Young Justice Re(af)Watch Season 2 Episode 17 The Hunt
Now that season 3 is on its way it’s the best time to rewatch the show, preferably on the DC Universe streaming service if you’re in America as that helps support the show directly and hopefully get us more than just season 3. 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’s first 2 seasons, and maybe more. Continuing on with season 2 episode 17 The Hunt
Written by: Brandon Vietti
Directed by: Doug Murphy
Episode synopsis: With the Justice League guarding the Crystal Control Room on the War World the Reach can’t use the Crystal Key they stole to take control of the War World. Arsenal is still on the loose in the War World and on the run from Reach soldiers, with his ammo diminishing. Lex Luthor sends in his new team of Runaways to rescue the captured members of the Team being held by the Reach on War World, with the aid of a Father Box and a Boom Tube. The Runaways manage to find the Team, but Black Beetle stands in their way. Before they’re all wiped out Arsenal comes to their aid and sets Mongul lose on Black Beetle while they free the Team and escape. But Deathstroke has already used the distraction to steal the Crystal Key from the Reach. Nightwing removes Arsenal from the Team for nearly getting them killed at least twice, but the Runaways only see him as the guy who saved their lives so they take him with them as they Boom Tube out. Back at their base Lex reveals that they were just a distraction to get the Key and they blow up the Father Box and go on without him.
The Runaways are certainly an interesting group from what we see here, being basically an anti-Reach vigilante team. Destroying every bit of property with the Reach’s name on it. Doing their own small scale attacks on the Reach, at least in terms of their brand and PR. They do have that luxury though, given they have no obvious open affiliation to the Justice League nor anyone else. That’s why they are useful tools of The Light to use against the Reach, they can’t be traced back to Lex Luthor. We don’t know what else Lex has been using them for, other than the general property damage we see at the start of the episode, but they are useful pawns for The Light just for their plausible deniability.
This mission was certainly the big goal of using them, to act as a distraction so they can get the Key and eventually control the War World (once the League guarding it are out of the way). They certainly didn’t seem to have any other plans for them given how Lex was so open about his motives. He was practically gloating about it. Using their anti-authoritarianism against them to push them against the Reach and away from the Team, which meant they’d have no reason stick with Lex once his real motives became clear. I do love just how open and honest he is with them at the end, he’s not trying to deny it or spin a tale to try and keep them on his side. Part of that is probably due to them bringing Arsenal back unexpectedly and him putting the pieces together for them, but Lex just rolls with it. It’s just a little bit refreshing to see.
We also get more of Nightwing’s problems managing the Team. The treatment of the Runaways in Star Labs wasn’t really his fault, it’s the Justice League who are ultimately responsibility there, but it’s fallen on Nightwing’s lap. Here though he should have definitely not had the Arsenal talk out in public. He made the right call to boot him off the Team, no question there, but doing it in front of others is not professional of him. The Runaways also don’t see Arsenal that way because to them he’s the guy who just saved their lives and everyone on the Team, they don’t know why he’s getting punished for that. Since the League/Team made a bad call with them by keeping them in Star Labs then to them it’s likely Nightwing’s making a bad call here too. Though given Arsenal’s previous track record it won’t take long for them to see that he really is a danger to any team he’s on right now.
There is a M’gann and Nightwing guilt-off that on the one hand; has lots of good Nightwing characterisation as he feels the weight of more and more of his actions and their negative consequences, even if they’re not his fault. Which the Runaways and Arsenal thing will almost certainly add onto that. It’s lots of great stuff that will lead to something at the end of the season. But on the other hand I don’t really like the M’gann side of things here. It’s again not acknowledging her behaviour and the callous nature in which she used her powers. Invading peoples minds and damaging them without thought or care beyond “they’re the bad guys so it’s ok to do this to them.” Nightwing puts the guilt of her breaking Kaldur’s mind on him because she “wouldn’t have done that” if he’d told her about Kaldur’s undercover mission. Which shifts the idea that what she did was wrong away from the action itself (which was reprehensible) and more onto she only did it to the wrong person. This is Nightwing saying this, and he might not be aware of M’gann’s issues and actions beyond what she did to Kaldur. Thus thinking it was a heat of the moment revenge thing rather than a pattern of behaviour. There’s nothing to say Conner told him about her other incidents. But it still has the effect of the show not addressing M’gann’s actions, beyond breaking Kaldur that is. Which is a little disheartening.
Today on the G. Gordon Godfrey Hour good ol’ G. Gordon shows why he’s not on your side despite telling you how much he loves you and thinks you’re the greatest thing in the world five minutes beforehand. He calls the Reach out on all their lies, to the Ambassador’s face even, and he looks like a man speaking truth to power and calling out the liars. Except it doesn’t take much to scratch the surface and see the real truth behind Godfrey’s fake facade. From future episodes we can see that Godfrey has always known the Reach’s real intentions and goals, so what’s he got to gain by being their number one advocate? So that when they fall, when he pulls them down, his claims of them being “one of the good ones, who came here the right way” can turn right back into his “all aliens are garbage, as I’ve said all along” rhetoric without missing a beat.
Being “one of the good ones” to people like Godfrey just means being their stooge. A prop to use to attack others and then hide behind “how can I hate all aliens, the Reach are my friends, therefore I just hate the bad aliens, like Superman.” It’s being a shield for Godfrey to justify more hate and then hiding behind it. The Reach are scam artists just like Godfrey, it’s just that Godfrey was the one who turned on them first because he already knew their scam was crumbling. There are no “good ones” to people like Godfrey, just useful ones they can use to manipulate their audience further. And he’s just used the Reach to prove that “all aliens are bad and should be removed from the planet” all by pretending to be their friend so he can turn on them later.
I think it’s about time I talk about The Reach in the redesigned character section. They are more modern characters, created by John Rogers and Rafael Albuquerque for their Blue Beetle comic in 2007. They are pretty unchanged from the original comics, the big difference is that The Light wasn’t involved, and it’s Jaime who defeats them, not the entire Justice League and Team. They are colonisers, they come to new worlds bearing the banner of friendship and love while giving gifts. Though these gifts aren’t smallpox blankets but additives that will slowly infect the population over generations and make people more susceptible to Reach control. So when a disaster just “happens naturally” they can pretend to be all nice and helpful by giving everyone refuge on their ships and becoming the Reach’s slaves. The Scarabs are their advanced operatives, they can’t openly conquer worlds because of the Green Lantern treaty, that’s all from the comics. The specifics have changed, but the Reach story is all from that 2007 comic storyline. It is a great story and I would highly recommend reading it, those were some top tier comics at the time.
Now for the Reach characters, well the Negotiator in the comics turned into the Ambassador in the Young Justice cartoon. He is still a slimy salesman of the Reach, always there to spin a story and be a conman. Now there isn’t a Black Beetle per say in the comics, but there is Dawur who fills the role quite nicely. He’s the Reach warrior who is their badass enforcer. He doesn’t have a Scarab but he’s still a big imposing force to be reckoned with. There isn’t a Reach Scientist in the original comics, she’s a creation of the show. The interplay between the three of them is great in the show, they make for a good trio of villains.
Overall this episode had a good focus on the newer characters of Arsenal and the Runaways. We get to see all the Runaways being more adept at using their powers, through practice and the good motivation of needing to get better in order to take on the Reach. Seeing Arsenal alone fighting off Reach soldiers in the ever massive War World was certainly seeing him in his element. He’s able to adapt like no ones business. He even had some tactics to use against Black Beetle, and in the end resulted in distracting him long enough to make an escape. Because even Mongul is only a delay for Black Beetle, he’s a tough one for Beetle to fight, but he’s still only a delay.
Little things I liked: The space debris of all the Reach ships, they are still in orbit and will no doubt cause some issues unless cleared up. Space debris is a real life problem, no joke, but having three Green Lanterns on the League does mean it’ll be a lot easier to clean up once they get back from Rimbor. The sheer scale of the War World is well done here, from it being seen as a second moon whenever we cut back to Earth, to just how massive it is they play up the insides to be. It’s so big that the Reach can be inside of it operating a large scale force in there and the League has no clue about it.
Quote of the episode:
Arsenal’s entire conversation with the War World computer console:
*negative beeping* “come on, come on, you dumb machine. Just give me an outside line to the Watchtower, the Warehouse, anywhere!” *more negative beeping* *Arsenal smashes console keyboard*
*Reach guards show up and Arsenal takes cover behind console, which gets shot up* “Ha, that’s what you get.”
*Console beeps and lowers into the floor and removing Arsenal’s cover* “Now you’re just being petty.”
Quote that takes on a new meaning after watching the series:
The burdens of leadership weighing heavily on Nightwing and one more step towards him doing what he does in the season final.