Young Justice – “Targets”
“Your stab at pragmatism is, well, adorable…“
So after a really long hiatus (and a slightly longer hiatus from reviewing the show because it was getting to the point where I was just consistently annoyed that writing about it kind of ruined my Friday evening a bit), Young Justice returns with probably its best episode since the pilot episodes.
“Targets” was on and off of my radar since I was always trolling about for when it would air, and then it was accidentally(?) leaked online and thus got passed around on the torrent sites, as it would, generating some buzz. I thought I had missed it when I saw it as having an air date on the show’s Wikipedia page, but was quickly informed about the episodes’s status (the air date turned out to the be day the episode has been leaked online, poking a little bit of fun at the notion of an airdate).
But now that the show back, questions arise. Apart from the fact that Cartoon Network seems to have little rhyme or reason for its scheduling habits (do they think kids don’t notice those types of things?), I wondered about the benefits of “Targets” being the first episode back after the hiatus. Certainly it has me at least vaguely interested in the show again, but I wonder if the hiatus had ended with this episode would I have spent so many months with a bad taste in my mouth, wondering why I should even bother coming back to the series.
But let’s just get down to it. When I say this is probably the best episode since the pilot, I’m not exaggerating. However, really only half of this episode fits that bill, and it’s not the half that deals with M’gann and Superboy (now under their aliases Megan Morse and Connor Kent, respectively) trying to fit in at Happy Harbor High School with non-powered mascots from the Super Friends and Teen Titans, and Mal Duncan (who, at least for now, has no powers).
So, yes, the Red Arrow-centric part of the episode is pretty darn fun. I mean, yes, it is half an episode of Crispin Freeman being all angry and arrogant, and I really do love that (Seriously, it’s great. If Red Arrow doesn’t convince you, go watch the dub for Code Geass (in fact, you should probably just watch Code Geass anyway)), so this episode was already a solid one in my book on that alone.
But the overall arc of the plot, Red Arrow battling the League of Shadows in an effort to stop them from assassinating Lex Luthor, works well. I appreciate that we get to see Red Arrow forced into corners as it helps develop him from an arrogant jerkass who thinks he’s so much better than everyone else to a more reasonable and humble hero. At the same time, it helps demonstrate how much of a team-killer his personality might be if he were a regular member (too much conflict with Aqualad’s Zen-leader menality).
The action sequences are likewise well-staged, from Cheshire’s initial attempt on Luthor (I love the exploded newspaper being used as confetti as he steps out of the limo) to the final showdown in the conference hall. It’s a degree of clarity and competence that the show was lacking in its action sequences right before the break, reminding me of the generally good AMAZO fight.
But there are little missteps. I have no idea why the show decided to make up Rhelasia. I mean, I get the impulse to be topical by trying to work in some pseudo-Korean stuff, but the DC Universe has Kasnia for when it wants to be globally political (or is there a taboo about Eastern European countries being at war with one another now?). Admittedly, the target demo may not know about Kasnia, so it really only distracted me because I know Kasnia.
Young Justice seems to have decided to firmly go the complete other direction from the DCAU Lex Luthor with Mark Rolston’s kind of light and airy-sounding. Here, it seems more like an “always-had-the-silver-spoon” Luthor (or he’s just trying too hard) compared to the Clancy Brown “classy thug” Luthor. I prefer Brown’s Luthor, but the sharp quips the episode serves the character with certainly helps.
But I kind of find it difficult to swallow that both Lex and Ra’s al Ghul are working for the Light. I can buy the two of them working together, but both men setting aside their massive egos and need for control to work for some shadowy board of directors? Yeah, no, that I find a little difficult to believe, and so the ending the episode kind of jars the otherwise pleasant taste that plot leaves for me.
Oh. Right. Happy Harbor. So M’gann/Megan and Connor head off to Happy Harbor High School (which apparently wasn’t destroyed by Mister Twister’s rampage a couple of month ago (yes, it’s only been a couple of months since the first episode))! There they meet Wendy and Marvin, their teacher is Snapper Carr, and M’gann/Megan tries out for, and becomes, a cheerleader. Huzzah!
But there’s plenty of annoying things to be had nonetheless. The show continues to leave M’gann trapped in this ditzy/bubbly role that is still amazingly frustrating. Her announcement that she devoted hours to picking out a prime school outfit and it turns out to be the knee-high socks and skirt combo from her very first appearance made it all the worse. It’s like the show genuinely wants me to like this stereotype, and I just can’t. I do, however, appreciate that they show some depth to her character, with her mention of the Martian racial divide between green and white Martians, though it only begged the question why they didn’t make her a white Martian.
Superboy, likewise, remains trapped in his angry mode, but this time it’s at least a little bit funny. His restrained reaction to seeing everyone wearing superhero emblems on their clothes (“Everyone’s. Shirt. Is. Fine.” was genuinely enjoyable, but it doesn’t extend much beyond that.
But, all in all, a decent enough episode. Hopefully things continue along this steadily improving path.
- So glad they told me that was Cat Grant doing the news. Animated Cat didn’t have any of comic book Cat’s…more recognizable traits.
- “Now, excuse me, I have a hemisphere to save.”
- “Conor’s always been my favorite name.” Has it really, M’gann? HAS IT?!
- I do appreciate the shirtless Superboy scene. It helps balance out the completely fanservice-y panty shot we get of Cheshire during the final showdown.
- “I hear you go by Red Arrow now. Heh. More like broken arrow!” Sports Master has been sitting on that one for weeks. You have no idea.
- “Double alliteration. I like it.”
- “The League of Shadows wants you dead.” “Doesn’t every league?”
- “Bzzz! Ting! Ow!” Ow indeed.
- And we move forward with the mole hunt. I’ll be annoyed if it’s Artemis, but, really, who else could it be?
- “Gives new meaning to the arms race, doesn’t she?” Mercy as an android. I can roll with that.
- September 16, 2011