Monday, April 30, 2012

Young Justice - "Auld Acquaintance"

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It's Young Justice Monday!

Hey again everyone, Shrine Correspondent Andy Luckett here with my review of episode 26, and the season finale, of Young Justice Season One. Last week I mistakenly believed was the final episode of the season, simply because it seemed to end on such a massive cliffhanger with Vandal Savage having mind-controlled the entire Justice League using pieces of Starro infused with nanotechnology and magic. However, as we pick up this week, we see all the pieces of this season fall into place.
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Last week, Red Arrow suddenly realized he had been the mole within Young Justice all along. As our story begins this week, Red Arrow is fleeing through the subway tunnels beneath the National Mall in Washington D.C. Pursuing him are three Justice Leaguers: Flash, Aquaman, and Green Arrow. GA almost hits his former sidekick with an explosive arrow, Flash hits RA in the face, and Aquaman shatters Red Arrow's bow when it hits his chest, then punches him in the face again. Things look bad for the former Speedy, until a passing train allows him to escape through a drainage grate.

It's December 31st back in Happy Harbor, and the team is discussing the question of the team's mole. Batman, already present, reveals that the mole was Red Arrow all along. At first the team cannot believe it, since many of them have known Roy Harper for years. Batman tells them that the original Roy Harper was abducted three years earlier, and replaced by a Cadmus-made clone much like Superboy. The main thrust of this clone's programming was to achieve the goal of joining the Justice League, and to that end, the clone (believing it was the real Roy Harper) made decisions that would impress the League enough to be inducted. After he met that goal, a secondary, buried set of programming surfaced that caused him to betray the League to Vandal Savage.
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Batman then goes on to say that he had deduced that Red Arrow was a clone and was able to thwart Savage's plan. Savage was captured, but the Roy Harper clone escaped and the League has been searching for him. Robin asks about the location of the real Roy Harper, to which Batman replies that he is not at Cadmus and may be dead. Aqualad volunteers the team to find the clone, but Batman tells them that he is a League problem.

After Batman leaves, Red Tornado suddenly shuts down. Zatanna senses a vague mystical force coming from Tornado, and admits to sensing one from Batman too. Looking in Tornado's hand, they find another piece of Starro. Robin also realizes that during his speech, Batman referred to the team as "kids", which he has never done before. Aqualad decides to take half of the team with him to find the Red Arrow clone, while the other half stays to figure out what shut Red Tornado down. Robin soon realizes that Tornado's problem is with his hardware, not his software.

This gives Zatanna an idea: uploading Tornado's programming into his alternate John Smith body. As they do so, Black Canary teleports in and demands to know what they are doing. As Tornado powers up in his new body, he tells the team to leave the cave immediately. As he does so Canary attacks, using her Canary Cry to rip Tornado's new body apart. Robin is able to plant a gas pellet on her, and Rocket traps her in a force bubble with the gas, knocking her out. Tornado then tells them that they must abandon the building, which they do just as Dr. Fate, Icon, and Captain Marvel arrive to finish the job.
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As Robin, Kid Flash, Zatanna, Rocket, and John Smith escape in the Supercycle; Aqualad, Miss Martian, Superboy and Artemis use the bioship to visit one of Red Arrow's equipment caches. Sure enough, Red Arrow is there and asks Aqualad to verify his identity by admitting who it was that broke his heart. Aqualad says Tula, which satisfies RA. Later in the ship, Superboy tells Red Arrow that he is a Cadmus clone. Red Arrow tells them that he believes Sportsmaster was his handler, who would use a code phrase, "Broken Arrow", to bring him into a trance-like state.
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In this state, Arrow could reveal secrets and information or be given new instructions. The real surprise is that Batman did not ferret out the plan; since all of the League, except for Red Tornado and the Red Arrow clone, is still under Starro mind control. Red Tornado was able to install a subprogram as a backdoor against the nanotech, and the transfer into his John Smith body cleared his mind. Red Arrow was never Starro-ized. Instead his Cadmus programming was the driving factor, and thus he was able to escape Savage's clutches and go on the run. The two smaller teams meet back up and compare what they have discovered.
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Sometime later at the Watchtower, Black Canary, Red Tornado, and Red Arrow arrive to greet Vandal Savage. Canary says that she was able to re-infect Tornado and Red Arrow with Starro tech, but Savage tells her that he and Klarion are able to detect exactly who is infected and who is not, and the three of them are not. No, they are merely a distraction to allow Young Justice to burst onto the scene, armed with a Starro cure reverse-engineered in part by Mera and Dr. Vulko of Atlantis. As Savage predictably monologues about his plans, Young Justice stealthily makes their way through the Watchtower, giving the cure to the infected Leaguers. Once Savage and Klarion recognize their presence, they call in all the other infected heroes, and the station becomes a battle royale.
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Eventually, all of the heroes are cured, but not without the youngsters taking some lumps from their mentors. Unfortunately, Vandal Savage and Klarion escape, with Savage eluding to "Phase 2". Just then, the League computer announces it is New Year's Day, and Young Justice celebrates by doing a little smooching. Kid Flash kisses Artemis, Superboy kisses Miss Martian, Zatanna plants one on Robin, and Rocket kisses Aqualad on the cheek.

Later on, a small group of Leaguers meets with Red Arrow to discuss his situation. He says that he must find the real Roy Harper. Back at Cadmus, the members of the Light are clearing out their projects to move them to a new secure location. Among these projects are the Superman clone Match and the real Roy Harper in cryogenic stasis, but missing his right arm. At the Watchtower, there is another piece of business to take care of. Six Justice Leaguers under Savage's control were unaccounted for over a 16-hour period, during which no one knows where they went or what they did.
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Like I said above, I mistakenly assumed that last week's show was the season finale, so I was glad to see that the present storyline was more or less wrapped up before Season Two begins. All in all, the writers seemed to keep everything together very well, since there was an abundance of story. Roy Harper's story seems especially tragic, since the real hero has been kept in stasis for three years (and is missing an arm for some reason) while his clone comes to realize that his "life" has been used for nefarious purposes.
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There was quite a bit for Aqualad to do this time. He led the team as always, he admitted to Red Arrow that Tula broke his heart, and he helped to cure the Justice League (after defeating Aquaman in battle, he says "Apologies, my King"). And, it's looking like he and Rocket might turn out to be an item, too, along with Robin/Zatanna and Kid Flash/Artemis.

Next week is the first episode of Season Two, which will continue some story threads already in play while also introducing the new "Invasion" story. See you back here next week to discuss it!

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