Young Justice Re(af)Watch Episode 9 Bereft
Now that Netflix has uploaded season 2 of Young Justice it’s the best time to rewatch the series, especially as doing so might mean Netflix picking the show up for a third season. (Though if you live in the UK like me you have to watch it through Amazon Prime and just share around posts about it). This Re(af)Watch series is not quite a review, more of an opinion piece about each episode as I rewatch them. Covering all 46 episodes of the show, and hopefully any beyond that. Continuing on with episode 9, Bereft.
Episode synopsis: The Team wake up scattered in the desert with no memory of the last six months. Which is a big problem for Superboy since he wasn’t born then. They’re in Bialya, a not too hospitable country for them, so they try to avoid capture while figuring out what happened and bumping into other Team members. They were on a mission and psychically linked when M’gann ran afoul for villainous psychic Psimon, who’s attack wiped their minds. M’gann restores their memories and then goes off to help the captive Superboy. He’s being held captive with a living Sphere creature. M’gann faces off with Psimon again and wins with the help of Superboy. They escape and keep the Sphere.
This episode was certainly a trip through these characters that’s we’ve come to know over the past eight episodes, so to see them before all that was interesting. It was only six months but that’s still enough time for things shift and change. M’gann was living on Mars at that time, Kaldur was in Atlantis, Artemis wasn’t even close to being a superhero, Robin and Kid Flash were still heroes at that time, but Wally hadn’t met Artemis then so their dynamic changed just because the circumstances of how they met had changed. We’re thrown right in the middle of things just like the characters. We don’t know what happened or why they’re in Bialya, the audience is in the same position as the characters. All in all it was a good mystery plot, finding out the pieces the same way the characters do as we learn what happened over time. It’s a little more of a disordered format, as the characters remember things we see some of what happened before. The continuity is de-synced and we see things out of order. Perfectly fitting an episode about memory loss.
The episode starts off with M’gann, and she’s speaking in Martian at first until she realises she’s on Earth then she switches to English. What’s interesting is that she’s not questioning her form but her clothing, since she’s in her stealth gear rather than her standard costume. Martian’s typically look different, Martian Manhunter takes on a more Human-ish form to put people at ease and make them not think he’s a monster, M’gann obviously does the same. She wasn’t surprised by waking up in her Human-ish form and that’s a little telling. She must have practised and thought about what she’d want to look like on Earth well before she got there. So that opens some questions about her life on Mars and why she’d want to go to Earth so badly. She does later say she wanted to be on Earth for “so long” so that reinforces that subtle idea. They’re setting up clues that despite the naive cutesy charm there’s something she’s not telling anyone. There’s a few more clues later on, including a big blink and you’ll miss it one, but I’d rather talk about M’gann’s secrets when the show gets to them. Which is 12 episodes away.
What does happen in this episode is that M’gann and Superboy get a greater connection. They link minds and she restores his memories, and some of hers get shown as well. They are getting a deeper bond. Superboy even gave a reassuring “kick his butt” after his memory was restored, but it was calm and confident reassurance rather than the usual angry tone we’re used to getting from him. He’s definitely finding himself beyond being the angry clone of Superman, and M’gann is helping with that. He’s even starting to joke around her, like when he said “can I keep it” to her about Sphere. It’s in a jokey tone of that of one finding a new pet. He’s still got anger issues out the wazoo, but he’s growing beyond that anger.
Then there’s Wally and Artemis this episode. Because they’re meeting for the first time again Wally doesn’t have the baggage of thinking she’s a replacement for Roy, and so doesn’t start their banter war. There’s also the added bonus of him not meeting M’gann first and so he starts crushing on Artemis and flirting with her while actively not flirting with M’gann when they meet up. Wally has some odd crush habits. He’s very single minded in his main crush and is very focused on her while being defensive about possibly liking other girls. So his not so great abilities with woman are at least mitigated by him at least not going after every woman he sees.
Him and Artemis kinda made a good pair this episode, they worked well together and obviously had some attraction to each other. Then when they got their memories back that attraction came crashing into the wall of baggage each of them has. It’s a funny tragic relationship roadblock. But it’s set up to show that yes they do both have an attraction to each other, it’s just some unfortunate timing that screwed things up for them at first. If only they could admit it to themselves and each other.
We also got some more hints at Artemis’ past. Her dad was the one who trained her, and since she thinks it’s his doing when she wakes up in the desert with a bow it’s safe to say it wasn’t nice training. Then there’s her thinking her dad probably wants her to kill Wally. So it’s safe to say she wasn’t raised by one of the good guys. It adds another dot on the graph of information that we know about her right now. Though it is kinda interesting that she’s a little more open about her life with her memory gone than when she’s got it back. Possibly because now she thinks of herself as a hero, or trying to be one at least, and wants to actively distance herself from villainous roots. She might feel the weight of her family on her and that she needs to push away from that. As for who her father is, well that’s a story for another time.
The memory wiping and restoring was something of a point of contention at the time. Some fans got the idea that their memories had been wiped completely and M’gann had instead replaced their memories of events with hers. Which is odd considering we see Robin have a flashback of Batman telling them to keep radio silent. So the memories were obviously still there. Based on how it was visualised I can guess that their memories of the last six months were broken and scattered so their brains weren’t processing them anymore. So M’gann could stitch their memories back together.
Our revamped villain this time was Psimon, the psychic with an exposed brain. He was suitably creepy and the design makes the exposed brain work and not look like bowl on top of his head. I do still get a giggle at his “Psimon says” catchphrase for the pun on “Simon says.” He’s more of a flunky to another villain, so he doesn’t really have much to do here in the way of character motivations. Which does fit with what the episode needs, since it’s about the Team dealing with the memory loss, so a bigger villain wasn’t needed.
The Light coda this episode was them saying “it doesn’t matter” to them losing both Superboy and Sphere. What they were doing in the desert was testing their new partner’s delivery system. So the Team only saved themselves and Sphere rather than put a halt to The Light’s operations. We also see that their new partner’s delivery system is a Boom Tube, so it’s not hard to guess who it is. The funny thing is that it’s not revealed until the final episode and it’s called a “cliffhanger” by fans. It’s been obvious who the partner is since episode 9, so it’s not really a cliffhanger. Anyway we find out the Boom Tubes also use the same principles as the Zeta Tubes, as Robin says he detected Zeta Radiation at the site. So that’s another use of cohesively melding DC mythology together.
The little things that were here were great, Robin being the detective at the start, figuring out where he was and what to do about it, plus he got some cool action moments. We got some more shirtless Superboy. Kid Flash has snack cases on his costume because of his metabolism, he needs to eat a lot, and he was running low on energy since he hadn’t eaten in a while. Everyone touching themselves when Kid Flash turned his costume off and on for stealth mode, so they were trying to see if there’s were the same. Just Robin using the word “Grok” from the Robert A. Heinlein 1961 novel Stranger in a Strange Land, and is a Martian word from it.
Robin’s word of the episode: Whelmed, again. He lost his memory of saying it the first time.
Wally’s souvenir: Sphere. OK not really Wally’s souvenir but Superboy’s.
Quote of the episode:
“Who put me in this?” Artemis. Referring to her costume
“Wow, I am not touching that with a ten foot…” Kid Flash.
Quote that takes on a new meaning after watching the series:
“Dad. He must have done this. Another of his stupid tests.” Artemis.