By: Jon Weisman (story)

The Story: It stands to reason that a race which envisioned the Death Star wouldn’t fall for a massive planet-destroying spaceship.

The Review: For anyone experiencing early pangs of nostalgia and grief about the impending end of this show, the show doesn’t make it easier by continuing to stick to its high level of excellence despite the doom before it.  It especially doesn’t help when the show manages to deliver not only a respectable episode, but one of the best showings it’s ever made, one that puts all its sophistication, class, and appeal right in the forefront for everyone to see.

As much as I appreciate the show returning briefly to the “Wanted” Leaguers and their trial on Rimbor, the scene only serves as a catalyst for a much bigger and more important development for our heroes back on Earth.  The introduction of WarWorld, with its zooming dissolves and brisk exposition, feels truly epic, the stuff worthy of a blockbuster action-adventure film.  For anyone wondering, this is how you inform the audience of the episode’s premise without forcing them to slog through a long, excessively detailed briefing.

After that, the pacing remains on high heat, escalating the conflict in short order without feeling rushed.  Within a few minutes, we go from the Reach’s outrage at Mongul’s interference, to the Reach using the incident as a P.R. move to further gain the trust of humanity, to the Justice League confronting Mongul, to the big outer space battle itself.  The effect of all these quick, lively scenes is exhilarating, almost reminiscent of Star Wars’ great exposition cuts.

The episode also highlights how effective and important Young Justice has become in the last year or so.  Here, the actual Justice Leaguers are mere distractions, side-players to YJ’s many squadrons, who take on the task of shutting down WarWorld by themselves.  Each unit has a specific task carefully attuned to their strengths, and each task is part of a well thought-out master plan to defeat the threat entirely.

Even better, Weisman manages to make this Mongul wrinkle feel like an organic part of the overarching plot, not just a diverting bit of filler.  The tension between the Reach and Mongul is what places Earth in danger, and each of these antagonists have their reasons for confronting the other.  In the end, Mongul succeeds in complicating the Reach’s invasion plans, forcing them to not only reveal the bulk of their fleet, but to lose most of it as well.  Yes, the Reach gets quite a bit of something out of the exchange as well, but their gain is a little more volatile, more susceptible to biting them in the ass down the line.

Meanwhile, the show remains just as devoted to playing out the personal storylines among the characters, and uses Mal and Karen’s relationship drama to great comedic and sentimental effect during the crisis.  Their bickering even as they carry out their part of the plan with inarguable success actually made me laugh, especially with their passive-aggressive to hyper-aggressive delivery.  Mal claims he doesn’t care that they’ve been spotted inside WarWorld because “At least the big alien death moon notices when I’m around.”

Karen, incredulously: “Was that a slam on me? In the middle of a mission?”

“Woman—when are you not in the middle of a mission?”*

Conclusion: This episode gives you everything you could possibly want from a superhero cartoon, and quite easily stands as one of the best efforts Young Justice has ever put out in its already remarkable run.

Grade: A

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: * I’m surprised the show got away with Mal calling Karen “Woman,” by the way.  You’d think some self-righteous feminist or multiculturalist would be up in arms about that.

– Honestly, this may be the most respectable reporting that Cat Grant has ever done.

– For any serious Connor-Cassie shippers out there, you can sort of have the joy of seeing them team up against Mongul.  And hey, stuck at 16, he at least looks the right age for her.