By: Kevin Hopps (story)

The Story: Now this is the textbook definition of “frienemies.”

The Review: One thing that has really impressed me with this show is how well the writers have paced themselves in terms of revealing major plot points, throwing in the occasional twist, and building up character storylines.  Although season one had the rare filler episode, they always felt like enjoyable breaks rather than irritating distractions because the nearly every episode had some overarching importance to it.

Season two continues that trend, only now the writers have to do double-duty in setting the grounds for future events, but also bringing us up to speed on the current state of affairs for the characters.  Of course, we’re all wondering about the missing YJers, the ones that haven’t stayed on as mentors or that haven’t moved up to the big leagues.  You have to wonder if their departures were amicable, violent, or something uncomfortably in between.

Of all the characters to have an ugly falling-out with the team, Hopps offers the one you’d least expect—spoiler alert—former team leader, the cool-headed, stolid, and devoted Aqualad, now follower of Black Manta, who also happens to be his biological father.  But as his rage-driven confrontation with his ex-buddies shows, it’s not merely this genealogical revelation that drove him to the dark side, but bitterness over a mission gone tragically wrong.  The show has no intention of pussyfooting with Kaldur’s current villainy; his actions at the climax of the episode show that even if he’s to be redeemed someday, he’ll have a lot to answer for.

And while we still don’t know what went down with Kid Flash, Artemis, and Red Arrow, I imagine Miss Martian isn’t too far behind Kaldur in terms of crossing over to the dark side.  We saw big hints of this last time, and here, we see this is no aberration in her behavior.  She not only pushes her telepathy again, but does so quite blatantly, almost flippantly, making it seem like a spit in Superboy’s eye and a display of superiority to her uncle.  Speaking of whom, Martian Manhunter doesn’t seem at all wary or even aware of his niece’s power trips, making you wonder if she’s mentally messing with him even as she hugs him goodbye.

Where is he going?  Well, suffice to say, the “16 hour” Leaguers, which just happen to include the most important and powerful members, will be off world for an indefinite amount of time, leaving the fate of the world in the heroes left behind.  It’s incredibly significant that Batman seems to place his trust not in his own remaining teammates, but in his protégé, telling Nightwing, “I have the felling it’ll be up to you and your team to find out.”

This all seems to be playing right into the Light’s plan—yes, they’re still around and going strong, despite one major change in roster.  They’ve succeeded in making Earth a planet of some attention (and hostility) in the greater universe, and now they’ve managed to shoo away some of their biggest obstacles.  In the background, you can hear whispers and rumors (courtesy of G. Gorden Godfrey) of suspicion against the League, which their public relations expert, Catherine Cobert, seems unable to counteract.  It may not seem like it, but the Earth has become a very vulnerable place after this episode.

Conclusion: Once again, you have plenty of material to chew on, and plenty more to look forward to.  Each episode only gets you more interested in the next, which is the hallmark of a good show.

Grade: A-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – It is really touching to see how far Clark and Connor’s relationship has developed in the interim five years, to the point where they actually have official combos now.

– I also appreciate that Clark refers to Connor as his little brother, as calling him son would lead to all sorts of awkward implications in his connection to Luthor.

– “Hello, Megan!” hasn’t disappeared.  Poop.