By: Kevin Hopps (writer)

The Story: Feel free to get real with each other, kids—Young Justice is a safe place.

The Review: I’ve spoken critically about this point a few times over the course of the season, but twenty-odd episodes later, I still don’t feel a genuine group chemistry from Young Justice.  While certain pairings have developed among various members, the vibe you get when they’re all together is a friendly coworker dynamic rather than true friendship.  Besides very rare instances, we hardly ever see them interact in non-mission related circumstances.

So even though this episode offers a feel-good plot and conclusion, with all kinds of big emotional moments and characters reaching new understanding of each other, it doesn’t project a spirit of kinship so much as it does a satisfaction from a job well done.  It’s significant that rather than dwelling on the deeper level of trust they’ve achieved, they simply marvel at having yet again averted disaster.

At any rate, this is a very minor criticism, the equivalent of saying the soup tastes good, but not like ma’s.  After all, you get some major character growth in this episode, particularly from the three “outsiders” of the group.  Kudos for the choice of having Superboy, of his own accord, be the first to come clean about his secrets, without any pressure from the plot.  When you consider the rage-ridden, aloof, and stubborn clone he started this series as, this is a huge step for him, proof positive that he’s become his own person.

Perhaps the show’s intention is to avoid commenting about their stronger camaraderie and instead display it through the young heroes’ now highly-tuned teamwork.  We get two major battle sequences in this episode, during which you have eight characters moving around, taking down their individual targets and assisting each other.  Each YJer seems to know how to put their abilities to best use, whether for themselves or to complement the others’ special skills.  Their fighting becomes an elaborate choreography, and all the more impressive given the furious pace.

I mentioned eight characters.  Red Arrow leaves the team for greater heights (you don’t get much higher than the League Watchtower in outer space), and taking his place is Rocket, sidekick to another recent League inductee, Icon.  Although she doesn’t exactly break out in her debut episode, her presence broadens the team’s diversity (let the shipping with Aqualad begin), evens the gender distribution, and, perhaps most importantly, increases the team’s sassiness tenfold.

The team may be gender-balanced now, but soon enough Red Arrow will have to come back to them for help since—spoiler alert—he turns out to be the mole, albeit a Starro-controlled one, and really more of a mole intended for the League than their younger counterpart team.  I admit I was baffled when the show decided Red Arrow of all ex-sidekicks should get the honor of League membership, but the purpose seems clear now.  This whole season has been about YJ evolving as a team and learning to rely on each other completely—the “trust” issue Wonder Woman brought up several episodes ago.  Red Arrow may have gained personal glory operating on his own, but YJ as a group is capable of accomplishing much, much more.

Conclusion: Can you believe we’ve reached the penultimate episode?  Me neither.  But all the show’s efforts of weaving a multilayered, precision-timed plot has clearly borne fruit, and I for one look forward to relishing it during the season finale.

Grade: A

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – As a Zatanna fan, I have to point out how well she’s been used on this show.  Even though her powers have near limitless creative applications, they’re kept grounded and restrained by utilizing her primarily as support, edging the team’s odds in their favor rather than serving as a deus ex machina to all their problems.