Young Justice Season 2, Episode 15
SUMMARY: Mongul comes to Earth in a moon-sized space station with an excessive amount of ordnance. While the Justice League holds off the big guns, the Team sneaks inside to shut down the station. Meanwhile, Mal is dissatisfied with his relationship with Karen and wants to end it.
Syd: This episode is notable in that, according to an interview, this story was the first one pitched for a Young Justice series. The idea was to show, even in a world where there is a Justice League to take on huge, world-threatening challenges, the smaller, subtler team of young heroes can have even more interesting adventures.
Margaret: That’s an interesting one to pitch, as it seems like there is quite a lot that has to go into it in order to make sense. Otherwise it’s just some large Death Star the team has to fight and once that’s taken care of, where do you go from there? To me, for this show, it doesn’t work as a one off that isn’t tied to the main story.
Syd: I think that’s why they saved it for the second season. They did tie it into the Reach’s plans for the season so it didn’t feel pointless.
Margaret: Right. I like how they handle it in the scheme of this season. There’s still the bigger threat of the Reach. Without those ties, once you fight a Death Star and without a plan for something afterwards things tend to devolve into needing BIGGER and MORE INTENSE villains until one day they’re going to Hell again to fight an even worse version of Lucifer. Sorry, that’s just Supernatural.
Syd: I mean, that’s essentially where Warworld came from. The premise of the Warworld story in the comics (DC Comics Presents #27-28) was to have Superman and Supergirl fight what is clearly just the Death Star. Although I’m generally against the style of Superman stories that are just him fighting bigger physical threats, I admire the chutzpah of having the Kryptonians fight an actual planet. The problem is that it really only works once.
Margaret: Or the writers just really wanted a DC/Star Wars fanfic crossover. OTP Superman and Luke Skywalker.
Syd: They probably resented that Marvel got the license. It’s like they’re saying, “Your guy might sell more movie tickets, but our guy doesn’t need a spaceship and photon torpedoes. So there.”
Anyway, we should get to the actual episode. It starts on Rimbor, where the Justice League are on trial. Apparently, they were so primitive, they didn’t know to bribe the judge, which is unheard of in Rimbor’s courts.
The trial is interrupted when it is announced that the Earth has been invaded by the Reach. John Stewart explains that the Green Lanterns once had a war with the Reach, and they signed a treaty wherein the Reach cannot conquer a planet unless they are invited. Also, the Green Lanterns can’t return to a world under the Reach’s control.
Margaret: I guess the League will get their wish of not needing any more Lanterns. In the back of the courtroom, Vandal Savage is whispering into the ear of someone we can’t see.
Syd: How did Savage get to Rimbor? Didn’t they set up a zeta shield to stop travel off of Earth? I guess I must be misremembering something, but this is really hard to keep track of. They didn’t explain it in the episode and I don’t see anything about it on the Young Justice wiki, so there must be something obvious I’m overlooking.
Margaret: Maybe he just traveled with Mongul. That ship planet seemed to go from Rimbor to Earth in no time flat. In any event, his whispering about how the Reach on Earth influences who will rule the galaxy. Apparently agreeing, he immediately peaces out of the trial and heads to Earth to destroy it. Because, sure.
Syd: You know what, fair enough. If you’re trying to take over the galaxy, getting the Reach and the Justice League out of the way would be a priority, and he has the opportunity to manage that in one fell swoop.
Also, his ship is a moon-sized space station that starts screwing up the tides when it approaches Earth, so I don’t think he swung by to pick up Savage earlier. Someone would have noticed that.
Margaret: Savage could have gotten out into space. He’s done it before, apparently. The Reach immediately sees Mongul as the threat that he is and so they attempt to broker a proper response. While they ‘only have one ship without any weapons on it’, they secretly dispatch Green Beetle to inform the Justice League about the ship and its commander. Of course, everything Green Beetle tells the League is suspect. However, for once, the Reach and the League are on the same side.
Syd: Mongul’s first attack is a giant cannon that isn’t trying at all not to look like the one that blew up Alderaan. Fortunately, Dr. Fate redirects the cannon and blows it up, so all the Justice League has to deal with now are hundreds of smaller missiles.
Margaret: I like how the sheer size and power of the ship means that you credibly have a reason for Dr. Fate to not just fix everything. He’s out there with Rocket being the Earth shield and every other powerful character has to punch away the missiles and rockets. That leaves The Team to infiltrate and take things down from the inside. They split up into four teams – Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta – Alpha is going to take on Mongul straight on, Gamma takes care of the power source, Beta takes the key that turns on the ship, and Delta was in charge of cover fire to pull most of the fire.
Syd: Of course, each of the groups also had the job of creating drama by fighting among themselves – Mal taking the opportunity of being on a team with his girlfriend to confront her about neglecting him in their relationship, and Roy not communicating with Connor.
Margaret: Roy is such an asshole.
Syd: Yup. It seems weird to me that he was put on the team with the powerhouse characters like Superboy and Wonder Girl who need to fight an invulnerable alien, when all he has is a lot of weapons. Speaking of which, Mongul just offhand states that he was also from a planet with a red sun, implying that he has Superman’s powers and so does his whole planet, which is being ruled by a power-hungry dictator. You would think that having a planet of Supermen who are capable of interstellar travel and have contact with other worlds would completely change the power dynamics of the universe, but this is the last we’ll hear of this.
Margaret: Did he say there are more people like him? It’s possible he has a Superman deal, too, where he’s the only one of his kind left. It’s surprisingly common in the DC World.
Syd: He didn’t really go into details. You’re right, he could be another sole survivor. That does seem to happen with shocking regularity. What he does make clear – when he quips that Roy’s knockout gas “smells like victory” – is that apparently Apocalypse Now is a popular movie on his home world.
Margaret: I will say, though, that the Apocalypse Now ‘sleep agent’ is far more permanent than I think Roy’s would have been.
Syd: Meanwhile, outside, Dr. Fate’s giant ankh is blocking as many missiles as it can, but some are still getting through. This leads the Reach to launch their own fleet of gross-looking bug ships. You would think that this would reveal that they were lying about only having one non-weaponized ship, but, just like in the real world, their supporters don’t even mention the disparity.
Margaret: You would, at least, think Nightwing would mention it. Enough bombs were going to get through the defenses to take out part of a hemisphere and then, suddenly, they’re stopped by bug-looking ships? That’s pretty suspect!
Syd: Meanwhile, Impulse, Blue Beetle, and Beast Boy have made their way to the key. I’m sure at some point they’ll explain what it is and why it’s needed.
Margaret: Honestly? I thought it was like car keys? It’s what turns on the ship and if you lose it, you now have a moon sized ship parked outside Earth messing up the tides and you have to get a planet sized tow truck.
Syd: Bumblebee redirects the power to electrocute Mongul, allowing Wonder Girl to lasso him, winning the day.
Margaret: Blue Beetle takes the key and the entire team regroups in the hangar, for Robin to pick them up in the Bio Ship.
Syd: Mal tells Karen that he is just holding her back and that they should split up, but surprisingly, Karen, who up until this point seemed ready to jump ship on the relationship refuses to let him go. So we have a happy ending, without either of them mentioning Ray Palmer.
Margaret: I have a feeling that will come up later. And, of course, as soon as the Bioship comes to pick them up, Blue Beetle turns on them all. Roy, terrified of being kidnapped again, goes into full flight mode, attempting the desperate move of trying to suck Blue Beetle out into space at the cost of maybe airlocking the rest of his team.
Syd: Ultimately, it pays off, because Arsenal gets away. However, Blue Beetle has defeated the rest of the Team and now has the key to a giant planet-smashing space station. I’m really not sure why the Reach considered this worth blowing Blue Beetle’s cover for. Wasn’t their plan to gain Earth’s trust, not blast it to death? They could have waited until after they controlled the metahumans to take Warworld. I mean, it wasn’t going anywhere.
Margaret: I mean, I’m sure what they’re going to do is say the Justice League flipped and the Reach are the only ones that can save Earth. Or they’ll pile all the Justice Leaguers into the Warworld and just autopilot it out into space. Or that key does something else than pilot the Warworld. But, seriously seriously guys, there’s this huge planet thing is just drifting in space and affecting the tides. They can’t just leave it there!
GRADING THE EPISODE
Syd: I would give this a C. It was really rushed and the character moments didn’t land as well as they should have, mostly because Mal was kind of being a jerk the whole episode, which, while understandable, doesn’t read very well. I did like that they pulled the trigger on Jaime betraying the Team so quickly and didn’t leave that lingering for too long.
Margaret: I’m more at a B. I like how they juggled everyone’s power sets and finally confronted the Mal and Bumblebee thing that has been going on forever. Things did feel a little rushed when dealing with the War World and Mongul, which is why I can’t give it an A, but I enjoyed it!