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GUIDES - EPISODE REVIEWS - "ROYAL WE"

Royal We
Original Airdate - January 4, 2019
Dick Grayson, Artemis Crock, Conner Kent and Jefferson Pierce go undercover in Markovia to stop the Bedlam Syndicate's meta-human trafficking cartel - before it claims another victim.

Written by Mel Zwyer
Directed by Andrew Robinson
Review by GregX
Media by Warner Bros. Animation


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Review:
One of the things that I have always enjoyed about "Young Justice" is the pop culture within the show. From "Hello Megan" (complete with its cheesy theme song) to the commercial for the Reach drink. Little elements like that go a long way towards making a show feel more real. Usually, the most we get is one TV talking head who provides his or her skewed perspective on the proceedings. So the PSA's by Garfield Logan, who appears to have become a TV actor, about meta-human trafficking are a brilliant addition to the show that we're watching. It helps to immerse me into that world.

We then cut to the United Nations where Catherine Colbert reports the resignations of half of the members of the League. And I must say seeing the global politics of Earth 16 is fun. Who condemns the League alongside Lex Luthor (who politically just expresses disappointment)? Sumaan Harjavti, the ambassador of Greater Bialya... the younger brother of Qurac's former president, Rumaan. Which tells us all we need to know about the current status quo out there, Queen Bee did succeed in conquering Qurac (we'll talk about the refugee crisis that causes in due time). And Kaizen Gamorra, ambassador of United Rhelsaia. Remember back in season one when Lex Luthor brokered reunification there? Of course you do. Tempest and Donna Troy are welcome sights as ambassadors from Atlantis and Themyscera to the United Nations... I like that both countries aren't cut off from the world in this universe. Although, I would love to see a genuine hero from Bialya, to show that there is resistance to Queen Bee's rule.

We get a quick narration from Nightwing going over the details of the plan, as this small team sneaks into Markovia. "Young Justice" has always been a spy and espionage show disguised as a superhero show, and that is brought to the forefront as Dick and Artemis sneak into the coronation party dressed to the nines in a scene that would make James Bond proud. This scene demonstrates how well written this show has ever been as it accomplishes three things at once. It provides exposition as to the current affairs of Markovia, reminds us just how great a detective Dick Grayson is, and shows us just how impatient Prince Brion is... as to most reasonable people, his plan to activate his meta-gene sounds insane.

The next sequence in the Markovian children's hospital just sends a cold chill down my spine. Hospitals are creepy. So are abandoned hospitals. The video game, "Arkham Asylum" knew this and took advantage of that to make my hair stand on end. Superboy and Black Lightning discover a hidden chamber and Bedlam's laboratory, which plays to both of their anxieties. Conner because of his time in a pod at Project Cadmus, and this is definitely the last thing Black Lightning needs. But they are quickly ambushed by Count Vertigo (complete with a returning Steve Blum), whom we haven't seen since the first season of the show, and another plasma monster identical to the small girl that Black Lightning killed, whom Vertigo addresses as "Otto"... the little girl's brother. Also, I have a feeling that crushed Motherbox will be important later.

We get another reminder that we're not on Cartoon Network anymore at the sight of children's corpses in a shallow grave. Only one of the corpses isn't as dead as she appears, and flies out of hole in the ground as Artemis (now in tactical gear) tries to take down a group of bad guys before escaping with the mystery girl. Artemis questions the girl, who can only stare blankly as a response. This is yet another scene that uses atmosphere to up the creep factor. It was always a nice reminder of just how impressive the choreography of the action scenes has always been,

Nightwing is chasing Brion and Dr. Ecks to the hospital, trying to converge with Artemis while Superboy and Black Lightning attempt to escape. Lightning jumps into a shallow river from too great a height, and I question your humanity if you didn't also wince when his back hit that sharp rock. That honestly made me wince more than Conner being captured by Otto.

(On a personal note, I need to try and get used to called Artemis "Tigress". I can't promise that I'll be consistent about it, but season one is long over... oh those more innocent times... and she's Tigress now).

Tigress keeps on trying to get a word out of the mystery girl, and she finally succeeds as the girl finally speaks, or sounds like she's attempting to. This is a scene played beautifully and realistically in a situation where English is obviously not one of the characters' primary weapons.

(And now it's time for personal note number two. Mystery girl, who will soon be known as Halo, is voiced by Zehra Fazal. Now, I've been lucky enough to meet, get to know, and in some cases become friends with various members of the cast and crew of "Gargoyles" and "The Spectacular Spider-Man"... sadly, I haven't had the pleasure with most people that hooked up with Greg Weisman for "Young Justice" as I had left Los Angeles and returned to New York by that time. But Zehra is the only famous or semi-famous person I know that I can say I knew before they made it. We first met in 2001 at the Gathering of the Gargoyles convention... we were both there as High School graduation gifts (I remember she and I discussing that briefly), and at the time, she hadn't developed her interest in acting. Not until she auditioned for the Radio Play that was always held and landed the role of Elisa Maza, one of the leads... where she blew away a lot of fans and pros with her talent. I saw her off and on again at various Gatherings, and she always gave a dynamite performance at the Radio Play, and we'd here about the stage work she had started doing. In 2010, for my birthday, I saw her off-Broadway one-woman show, titled "Headscarf and the Angry Bitch" about growing up Muslim in America... an educational, and eye-opening play, let me tell you (and funny, as well). I always considered myself open-minded, but I appreciated that look into a culture I didn't fully understand... cleared me of a few prejudices I didn't realize I had (and let me tell you that I will always be grateful to her for that). I was very happy for her when I learned she landed a role in "Voltron", but I was ecstatic when I heard she was voicing a major character in "Young Justice: Outsiders". Zehra Fazal is an amazing actress and an amazing woman. I hope this is only the beginning of the massive amounts of success she deserves.)

Dr. Eks then gives Brion the grand tour of Bedlam, and in a moment that almost makes one facepalm and wonder what this guy is expecting, especially after Brion blows up at him, Count Vertigo knocks Brion out, and calls Eks out on his idiocy. Now most of the villains on this show are brilliant, but every now and then it's refreshing to see somebody who is book smart, but doesn't exactly think things through. When Vertigo says he's considering killing Eks for placing the operation at risk, we believe him... as horrible as it is, we might even root for him. Although we soon find out that he may have been doing this under someone else's orders... see, this show's scripting covers every base.

We end on a chilling scene as Brion is locked in a pod and wide awake as the tar enters. Dr. Jace, who we now know was also a part of the operation tells him it's for the best.

Overall, an excellent middle chapter to the three-part return.


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