After a hiatus, Young Justice has returned with a trio of episodes that are heavy on plot and short on answers, but still just as wonderfully character-driven as ever. Beware of slight spoilers as we get into “Influence,” “Leverage,” and “Illusion of Control!”
This week on Young Justice!
The first thing you’ll notice when starting this batch of episodes is just how dialogue-heavy it is, almost to a fault. This series has always been very subplot-heavy, but it does feel like we’re nearing an overload.
Between the metahuman trafficking, the Justice League’s galactic peacekeeping tour, two teams of new recruits (and all of their various secrets), a government conspiracy involving Task Force X, a mole in the team, the Goode goggles and their connection to Darkseid’s plans, and Garfield’s film career (just to name a few plot threads), there’s quite a bit to refresh yourself on while watching each episode. This season may have benefitted from not being broken up in the way that it was, as the majority of “Influence” felt like one big exposition dump, with one talking head after another reminding the audience of what’s been going on this season.
In some instances, the exposition isn’t nearly as overpowering. “Leverage” did this in very clever ways, with Black Manta serving on the Suicide Squad and organically remembering his previous run-ins with Artemis and the team. Aquaman’s confrontation with Amanda Waller brought us up to speed on her new job within the government and set in motion a new conflict between the Justice League and a world at large that doesn’t necessarily trust them anymore.
Where these episodes really hit their mark is when they remind us of how far all of these characters have come over the course of the series. Connor has gone from being a barely-contained ball of rage to a patient and loving fiancé to M’gann and a true leader to the new generation of heroes. Cassie has channeled her grief over losing Wally into a way of helping the new kids make their own decisions about their futures, letting them know that it’s okay to be a person, to want to live a normal life. Garfield is no longer content with being a badass and fighting villains; he wants to be a hero and an example to others, like his mother once was for M’gann. Eduardo has found ways to look after and guide teenagers who are just as lost as he was when he was a rebellious kid a few years ago.
The best episode of the bunch may be “Illusion of Control,” simply for the fact that it forwards several plot developments while treating us to several nice character moments and giving us another holiday-themed episode that reminds me so strongly of the show’s first season.
Seeing M’gann “Matilda” her way around the kitchen and the continuing development of Will and Artemis’ relationship are sweet reminders that not everything in this show is gloom and doom, with the fate of the universe hanging in the balance. It’s a show about friendships and the importance of familial bonds, either with biological or found families.
The action sequences were also impressive, particularly in the team’s fight against Task Force X, in which they’re all using their abilities in tandem, working as a unit. I was a little miffed by the Violet’s gruesome injury, which is becoming a little too much of a regular occurrence for comfort. Otherwise, it was great to see Artemis confidently leading such a well-oiled group, another sign of how much her character has evolved since the show’s early days.
With hostilities heating up between the Justice League and the general public, it appears as though Outsiders may be slyly telling its own version of the 1986-1987 crossover Legends, in which Darkseid concentrated his efforts into swaying humanity against its heroes. Things appear to be more tense than ever, with even planets on the furthest reaches of space still being wary of the League’s intentions and fed up with their efforts to make up for their mind-controlled rampage a few years back. How this will play out remains to be seen, but I’m looking forward to talking more about it next week!
- I particularly enjoyed the nod to Justice League and Justice League Unlimited of using the character Hro Talak, who was originally created for the Justice League cartoon and whose name is an anagram of Katar Hol.
- I’m a little disappointed and confused by Jim Gordon’s stance in these episodes. Hopefully we get more insight into that (and more of an idea of what Batman’s plans really are) soon.
- The use of the line, “Today’s the day,” in reference to the new recruits making their entry into the “big leagues,” was a great callback to the very first episode of Young Justice.