By: Paul Giacoppo (story)

The Story: The Earth-Reach conflict leads to the devastation of countless rutabagas.

The Review: After the show added “Invasion” to its moniker, it’s led us on a merry path around discovering the actual invaders.  The Kroloteans served as a pretty good red herring for a while, and the appearance of Godfrey heralded the coming of Apokolips (especially given the constant references of the Fourth World during the show’s first season).  Now that the Reach have started their open “invasion” in full, there’s some questions that have to be answered.

First: why invade?  There are a lot of reasons for conquest—resources, cultural pride, and pure animosity—but none of them seem to apply to the Reach.  This episode shows you they have an admittedly impressive handle on resource management.  For such a highly academic sort of species, cultural pride doesn’t quite fit their personalities.  And if they bore any real ill-will towards the human race, they’d probably be busy destroying everyone right now instead of this elaborate, diplomatic farce.

More likely than not, Earth is just one big scientific experiment to them. Last episode, Black Canary astutely observed the Reach’s interest in the human meta-gene, and its superpower potential.  This episode, we see that “drawing out an organism’s full potential” is a running theme with these aliens, so I suspect their interest is in discovering powers they can put to their own use.  The danger, of course, is unleashing all these special abilities and finding themselves unable to control all of it.

Does the Scarab represent a solution for that particular problem?  We know that generally, these devices are supposed to assert control over their hosts, but it doesn’t seem as if the Reach can manufacture these things en masse.  Besides, as both Blue Beetle and Green Beetle demonstrate, Scarab control is a little dicier than the Reach would probably like.

And, oh yes, there’s a Green Beetle, perhaps the very first truly original character this show has introduced, and an excellent one at that.  Besides playing into the quirkier parts of YJ’s mythos (“All Martians love television,” Robin informs Arsenal), the very idea of a Martian upgraded with a Scarab’s weapons system is just rife with possibilities, doesn’t it?  True, at any second, B’arzz O’oohm* may reveal himself as a traitor, but I really, really hope not.  The team has already suffered enough and the Earth’s under a lot of pressure; can they please get a break with this guy?

For a long time this show has avoided certain clichés of teen superhero series, most importantly the tendency to fly off the handle and screw up due to youthful impulsiveness.  Obviously, the addition of Impulse challenges that good track record a bit, but surprisingly, it’s Arsenal who proves to be the most unpredictable factor on a mission.  In his defense, it’s not so much adolescent indiscretion but personal animosity that motivates his behavior, but the fact of the matter is he jeopardizes the team’s entire mission and credibility with, as Oliver Sava of A.V. Club so aptly puts it, his “crazy ass.”

Conclusion: More action than real plot development, but the episode does lay down some very interesting threads to pick up for next time.

Grade: B+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Everyone loves Nightwing—even the Scarab.

– The Lexcorp rep assures that the only things used to grow their produce is “just water, nutrients, and a little Reach/Lexcorp love.”  Chilling, to say the least.

– “They don’t have pluots in the future,” Bart informs everyone.  Gasp!  He’s right—this monstrosity cannot be allowed to come to pass.

– It’s rather nice that Mr. Kent has such affection for Connor: “And I’ll take any excuse to see one of my boys.”  This show gets characters right on so many levels.