Young Justice Season 2, Episode 6
SUMMARY: Impulse, a tourist from 40 years in the future, visits Mt. Justice and helps fight Neutron alongside his grandfather, The Flash.
Syd: This episode starts with Nightwing recapping what we know of the Kroloteans’ plan – that they are kidnapping humans to use as experiments.
Margaret: They are looking for something that there is no English word for: the metagene. Aha! So they’re trying to do DC mutants. Got it. I can’t blame them. Mutants are popular.
Syd: Fox has been hogging the all-purpose origin story for too long. It’s a good idea for Warner Brothers to jump on their own. They were kind of running out of non-ridiculous origin stories anyway. What I think is interesting is that Dick says there is no English word. So is “metagene” French or something?
Margaret: If anything, I’d think it would be German. They tend to shove different words into each other to get a new descriptive one. Like der Kühlschrank, which literally means ‘cool cupboard’, which is a fridge.
Syd: Enough linguistics! Bart is here!
Margaret: A large contraption apparates into the Cove and while Nightwing, Robin and Beast Boy prepare for a fight, the door kicks open and a auburn haired kid wearing goggles pops out and says, “Tadaa!” Man, this guy might just be as annoying as Wally.
Syd: Oh come on! Bart is his own special brand of annoying! You can’t compare them! He says that his codename is Impulse, which is catchy and quick like Robin and Nightwing. And I know that after watching this episode the third time, because most of his dialogue is too fast to catch the first.
Margaret: He not only talks fast, he is Flash fast, quickly running around the Cove to check it out and see if Blue Beetle is home. Beast Boy cheetahs and chases after, while Tim tries to stun stick him. Nightwing – being Nightwing – distracts Bart with ball bearings and when he quips, clotheslines him, immediately handcuffing his arms and legs so he can’t run away again.
Syd: Bart then reveals things that only someone from the future would know – like Nightwing and Robin’s secret identities. These identities are news to Gar, who seems to wince at the name “Tim,” and I don’t blame him. But seriously? He’s been with these people for five years and they’re still keeping secret identities?
Margaret: Batman very clearly gave them his trust issues.
Syd: Anyway, apparently Bart has been with them even longer, since he is Barry Allen’s grandson. He points out that he inherited his grandfather’s superspeed. He also has the Allen family tendency for quips.
Margaret: He also inherited the West family annoying factor. I definitely see the resemblance.
Syd: While this is happening, Red Arrow and Cheshire arrive in Tibet. Cheshire thinks she has found where Speedy is being held. She also gets on Roy’s case about his self-pity, saying he has to be more stable to be a good father for Lian. This is a total role reversal from The New Teen Titans, where Roy was the responsible one. I guess marriage settled Jade down.
Margaret: Uuugh. I hate the trope of ‘marriage and babies’ turns women from evil to stable. Apparently the only power they really needed was in their womb!
Syd: Back at Mt. Justice, Dick, Tim, and Gar continue interrogating Bart, who says he is a tourist from the future, like half the people at Comicon. That’s real cute, Peter David.
Margaret: Yay! Peter David!
Syd: Bart seems impatient to meet Barry Allen, pausing before he specifies “in his prime.” The fact that he pauses, which he is so loath to do, immediately tells us that Barry is dead in the future. Also, when Beast Boy asks about his own future, Bart deflects, saying he wasn’t the best history student (meaning if Beast Boy was famous or at least non-dead in the future Bart would know), but also that he has to maintain the integrity of the time stream.
Margaret: But at the same time! We know that he has to know Tim/Dick/Gar well enough or know enough about them to know their secret identities and that they worked in tandem with the Justice League. So, there’s certainly something there.
Syd: I think we need to keep track of what Bart does and doesn’t choose to reveal about the future. Him not knowing something also tells us something about where he comes from. Anyway, when Mal arrives at the mountain, providing Bart with a handy distraction, Bart breaks free and starts running to Central City. Dick calls up Wally to meet him there.
Margaret: Barry gets a phone call from Dick who tries to warn him about Bart only for him to show up as if on cue. Completely excited, he rushes forward to hug Barry, saying that he always wanted to do that when he was younger and wasn’t afraid of crushing him. However, he also runs forward to hug the Garricks without worrying about that exact same thing.
Syd: Also, as much as he seems thrilled to see Barry, he does not seem as enthusiastic about Iris, meaning – assuming that Barry is dead in the future – Iris isn’t.
Margaret: Wait, but he was then super excited to see Wally, too. Does that mean Wally is dead in the future, too? I guess that would make sense, as he’s also a superhero.
Syd: Anyway, Iris gets a call from her boss Pete at GBS telling her about a disturbance downtown. Bart seems horrified by this call, meaning – if you are bad at picking up subtext – this is how Barry is going to die. When I heard the name Pete, I immediately thought of Pete Ross, who I could have sworn worked at GBS. So I checked on wikipedia. That’s where I found out that Pete Ross ended up marrying Lana Lang and they have a son named… CLARK?! Holy shit! His wife named their son after his high school boyfriend? Anyway, I think I might have confused Pete Ross with Steve Lombard, who did work at GBS and is another minor Superman supporting character who it is hard to find information on wikipedia about.
Margaret: Wow, man, they must be why the comic Pete Ross and Lana Lang are divorced. I actually thought the ‘Pete’ Iris is referring to is Peter David who is calling to set up the next plot point.
Syd: Actually, that makes a lot more sense. Still was a dick move on Lana’s part.
Margaret: In the center of the city, a man in a red version of what looks to be Mr. Freeze’s suit blows up the statue of The Flash and says that means there’s only one more Flash to take care of. Man, how many Flash statues do they have? I’m just imagining a warehouse somewhere filled with Flash statues ready to replace the latest one some supervillain blew up.
Syd: Barry, not heeding his grandson’s warning, runs off at the danger saying, “Back in a Flash!” Bart asks, “Does he say that often?” to which the whole room replies, “Too often.” Oh, Barry!
Margaret: The Flash brings out his suit from his ring and runs in a circle very very fast to change. But does that mean he’s naked at some point in front of everyone?
Syd: You aren’t the first person to notice that. Don’t bodyshame Barry. He’s gotta be free.
Margaret: That’s not body shaming! He’s just naked in front of his family!
Syd: Quit being such a square! When Barry arrives at the scene of destruction, he saves a woman whom he sends to a shelter at the corner of Fox and Gardner. I have to say, comics writers and artists get so much more respect in the DC and Marvel universes than they do in ours. All of the streets and bridges are named after them!
Margaret: Barry is knocked back by one of the energy pulses and Bart saves him by running so fast he creates a wind pocket and lets him down easy. Bart tells Barry that he learned it from his dad who learned it from him. However, if Barry dies before Bart ever meets him and before his kids are born, how does his son learn it from him? It could be another lie, but it doesn’t sound like it.
Syd: Have you learned to tell when Bart is lying? I feel like he doesn’t exactly have a tell. Then the narrative goes back to Tibet, where Roy and Jade take down some faceless thugs together. This is the first time we’ve seen them fight side by side.
Margaret: Jade! Why are you bringing your kid into battle with you? That seems reckless.
Syd: Seriously? You want to leave the kid with Ollie? God knows what he would do to a baby.
Margaret: Okay, that is true, but why not leave her with Artemis?!
Syd: Oh, seconds later Roy suggest that.
Margaret: See! Roy agrees with me! Shit, that can’t be good. Back in Central City, we learn that the Kroloteans are actually controlling Neutron as a test.
Syd: Actually, we don’t know that these are the Kroloteans. Remember, the Kroloteans mentioned that they have competitors. The Kroloteans are not the only aliens in this series.
Margaret: Ah! Yes, fair enough. I was being Krolotean focused. So, these aliens are controlling Neutron as a test and as they do, they continually talk a bit like Bart. They talk about modes and crashing. And then, right before Neutron explodes, they say that the mode is crashing. That is something that Bart says is a good thing, however it really doesn’t look like a good thing from here!
Syd: Wally is watching using his high-tech goggles, where he observes that although Neutron has disintegrated, he is putting his body back together. Barry asks to see his goggles, and this is where I noticed that although Wally is not as fast as Barry and can’t even keep up with his and Bart’s high speed conversation, his gear is way more high tech.
Margaret: Barry, through his super powers, is able to tell that there are microseconds between the energy pulses that he could try and run through to grab Neutron and take him to the desert to explode outside of the city. He says – again – “Back in a Flash!” which would be really ironic last words. Fortunately, Bart follows after him and intentionally trips him up before he can get too close to Neutron. Good thing, because before Barry could have run him to the desert, he explodes again. Jay and Wally carry Barry and Bart to safety right as Neutron starts to reform.
Syd: Bart takes some sort of blue pill and tosses it to Neutron, which seems to stabilize him. Good thing he didn’t use the red pill, which just would have made Neutron hate women. Instead, Neutron is neutralized and seems to have no memory of his supervillainy. The day is saved and Bart seems to have stopped his grandfather and cousin from being killed.
Margaret: In Tibet, Cheshire and Roy have taken out all the guards who are guarding a certain room. As the last man falls, Lian giggles and claps her hands, apparently revelling in all the violence. Roy asks Cheshire if it’s good for their daughter to enjoy hyperviolence so much, to which Cheshire replies, “It’s genetic.”
Syd: As it’s the end of the episode, it is no surprise that the room that was being guarded actually was the goal of their quest, holding the frozen body of Li’l Roy and his remaining arm. As the elder Roy cuts him free, Lian delightedly cries, “Two dadas!” Lian is the cutest.
Margaret: With his tourist expedition over, Bart says goodbye to everyone. Nightwing has checked his DNA and proven him to be related to Barry and Iris, though, really his quipping and annoyance factor should have already proven that one. Barry says he’ll be very happy to meet him for the first time and watch him grow up, to which Bart eagerly agrees. Then, he gets into the time travel machine and it doesn’t go anywhere. He’s trapped in the past.
Syd: Then, the episode flashes forward to the future where we see Bart in the post apocalyptic wasteland getting into character as the happy go lucky teen sidekick. This is where we find out that not only can he only go back in time alone, but that the trip is one way and he can’t return to the future, so his whole pretext for going back in time was a lie. However, haven’t we established that he’s a terrible liar, what with giving away people’s secret identities and inadvertently revealing that Barry Allen was about to die. How did he keep the biggest thing secret?
Margaret: This is actually the point that I went from Bart being an annoying Wally clone to actually really loving Bart. From the moment he steps out of that pod he is lying. He is talking about the fact that changing the timestream is a terrible thing…but that is his entire reason for coming back in time. He also knows from the beginning that he can’t go back and he’ll have to keep up this facade for who knows how long. He’s a terrible liar about Barry, but he’s really great about lying about everything that has to do with him. And I wonder if that means he’s used to lying about his own purpose but bad about actual rehearsed lies.
Syd: Unfortunately, when Bart goes back in time, the episode stays on Neutron’s perspective, showing that even saving Barry and Neutron wasn’t enough and Mt. Justice was still a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Oh well.
GRADING THE EPISODE
Syd: A+. After “Image” from last season, this is my favorite episode of the series so far.
Margaret: A+ as well. This is one of the rare episodes where a character went from annoying and cloying to heroic and relatable in the space of 21 minutes. Bart showed up and was immediately flippant and grating – about on par to how I generally view Wally. However, seeing why he came back and where he came from? That really had an impact on him as a character. It was very like “Image” in that it brought a very in depth and profound depth to a character, however, unlike “Image”, that all happened in one episode. That is quite a feat, as far as I’m concerned.