Young Justice Re(af)Watch Episode 13 Alpha Male
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 13, Alpha Male.
Episode synopsis: Still reeling over the events of the last episode the Team find out Aqualad knew about a mole on the Team and never told them. So they are naturally pissed at him over it, but Batman gives them a mission to sort them out. There’s been a lot of bizarre animal attacks in Northern India, including a photo of a gorilla wielding a mini-gun. So the Team goes to investigate, and their new den mother Captain Marvel tags along. It’s not long after they touch down that they fracture and head off on their own. They’re all attacked by giant animals with control collars, clearly on Kobra-Venom. Captain Marvel gets captured and Aqualad has to pull the Team together to save him from The Brain. The Brain escapes but they rescue the animals and the Team listen to Aqualad’s reasons for keeping the possibility of a mole a secret, and they accept those reasons. With that resolved Captain Marvel departs and we find out he’s actually a ten year old boy.
This is a good aftershock episode. We had the big event last episode and we see the effects on the Team this episode. It’s certainly not the last of these types of episodes either. They all nearly died and someone they trusted betrayed them, so they’ll all a bit shaken. Though it was exacerbated when they found out that Kaldur had kept the mole knowledge to himself rather than share it with them. It’s not fair of them to blame him for everything, but tensions were high and they needed someone to blame. It’s a very human reaction to look for a simple and easy thing hate and blame. It was nice at the end to see the Team listen and accept Kaldur’s explanation for why he didn’t reveal the mole possibility to them. Tension’s had calmed by that point and they could see a little more reason on the matter.
Kaldur learned a bit more about leadership, that he needed to take charge rather than wait for the Team to sort itself out. To just learn how Batman does it. It was nice that he got told this by Captain Marvel because it showed more than just the ten year old boy side of him. He’s very excited about everything and certainly seems oblivious at some points, but he’s not just some naive fool. As he says, he has the ‘Wisdom of Solomon’ as part of his powers. What that actually means is a little vague, since wisdom can mean lots of things, but the intention is clear. Despite all appearances he’s not just some goofy kid.
Captain Marvel has become a recurring character now, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a show about teenage characters and he’s a Justice League member that’s actually younger than them. He does just want to hang out with the cool older kids. Which is funny that the Team is suspicious of him because they think the League doesn’t have faith in them anymore. They’re just reading his intentions all wrong, because they don’t know that he doesn’t have any ulterior motives about anything. They’re innately suspicious of the adult heroes and have been since the start of the series. As Wally reminded Kaldur, they started the Team because they found out the League had been keeping secrets from them. So because of that they don’t trust the League to tell them everything anymore. Doesn’t help that when they want to go look for Red Tornado Batman tells them that it’s a League matter, so he’s off limits to them. Every time they are told “it’s a League matter” it’s a reminder that they aren’t trusted to do things League related. That might not be a fair thing to say, given the League just wants to protect them, but to them that’s what it feels like.
Conner being overprotective of M’gann after her nearly dying is a nice wrinkle to their new relationship. He’s just gotten into something, has feelings for someone, and doesn’t want to lose that other person. It’s just he needs to be reminded that it’s not just him in this relationship, M’gann gets a say as well. More than just a say since it’s about her life and safely on missions. Funny thing is that she goes with Artemis, who is also protective of her here. Because of that ‘new family’ comment she made last episode. Though the difference is that while Artemis is protective she’s not grabbing at M’gann and being forceful about it, like Conner is. It also bares mentioning that Artemis doesn’t actually know the two are a couple yet, so she just sees Conner being a jackass without any real context to it.
Both the Kobra-Venom and the collars are things The Light have gotten hold of in previous episodes. The collars are from Belle Reve prison, another reason why they’d want to control the place. It gave them access to the technology and The Brain has modified it in new ways. If I had to guess how they work I’d say they interfere with a persons brainwaves in a certain way that’d stop them access their superpowers. That’s why it works on everyone regardless of how their powers work, as their brains still use the powers in the same way. So we see here that The Brain has made the collars able to control animals, not total mind control but probably more pushing them to do certain tasks with an electric shock to reinforce that (The Light playing around with mind control, well I never). We also see that the Brain can use the collars to do other things, like paralyse a person completely while keeping their ability to speak. Even a magical superhero like Captain Marvel. That’d actually be incredibly useful for the medical profession, as it can immobilise violent patients and possibly even be a replacement for anaesthetic. Though obviously he has less altruistic motives in mind for the technology.
The Brain and Monsieur Mallah are the revamped villains this episode, though not really by much. The major differences are that the Brain doesn’t look like a Darlek and Mallah can’t talk, though is clearly a more intelligent animal than a simple gorilla, and has no need for a control collar. I liked that The Brain was presented here as a very twisted scientist with no real morals, rather than just a regular common supervillain. He was just conducting animal experiments, not plotting to take over the world or anything so simple. His ‘big weapon’ at the end turning out to be a means of escape rather than an actual weapon also adds to that. The Brain and Monsieur Mallah were also a gay couple in the comics, so maybe that’s true here. Though I imagine that the love between a brain in a jar and an intelligent gorilla might be harder to get on screen than completely human gay couples.
No Light coda this episode, no ‘just as planned’ and they didn’t win. Though The Brain and Mallah escaped so they can obviously use whatever data they gathered in their next experiments.
Little things I liked, that the episode starts out with a gorilla with a mini-gun, and that’s just awesome. Wally telling Green Arrow to leave the bowl of pretzels. Wally making a Planet of the Apes reference. Captain Marvel tuning into Billy Batson at the end, just for all those viewers who didn’t know he was ten. Batman telling them he never jokes about the mission, such a Batman line. Artemis’ negative reaction to finding out Sportsmaster was where the mole intel came from. Conner’s “busy, call back later” on the telepathic link as he’s fighting Wolf. The fact that there’s a broken saw next to Captain Marvel where the Brain clearly tried and failed to cut his head open.
Robin’s word of the episode: “chalant” the opposite of “nonchalant”
Wally’s souvenir: Monsieur Mallah’s beret. Bonus “souvenir” is Conner’s new pet, Wolf, who is a wolf Kobra-Venom experiment that Conner bonded with.
Quote of the episode:
“OK, nearly drowning two nights in a row is way less fun than it sounds.” Artemis.
Quote that takes on a new meaning after watching the series:
“And you know they’d hate it if we kept secrets from them.” M’gann.
“Not that we’d do that.” Artemis.