By: Kevin Hopps (story)

The Story: Artemis is less than enthused when her family attempts to avenge her death.

The Review: The epic scale of last week’s episode in outer space could have easily made you forget that deep beneath the sea, there was another, no less important crisis at stake.  The YJ writers got a lot of glee out of maneuvering Artemis, Aqualad, and Miss Martian into such a precarious situation, without ever disturbing the tension already established by this deep-cover mission.  Getting our heroes out of that situation will take even greater care and cleverness.

While the trio found an effective way to stall for time, this couldn’t satisfy Black Manta for long and he springs a ticking time bomb—quite literally—on them here, spurring them to spring a half-baked plan into action.  Had they actually been able to see it through in its entirety, it’s doubtful they would’ve gotten away with it without some kind of compromise, but luckily, in delightful, superhero fashion, two wild cards enter the scene.

With our YJ threesome, Manta, Deathstroke, Sportsmaster, and Cheshire all scrambling about in the tight confines of the ship, confronting each other in various combinations, it’s remarkable things ultimately work out for the best.  This episode is clearly a testament to Hopps’ intricate plotting, with Aqualad, Miss Martian, and Artemis taking advantage of every opportunity to keep up their parts of the act while getting the necessary work done.  By the time the dust clears, and a reset button has been pressed to some extent; Aqualad is back in action; he and Artemis are as secure in their deep cover as ever; and Miss Martian is back to aid the rest of the team.

They can certainly use it, given the loss of half their crew last episode and the troubling developments here.  With Jaime officially turned to the side of the Reach (it’s unclear if it’s simply his body under control or if his mind has been brainwashed entirely) and publicly declaring his support, the team has not only lost one of its biggest guns, it’s also lost a bit of political credibility, sending its fearless leader into a Birdarang-snapping rage.

Speaking of which, I don’t think we’ve had a true spotlight on Nightwing since the new season began, and while this episode isn’t really one as such, it does show off his detective skills in the absence of his former mentor.  With most of his team out of the picture, either in the Reach’s clutches or busy infiltrating the Light, it’ll be the biggest challenge of his tactical skills for him to leverage his remaining resources to make things right—and I’m pumped to see him meet it.

Overall, this episode is mostly an action showcase, putting YJ’s always amazing battle choreography on display.  As always, everyone gets something to do and everyone gets a moment to show off.  Even villains as marginalized in DC’s comic book universe as Manta and Sportsmaster come across as competent and deadly in this episode.  Physical movements look sharp and fluid, as if honed by years of practice (and in a way, this is the case, given how long the DC animators have been perfecting their craft all this time).  Mark my words, I’m going to miss seeing my favorite heroes and villains look this animated and good on a weekly basis.

Conclusion: A return to the show’s espionage and covert ops roots, and a very effective one at that.

Grade: B+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Must feel both heartwarming and creepy to be embraced by your father whom you’re also trying to defeat.