Original Airdate – March 16th, 2013
On the verge of finally ending the alien invasion, the team discovers the price of victory may be the entire planet Earth!
Written by Kevin Hopps
Directed by Doug Murphy
Review by GregX
Media by Warner Bros. Animation
Well, that’s that.I’ve had a week to theorize about what would happen in the, now, series finale of “Young Justice,” which joins the pantheon of Greg Weisman produced animated series that has been taken from us way too early. In some cases, more like months to theorize. For everything that I predicted would happen actually happening, there was always something to subvert that expectation. I’ve been going back and forth in my head over how I should review this. Do I spoil the whole thing, as I often have, or be vague in case someone reads this first who hasn’t watched the episode? I think I’ll pick and choose on that point.
I was a little shocked that Black Beetle got taken out before the five minute mark (proving the comparison I made between him and Lord Cedric last week wrong), but by then, being the subtle guy that he is, he had already activated his plan to destroy the Earth which led to an all hands on deck episode that, unlike the all hands on deck to save the Earth from destruction finale of “Avengers – Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” actually had narrative build-up. “Endgame” felt like a culmination of the forty-five episodes that had built up to it, which is what any good finale should be. It’s why “Hunter’s Moon,” “Z Is For Zenith,” and “Final Curtain” worked so well. “Endgame” evoked everything that came before while still planting the seeds for what would come next.
The Earth was saved, however, as in all good fiction, there is always a price. Goliath saves the world from Demona, two of the three Hunters are enlightened, the gargoyles get invited back to the castle, and Goliath and Elisa kiss; however the gargoyles are revealed to a world that is unprepared to welcome them, and one of the Hunters pays for his enlightenment with the use of his legs. Spider-Man saves the city, unmasks and defeats the Green Goblin; but he can’t be with Gwen Stacy. The Team, well… I won’t spoil this here. If you watched it, you know what I’m talking about, and that was the biggest shock of the episode.
I think my favorite shot in the series was the “Rimbor Six” returning to Earth only to have the Team descend on them from the air like gods, a callback to “Fireworks” and “Happy New Year” which also was a perfect visual of just how far this team has come. To paraphrase Red Arrow back in “Independence Day”: don’t call them sidekicks, not after today. And, of course, it ended on Independence Day. Perfect.
However, and I can’t let this go, I wish I could, but I can’t. Miss Martian and Superboy getting back together is something I cannot root for in any way, shape or form. He broke up with her in the first place because she tried to erase his memories of a fight they had because she was forcibly extracting information from the minds of living beings, leaving them in vegetable states. What she tried to do to him was a terrible violation, and at one point I asked myself, what if a male character had done this to his female significant other? Yes, mixed feelings and lingering chemistry on both parts is understandable and realistic, especially after M’Gann admitted she was wrong and stopped doing it. But that’s the sort of thing that should be a deal breaker in regards to ever pursuing a romantic relationship with that person again. I suppose the silver lining is that they never really got back together… they almost kissed before being summoned, and who knows, maybe after the episode ended, they both realized pursuing a relationship again wouldn’t be a good idea. But if they did, I suppose the age old truth applies: men are idiots and women are insane. I was hesitant to write this paragraph, especially when I am friends with the producer. But this aspect of the episode really bothered me, and if I’m not honest with my criticisms, then I can’t be honest when I praise.
Aside from that, if I have any complaint it was that the episode was too short. But that’s hardly a deal breaker. Twenty-two minutes is not as much time, you have to budget every second you have. While I would have liked to see Red Arrow and Cheshire helping in the fight, maybe even Sportsmaster, too, you’d have to cut something to get that. And in an episode was was trying things up and planting seeds for what was to come, time is a luxury and you have to service the show, not just a segment of fans, and I understand that. Now I’m sure some would say they could have done less seed planting, and more tying up. But, at the time this episode was written, I’m sure they were still hoping for a third season. I’ve seen what happens when a show with a multi-year plan appears to be getting cut short, so most of the loose ends are transported into the penultimate season before they surprisingly get a renewal; it happened to “Babylon 5” and look at the amount of crap the first half of the fifth season gets to this day because of that. It’s better to hope for the best and to take a risk than it is to prepare for the worst and blow your wad way too soon.
Never the end.
How did I feel about “Young Justice” as a whole? I did end up loving it after all, even if during the earlier sections of the first season, I found myself wondering if that would ever happen. In my case it was because both “Gargoyles” and “The Spectacular Spider-Man” had me hooked before their pilots were over, while YJ took longer for me. If I had to rank this as compared with Weisman’s other shows, I would put it above season two of “W.I.T.C.H.” (which was also very good), but below “Spectacular Spider-Man” which itself is below “Gargoyles.” This is not a knock against any show, since all of them are amazing. These are just my personal preferences.
Now, before I continue, I know I took some heat, and perhaps rightfully so, for my comments about “Justice League Unlimited” when I wrote my review for “Auld Acquaintance.” Fundamentally, I do agree that the worst way to build something up is to tear something else down to make the object of your praise look good, so this time I won’t do that. But as a fan, I’m sure I’ll be guilty of that again some day, but today I’m going to try to avoid it. I think it was the best DC Comics based animated series since “Batman the Animated Series” which, and I promise this time is not to diss “JLU,” which did episodic storytelling very well. “Young Justice” did serial storytelling very well, and my tastes tend towards serialization over episodic, not that it makes it automatically better, as I prefer good episodic to bad serialization… it’s always about execution. And since I’m the one writing these reviews, my taste is the one you’re stuck with. So while both were high quality shows, this was more along the lines of what I’d like to see. Although, I like to think no one will disagree with me when I say that Greg Weisman, Bruce Timm, Brandon Vietti, and Alan Burnett are masters at producing good television.
While I didn’t like all the characters, to this day Superboy and Miss Martian do next to nothing for me, I loved this show’s take on Dick Grayson and Wally West… especially the extra dimensions added to Wally so he wasn’t just the dumb, gullible guy; but his basic humanity was the essence of who he was, and in the end, he was the most heroic out of all of them. Kaldur turned out to be a cool, badass and yet very human character. I’ve heard of Blue Beetle, but knew next to nothing about him, and he turned out to be a very enjoyable character. While I missed Zatanna after she was promoted to the Justice League, she was a favorite too, and I loved getting to know her and explore her in ways previous DC shows didn’t. And I absolutely loved Artemis (and Tigress), and I want to give a special shout out to Stephanie Lemelin for her voice and performance.
It was also refreshing to see a show that seemed to remember what it was like being young, warts and all. I know some people didn’t like the sexual tension on the show, or when the main cast displayed some unlikable qualities but… well, they’re teenagers! I thought this show was a realistic take on the teenage mindset, if said teenagers were working in a cover-ops team. I know some people wanted more of the Team to be pissed at Nightwing over what he did, but at the same time, this is the life they chose when they joined the Team. Covert-ops. Ask Valerie Plame what happens when secrets aren’t kept.
I admit to being a bit iffy on the villains at first, and anyone who knows me knows that I love villains. I always felt Weisman’s greatest strength when writing characters was his villains. As close to perfect as “Gargoyles” was, I find that outside the fandom, David Xanatos and Demona are who most people remember, because they stood out so much from every other villain on TV as strong, unique characters. Nerissa on “W.I.T.C.H.” was just great. Green Goblin, Doc Ock, Tombstone, Venom and even Vulture were perfect on “The Spectacular Spider-Man,” but then so was everything else on that show. So for the first half, or even two-thirds of season one, with the Light hiding behind the scenes and the barest of glimpses being occasionally given, I felt that they didn’t really have time to develop as characters in their own right. That changed later, and the fact that we saw them only on occasion turned out to be a strength. “Young Justice” gave us the definitive Vandal Savage, with a design that evoked his origin and perfect voice acting from Miguel Ferrer. Ra’s al Ghul was fun when we saw him, and Oded Fehr did great with his voice (although, I still prefer David Warner). This is the first time I ever enjoyed Lex Luthor as a character, but this time he was written with an EQ to match his IQ. What can I say about Queen Bee, I wish we saw more of her (and heard more of her). Poor, disgraced Ocean Master is the one character who made no impact on me either way. The Brain was fun with his creepy design and voice. Klarion was just a riot (I love Evil Thom Adcox). And Black Manta was great as a villain with some noble qualities, but whose villainy ultimately won out. I could go even further, and talk about how awesome this show made Sportsmaster, and how cool Cheshire was, but we’d be here all day. I will say that the ending the Light received was probably the perfect ending for them… and given Vandal Savage’s motive and the way the show ended, I have a feeling that in a hypothetical third season, the heroes wouldn’t have had to stop the Earth from getting invaded, but given the Light’s true partner and Lex Luthor’s new position, they’d have had to stop the Earth from becoming the next galactic conquerors.
DC has never been my preferred comic book company, I was a Marvel Kid growing up… but between this and the DCAU, I think I’ve learned my fair share of the DC Universe as a whole to appreciate its cast and world, and say it intrigues me as much as the Marvel Universe ever did. Mostly I’ve sporadically read Batman and read a lot of Vertigo. Hell, while Marvel was my preferred company, DC published my favorite comic book of all time, “Lucifer,” which is a breathtaking story. Will I start reading more DC? To be honest, nothing about the New 52 has intrigued me, in fact most of what I’ve heard has encouraged me to avoid it. Not that Marvel is doing much better these days, they’re a hair away from losing me as a customer all together. But the point is, it’s stupid to be so loyal to a brand that you won’t check out their competition. No law says you can only like one company, maybe there are things at both that will appeal to you, I’m sure there are things at your favored brand that you have no interest in touching. As someone who made that mistake at a young age, thank you “Young Justice” and thank you DCAU for showing me another world that I wish I had spent more of my childhood in.
It’s interesting that “Young Justice” ended when it did, because we also lost “Green Lantern” on the same day, “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” several months ago, and will be losing “Transformers Prime” and some other action cartoons, with no signs of new ones going into production. Marvel Animation is gearing itself towards more comedic takes on their classic characters, targeting a younger audience (or rather talking down to a younger audience with tripe like “Ultimate Spider-Man”), but shows like “Adventure Time,” “The Regular Show,” and “My Little Pony” seem to be ruling the airwaves… also the fact that these shows as well as shows like “Ben 10” and “Johnny Test” being much, much cheaper to produce is not lost on me.
In fact, I would dare say that today is the day that the pendulum has swung away from action-drama in animation. We’ve been here before, of course, back in the late 90’s when “Gargoyles” and other action-dramas of that era died, and while there were some exceptions, soft and quirky was where it was at. Right now, we’ve got “Legend of Korra,” and maybe “Beware the Batman,” two shows that don’t excite me all that much, to be honest. The pendulum will swing back, eventually. There will be a new era of action-drama, but for now it’s going away. But when it comes back, I’ll be there. In fact, I hope the pendulum swings back at the same time 90’s nostalgia heats up and Greg Weisman re-teams with either Frank Paur, Vic Cook, or Brandon Vietti to bring us “Gargoyles 2198.”
Fair thee well, Earth 16, maybe we’ll see you again some day. In the mean time, I’ll be watching season five of “The Venture Bros” and pre-ordering my copy of “Rain of the Ghosts.”
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