Young Justice Re(af)Watch Episode 25 Usual Suspects
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 25, Usual Suspects.
Written by: Kevin Hopps
Directed by: Jay Oliva & Tim Divar
Episode synopsis: As the new Justice League members are getting announced the Team head off on their own secret mission, to find Cheshire and recover that mysterious suitcase from Insecurity. They get there and it’s a trap, set by the Riddler, and the Team must fight their way out. They capture all the goons, except Cheshire, and retrieve the case, which they hand over to the League. Superboy’s used the last of his Shields and Luthor contacts him to meet up in Santa Prisca if he wants more. So he goes there, and meets Lex, Queen Bee, Sportsmaster, and also Artemis and Miss Martian. Turns out the Team had set their own trap, with them revealing their secrets to each other they took advantage of The Light’s plan to turn them. With the element of surprise they manage to capture almost all of them, except Luthor, Queen Bee, and Mercy, and find out the Injustice League was just a cover for The Light. A good days work, but on the Watchtower Red Arrow has implanted the mind-control tech that was in the case, turns out he was the mole all long, and now Vandal Savage controls the Justice League.
This episode was the culmination of the entire season’s plot arc. There’s the full revelations to the Team from Conner, Artemis, and M’gann, Red Arrow joins the Justice League, then he finds out he was the mole he was hunting, and The Light’s plan finally comes to completion. This is the penultimate episode of the season and it does a great job fulfilling all of the set up that’s been done getting here. Now that all of the revelations are out of the way it leaves the next episode free for the Team to stop The Light’s plans, and whatever they have in store for the mind-controlled League. Just an excellent way to pay-off the ongoing plots of the season.
The newest member of the Team is Rocket, sidekick to Icon who joined the League this episode. Rocket and Icon are from the brilliant Milestone comics, the most popular and well know character from the comic line was Static thanks to the Static Shock cartoon series. Icon was a Superman expy, alien stranded on Earth who has superpowers, and Rocket was the one who inspired him to be a hero and use his powers to help the world. Her powers come her belt, which is alien technology Icon gave her, and it lets her fly and generate forcefield bubbles that absorb kinetic energy. Here she’s the new character that needs to be caught up on all the plot that’s happening, an easy way to get exposition across to the audience. But because of her force of personality she’s more than just that. She’s not just a blank vessel to fill the exposition needs of the story, because of how she’s written and the voice actor you can tell there’s a fully formed character there. Like her questioning the idea that it’s somehow wrong to be a sidekick, or how she wants to be out there with the heroes as they’re inducted into the League and not watching them from inside the Hall of Justice. Plus because she’s an obscure character with a different powerset it makes her appearances and action sequences feel more special. I just wish we had more episode with her and Icon, and well I could just list everyone else in this series since I want to see more of all of them.
The revelation scene was a refreshing change of pace for a ‘drama due to secret keeping’ subplot. Everyone knows that joining up with the villains is not a good idea and that it’s time to come clean. So they each spill their secrets one by one and the Team reacts with understanding at it all. The way it’s framed is nice, with various flashbacks to that scene as we see that the three haven’t actually betrayed the Team. It was a neat bit of storytelling that worked because it happened in quick succession so the audience wouldn’t get annoyed by it happening three times.
Conner’s Shield secret didn’t really get as much of a reaction, unlike when he said his other father was Lex Luthor, though maybe Artemis speaking up about her secret derailed any judgements the Team might’ve said about him. Artemis told them about her mother being the retired Huntress, her father being Sportsmaster, and her sister being Cheshire. Wally definitely seemed to take it the best, getting over his anger at her for Insecurity, and Robin reveals he knew about it and that none of that matters. It’s a pity we didn’t get to see Zatanna’s support of her too, since they did seem to be pretty close friends, but there’s wasn’t enough time in the episode. The M’gann one had some good little touches to it, like everyone being initially shocked and taking a step back when she changed into a White Martian, Except for Kaldur and Conner. Kaldur lives in Atlantis and is friends with mermaids, octopus kids, shark people, and is used to non-human looking people. Having him be the one entirely nonplussed by it made sense, as did his “did you think us that shallow” line. Conner also knowing about it since their mind-link in Bereft was a cool bit of continuity, as you can see in Image that he knows M’gann is lying about her Martian form but he’s patient with her and respects her wishes.
Lex’s meeting in Santa Prisca offers a few questions about if he really expected three members of the Team to defect to The Light. Though he did bring a lot of security just in case something happened, it’s just unlucky for him that the Team had a better plan than he did. So he wasn’t completely unprepared for them to be faking defection, and that certainly suited him well enough as he managed to escape with Queen Bee. He also knew that any captured men could be released once The Light had taken control of the League. So Sportsmaster and Blockbuster won’t be in custody for long. The Light should know better, none of the Team could possibly defect to their side, not in 5 million years could that ever happen.
The Light coda this time was a big one, taking control of the entire Justice League and Vandal Savage coming to the Watchtower to bask in his plan coming together. Certainly a ‘just as planned’ moment, no doubt about that. They baited the trap rather well, with Cheshire practically posing for the security cameras with the suitcase. Then to not make it look like the Team’s victory was too easy they played it like it was a trap for the Team so Riddler could get caught and lose the case. A clever and intricate way for The Light to get the case onto the Watchtower without arousing suspicion. When Riddler calls himself their master strategist he wasn’t kidding. This was their long-con, at least for this season, we still haven’t found out what their real endgame is. Things like the mind-control and Red Arrow being the mole will be more important next episode so I’ll talk about them then.
Little things I liked, the Atom trying to hold his League ID card when he’s tiny, and nearly falling off Plastic Man’s shoulder. Just all of Artemis and Cheshire’s moments, her saving Artemis and admitting that she doesn’t really want to kill her, her walking away as their father is captured. Lots of great sisterly vibes between the two. Riddler was fun, his riddle-pun still makes me laugh, and him yelling that he’s ‘Belle Reve material, not Arkham’ when tied up was a little telling. Kaldur and Rocket using Apokoliptan weapons to take down foes that’d give the Justice League a hard time, like Blockbuster and Sportsmaster. It lets the heroes win without diminishing how powerful their foes are, and that’s always important. While I didn’t like Bane being back to bruiser status, at least he managed to control Santa Prisca again and he got taken down due to Robin’s taser to his head, rather than just ripping out his Venom cord as usual. So they didn’t take away the cool things they did with him in Drop-Zone, but he didn’t really get to do much here either.
Robin’s word of the episode: He’s feeling the aster again.
Wally’s souvenir: Sportsmaster’s mask, which Artemis gives him.
Quote of the episode:
“So, who’s next?” Wally.
“I am.” M’gann.
“I swear, I was kidding!” Wally.
Quote that takes on a new meaning after watching the series:
“This is the endgame.” Riddler. Their endgame was not taking out the Team but using the Team to get their mind-controlling tech onto the Watchtower.