Young Justice Season 2, Episode 20
SUMMARY: While the Justice League are exonerated and set to return to Earth, The Team, with a little help from Lex Luthor, races to deactivate the Reach’s devices that have been set to destroy the world.
Syd: We start our finale on Rimbor, where the Justice League’s trial is concluding. The judge is very unsubtly suggesting that they bribe him, but Icon either doesn’t understand or refuses to do so. As a result, the League is found guilty.
Margaret: The judge has clearly made the point multiple times that he’s wanting a bribe. It’s definitely a corrupt court system and this is a point of contention with the Justice League. The Light has provided their bribe, the Justice League refuses on principle. It’s weird to me, though, that they don’t bring it up. It’s clear all sides know what’s going on and what’s being expected. This seems ripe for a big “No you’re out of order, this whole court is out of order!” sort of moment.
Syd: Maybe that would be impolite? I don’t know, it seems like that’s what would have happened if the Justice League were the protagonists of this series. Instead, they need to be rescued.
So Conner, Megan, and Adam Strange zeta in with evidence that the Light was responsible, but it seems they are too late. Also, it should be noted that Adam Strange is in his Rannian outift now, but Conner and Megan are in their normal Earth suits. I guess the idea is that they’re all in their superhero costumes, but Conner’s costume is cargo pants and a t-shirt and Strange’s is just an outfit he wore one time on another planet, so it’s kind of weird.
Margaret: Maybe that’s just what he likes to wear at home and that’s what they caught him in when they needed to Zeta to Rimbor! The love of his life is on a planet he can’t go to any more…maybe? I mean, if they can Zeta now can’t he go visit her? In any event, it’s clear he likes Rann and if Dr. Strange gets to adopt Tibet as his thing for a super power I guess this Strange can adopt Rannian style clothing. At least he’s appropriating a fictional culture rather than a real one.
In any event, the attack on Earth is starting and the Team has teleported onto the main Reach ship in order to stop them. Blue Beetle immediately takes out the Scientist. Kaldur attacks Black Beetle and is tossed aside. It seems this has to be a beetle on beetle attack.
Syd: Green Beetle is the first Beetle to attack Black, and he tries to deprogram Black Beetle’s scarab, like we thought he was doing for Jaime, but for reals this time. That’s kind of weird that it turns out that is a thing he can actually do, and not just a lie he told Jaime like I thought. However, Black Beetle fights back and destroys Green Beetle’s scarab, which is a thing he can do? I guess? It always feels like they’re making the Beetles’ powers up as they go.
Margaret: That doesn’t surprise me at all. If Green Beetle can turn Jaime’s beetle ‘on’ it would make sense that he could have actually turned it off. The beetles all work in tandem with each other in some sort of hive mind when working correctly. The fact that they have some modicum of control over each other makes sense in my mind.
To me, forcibily trying to turn off someone else’s beetle is basically an opposed skill check. I think that if beetles are working with each other there are less problems involved and less of a light show. If they have to fight it out the tentacle attaching becomes necessary.
Syd: Back on Rimbor, the court reconvenes. Icon seems to think that the new evidence exonerating the Justice League is so compelling that it renders bribes unnecessary, clearly still not grasping how this court works. So it’s up to our heroes to save the day and they do it using the most bizarre logic. Conner and Megan argue that if the court is shown to be just and impartial on this case, then others will come to have their cases heard, and these people WILL be willing to bribe them. It’s the Billy Goats Gruff defense.
Margaret: More than that, it’s a really fucked up way to get the Justice League exonerated. They’re basically trading in the justice of other aliens who do not have the pull of the Justice League in order to ensure they go free. It’s a weird form of bribery that actually is worse than actually bribing the courts. I don’t like it and doesn’t seem to be in line with the Justice League identity. If they would have just bribed the courts it would have been over and done with, however they’re lending some form of credibility to the court for years to come when they know full well no one will get any form of justice there. That’s actually worse than bribing them.
Syd: Right. Like, they’re too honorable to play by the court’s rules, but they’re fine bolstering the court’s credibility so that they can take advantage of others. I would have been happier if they had just fought their way out of space jail. But I guess there weren’t enough episodes left in the season for that.
One thing that is interesting to me is that when it was revealed that Conner’s other father was Lex Luthor, Lex talks to Conner about how he takes after him, but generally, that hasn’t been the way the show has handled Conner’s characterization. Here, though, using the court’s corruption to his own ends is exactly how Lex would handle this situation (and entirely not how Superman would), but I don’t think that is even intentional as far as characterization, because Conner has mostly been making his own path instead of becoming a Lex/Clark synthesis. I just think this plot point provides an opportunity to examine Conner’s character that this episode doesn’t really expand on.
Margaret: Yeah, I was curious as to how they might actually include Lex in Conner’s portrayal. They have yet to do so, but this is very much a Lex business plan. Make them think your best interest is in THEIR best interest and then leave while things devolve. He’s selling out the court, but he gets what he wants and then he doesn’t think about it again. That’s a very Lex move.
Syd: Meanwhile, Jaime and his scarab work together to overwhelm Black Beetle and destroy his scarab. So at the end of the episode, the only one left with the scarab is the one who has one in the comics. Very convenient.
Margaret: By connecting with Black Beetle, he was able to figure out his plans to destroy earth. There’s a breathless explanation as to what that is and how they have to stop it. It seems almost like a flash forward or a monster of the week episode in explanation, rather than a season finale. I would think there would have been more episodes to build this up, but we have also been using that excuse a lot. I feel like it’s the Firefly effect. “Oh, well, we know it was cancelled” or “We know they meant to have more episodes.” Therefore we give it a bit more leeway. I’m inclined to give it to this show, but then I was also inclined to give the same thing to Joss Whedon and then I read his Wonder Woman script.
Syd: Honestly, if they intended for this to have more build up, I’m glad they had to run through it quickly, because it felt like the real climactic showdown with dramatic weight was last episode and this is just a mopping up exercise. Really, I wouldn’t give this as much credit as a monster-of-the-week episode, because that’s what the first season’s Halloween episode was and that was great. This just seems like they needed some sort of conflict to frame the character beats around, and it was the end of the season, so it had to be world-threatening and someone had to die. Bleh.
But we have the episode grading to hash this out. For now, suffice it to say that the Earth-breaking devices were a last resort, so not even the Reach had planned a way to shut them down, but Lexcorp had planned ahead and devised a way to disable Reach tech and enlists the aid of the Justice League to implement it. Despite a weak plot, God bless Mark Rolston. Lex Luthor is a great character, and I am digging Rolston’s voice acting. I love how he begrudgingly refers to the protagonists as “heroes.” You can smell the loathing in his voice,
Margaret: Okay, like, I get that Luthor would protect this world, but you KNOW he is getting something out of this. I generally love the stories when the heroes have to work alongside Lex Luthor because it really builds on everyone’s motivations. Grudging match ups are my cup of tea, but this is less grudging match up and more ‘well, this is happening’ without much breathing room. I wish there was a little bit more here.
Syd: So Tim Drake’s “It’s his world, too” handwave didn’t do it for you?
Syd: Fair enough. Back on Rimbor, the Justice League are exonerated and everyone lives happily ever after. Megan apologizes to Conner and admits that the problems in their relationship were her fault. FINALLY.
Margaret: Really Megan? REALLY? Now she finally admits it was her fault? I mean, it was entirely her fault! She mind altered him! Even if we’re going by the idea that she is not entirely used to those boundaries, the exact first lesson she ever learned was to not mentally overstep with an ally. And, yes, that leads to her being pretty horrible with enemies because to her that is ‘okay’. That’s a whole different conversation which is also a bit of a messed up thing. For this particular situation, her altering Conner’s memory is a insane boundary cross that she KNEW was a boundary cross from her first days on the Team. To give her a pass is just insane to me. For it to have taken this long to admit it is also a little weird, I think.
I like Megan as a character A LOT. She was my favorite character in season 1 and this is an interesting way the character has progressed, however I also feel like they are letting her off the hook in this apology. I would have liked this progression way more if they would have actually held her to it more with him personally and their relationship to each other.
Syd: In her trying to patch things up with Conner, she stops short of admitting that she wants to get back together with him – ostensibly because she, like the audience (or at least me), believed that Conner was pursuing a relationship with Wendy. TWIST! Wendy was actually getting together with Marvin and Superboy was supporting her with that. Look, I know this isn’t O. Henry level surprise, but I really like this. In the first season, it was immediately established when two characters were meant to get together and that paid off promptly, so I like that they played off of audience expectations in a fun way this season. Also, I feel like the Aqualad subplot this season forced Megan to deal with the consequences of her bad decisions in a real and visceral way, so when she apologizes to Conner, it carries that weight. I don’t think she “earned” Conner’s love as a prize, but I do think that she had a full arc this season.
Margaret: I agree that she has an arc, as she realizes the effects of her powers on enemies as well as allies. However, there is still little fallout from her using her powers in a way she knows is bad. Sure, they discuss it, but it’s never really expounded upon, honestly. They still will they/won’t they them the entire season. I don’t like that. The main fallout is when she uses her mind wiping on Kaldur – who she thinks of as an enemy and murdered her best friend. That is (in the parameters of what she has been taught in the first season) an effective and condoned use of her powers…even if the entire season I’ve been thinking that is bonkers.
But she should know mind altering Conner is wrong. Yet, she ignores it and thinks it fine. It’s not the main thrust of her arc despite her clearly stepping over a line very early on. That seems incredibly weird to me. Even in Buffy, the moment of Willow realized she was using her witch powers in a slippery slope manner was because she mind altered her girlfriend, not because she murdered the guy who murdered her girlfriend.
Syd: The problem is that with how they started the season with Megan, it is hard to resolve her arc without her going full-on supervillain, which I am VERY glad they didn’t do, so I’m still mostly positive, even though you are entirely right. Anyway, back on Earth, we have our Teams disabling the Reach’s world destroying devices. The first one is underwater, which gives us a chance to see Kaldur make amends with La’gaan. This probably would have been more satisfying if they had spent any time setting up their conflict in the first place, but, whatever, it’s resolved now.
Margaret: Meanwhile, in Paris, Artemis and Wally save the Eiffel Tower. When Wally scoops up Artemis after a bus explosion, he tells her, “We definitely have to come back here once the world is saved.” Man, there is no way they are ever coming back here. One of them is totally doomed and I am 99% sure it is Wally.
Syd: Geez, the season is almost over. Cool it on the spoilers. Static and Black Lightning work together to take out a device and Lightning offers to be Static’s mentor. That’s great. If only the rest of the Super Friends had pre-established analogs in the Justice League, but oh well. Good for Virgil.
Margaret: In typical superhero story fashion, they somehow missed one of the devices that is on the North Pole. The only person who can get there fast enough is Barry, who just happens to have one of the eggs (why? Who knows, don’t worry about it) and is there to shut it down. Unfortunately, he’s too late and the machine has already gone chrysalis, meaning it will disrupt the magnetic poles of the Earth to destroy it. That’s just like Barry.
Syd: Oh it’s so ironic, the fastest man is always late and blah blah blah. Anyway, Bart shows up to help out and they engage in one of my favorite superhero tropes, which Seanbaby deemed “Spin-Around-It” physics. They run in circles fast enough to undo something bad. Because circles do that. I read about it in Zero Girl. Unfortunately, the device is so bad that the Allen family can’t produce enough circles to unbad it, so Wally shows up to help.
Margaret: It’s something that shows up in every iteration of The Flash that I have seen. They do it in the comics, they do it in the CW show – the even do it in Supergirl! – now they do it in Young Justice. I mean, I get that it should make sense that you can neutralize something by spinning in the opposite direction, but I always think of the Community line where they try and figure out how to get rid of Kool-Aid stains and they say, “We already know that the opposite color Kool-Aid doesn’t work.” Same scientific principle.
Syd: Unfortunately, Wally, being the slowest moving target in the device’s radius becomes a target for the device’s energy. Jaime’s scarab warns that in 16 seconds, Wally will “cease.” Cease? Since when does the scarab use euphemisms? Wally jokes that Artemis will kill him, and in typical Wally fashion, this is absolutely the wrong time.
Margaret: And then, after asking Barry to tell Artemis and his family that he loves them, he disappears. So where does Wally go? The Beetle says he ceases to be and we see him sort of dissipate, but, like, there’s a bullshit speedforce way to fix that, right? He was speedforcing. This is a comic/soap opera. No one’s dead unless you see the body. Ugh, why do I want to save Wally?
Syd: I’m pretty sure the speed-force doesn’t exist in this universe. That seems to be what Greg Weisman was getting at in this post, but my main take-away is that he brings up the idea of an archery-force, which is now part of my headcanon, because it explains SO MUCH about Earth 16. Anyway, when the running stops, the Team celebrates their victory, except for Artemis, who asks, “Where’s Wally?” It’s an emotional moment, but did she have to phrase it that way?
Margaret: Isn’t it Waldo?
Syd: Only in America. For most of the world, Waldo West is Kid Flash. Or something like that. Localization is a headache.
Margaret: The Justice League finally returns…and it’s a little weird that they return so much later than Meggan and Conner. What were they doing while the Earth was in danger? They wonder if they’re too late, but then the Team arrives.
Syd: This is a nice moment, because it’s an inverse of the scene in the pilot episode where the Justice League descends to meet the Team after they freed Superboy. This time, in a parallel shot – again on the night of Independence Day – it’s the Team who descends to meet the Justice League. Things have come Full Circle – something else I learned from Zero Girl.
Margaret: The Green Lanterns take the Reach off of Earth to put them on trial. Back on Earth, our good friend G. Godfrey Gordon is reveling in the expulsion of the aliens, despite his past episodes raving about how they were the perfect aliens. He is particularly gleeful about how the UN Secretary General Tseng has resigned. In fact, he has the perfect new candidate he would like to propose: Lex Luthor! Man, I said at the beginning of this that Lex had an angle and boy did he. I like how disgusted Superman is at that announcement.
Syd: This scene is kind of perplexing to me. I have stated that Lex Luthor is my favorite villain in this series, and this move works into his M.O. on a surface level, but when I think about it, it confuses me. I’m reminded of a scene from Secret Six:
This stood out to me, because what Pariah says is true in a symbolic sense, but I don’t think it works literally, that is unless he wants these things as trophies after having vanquished their previous owners. What intrigues me about Lex Luthor is that his conception of power is something more than physical strength or energy. What would he want with a power ring when, as we see in that very issue, he already has a Yellow Lantern working for him? Understanding that he wants power over people rather than to be physically powerful, I could see how being Secretary General might be construed that way in a world where, as we have seen this season, that position is the one that interfaces directly with alien worlds, but the responsibilities of a Secretary General don’t bestow much power in the real world and Lex’s methods throughout this series have always been maneuvering behind the scenes, so I’m wondering why he even wants this position. What does he think he can accomplish leading the UN that he couldn’t already as a member of the Light?
Margaret: Well, from what we’ve kind of seen of the UN in this world, being UN Secretary General almost seems like being President of the World, so it makes sense that he would want that power. It seems mutually beneficial for the Light as well, as now that means the Light basically has primary control of who would be welcome on Earth and who would not. Not to mention the fact that he can now directly and in a very real sense oppose the Justice League with the power of the UN behind him. This makes sense to me on a ‘Lex building up his power structures’ sort of way. Why have only one when you can have two?
Syd: I guess? I just want to see what Lex actually does, because this episode makes it seem like it’s obvious why Lex being Secretary General is a bad thing, when I don’t know that it’s worse than what he’s already doing now. Fortunately, though, Captain Atom doesn’t have to worry about that, because he’s stepping down as leader of the Justice League and handing off the reins to Black Canary.
Margaret: Back with The Team, Dick tells Kaldur that he needs some time off after the death of Wally. Not to be insensitive, but he really should do that. He’s been sloppy all season! He should have been way more on top of things. I, honestly, just think it shows how Dick has always been better as someone who enhances the Team but should not lead it. His strength is adding onto plans and working off the book, which is something he could never do as leader.
Syd: Back in the memorial grotto, among the holograms commemorating fallen heroes, loose ends are being wrapped up. Static has decided to join the Team full time, though the rest of the Super Friends opted out. What’s weird is that Arsenal was specifically mentioned as having declined, which implies that he was also offered a spot. This must have been Kaldur’s decision, made out of misplaced loyalty to Red Arrow. Not having worked with Arsenal, he doesn’t even know how disastrous he had been on the Smallville farm mission.
Margaret: What is also weird is that Bart is taking over the Kid Flash identity. Artemis tells him that the outfit looks good on him and that Wally would be proud of him. However, I have to ask, why in the world is Bart taking over Kid Flash’s identity? He already has a superhero identity with a codename and everything! What does this even accomplish? Pretending that Wally didn’t die? Giving Bart a present time identity? It’s not like the world knows where Impulse came from. There are so many other speedsters, he could just be a new one. I’m not sure what this accomplishes.
Syd: Actually, it sort of does make sense, given that Kid Flash was a public identity, but Impulse wasn’t. Impulse was only part of The Team, not necessarily a known partner of the Flash. By keeping the Kid Flash identity going, they don’t show weakness, because nobody knows that Kid Flash died. They discussed a similar rationale when Jaime Reyes took over Ted Kord’s Blue Beetle identity. It’s disturbing in a way, but there is a logic to it.
Margaret: That does make some sort of sense, but that’s definitely disturbing. People should be allowed to die!
Syd: In lighter news, Wonder Girl and Robin are now officially a couple. Wally’s death made Cassie panic and kiss Tim. This really wasn’t set up, but, what the hell, I ship it. I hope we see how their relationship goes in the next season. They also shiptease Conner and Megan, which would be annoying if I didn’t know there wasn’t going to be another season. As it is, though? I’m happy with not everything being neatly tied up and I’m very much happy that they didn’t get back together this episode.
Margaret: I’m honestly of the opposite opinion. That scene between Conner and Megan seemed to be a tossed out olive branch for the shippers because they knew the series was not going to come back. It was a ‘well the possibility is there!’ because these two are the Rachel and Ross of Young Justice and a lot of people were invested in their relationship.
In my opinion, the best leave off of Conner and Megan’s relationship is after her apology, even with the series ending. Them suddenly talking about one or the other making a move so close to that apology and Megan’s break up with La’gaan is just so weird and cringy to me!
Syd: So Vandal Savage flies the Warworld off to Apokalips, where G. Gordon Godfrey is casually hanging out. As you do. There, he shakes hands with… Darkseid!
Really? Fucking really? That’s your big cliffhanger? That’s what’s supposed to entice us for another season? The most boring supervillain in the entire DC Universe? Really? Someone we already knew was out there when they namedropped the New Gods in the first season? Really? That’s it? If I didn’t love this series, I would ragequit.
GRADING THE EPISODE
Syd: D. I can’t fail it. This is not as bad as Supergirl’s dismal flop of a season finale. I can’t even give it a D-, since it genuinely had a couple of nice moments. It’s just… not just as an episode on its own, but as a capoff to a generally wonderful season and as the last thing we were left with for years before the third season was announced, this really doesn’t do the job.
Margaret: C-. I was going to give it a lower grade, but it actually almost made me cry about Wally! A character I actively dislike! So, there is a lot of problems with this episode…one of the main ones being it seems they kill Wally off as an afterthought, but it still made me feel things, so I can’t give it a D or F because of that.