By: Greg Weisman (story)
The Story: Now is the time for the students to become the masters…too cheesy?
The Review: If you ask me, last episode was really the big, team-centered climax of the season. Once all the secrets came out and the group became just that much tighter for it, that’s when you really saw YJ as the complete package for the first time. From now on, they’ll have moments of growth, possibly life-changing ones, even ones that will alter the group dynamic completely, but nothing really compares to that first moment when they all truly come together for the first time.
For that reason, this episode feels a bit more like clean up, an opportunity for the team to wrap up loose ends and show what this new team is made of. But what an opportunity it is: taking on the entire League, who both grossly outnumbers and out-powers them on pretty much every level.
So how does a band of ex-sidekicks defeat the primo group of superheroes in the world? By getting their tricks on. It’s quite brilliant of the show’s creators to spend this whole year establishing YJ as a covert ops team, and letting them put those skills to use in defeating the League, who tend to just punch their problems in the face—especially when under Klarion and Vandal Savage’s mystic mind-control.
Speaking of the devils, we finally get a sense of the Light’s big goal in all these dastardly deeds, and I must say, it’s not quite what you expect. For one thing, Savage goes into a fairly long, elaborate monologue which covers quite a bit of abstract ground, probably going over the head of every actual kid watching the show. Us adults will get a lot more out of it, though, as Savage couches his ramble in a Joker-esque thesis on the conflict between chaos and order, claiming the latter (and, by extension, the League) leads only to stagnation, which he wishes to avoid.
Besides the philosophical musings, we get some good, old-fashioned plot twists, the biggest being the revelation of—spoiler alert—Roy not only being under Savage’s control, but a clone (a la Cadmus) as well. I don’t know whether this extra layer of complication is necessary or even makes that much sense, but Weisman sells it well, and it opens up a whole new avenue of emotional angst as clone-Roy grapples with the realization he’s a human redundancy.
While a lot of the episode revolves around big action sequences and important stretches of exposition, we still get plenty of the little character moments and storytelling details which have made this show so strong. I love that Weisman takes a brief moment out of the action to have Zatanna attempt to remove the Helm of Nabu from her father. Yes, it causes a break in the tension, but it’s so true to her character and the context of the story that it actually makes me prouder of the show than all the great battle sequences put together. I also love that YJ turns to Atlantis, a center of magic and advanced science, to reverse-engineer the magic-infused piece of technology controlling the League.
Even though Weisman leaves us with some great, season finale moments (the YJ couples kissing at midnight on New Year’s Eve, Superman approving Superboy’s “Kent” name), he also sets up the next season’s plot as well. As it turns out, Savage and Klarion have only accomplished “Phase 1” of their plan; they’ll need the League for the next—which again signals a much higher power going on here. Perhaps we’ll see all those Fourth World motifs come to play, no?
Conclusion: A satisfying finale to what’s been a terrific animated series. Only problem now is it must leap over the high bar it’s set for itself for the coming year.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – I imagine Tornado’s none too pleased that his android body gets wrecked before he even gets to use it. Imagine having to drive your old Toyota Camry to the body shop to get your newly-bought Lamborghini repaired.
– Incidentally, I like that Hawkman can take a punch from Superboy and stand his ground. That’s why his League membership makes sense.
– The Watchtower is full of the most powerful technology in the solar system, and yet for music, they can only manage a MIDI file of “Auld Lang Syne”? Priorities, people!