By: Greg Weisman (story)
The Story: No one’s back is safe in this arena of betrayal.
The Review: Gah, gah—this is the second to last episode of Young Justice. Did you hear that? We only have one more episode before it all ends. I can hardly believe it myself. I always hoped that this show would go the way of Justice League (Unlimited or otherwise): a cartoon staple, one everyone will look back on as a high-water mark for American serial animation. To think that it’s getting canned before its time is heartbreaking, to say the least.
For one thing, I can’t think of any other cartoon currently running that takes its characters as seriously as this one does. I never felt that the show’s writers ever took advantage of the team’s youth to deliver sloppy, silly, or haphazard personalities or behaviors. All YJ ever wanted was to be recognized for their efforts and treated with respect, and they have always gone above and beyond to earn that recognition and respect from everyone.
And I really do mean everyone. YJ has long become the strong right arm of the Justice League (and in many ways done what their adult counterparts could not), but in this episode, they garner the attention of their enemies as well. In rather brilliant fashion, Aqualad and Artemis only lose their covers by doing their job too well (while saving Ra’s al Ghul, Artemis’ glamour charm catches his eye and gets her caught), but even when the poop hits the fan, they still deliver the final blow sundering the Reach and the Light forever. Vandal feigns admiration, but continues to underestimate the youngsters. It is only after YJ proves they have a contingency plan for the Light’s contingency plan that they earn Vandal’s immortal enmity but good.
While this is the kind of plotting that YJ does especially well, their character work has always come a close second. I’ll be the first to admit that the YJers don’t always have as much personality as you’d like, but you always have a clear sense of their personal motivations, which, at times, is even more important. When Lagoon Boy beats off the magicked flame serpent that has Miss Martian in its coils, they don’t even need to exchange words for you to know they still love each other, though they both understand the differences in their love. Despite the harsh words and silence exchanged between Manta and his son, you can tell Kaldur’s ultimate betrayal hurts them both even if it was necessary and inevitable.
As good as the plotting and character work are, no one will blame you if your favorite thing about the show is its incredible action sequences. This episode features the participation of the whole of YJ’s current roster, plus Aqualad, Kid Flash, and Artemis, and amazingly enough, everyone gets a moment or two to themselves to show off. No matter which is your favorite character, this episode guarantees a scene you can look back on to explain why, whether it be Nightwing’s silky smooth beatdown of several ninja with his bo staves, or Beast Boy going gorilla-to-gorilla with Monsieur Mallah, then turning rhino to finish the job.
What’s even more exciting is that this is probably not even the topper. Now that the Light has established control of the War World, and the Reach (under the direction of Black Beetle) plans to destroy evidence of their presence on Earth before the Green Lantern Corps can get there, the action in the series finale (aagh—the pain of that word) is bound for the stratosphere.
Conclusion: I love that this is a show and team that earns your attention simply by excelling at their work, rather than with splashy gimmicks or pretentions of hipness, and this episode embodies that very well.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: - I know the Light are the villains here, but they do include some of the brilliant minds and greatest powers on Earth, and seeing them face off with the Reach is thrilling.