This Young Justice: Outsiders review contains spoilers.
Young Justice Outsiders Episode 18
So far since its return, Young Justice has done a great job of packing a lot into each episode without feeling overdone. That kind of ended here, but the show is so consistently good that when it drops a mediocre episode, it’s still highly entertaining and does a solid job of moving the story forward. But since I’ve been fawning over it so much, let’s start with the bad.
Despite being so overdone, this episode only follows two stories: Beast Boy’s Outsiders head to Cuba to battle Klarion the Witch Boy and bust up some teen meta trafficking, while Dr. Jace tells Halo about her “discovery” from Violet’s DNA tests, so Violet goes and does self destructive stuff with Harper Row. The Dr. Jace/Violet story is just…pretty bad from start to finish. Helga tells Violet that every time she uses her regeneration powers, it burns more of her cells out, and she only has a few months left to live BUT her “mentor” has been working with her and they’re close to a cure so why bother everybody with such downer news when it could all be fixed like, next week or something? This is kind of crap on a bunch of levels.
Dr. Jace has never been especially believable, either as a reformed mad scientist or as a deep cover agent working for the Light. She simultaneously feels too obvious in her spycraft and too earnestly invested in the kids to turn on them. I wrote out her explanation so breathlessly because that’s kind of how bullshit it felt in the moment, like she was trying to rush through it because she obviously didn’t believe it and didn’t expect Violet to either. But the plot needed Violet and Brion to have a little distance, so she did. And instead of answering Brion’s texts or telling him what’s happening, she decides to go get loaded with Harper Row, shoot some bottles with a handgun, and do a couple of makeouts with her. This is also fairly ridiculous for who Halo is at this point.
The show has always had conflict, but most of the time when it’s been at its best, they’ve avoided the cheap, lazy conflict that comes from two characters who otherwise have healthy friendships deliberately avoiding communicating with each other. It’s always about a problem that needs to be overcome or thought through or punched repeatedly, and never about something that could be solved if two characters continued behaving the way they’d been behaving for many prior episodes.
The other problem is, relatively speaking, a very minor one. Klarion teased “Project Rutabaga” a few episodes back, and we finally get the payoff here. He’s using magic to activate metagenes, then branding them magically, then tossing them into a huge gross gestalt eyeballs-and-brains-exposed monster in Cuba. Beast Boy gathers his team (minus Impulse and Blue Beetle, who are at Mrs. Garrett’s funeral) and heads down (joined by Zatanna, who’s there on the super down low because she’s a Leaguer). Punching ensues, but Zatanna eventually uses Dr. Fate’s magic to save the kids and force Klarion to run. And upon saving the kids, Beast Boy’s Outsiders become even more popular, going viral around the globe and inspiring El Dorado to join the team so he can be seen as an inspiration to the rest of the kids in Taos. It’s solid, even if the Rutabaga reveal isn’t what we’d hoped it would be, and even if some of the stuff (like Zatanna’s hints about Klarion’s magic being linked to Fate’s) aren’t what I would have hoped.
This is a little bit of hypercriticism, and a little bit more the show raising expectations to a point where something routine for any other series becomes a huge problem. Young Justice has been extremely good for almost the entire season, so when it does something even a little bit wrong (like blowing the Project Rutabaga reveal), it feels like a bigger deal. The reality is that it’s not. It’s not even an especially bad episode. It’s just not as good as the rest of the series, and probably won’t happen again.
OUTSIDER TRADING TIPS
– None of the new meta kids are identified by name or in the credits, but…is the girl with the gills Dolphin? In the comics, she was created in 1968, a human altered by aliens to be an Aquaperson, only with additional gills. She was in the Atlantis books, and eventually married Tempest (Garth), having a child with him before being killed when the Spectre destroyed Atlantis. She came back in Dan Abnett’s underrated recent run on Aquaman.
-I’m sure neither the Young Justicefolks nor the Stanger Thingsfolks had any knowledge or care of what the other was doing, but it’s certainly something that the monster in this episode was basically the Mindflayer from this season of Stranger Things.
– “Ha ha ha a green hornet” I don’t need to explain that joke from Static, right?
– Zatanna and Dr. Fate don’t…have the best relationship on this show. Remember that Dr. Fate is actually Nabu possessing her father’s body because of a deal they cut back in Season 1 to save Zee.
– The Happy Harbor cop who brings Violet back to Megan is Bethany Lee, and in the comics, she’s Snapper Carr’s wife who first appeared in Tom Peyer and Rags Morales’ Hourman in 1996.
– The Cuban general is apparently named Ramon Bracuda, in the comics a Cuban mob boss who fashions himself a low key Tombstone from Marvel – shaved teeth, lots of murderin, etc. He’s from the Showcase ’93 story that led into Catwoman’s long-running ’90s solo series.
– Klarion and Teekl teleporting through Fate’s tower over the closing credits was a nice touch.