S03:E14 — Influence: The team reassembles while the Justice League faces a new threat in space.
S03:E15 — Leverage: A new Gamma Squad is sent out on its first mission to investigate rumors of meta-trafficking in Russia.
S03:E16 — Illusion of Control: Across the nation, the team gives thanks for what they have…and for what they very well might lose
S03:E17 — First Impression: The Reach are back, terrorizing small town America… unless the Outsiders can stop them!
When we last met, The Outsiders had a victory of sorts, shutting down a teen metahuman trafficking operation, rescuing Tara Markov and reuniting her with her brother, Brion (Geo-Force). That is, until Tara texted Deathstroke with an ominous, “I’m in.”
There’s a lot going on, a lot of moving pieces, and that’s to be expected. You take a few months off, you want to catch people up quick. And you only have 30 minutes to do it (technically, less). First, we see the Justice League, in space still trying to find the teen metahumans.
Using his Green Lantern ring, Guy frickin’ Gardner has tracked the ion energy from their ship to a…let’s call it an anti-Watchtower, the Orphanage (which bears a striking resemblance to Knowhere from the Guardians of the Galaxy movies). What follows is a fight between Superman, Wonder Woman and Hawkwoman against…the Female Furies of Apokolips.
Led by Big Barda. Not the best fight we’ve seen on the show, but it gets brutal in a hurry. We are also given a reveal of both Granny Goodness (aka Gretchen Goode, if you’re not up on your DCU lore) and Desaad. The villains get away, with the kids, while “Gretchen” promises to go back to the drawing board with the Goode Goggles.
Let me backtrack just a bit. We’re shown a series of news footage clips that are then put into context with the grand narrative, but then undercut by G. Gordon Godfrey’s spin control. Let’s assume some of you aren’t familiar with some of these obscure chracters. G. Gordon Godfrey is really Glorious Godfrey of Apokolips, one of Darkseid’s agents, whose powers are to control people’s minds through his speech.
Hence why he’s on TV; to reach the largest audience possible. So, Godfrey is spinning the acts of the villains because he is a villain, so his “job” is to sow discontent and disgust for the Justice League while making the villains of the piece look good. This is best illustrated when Lex Luthor shows up on his show. I can’t say for sure, but when I saw this scene, I could only think of Hannity interviewing Trump. It was almost creepy how familiar I was with the context of what was happening.
Elsewhere, the heroes were introducing the noobs to the Justice League, and we see Deathstroke eavesdropping via Tara, a callback to “The Judas Contract.” There is one important note to this, though; Halo comes out as non-binary. It’s not something you’d ever see coming, and truth be told, I’m not sure if it was handled as delicately as some may like, but it was incredibly endearing.
The official description undersells this episode in a huge way; it’s Justice League Gamma Squad vs the Rocket Reds vs the Suicide Squad. The team is sent to Russia to investigate a metahuman factory which appears suspicious, but in actuality, it’s the Rocket Red training facility.
Task Force X (aka, Suicide Squad, composed of Monsieur Mallah, Black Manta and Captain Boomerang) are given the mission of stopping the Russians. Here’s where the title of the episode comes into play; there are three instances of someone (or a group of someones) pulling their weight on someone else.
First, it’s Granny Goodness/Gretchen over Gar/Beast Boy, making him suffer through 52 (oh DC, you will never change) takes of one scene. Then, you have Huntress pulling rank, in a diplomatic way, with the Reds.
Finally, Amanda Waller threatens Aquaman (ie, Kaldur’ahm) with the knowledge of the League’s secret covert ops team. When taken individually, it’s a game of one-upmanship. As a whole, however, it’s hard to say who is the “winner” of this game. Could someone be manipulating Waller?
Oh, and Halo gets a boomerang through the sternum. I’ve lost count of how many times this character had died.
ILLUSION OF CONTROL:
After that last episode, this one’s title is super apropos. It’s Thanksgiving and everyone is celebrating in different, almost appropriate for the holiday, ways. Artemis is arguing with her mother, Halo is having flashbacks from her life as Gabrielle, Static is lamenting the lack of romance in his life, and Cyborg is moping and feeling sorry for himself. Y’know…business as usual!
The set piece of the episode takes place at the Taos Meta-Human Teen Center (I don’t think it has a name) where Beast Boy, Kid Flash (BART, not Wally), Blue Beetle, Static, El Dorado (Eduardo), Traci 13 take on Count Vertigo and…someone. It’s not clear who he is, but in the end it doesn’t matter because he is actually she; Devastation. And it’s not Count Vertigo; it’s Psimon.
I know. It’s a lot of unnecessary bait and switching.
They kidnap Gar’s girlfriend, under the ruse that it has to do with matters of royalty. (Count Vertigo is Perdita’s uncle…which, c’mon guys, we saw this with Baron Bedlam. You’re repeating yourselves.) But then it was all just a distraction so Queen Bee’s team could come in and take back all the meta-teens. They fail. Heroes win. Yay.
And something is up with Dr. Jace.
A riddle for you: When is the Reach not the Reach? When it’s left over tech that has been co-opted by Intergang.
Another riddle: When is a Young Justice episode not a Young Justice episode? When it’s a Teen Titans episode.
Although, in truth, they call themselves The Outsiders which is starting to get confusing. Regardless, you have Gar moving most of the teens to Hollywood to live in…guys, let’s just call it Titans Tower for now so you get what’s happening…when an alert goes off.
They head to Brooklyn, Maine to take on the newly resurrected Reach (again, it’s three members of Intergang, including Whisper A’Daire) and run into…analogs of Velma, Fred and Daphne? We even get Whisper saying the classic, “And I would have gotten away with it…” line.
What I found really compelling about this one is how Gar realizes that the best way to fight negative fake news about the League is to go DIY and appeal to a younger generation via social media. It is absolutely insane what this show is saying with just subtext. I know that there are folks out there that want politics taken out of comics, but YJ does it in a very subtle way.
By using pre-established relationships and character foibles, they don’t beat you over the head with the subtext, but rather, they leave it to you to figure it out. You can look passed the familiar if you want, but otherwise, you’re still left with an interesting story. It’s probably the one element of the second half of the season that wasn’t as overt in the first. It’ll be interesting to see how far they take it. Going back to the idea of the bigger picture being assembled (that I mentioned above in LEVERAGE), there might be more to be said for the underlying themes than the actual story.
Will you watch next week’s episode(s)?
Looks like only one new one this week and I have to say; taking them in a chunk like this instead of one at a time is extremely convenient, but also more palatable. It’s easier to see the bigger picture. That said, I have no idea what is going on with the big picture, so I have to watch.
EXTRA POINTS & NIT PICKS:
- I will always love you, Guy Gardner.
- While we’re at it, let’s all give a respectful bow to Phil Bourassa and his incredible character designs. You should all follow him on Instagram.
- I’m quickly reminded of how grating the accents are on this show.
Vito Delsante is a comic book writer, graphic novelist, editor, letterer, and the co-creator/writer of STRAY with Sean Izaakse, and THE PURPLE HEART with Dean Haspiel and artist, Ricardo Venâncio. He’s written for DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Image Comics, AdHouse Books, and Simon & Schuster, among others, and his stories have been reprinted in other countries. He lives in Pittsburgh, PA with his wife, Michelle, his daughter, Sadie, his son, James, and his pitbull, Kirby. You can find him online at incogvito.com and you can follow him on Twitter @incogvito