By: Kevin Hopps (story)
The Story: As if Earth’s atmosphere didn’t have enough problems already.
The Review: There’s a reason why sitcoms usually go for an hour when they do their series finale. While half an hour may be enough to deliver a neatly wrapped story for that one episode, a finale has more than just one story to resolve. Over the course of a show’s lifetime, you have a lot of individual plot threads that need revisiting, loose ends to tie up, and of course, plenty of goodbyes, not just among the characters themselves, but between you and the show, too.
Although I have no evidence of this, I imagine the producers of Young Justice probably fought for an hour finale only to be, as so many of us have been, cruelly disappointed by Cartoon Network. As a result, they were forced to deliver an epic conclusion to their Invasion storyline and hit a ton of other beats besides, all within a twenty-one minute episode. Unsurprisingly, the finale ends up speeding through nearly every scene, leaving you winded when it’s all over.
This must be a touch frustrating for a show that’s prided itself on strong, even pacing practically since it began. Take the trial of the Justice League. It’s obvious that Hopps wants to wrap up that long-running bit properly, but with a far more exciting and important conflict going on elsewhere, the trial becomes more of an obstacle he has to hurdle to move on to better things. Any sense of weight or gravity you might have gotten from this plot thread is lost once Miss Martian and Superboy pull off an Abbott and Costello-type con to clear their mentors.
Speaking of which, Miss Martian and Superboy’s relationship has always been, for me, the least interesting part of this entire series, something shunted on us since the early days and we’ve been stuck with ever since. Perhaps it was inevitable they’d get back together, and this was the last opportunity for it to happen, but the execution is clunky (Superboy was just posing for Wendy to get together with Marvin? Really?)* and it eats up precious time in an already tight episode.
Once we get these distractions out of the way, we’re left with an undeniably massive crisis worthy of any great superhero story. I mean, the Reach weren’t kidding around when they planned to destroy the evidence of their time on Earth; they were actually planning to destroy Earth. Their mechanism for doing so, unfortunately, is a bit dull: a series of devices that simply have to be shut down before they reach critical mass. That leaves the forty-odd heroes (YJers, Leaguers, and Reach runaways all) little to do other than fend off a few obligatory guard drones each. You don’t get too many spotlight moments from that.
With one major exception. Spoiler alert—any time the DCU experiences a crisis of this proportion, a Flash traditionally has to die. I’m sure Wally West fans will be outraged that he now has the misfortune of getting phased out not only in comic book continuity but in his animated world as well, but I can see why it had to be Wally. Although it would’ve made a lot of sense to bump off Barry (allowing Wally and Bart to step up in Flash costume respectively), there would’ve been little to no emotional impact from that. Between the loss of a founding YJer and the irony of it being Wally, not Artemis, the episode ends on a fairly somber note that makes for an even more bittersweet finale than usual.
And how dare Hopps leaves us with a cliffhanger! That’s just a final twist of the knife for anyone of us already suffering the idea that we may never get to see another episode again. I mean, you’ve still got the Light in operation with the War World in tow and in alliance with Apokolips. It just doesn’t seem right that we’ll never get a chance to see how that conflict come to fruition, so here’s hoping that Hopps included this final scene as a sign of hope for fans, rather than a teaser of what might have been.
Conclusion: I am truly going to miss this series. It was one of the first things I got to cover from the very start on WCBR, and I’m glad I got to see it through to its end. That said, for it to remain under my coverage for that long, it must’ve been (and was) a pretty impressive show.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: * And that really creeped me out upon first hearing since in my mind, I was convinced that Wendy and Marvin were siblings, as in pre-relaunch Teen Titans continuity.
– “You have got to be kidding me.” Uh-oh. When Superman gets hissy, you know things are not going well.
– Poor, poor Reach scientist. Even to the very end she gets no respect.