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Monday, 25 of May of 2020

Young Justice – “Usual Suspects”

“I am shrubbery, I am not grass. What am I?”
“I am bush.”

Young Justice Title CardWell damn.

Perhaps its the generally low expectations I’ve had of the show, but “Usual Suspects” really snuck up on me and gave me a nice wallop of an episode. It wasn’t only the narrative fake-out they did for the final act (which was really well-executed) or even the mole reveal (which I do have problems with, but at least that plot is over), but just the general brisk confidence of the episode, even as it introduced Rocket to the team (the show often stumbles when introducing a new team member).

For once I’m quite optimistic about the show’s future.

So let’s tackle two of those things I mentioned above: the narrative fake-out and the reveal of Roy as the (unwitting) mole. The Santa Prisca showdown is remarkably well-staged. The obvious transition from Luthor dropping the “Red Sun” shutdown code on Superboy to then all the reveals spilling out at the cave builds to the idea that the reveals serve as the episode’s climax, and with the secrets out, they’ll move into the finale and have it out with some member of the Light.

But instead, deliciously, the sequence builds, intercutting the telling of secrets, the pressure too much, with M’gann, Konner, and Artemis seeming to have fought their way off Santa Prisca. Instead is turns out the secrets were spilled before anyone even landed on Santa Prisca, with Konner admitting his visit to Cadmus, the K-shields, and Luthor’s parentage starting the dominoes that led to the team staging their own ambush on Santa Prisca.

I think it’s a real sign of the show’s maturity since it returned from its hiatus with “Misplaced” that the show was able to pull this switch-a-roo off. It’s not only something I don’t think it would’ve tried earlier, but it’s something that would not have worked without the character work that the show has also done since the hiatus, either. While I do think the show still feels a bit superhero generic in its tone, it has embraced its characters more, and to its benefit.

On the flip side of this idea, however, is Roy being the mole. I found this to be a terrific development, and totally in keeping with his shifty character-ness, his single-minded focus on accusing everyone else around him, and thus throwing everyone off his trail. It’s a nice, scary development, and indicates the shades of gray the show had been creeping oh-so-steadily toward.

But then that great moment is massively undermined by Roy having been under Savage’s control this whole time. So my “HOLY SHIT!” exclamation quickly became a dull sigh as I realized that show wasn’t willing to push itself that far into a dark zone. Which I do get on some level, but it really lessens the final moments of the episode to learn it was all mind control. And it asks an annoying question that will hopefully be answered next week: When, exactly, did Roy become the mole?

I am excited about next week as, based on the previews, brings full circle the notion of sidekicks and their mentors, and whether they’ve matured enough to be their own team as they’ll be fighting their mentors off in a big battle royale. I just hope the battle sequences and the characters are both well served by it.

DC Nation Short: World’s Funniest. Kind of a weak-ish one. Batman runs around giggling while Superman talks about looking at the stars. His “And the big triangular thing.” was funny, however.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • The Atom falling over as he received his Justice League membership card was cute.
  • Really really really pleased by Icon and Rocket having prominent parts in the episode, and love the idea of Rocket as a regular.
  • I do feel like all the team reveals happened really quickly, but it is a signal of how much these people trust one another that their secrets weren’t a big deal. Plus: Why did no one yell at Robin about knowing about Artemis’ family?

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