Young Justice Season 2, Episode 10
“Before the Dawn”
SUMMARY: The Team breaks aboard a ship where the Light’s alien partners – The Reach – are keeping Blue Beetle, Lagoon Boy, Impulse, and Beast Boy. There, they meet the Reach’s heavy Black Beetle, who is like Blue Beetle but bigger. Miss Martian encounters Aqualad and mindwipes him. Impulse tells Jaime about his dystopian future.
Margaret: To start the episode, we finally see the origin of Jaime’s attachment to the Blue Beetle. He’s skateboarding home when something explodes and tosses the beetle implant onto the street. When he picks it up, it bonds to him.
Syd: We know that Jaime is a rad to the max teen, because he skateboards. Unfortunately, he wakes up in the tube where he was left last episode. The flashback was all just a dream. So is he not really as tubular as his subconscious pictures him?
Margaret: Please stop talking like that.
Syd: Fine. Be square. Anyway, the aliens who have them kidnapped start talking about how the scarab is damaged and they can only access data from the past eight months. That means they know all of Jaime’s secrets – which I think includes the Konami code and the lyrics to Pink Floyd songs, if my memories of high school are accurate.
Margaret: Syd, this takes place in 2016, so there is no way he knows the Konami code unless he’s a hipster. And he probably listens to The National ironically.
Syd: The code was in a Moldy Peaches song, so he definitely knows it. Also, it was probably in Ready Player One, but I’ll never know because I’ll never read it.
Margaret: In any event, the Reach discusses what to do with Jaime. One wishes to reboot him, the other wants to study what caused the scarab damage. Then, we see a very large man who has the same armor as Jaime except grey come into the light (pun unintended) talk about how the scientist really just wants to torture Jaime. So, wait, there is a grey version of the Blue Beetle?
Syd: We haven’t seen any other color of Blue Beetle before, but I bet he has a cool supervillain name like “Grey Blue Beetle.”
Margaret: What! Why not just Grey Beetle?
Syd: That’s too confusing. He isn’t a real beetle, he’s a Blue Beetle, but Grey. He’s like the Green Hornet, but Grey and a Blue Beetle. Anyway, Kaldur’ahm shows up and the Reach start showing him around. They’re doing tests trying to harness the powers in humans like Bart and Gar and trying to induce powers in La’gaan. Kaldur points out that La’gaan already has powers and the Reach reiterate that his powers are magical and that biologically he is an average Atlantean. So if Kaldur is half Atlantean and La’gaan is an average Atlantean, what does an Atlantean outlier look like?
Margaret: I’m guessing like that mini-Cthulhu back in Kaldur’s solo episode. When you say ‘doing tests’ that’s really a mild way of putting it. They’re constantly electrocuting Bart and Gar to see if they can isolate the metagene because the Reach believes it is brought about by traumatic events. It’s a lot of torture.
Syd: The Reach, who are the Light’s partners, want to use Jaime as a scout. Or rather they want to use the Blue Beetle. They plan to reboot the scarab, and attach it to someone else, which would kill Jaime.
Margaret: It seems like the Reach is where a lot of this Beetle stuff originates from, as they are incredibly familiar with it and how it works. It’s weird, though, that Jaime is blue and the other beetle is grey. Are there just a rainbow of beetles?
Syd: I think Jaime is from the North and the alien is from the South. Meanwhile, the Team is planning to track down their missing members. Tim and Barbara join a group of teen who have been kidnapped by the Reach for their experiments. Batman supporting character and Tim Drake’s love interest from Detective Comics Stephanie Brown asks how they can trust them, but stops when she sees Tim smuggling Bumblebee into his pod. So what was she planning to do if she didn’t trust them?
Margaret: I’m not sure, but I feel like the Batfamily Motto is, “How can I trust you?” As Tim and Barbara are loaded into pods, we see that Megan, Nightwing and Cassie are in the bioship following. The entire ride, Cassie has incredibly insightful comments and questions about the mission. Most pointedly of which is how Nightwing knew the Reach had a bunch of teenagers they were going to pick up at that place and time. Nightwing covers it up, but I have new respect for Cassie’s detecting skills.
Syd: And I have respect for the show hurrying by the setup at a breakneck pace to get to the inevitable action scene waiting on the spaceship. Megan phases into the ship and frees the kids in the pods, but can’t find Jaime.
Margaret: Despite that, everyone starts escaping. In a quick, sweet moment, Beast Boy knew Megan would come to rescue him. Bart, without waiting to see what the plan is, runs off shouting, “Gotta find Blue!”
Syd: As we mentioned last episode, we are shipping Speed Buggy in this blog. And again we see that Impulse is very preoccupied with Jaime. Come to think of it, running off to find Blue Beetle was the first thing he did when he arrived at Mt. Justice four episodes ago. He certainly doesn’t like to be apart from him for long.
Margaret: Definite Speed Buggy material. As the teens start their escape, one masked member of the Manta Troopers is obviously attacking the others. We find out that Conner has been undercover for some time…though it is not specified when or how he got on board. How long has he actually been there? If they didn’t know where this place was, how did he get on board before the team?
Syd: This is like the beginning of Return of the Jedi, where we have to assume that Lando was just hanging out at Jabba’s palace for months gaining the trust of the other people there. I like to think Conner was deeply undercover and he had a whole other identity worked out. Like Rex Barracuda, Navy midshipman with a chip on his shoulder.
Margaret: First of all, Lando is a known smuggler, dealer and gambler in the Star Wars universe. He lost the Millenium Falcon to Han in a bet! This is not a man who has secure financial plans. Of course he knows Jabba and his ilk. Did you not see the Han Solo trailer? All the stories about him are true.
Syd: So long as that includes slash fiction, I am onboard.
Margaret: Uh, duh? Have you seen him? He is down. Back to Conner, I can’t believe he’s been deep undercover as he was just in the last episode talking about trying to find where they took La’gaan. If they don’t know where he is and Conner was barely embedded, how is he there? Honestly, it’s a minor quibble. It’s just something that stuck out as so much of this show is well thought out.
Syd: He could have been ingratiating himself to Tigress as Rex Barracuda in the background for any amount of time before they let him onto the ship. This isn’t really implausible.
Margaret: But weird. I wouldn’t send Conner to be the Faceman guy. He’s too emotional. That should have been Dick.
Syd: But then he couldn’t have thrown a guy across the room. Dick was thinking of the visuals of the inevitable fight scene. You see, he’s playing five-dimensional chess. He learned it from Bruce.
Margaret: And speaking of five-dimensional chess, it’s pretty good that Superboy didn’t fucking murder Artemis when he threw her across a cave with all his strength. Way to plan, Nightwing.
Syd: A big fight breaks out between Black Beetle (whom Cassie helpfully names) and everyone else. The choreography does a good job of having Wonder Girl getting slammed into walls (which she can endure) and Tim and Babs mostly throwing things then getting out of the way. I have to say, though, the Batfamily is remarkably fast.
Margaret: Elsewhere, Megan and Beast Boy are escaping when they run into Aqualad. Using her powers, she mentally locks him into place. Doing what she has done over the past season when she finds an enemy, she rips his memories out of him, leaving him catatonic. However, when she does so, she finds out that he has been a double agent. Immediately, Megan is horrified about what she has done. Yeah, Megan, mindkilling people is pretty horrible! What the hell!
Syd: Beast Boy leaps at Artemis as a tiger, so we would have a tiger vs. Tigress fight, if she didn’t throw smoke bombs and get away. Garfield is still upbeat, proud that his sister took out Aqualad and seemingly oblivious to her obvious shellshock.
Margaret: He’s not entirely oblivious, as he’s consistently annoyed that she seems unable to do tasks she did without thinking before. She doesn’t even remember that she can phase through a door until he pointedly brings it up to her. It’s weird that he seems to be okay with what she just did to Kaldur. I get that everyone thinks he killed Artemis, but damn.
Syd: I feel like this is something that we as an audience would normally go along with a hero doing to a villain in an action movie. Garfield is taking the role of the audience surrogate, whom we are then upset by since we understand the enormity of Megan’s actions, which, if we dig deeper, we can apply to ourselves and our own reactions to similar instances of fights with dire consequences that we might not have considered in television and movies.
Margaret: True. There are a lot of violent ends and comeuppances that are viewed as fine simply because they happen to someone the audience knows is a bad guy. In this instance, the script is flipped. We, as the audience, know what Megan has done is terrible and Beast Boy thinks it justified. However, that also gives Beast Boy a very specific moral compass due to this reaction and it’s not one I particularly like.
Syd: Meanwhile, Bart finds Jaime, and in the process of leading him out of the bioship, explains that in the future, the Reach will repair the scarab and he will become their enforcer on Earth. Averting this future to a certain extent explains Bart’s interest in Jaime, but also it should be noted that Jaime is the first person that Bart confides in in the past. The fact that he doesn’t tell Nightwing or try to take more definitive action against him to ensure this future doesn’t happen indicates that he personally cares about Jaime. Is that a flimsy justification for this ship? Perhaps, but there is also the topless hugging to consider.
Margaret: It’s not flimsy at all. This is totally the first Terminator. Bart is Kyle Reese coming back to prevent a horrible future. Jaime is Sarah Conner. The Scarab is the Terminator. Also topless hugging. So, ship away!
Syd: Shimmer melts a hole in the ship with the superpowers that it seems the Reach have implanted in her. She seems as surprised by this as the audience. So what are her powers, anyway?
Margaret: It seems like they’re melty powers. She melts quite a bit of rock, after all. As Shimmer picks the Reach’s side. Blue Beetle and Black Beetle meet for a match of scarabs. At first, Jaime lets the scarab take over entirely. They shoot lasers, clash arm swords and thrash each other about the room. Barbara, using this distraction properly, tells Nightwing to bring everyone into the bioship so that they can escape. They manage to do that, though they try and wait for Jaime. Again, Barbara makes the very Batman call of saying that they have to leave without him. Staying behind would only get all of them killed. So, they leave.
Luckily, the beetles get into a big laser battle, which blows Jaime out of the base and into the ocean, where La’gaan rescues him and brings him aboard the bioship. It’s an important note that during the fight, Jaime fought back control from the scarab. He remembered the idea of him as the evil enforcer of Bart’s and decided on another way. I would say this is both more fodder for the ship and also shows that Bart’s trust in Jaime as a person is paying off.
Syd: Back on the Bioship, Garfield is still thrilled about Megan beating Aqualad, despite her clearly looking completely beat. Superboy, on the other hand, looks really pissed off. He knows exactly what happened.
Margaret: It’s weird that we don’t get Nightwing’s expression. I think he would know what Megan’s mindwipe means and he also knows that Kaldur is a double agent. I definitely want to know what he thinks about this situation.
Syd: Well, he has an alien invasion to worry about. He calls Captain Atom to warn him and tell him that they have identified the invaders, but Aquaman butts in to point out that they have already sent an ambassador to Earth to meet with the United Nations. He turns on G. Gordon Godfrey’s report – and that seems like a weird choice for what channel to watch this story on, but it does allow us to see that Godfrey is all in on these aliens who, unlike the Martians, Kryptonians, and Thanagarians, chose to set up diplomatic channels first.
Margaret: I have to just interject and go, “First.”
Syd: We could assume that Godfrey was only upset with the Justice League in the first place because he’s a stickler for protocol, but clearly he’s evil.
Margaret: Oh, definitely. There is totally the DC alien equivalent of a Vladimir Putin in Godfrey’s past.
GRADING THE EPISODE
Syd: A. This was a dizzying episode, but there was so much great stuff in it. The character development was good and they paid off a lot of what was set up in the first half of the season, setting the stage for some pretty big mysteries to be unravelled in the second half.
Margaret: A, yes. For the Megan storyline alone this would be an A. I have been frustrated with her blatant disregard for her mindraping people and to see it be handled in this way is devastating, but worthwhile. I also like seeing more of Beetle’s storyline and his adorable burgeoning relationship with Bart.