The quality rebounds as the focus narrows as Young Justice: Outsiders starts barrelling towards its season finale.
This Young Justice: Outsiders review contains spoilers.
Young Justice Season 3 Episode 22
Grading on a relative scale, last week’s episode of Young Justice was a debacle. It was too busy and too rushed. This week’s episode, “Antisocial,” fixes almost every problem with “Unknown Factors” by dramatically narrowing its scale. It sacrifices some action in doing so, but this episode really starts thundering towards the finale and pushing plot lines to their inevitable conclusions.
The action starts out focused at the Outsider’s Hollywood headquarters. Everyone is recovering from their ordeal in Granny’s X-Pit, but the only one nearing death is Dick. Batman grabs Oracle, Robin, Aquaman and Miss Martian for a private conference, and Black Lightning pieces everything together. He figures out that the resignations were staged, and that the team has been sent out on missions in conjunction with the League. He is…really pissed, and it gives us some terrific voice acting.
Khary Payton is best known for his work as Teen Titans/GO!‘s Cyborg. He’s a versatile, talented voice actor who’s doing tons of work in Young Justice that is virtually unidentifiable from his Cyborg, and Cy in those shows is not especially prone to anger. So when he lets rip here, we get a little bit Cyborg, a lot of pent up rage, and he just uncorks in a really entertaining way that helps sell Jeff’s fury at being used by Batman. And that rage and sense of betrayal contributes a lot to the most powerful moment of this story line, when Oracle takes Bruce down a peg.
Barbara Gordon is probably the only person on the show who is qualified to and can get away with pushing back on Batman. Yes, Jason Todd is alive and amnesiac and around, but Barbara in a wheelchair is the most visible, powerful and immediately available symbol of a failure of Bruce’s mission, and everything this season has been part of or in service to that mission. The whole argument is great character work, especially for characters who have had less than 5 total minutes of screen time for the rest of the season, but it also wonderfully implies a richer world that’s not part of the show. “Batman, Inc.” was a throwaway line from Black Lightning early in the season because we assumed he’d be part of the actual Outsiders, but they’ve been operating this whole time while Dick was running his team, Beast Boy was operating his Outsiders, Miss Martian was overseeing The Team, Aqualad was in charge of the League, Wonder Woman had the space contingent under her command, Lex Luthor was starting up Infinity, Inc, and even more. This is a robust superhero universe and every time we get peeks at the greater world, it’s exciting.
While all of this is going on, Terra is taking notes to report back to Deathstroke, and Dr. Jace’s story is finally paying off. There was some to like here and some to really dislike. Tara Markov’s relationship with Slade is approximately infinity percent better than in the comics. Judas Contract’s Terra/Deathstroke is supremely gross, the sole stain on an otherwise legendary story. Young Justice removes all the weird lasciviousness and makes them both better characters: Tara is a traumatized, neglected kid being shown a perversion of respect and care by someone who is a bad guy and in all likelihood using her, but at least is being decent enough to give her some paternal affection in the process. They’re setting up a parallel between Slade and Batman here – Slade appears to care about Tara, but is really just using her to manipulate events in his favor, while Batman is manipulating everyone around him, but genuinely cares about their well being. It’s nice, and pretty slick.
Slade also gives Tara a way to break the Starro-tech inhibitor chips that Jace uses on her and Brion to get them out of the tower and heading towards her “mentor,” the Ultra Humanite. She grabs Halo on her way, and they meet up with the Ultra Humanite and Granny, who uses Overlord to take control of Halo, then drops everyone into the X-Pit to finish figuring out the Anti-Life Equation.
This episode has one of the most easy to understand explanations of Anti-Life I’ve ever heard. It’s not a complex mathematical formula like it is in the comics or when I use it on Twitter: it’s Life-Free Will=Anti-Life. Halo is a human Mother Box with the safeties ground off, so when she’s exposed to the X-Pit’s torture and activates her healing aura, that triggers anti-life and makes the person exposed to it a slave to Granny. In this case, Granny tests her observations by shoving Jace out into the torture of the X-Pit and having her explain her entire diabolical plan.
Here is the only part of the episode I didn’t care for. Jace goes from brilliant, shady scientist to “WHY WON’T YOU LOVE ME” stereotype in the blink of an eye. She did all her meta-experimenting to make children for herself, and now Brion and Tara are her children and Violet, who isn’t a meta at all but is a living, breathing Mother Box, is a disgusting freak who isn’t good enough to date her son. And she was only sleeping with Black Lightning to stay near her children. This is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay over the top. She might as well be boiling Count Vertigo’s pet rabbit here. It’s not great. Eventually, Terra breaks away and frees Geo Force, so Granny and Violet boom tube one way, the Ultra Humanite and Jace boom another, and the kids head back to the tower to break the bad news to Jeff.
Jace’s character developments are trash, but everyone else gets a pretty good episode. And the big surprise reveal at the end is that there are two Grannies – one on the space station with the Furies moving metas around the universe, and one running Goode World Studios on Earth – which has some fascinating implications. This was a solid start to the season’s endgame.
OUTSIDER TRADING TIPS
– The three people from Luthor’s Infinity, Inc. team talking to Stargirl I MEAN Courtney Whitmore are also from Luthor’s Infinity, Inc. in the comics. The one talking is Trajectory (confirmed by the end credits), a super speedster. The bald guy is probably Everyman, and the woman in yellow is probably Fury. All three were introduced in 52, the weekly jam comic by Geoff Johns, Mark Waid, Greg Rucka, Grant Morrison, and Keith Giffen that grew out of Infinite Crisis. Trajectory was killed when Luthor turned her powers off mid-run; Everyman shapeshifts into another person by consuming a part of their body, turns into a cannibal who likes the taste of long pig, and was killed by Cupid in Green Arrow & Black Canary; and Fury is Ranma 52: a guy who shapeshifts into a super strong woman with claws.
– Despite being the best Robin, the modern world continues to do Tim Drake dirty. He’s a key part of the story here, and he gets no dialogue and his contributions to the discourse amount to a shrug and a head tilt.
– About that ending: comic book logic says that the two Grannies could be anything – hard light projections, clones, time displaced copies, psionic ghosts from the astral plane, secret twins. Literally anything. However, there are two specific things from New Gods lore that could be the explanation.
1. Lump. The Lump was a giant blob created by Granny in the comics to trap Mister Miracle – she would link their minds together and he would be stuck in there forever. Later, Simyan and Mokkari would try and lock Batman in there in Final Crisis, but Batman convinced him to get up and help with an escape. Lump was also a popular theory for what was going on in Tom King and Mitch Gerads’ Mister Miracle: that Scott was trapped in an anti-life loop by Darkseid, and Lump was his and Barda’s child. That ended up being not the case in an emphatically brilliant way and if you haven’t read Mister Miracle yet, you’re missing out on one of the finest DC comics of all time and should buy it immediately.
2. According to Multiversity‘s map of the multiverse, the New Gods exist outside the Orrery of Worlds as platonic forms, casting different shadows down into each distinct universe. So it’s possible Gretchen Goode is the Granny of Earth-16, while the Granny on the space station is the Ur-Granny hunting for Anti-Life from outside the 52 known universes. Probably not, but still a fun theory.
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