Criminal Entente

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Young Justice Season 2, Episode 19

“Summit”

SUMMARY: The Reach and the Light meet to discuss their plans, but their meeting is cut short when they discover that they have two traitors in their midst – Tigress and Aqualad.


Syd: We start off in a cave in Santa Prisca – home of Bane. Black Beetle enters, then Slade Wilson enters. They both nod, then their respective teams – the Reach and the Light – enter. It’s unusual setting for this meeting. It does house some Light controlled facilities, but it isn’t the home base for anyone present. I guess it has some mysterious caves that provide some secrecy?

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Margaret: It’s also quite an interesting place to set this considering the rest of the episode. This is the island where the Team first became a Team. It’s where they all started to work together after all their disagreements and squabbles. To set the Summit here, I think, is really a masterful point on the creator’s part as it is really bringing everything full circle.

We also start off with a bit of a misdirect with the Reach appearing and then Deathstroke being the only Light representative. It’s only for a moment before the rest of the Light contingency arrives, but I found it a very interesting fake out to think that either Deathstroke faked out the Light or has been cornered by the Reach.

Syd: Quite to the contrary, once everyone enters, it seems that the two sides don’t trust each other at all. Black Beetle insists that no one be allowed to wear masks. Black Manta balks at this request. Considering he doesn’t have anything to hide, I have to wonder if this is a power move – refusing to accede to any demand from the other side – or if he is unwilling to abandon any of his arsenal, including the weaponry housed in his helmet, in case the negotiations get hostile.

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Margaret: As they take off their masks, Artemis does as well, telling Aqualad that they are in over their heads in this Summit. It’s interesting and also a bit nerve wracking that while she takes off her mask, her identity is still completely covered by the illusion necklace. She’s taking off a mask, but she’s not unmasking. And also I’m definitely waiting for someone to see through that illusion now.

Syd: I’m kind of weirded out that ONLY the Light acquiesces to this demand. Black Beetle’s face is still covered. He doesn’t remove anything. That raises the troubling process that he doesn’t consider his coverings to be a mask. On another note, it’s interesting how much autonomy we see Black Beetle is given in this episode, considering how we saw the short leash Blue and Green Beetles were kept on in the last episode. Do they make allowances for Black because he’s from their homeworld?

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Margaret: I think it may be more about the idea that Black Beetle doesn’t see himself as anything other than Black Beetle. He’s completely given himself up to his scarab and so he has no other face as far as he’s concerned. That, at least, I would buy.

Syd: The Reach notices that a large proportion of the Light is absent. Ra’s al-Ghul explains that the Light’s public members (I assume he means Lex Luthor, Queen Bee, and G. Gordon Godfrey, but that’s not everyone that is missing) are handling damage control after the Reach’s recent failures. That’s a clever way for the Light to put the Reach on the back foot, but also it means that all of the Reach’s officers in their invasion team are in one place, but the Light still has agents spread out and can’t be eliminated as easily.

Margaret: Kaldur is quite a good double agent. I mean, we talked about this previously with his insane reflex control and trust in Megan to stop a knife thrown right as his freaking forehead. But here it is shown in the public realm. He tells the Reach that security was not more secure at the temple because they were not told about the scarab’s ancient history with Earth. Not only is this a lie that is good for the Light, it is a lie that is good for the Team. It’s really remarkable. It puts the Reach on a back foot and it enhances his standing within the Light. Basically, Kaldur is the best.

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Syd: The Ambassador seems to be entirely aware that he is being outmanoeuvred and that the Reach is losing their position of power on Earth. It’s so interesting to me how his character has progressed. When he came to Earth, he thought taking over would be easy and he was so calm and collected and the more power slips out of his grasp, the more aggressive he becomes.

Margaret: The Ambassador is callous in saying the Earth is theirs and the Light is only their preferred lap dogs. Not a great ambassador move, dude.

Syd: I think that everyone can tell that he is becoming less diplomatic and with that, he is no longer maintaining control of his underlings. This is demonstrated in a violent way when Black Beetle can no longer take Black Manta’s sass and slaps him across the room, leading a fight to break out at the meeting.

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Margaret: In the fight, Tigress is knocked against Ra’s and he notices her necklace. This is the moment I’ve been sort of waiting for. Given a closer inspection, he knows that this is something that is some sort of charm and immediately distrusts Tigress. This can’t end anywhere well.

Syd: You seem to be underestimating Kaldur’ahm, who diffuses the situation and calls for peace, noting that conflict between them plays into the hand of their mutual enemy, the Justice League. This leads Vandal Savage to note that the founders of the Justice League are never going to return from Rimbor. He personally bribed the judges to ensure that they will be convicted.

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Margaret: I do not! I just think the Light is pretty savvy and they will plan for a lot of contingencies. The Light making the proper bribes to Rimbor’s judges in order to assure that the League will be convicted proves that. They’ve also ensured that the Reach has gotten a welcome from Earth meaning that the Green Lanterns cannot intervene. It’s extraordinary planning on both their parts.

Syd: The most astonishing thing to me is that Vandal assumes that the Green Lanterns will honor the treaty that was made with the Reach, even if it means losing Earth. Given the real world history of treaties, I can’t think that will be the case if the Green Lantern Corps is a strong enough military force to wipe out the Reach. Likewise, Vandal seems to think that the Justice League will stay in prison if they are convicted. Since they aren’t the main characters, we kind of know they will find a way to gain their freedom without compromising their principles, but if the Earth was in danger, does he really think that all of the founders of the League except the Flash couldn’t fight their way out of Rimbor’s prison system?

Margaret: Wait, but, what? Why wouldn’t Vandal Savage assume that? The Green Lantern Corps. are good guys, right? They abide by their treaties, I would assume. Is there precedent for them to not? Other than, like, Hal Jordan torching things because he went crazy?

Syd: I wouldn’t know. I never really got into Green Lantern comics, because all of them that I have read have been terrible. I’m just thinking politically, based on Earth history. I’m willing to assume that Green Lanterns absolutely honor the letter of all treaties they make, because assuming that will prevent me from reading any more Geoff Johns comics.

Margaret: And yet I willing dive into the CW shows, which are very Geoff Johns inspired and overseen by him.

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As they talk about peace, Ra’s stalks Tigress and rips the illusion charm off of her neck, revealing her to be Artemis in front of everyone. Of course, this tosses Kaldur under suspicion as his indoctrination into the Light was based upon him killing Artemis. Immediately, Deathstroke shoots and kills the pair of them. The Light takes care of their own traitors apparently and there is absolutely no way these two are actually dead.

Syd: Hold your horses! We have more plot to get through before the shocking reveal that they aren’t really dead. With his dying breath, Kaldur activates a recorded message detailing how the Light freed the metahumans, turned public opinion against the Reach, and neutralized the active agent in the Reach soft drink to undermine the Reach’s plans. The Light’s true purpose was to bring the Earth to prominence (and activate metahumans) to ensure their supremacy of the galaxy – which, by the way, was revealed to be their plan at the end of last season, so I bet you feel really dumb if you thought that they were helping the Reach subjugate Earth.

Margaret: I mean, the Light is the bad guy and is clearly there to do bad things. The Reach being aliena and even worse is an actual development for the Light. They have weird bad guy standards. That makes sense for Lex, but he also had a baby with Superman, so things are a little muddled.

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After Kaldur’s message plays, he seemingly comes back from the dead to chide the Light for believing this ruse. Immediately, Deathstroke drops his disguise to reveal Megan. It’s really an amazing triumph for the Team. This is basically what they have been planning for since the beginning of the season.

Syd: When Artemis comes back to life, still lying on the floor, she asks Ra’s for a hand up, and then noting that she had heard he was a gentleman when he refuses. This is kind of a minor point, but it seems weird that she would never have met him before, considering her entire immediate family was trained by him. Not implausible, mind you, but noteworthy. Anyway, now that everything’s out in the open, a sizable portion of the Team bursts in – including Wally. What the Hell? Why is Wally back? Does he not realize that if he retires (except for important missions), that’s essentially the same as not retiring?

Margaret: He seems to be there to support his girlfriend at the end of long and difficult mission. And also to make the setting all the more poignant. If he’s not there the gang is not all back together and working as a team. It’s almost sweet. I don’t like where this is going. To distract from that fact, though, Vandal Savage tries to counteract the Team’s obvious good planning with just a shitton of ninjas. At a whistle, ninjas are everywhere and that really just seems like a desperation play. I think just about every member of the Light has an army of ninjas they can beckon when things get bad.

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Syd: Ok, I think the implication is clear that these are Ra’s Al-Ghul’s ninjas that the Brain is summoning. They had set this up in advance so that at any sign of danger, Ra’s’s lackeys could be called upon, not to say that they each had their own ninja crew.

Margaret: I also think it’s a little weird NOT to actually assume that every member of the Light has their own ninja team. They clearly do not trust each other and are villains. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Vandal trained his own ninjas outside of Ra’s’.

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Syd: At the very least, I will say that ninja were the most predictable trap that the Light could pull – considering that the other half of the Team were ready for this and were disguised as ninja, so Ra’s troops didn’t even know who they were fighting until they pulled their balaclavas off. This allows Garfield to pull a sneak attack and turn into a gorilla to fight Mssr. Mallah. I have to say that’s pretty honorable, to take him on one on one on equal footing, considering we know he has elephant in the tank and can pull that out at any time. Personally, I would have gone with Tyrannosaurus, but, if we’re being honest, I probably would never stop being a Tyrannosaurus.

Margaret: Maybe he can only turn into non-extinct species. As he does finally forgo the gorilla and move to rhinoceros later on in the fight. Either way, I really enjoy that this Summit just continually reveals other members of the Team that have been hidden as other reveals are made. Oh, you thought our whole team just came out with Aqualad’s pronouncement? Surprise jerks, we’ve got shapeshifters. Oh, you were surprised by our shapeshifters, well now be even MORE SURPRISED by Blue Beetle and our other group of disguised ninjas. They triple twisted them. It’s awesome and incredibly satisfying.

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What is not satisfying is that Vandal Savage has his own ace in the hole and it’s Klarion. Really??? I mean, that’s a surprise but the Team has beaten Klarion about twenty times now. WALLY defeated Klarion. That’s not the biggest threat as far as I’m concerned.

Syd: Also kind of underwhelming because once Klarion teleports Vandal away, that takes two members of the already diminished Light off the playing field, tipping the balance even further in the Team’s favor. Also not helping? Black Beetle lashes out at his betrayers and stabs Ra’s Al-Ghul. Ubu snatches him up and bounces (presumably to a Lazarus Pit, so Ra’s will probably be fine) leaving almost none of the Light still in the battle.

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Margaret: It’s super convenient for Black Beetle to stab the one person on the Light that can take an intensive spa day and then be alive at the end of it. If he really wanted to make an impact, he should have stabbed Vandal.

Syd: So to mop up the last of the Light remaining, Kaldur finally has his face off against his father, Black Manta. Kaldur notes that although he sees the nobility in his father, he still must stand against him so long as he serves his enemies. Kaldur is so sensitive that he can’t even have a climactic battle without at least giving some positive reinforcement.

Margaret: He does have a final badass line, though! Saying how he hopes him knocking out his father was aggressive enough for him. Kaldur’s the best.

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Another nice character beat is that while Megan is trapped in Klarion’s fire snake, La’gaan saves her, tossing Klarion back into the sword and they have a moment. Megan reaches forward and thanks him for his help. It’s actually a good moment and it lends some sort of hope that the two may get back together…but nah. Megan is clearly still going to go for Conner.

Syd: While they are doing some superspeed fighting, Wally gets some time alone with his cousin Bart. Wally tells him that since he’s retired Bart could take over his mantle as Kid Flash. Bart is thrilled about this, not because he ever seemed to really want to take over Wally’s identity, but because it means that Wally now accepts him as part of the family.

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Margaret: Yeah, everything Wally has done this episode convinces me he’s going to die somehow. He’s come out of retirement, he’s passing on his legacy to another, he’s talking about wanting to make out with Artemis in a fight. That’s classic ‘this character is about to have something tragic happen to him’ trope.

Syd: Or maybe they’re deliberately faking you out and THE EXACT OPPOSITE of Wally is going to die.

Margaret: Uh huh. They tried that in Age of Ultron with Hawkeye. I didn’t buy it then either.

Syd: So you think Hawkeye is currently dead?

Margaret: No, I think they wanted me to think him dead and I know he wouldn’t be. Just like I’m pretty sure now that Wally totally IS going to die. Which is actually almost a shame as I now hate him just a little bit less.

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Syd: Anyway, Black Beetle sees which way the battle is going and retreats, leaving the Ambassador behind, because fuck that guy. Black Beetle even rubs in his face that he’s specifically not rescuing him, but he’s taking the Scientist who might still be useful.

At this point, the Team regroups. They have defeated their enemies. Although the Light isn’t entirely defeated, they are now divided and Slade was taken out off-camera, which I think is suiting for his role in this series.

Margaret: Looping back to the point from the beginning, it’s really touching that they get the original team back together at this point to talk about how are they came. It’s a little weird to me that they don’t include Superboy and Megan in this, as Santa Prisca is the point things start to click, but I do like the callback to the pilot episode. It’s really a nice sentiment, especially for a show that assumed it was going to be cancelled.

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Syd: Still, as Wally and Dick are jubilant, Aqualad looks back at Manta’s unconscious body with regret. I kind of like that they are giving the relationship formed between Kaldur and his father some weight. It doesn’t completely disappear when it’s revealed that they have chosen opposite sides. Kaldur still has sympathy for Manta.

Margaret: I like that Kaldur has been changed by his deep cover mission. He sees humanity in his father and hopefully in the next season that will come to some fruition. It’s what I love about this character. And despite the fact that Nightwing has been leading this Team for the past season, it has REALLY shown he’s not the best leader. He has ignored his detective instincts, he’s alienated baby Roy, he’s just basically being a Batman about things and that’s not what a leader of a Team should be. I’m really glad Kaldur is back to lead things. He’s way better at this than Dick is.

Syd: I have to agree. The Team under Dick’s leadership never felt as cohesive and Kaldur always had a surer hand and he was less apt to disregard his Team’s emotions or to concoct extreme deceptions.

Margaret: Yes! Kaldur was totally the better leader. Which immediately becomes apparent when Warworld IMMEDIATELY LEAVES when he takes over. Kaldur, you solved it. You’re the best.

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Syd: Dick doesn’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing that the Light is now taking the fight to other planets. I think that anything that requires disposing of three Justice League members is probably a bad thing. At least it’s something you’ll have to deal with in the one remaining episode in the season.

Black Beetle, knowing when he’s beaten, decides that the Reach will have to leave Earth. There’s only one more thing to take care of. He has to destroy Earth, so there’s no evidence of what they did there.

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Margaret: Has Black Beetle had a good idea ever? This is insane. The galaxy already know the Reach is involved on Earth. This is the equivalent of burning a getaway car and thinking no one will notice the skeleton. While the Ambassador was unhinged, Black Beetle is just stupid. This is totally not going to end well.

GRADING THE EPISODE

Margaret: This is a hard one. I think it’s an A. There’s so many reveals and it’s so satisfying to see the Team pull off surprise after surprise on the Light and the Reach when this entire season it was the opposite. It was a smart episode and felt well earned. I liked it a lot.

Syd: I kind of want to hedge my bets and call this one a B, but you know what? My gut says this was an A. It was a weird and very dialogue heavy episode, but it was also satisfying, and it’s hard to have payoffs to so many of the balls that were in the air this season in one episode without feeling like they’re cheating. Scaling for the degree of difficulty, this was definitely an A.

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