By: Kevin Hopps & Paul Giacoppo (story)

The Story: And you thought your high school reunion was uncomfortable.  At least no one stabbed you.

The Review: Cold opens are interesting beasts in that they’re a narrative technique exclusive to television and however way they’re used, they serve the needs specific to a TV show.  Whether they introduce a particular episode’s premise or conflict, give you a fun throwaway gag (the broadcast equivalent of the first two panels of a Doonesbury Sunday strip), or offer a cliffhanger as a down payment for your attention, it all boils down to catching your interest from the start.

For Young Justice, they’ve always shown their ambitions by making their cold opens more and more intense, getting into the heat of the action early, practically flaunting what an awesome episode they have in store.  In a few instances, the opens are a little less useful than they appear (see the redundant “This is not how the mission was supposed to go” open in S02E02), but by and large, they’ve been some of the best bits in this latest generation of cartoons.

At any rate, this episode’s opening scene couldn’t fail to work just from its shocking nature—and not just from its surprisingly accurate depiction of CPR, or the fact that someone in a superhero story actually used CPR in an appropriate context.  And the thing is, the show has established such credibility for itself that it made it possible for you to really believe, even for a second, that it had really killed off one of its major characters.

But this is also a show that made you believe that Aqualad had truly turned over to the dark side.  Though once or twice I mulled upon the possibility that Kaldur’s betrayal was all a big ruse, I always abandoned the theory for several reasons.  One, if it was all a fake-out, I didn’t see the purpose of Superboy, Nightwing, and Kaldur’s private exchange in S02E03.  Two, because such an elaborate pretense seemed like a lot of time and risk just to get close to Manta, who didn’t become a member of the Light until that episode.  And three, I simply underestimated the show and the team; I really didn’t think they had the skill or guts to go that far for a mission.

If anything, the stakes can only get even bigger from here.  While Kaldur has the firepower to give you some ease of mind should he be discovered, you can’t say the same for Artemis.  Let’s face it: beyond archery’s inherent limitations, which superhero stories always try to pretend don’t exist except when they feel like it (I’m talking about the finite quiver of arrows paradox), Artemis herself doesn’t stand out in her fighting or tactical ability.  That’s why she makes such an unusual choice for a deep cover mission, and why I imagine the only reason they turn to her is because with the big kahunas in the Justice League gone, and their need to retain every big gun sidekick to make up for it, they flat-out just ran out of bodies to put into play.

Also worth noting is Miss Martian and Superboy’s relationship problems finally come out into the open, and they pretty much go the way we’ve all suspected.  What gives the revelation a little bit of a kick is not only could Superboy no longer tolerate Miss Martian’s psychic aggression, the tipping point for him was a clearly Buffy-inspired, Willow-Tara mind-screwing twist.  And the fact that he’s still kept all that a secret up to this point makes you wonder if he still just loves her too much to tell, or if she has some subtle telepathic suggestion on him.

Conclusion: In a roundabout way, this episode is a reunion for our original cast, and rather than wallow in sentimentality, the show uses it to advance a huge chunk of story.

Grade: A

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – The fact that Superboy hates wearing the leggings, trunks, and cape costume makes me hope the show finds some way to trap him in it for an entire episode.  Call me sadistic.

– This show does a lot of things well, but its humor has always leaned more towards exhausting catchphrases than anything else.  That said, “There’s no static on the psychic link!” is one of my favorite jokes period, not just for this show.

– Miss Martian and Artemis must have done a lot of off-screen bonding during the skipped five years, because their reunion hug came off awkward and unconvincing as hell.