is operating with the aliens, to which she gives a dirty look. If that’s what he thinks about the Justice League…why is he taking this tour? That seems very contrarian.

Syd: Obviously his boyfriend dragged him along, and he’s just being a dick to get under his skin. I give that relationship another week.

Margaret: In an interrogation room, J’onn has been interrogating a Krolotean for days without getting anywhere. Batman brings in Megan – with Conner in tow – because he had such success in getting information out of the Kroloteans on Rann. She immediately goes in and lobotomizes them. She gets a lot of useful information, but is no one going to talk about this? J’onn gives her a look and Superboy looks concerned, but there is absolutely and utterly no other consequence for her actions. What is going on! I mean, I expect this from Batman, but J’onn??

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Syd: Again, the scene cuts away right when Conner and J’onn notice that something is wrong. We don’t see what they say to Megan or even if they say anything. We are given infuriatingly little information.

Margaret: Yeah. It seems as if the Justice League know of and are either willing to overlook it or condone the behavior. That’s not cool. However, the information she obtains is useful. She tells them that there is a base under a volcano and this is turning into The Incredibles.

Syd: Oh come on! Brad Bird didn’t invent volcano lairs!

Margaret: He didn’t, but this is animation, not James Bond! Cut to said volcano lair where the Mantamobile pulls into the lair. The Kroloteans discuss about how the ship is almost ready, so they can leave Earth. Back in the ship, the guy we thought was Black Manta is actually talking to Black Manta. So who is this guy? Okay, Black Manta calls him son, so he’s Black Manta’s son! That makes sense, they’ve got a similar costuming set and in comics that’s how that works. Then, he takes off the helmet and we find out that Black Manta’s son is…KALDUR? AND HE’S WORKING WITH THE KROLOTEANS? WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?! No! This is some bullshit right here!

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Syd: With that, it’s time for the big action scene. The Batfamily goes in with Aquaman and his new Aqualad, Lagoon Boy. Batman batmans some guys and Nightwing calls out for Batgirl to execute maneuver 7. That’s the same number from the 14th episode of the first season. Is that the same maneuver or have they renumbered since then? I’ll never know, because I won’t go back to check.

Margaret: The Kroloteans inside lament about the loss of Earth, as it would have been profitable. They keep bringing up the Competitor who brought in the Main Man (who I’ve been informed is Lobo) and I want to know who this Competitor is!

Syd: I’m impressed that you were able to tune out Lobo’s dialogue to the point that you had forgotten that he constantly refers to himself as “The Main Man,” but I’m still kind of skeptical about how main Lobo really is. Then again, should I be begrudging his right to self-identify? Yes, because Lobo sucks.

Margaret: I think anyone who calls themselves ‘the main man’ is already a douche. Kaldur, as he is insightful, knows immediately when the base is being attacked and also who might be involved. He counterattacks and actively attempts to maim or kill everyone in a sequence that breaks my heart. Kaldur! Why!

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Syd: About this time, Superman and Wonder Woman show up with Superboy and Wonder Girl respectively. Apparently, in the last five years, Clark and Conner became bffs and are now pulling off “combos” like the fight is a video game. It’s really cute.

Margaret: Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl have a very cute moment, too, where Diana easily takes out a mech and Cassie is – understandably – impressed and gushes about how cool it is. So much so that she is almost shot by one of the mechs that Wonder Woman has to save her from. “A little less fangirl a little more Wonder Girl” she reminds Cassie. I’m just so glad to see more of Wonder Woman in the first few episodes than we saw of her in ANY of the first season. She has speaking lines!

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Syd: Also, I’m loving Cassie. This season has some really fun characters.

Margaret: It does! On a less fun note, Kaldur actively attacks Aquaman and Lagoon Boy. They knock his helmet off to reveal his face to everyone. Apparently only Nightwing knew that he had defected and everyone else did not actually believe it. An angry Kaldur yells that of course he would defect, they allowed Tula to die and Aquaman hid his father from him. Which, wait, Tula was Aquagirl? And she died? I feel like a lot of this is being done for shock value rather than anything else. Kill characters you featured in the previous season! Turn awesome characters evil for reasons that it seems like he should have disliked, but understood! What is going ON.

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Syd: Dick retorts that Aquagirl knew the risks when she joined the team. That is shockingly – and uncharacteristically – coldhearted. This is especially hard to take after they took the time two episodes ago to show how Nightwing was a completely different kind of leader than Batman.

Margaret: Having lost the base, Kaldur calls in an evacuation and Black Manta says that he has already initiated the bomb and he has minutes to get him and his team out. A small scuffle ensues, Almost everyone is blown back but Nightwing and Kaldur, who are about to do a former friend showdown by themselves when Conner appears, outraged and wanting revenge. Another fight delays Kaldur, who then informs his former teammates that a bomb is going to go off in two minutes and they can either pursue him or save their friends. Kaldur has become the most tropey version of a bad guy right now. Is this because the writers needed to prove he was a bad guy? Or is it just because this is what Kaldur thinks a bad guy does??

Syd: Everyone rushes out of the volcano except for Superman. Superman knows that the Kroloteans can’t make it out individually in time, so he’s trying to get them into a craft that he can fly to safety. The Kroloteans, not trusting him, open fire. When the bomb goes off, all of the superheroes are clear and Superman, being invulnerable, is unharmed. Aquaman rescues Superman before he drowns, but he still feels guilty for not having saved the Kroloteans. This is why I like Superman.

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Margaret: It’s really a good portrayal of why Superman is such an ideal. He wants to save everyone that he can, no matter if they are enemies or not. Once everyone is safe, they have a lot to discuss on the ship, like who made the alien bomb the Kroloteans had no knowledge about. And whether Kaldur really was a traitor.

Syd: Aboard the Mantamobile, Kaldur meets with Black Manta, who we now know is his father. Manta is all class at his dinner table, sipping wine, and casually asking if Aquaman was killed. It’s amazing the contrast between them – Black Manta has been a villain so long and he knows exactly how to be a villain with style. Black Manta videoconferences with the Light. Vandal Savage talks vaguely about the Kroloteans’ competitor – whom he also doesn’t identify – and informs Manta that he will be replacing Ocean Master as the aquatic member of the Light.

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We aren’t told what happened to Ocean Master, but if I had to guess, I’d say Orm probably thwarted him.

Margaret: On a beach, the six members of the Justice League who were taken over are saying goodbye, as they have decided to go to Rimbor to stand trial. Everyone stands in pairs with their respective mentors/significant others/lawyers.

Syd: They each have their heartfelt goodbyes. Superman calls Conner “Kon-El,” so I guess he has a Kryptonian name. I could argue about the utility of a Kryptonian name when there is no Krypton and it’s just the first syllable of his Earth name, but I don’t care because I love seeing Kal and Kon getting along finally.

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Margaret: There is definite utility! In fact, I think there is more than utility it is acceptance. It’s a traditional Kryptonian name that links him to his heritage. He may not have actual memories of Krypton like Superman or Supergirl does, but he has the lineage. It’s how I feel about my Chinese name. It’s not something I use all the time and most people think it’s my middle name, but it’s a link to my heritage and a place I don’t exactly understand because I didn’t grow up there and was not born there, but that I’m still linked to because of my family.

Syd: I think that’s the difference between us – you feel the same way about Conner’s Kryptonian name as you feel about your Chinese name and I feel the same way about it as I feel about my Hebrew name. There’s kind of a cultural difference.

Margaret: Conner and Superman have a very sweet goodbye. J’onn and Megan have something that is sweet, but his goodbye amounts to, “Water my plants while I’m gone.” However at the same time he trusts her and it is not meant as a brush off. It’s a familial goodbye between two people who understand each other.

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Syd: Batman gives a cordial goodbye – and a warning – to his family, which is the Batman way to do a touching goodbye. Nightwing tells him, “We’ll manage,” which is the most Nightwing response to the coldness of a Bat-goodbye.

GRADING THE EPISODE

Margaret: Season 2 is so hard for me to grade! I feel like this was an interesting episode, with some great character payoffs from season one. But Kaldur! How can they do this to Kaldur? I love him so much and they seem to be making him the bad guy just for shock’s sake. It breaks my heart.

Syd: I’m going with C-. There was a lot of positioning of where characters had to be, but the plot was threadbare. Surprisingly, the best stuff for me was Superman’s role and he was hardly in the episode. This episode had to happen, but I don’t have to like it.

Margaret: I’ll go with that. Having no strong feelings about this episode other than, NO KALDUR WHY, C- feels like a good grade to give this episode.

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