Saturday, February 18, 2012

Young Justice - "Secrets"

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Episode Eighteen: "Secrets" - Airdate 11/18/11

It's Young Justice Saturday!

by Andy Luckett

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As we pick things up this week, it's the Halloween episode on Young Justice, and the kids are getting in the spirit. But before we get to that, trouble is afoot. There's been a robbery at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, but only one item was stolen; The Sword of Beowulf; yes, that Beowulf. According to the curator, the sword is beyond priceless both in monetary and historical value, but the Detective handling the case seems less than impressed. The curator tells him that according to ancient legend, the sword holds fantastic power for anyone who is pure of heart and speaks the Olde English incantation, "Abannen affo Beowulf" (as best as I can make out, anyway). The Detective, still unimpressed, assumes the perp has fled, but a sinister voice comes out of the shadows.
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A tall man with claw scars over one eye, and a glowing spot where his heart should be located, jumps down from the rafters holding the sword, whose scabbard looks like one of Grendel's severed arms from the ancient poem. He calls himself Harm (in the third person, no less) and proceeds to speak the incantation, activate the sword, and attack the curator and the gathered cops. Of course they stand no chance against the enchanted blade, and the curator, saved for last, is confused as to how a criminal like Harm can wield the sword with an obviously evil heart. Harm responds, "The legend said the heart must be pure. It never said pure good."
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Back at the Happy Harbor cave headquarters, the team is preparing for their school's Halloween dance. Kid Flash is channeling his inner Michael J. Fox with a Teen Wolf-inspired get-up, Superboy is allowing himself to be wrapped in gauze for a half-hearted mummy look, and Miss Martian uses her shapeshifting to create a wicked zombie bride motif. Captain Marvel drops in (and at this point no one in Young Justice knows his alter ego is ten-year old Billy Batson) wearing zombie facepaint and assumes he has been invited to the dance as well. Miss Martian, seeing him as an adult, assumes he has his own party to attend, and tells him not to worry about them at the dance. To break the awkwardness, Artemis and Zatanna arrived, sporting vampire and witch costumes respectively.
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After watching MM and Superboy cuddling a bit, Zatanna asks Artemis how long they've been a couple. Artemis then realizes that they are, and gets a bit pouty, no longer wanting to go to the dance. Looks like she was a bit warm for Superboy's form too. Some guys have all the luck. To cheer Artemis up, Zatanna suggests they take a girls night out, and uses a backwards-spoken spell to change them into their regular costumes. A quick trip through the Zeta teleporter to Manhattan and its time to hit the streets.
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Back at the dance, the team (minus Robin, Aqualad, Artemis, and Zatanna) are surprised to see so many of their classmates dressed as Justice League members. Mal Duncan is dressed as what he calls "Superman, done right", which as an in-joke is actually Superboy's original comic book costume from his Reign of the Supermen days. Marvin, dressed as Batman, is concerned about reports of Martians invading Earth. Other students are receiving similar reports on their mobile devices, but one partygoer points out that Martians aren't hostile, citing Martian Manhunter as an example.
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Meanwhile, in a secure room within YJ headquarters, Batman and Red Tornado are overseeing a secret meeting with Aqualad, Robin, and Red Arrow. The Dark Knight wants to know if Aqualad and Robin believe there is a mole on the team as Sportsmaster claimed. Aqualad and Robin both do not believe so, as they have seen no evidence or outright deception from their teammates. Red Arrow is suspicious of Artemis, revealing to a surprised Aqualad that she is not Green Arrow's niece. Robin knows the truth, but Batman cautions him to keep her secret identity intact. Batman himself is more wary of Superboy, claiming how little they know of his Cadmus programming. But Aqualad stands firm, saying that his experience with these people assures him that their allegiances lie with the team.
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Back in Manhattan, Zatanna and Artemis are riding around on some sweet bikes, looking for trouble. Zatanna tries to get Artemis to open up about her frustrations, but Artemis just wants to hit someone. They make their way around, stopping muggings and robberies, sometimes while staying on their bikes. This attracts the attention of Harm, and as the girls walk to their rides after another crime foiling, the bikes explode and Harm appears.

Meanwhile, blocks away, the action is being watched by a mysterious girl dressed all in white. Harm and the ladies battle it out, all the while with Harm taunting them in his annoying third-person way of speaking. Despite this, he is seriously powerful, so when Zatanna sees the girl in white motion for them to follow her, they take the opportunity to get some distance and figure out a way to put some harm on Harm. They try to speak to the girl, but all she does is point and keep saying, "secret".
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Back at the dance, a booming voice cuts in over the PA system announcing itself as Homeland Security and advising everyone to stay inside the gym. Superboy uses his x-ray vision to look outside, where he sees one of his classmates speaking into a voice modulator and chuckling to himself about "the best Halloween prank ever."

In Manhattan, Artemis tries to bait Harm into fighting her without weapons. He agrees, and while they fight, Zatanna tries to lift the Sword of Beowulf, but is hit with energy and put down for the moment. Seeing no alternative, the girls keep running, until they find themselves on the roof of Harm's building. This invasion of his space really cheeses him off, even though the two heroes were only following the girl in white. Harm uses his sword to knock them unconscious with bolts of energy.
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Back at the school, Superboy, Miss Martian and Kid Flash start to turn the tables on the prankster, who it turns out is Marvin. In a classic bit of freak-outery, Miss Martian shapeshifts into a scary Marvin the Martian (perfect, right?) and scares the Bat-pants off of Marvin. He of course flips out and tries to convince the dance party that the Martians are real. No one believes him, and the YJers get to prank the prankster thoroughly.

Back at Harm's house, Artemis and Zatanna wake up tied to chairs. Harm is very upset that they (in his mind) knew the location of his house. While he isn't watching, the girl in white sneaks in and frees Zatanna, who is understandably confused by the situation. Zatanna frees Artemis, and they flee through Harm's house, blowing up the kitchen in the process. As they emerge from the storm cellar, they find a grave in the backyard marked Greta Hayes.
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To make things more disturbing, the girl in white emerges out of the grave in her ghostly form. Zatanna, having seen a photograph in the room she was held, recognizes the girl as Harm's sister. She asks her how she died, and the girl produces a dagger that belongs to her brother. As the heroes realize the horror of what they are seeing, Harm appears. Artemis asks him how he could do that to his own sister, and he replies that in order to make his heart pure, he had to destroy the only thing he loved. As Greta approaches him, he becomes more and more uneasy, saying that he is not sorry for what he has done.

Finally she steps up and removes the glowing heart from his chest, destroying it. (Apparently this is not his actual heart, since he is still alive). Without this power, Artemis is able to easily take Harm down. The ladies promise Greta that she will receive a proper burial, and that they will not forget her.
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This was a very ambitious episode, yet one that was pulled off nicely. It's interesting to note that while the secondary "dance prank" storyline was not as important or dramatic as the main Harm/Secret plot, it was necessary to provide some much-needed comedy relief.

I'm surprised the creators were able to get the concept of a villain killing his sister past Standards and Practices at all, though it was handled relatively delicately. Still, a very dark plotline for a show aimed at tweens and younger. Harm is easily the most evil villain ever seen on this show or its comic counterpart, simply based on this one act. While the other villains reach for money or world domination and cause suffering, how many are this cold? It seems Harm was able to achieve his pure evil status he needed to wield the sword, but I can imagine kids being a bit disturbed by the ending of this episode.
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Speaking of the B-plot, I enjoyed all the little touches that were used for the Halloween proceedings. Obviously Wally has great taste in 80s movies with his costume, and Miss Martian looks very George Romero-approved. Superboy's deal was kinda funny too, since he obviously doesn't go in for dressing up, so he just goes out in his regular clothes with a few bandages wrapped around him. The appearance of the 90s Superboy comic costume was amusing, especially since the real Superboy takes a look and doesn't care for it at all. And Miss Martian's guise as Marvin the Martian (in which a Martian scares a kid named Marvin) was creative. Of course Marvin the Martian is a Warner Brothers-owned character too, but adding the Godzilla roar was a nice touch.

Aqualad had a very small part in this episode, and didn't get to join in the fun of the dance (he probably wouldn't want to go with anyone but Tula anyway). But his scene did advance the lingering plotline of the mole on the team. I have a feeling that when the mole is revealed it won't be Artemis or Superboy, simply because it's too expected. So for now Aqualad is suspicion-free, but we'll see if that comes back to bite him later. Oh, and a quick note, there was a kid dressed as Aquaman at the dance, complete with fake beard, so an extra happy face sticker for that.
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