Young Justice Season 3 Episode 21 Review: Unknown Factors

The season starts to slip out from under Young Justice: Outsiders, a show that's trying to do too much, too fast.

This Young Justice: Outsiders review contains spoilers.

Young Justice Season 3 Episode 21

For a couple of weeks now, Young Justice: Outsiders has felt like they were trying to do too much but getting away with it. That is not the case with “Unknown Factors.” This episode is where they stop getting away with it.

Weirdly enough, we’re running fewer plots than normal this week. After last episode’s revelation about Granny Goodness being part of the war in space, Nightwing and Black Lightning bring their loaner motherbox and go to her penthouse to check it out. They get captured, and Aquaman and Wynnd, his partner, head in to try and spring them.

In Hollywood at the Titans Tower Outsiders Oubliette or whatever we’re calling Beast Boy’s west coast headquarters, the team is running missions and gaining in popularity, but Brion and Violet still haven’t reconciled. And Cyborg has come to terms with his father. They’re acting like there was barely ever any friction to begin with. This is the first red flag for the episode: you don’t build up 16 years of rage and resentment against a parent and have it slip away in a puff of Fourth World smoke because he insisted on putting you in a medical coma. There would still be some raw emotions, and at the very least awkwardness as they figure out how to live together as people who love and respect each other, rather than people who loathed and tolerated. But the show doesn’t really have time to go into this in great detail, so they’re just fine now.

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Finally, for some reason we’re treated to extended sequences where Mal Duncan and Karen Beecher (Vox and Bumblebee) are on their way to Ivy Town Hospital so Karen can deliver her baby. We’ve seen Karen’s pregnancy before this season, but there are two big problems here:

-The five month gap between the front and back halves of the season is doing no one any favors. We got an entire season of like, three shows just during the break, just on this streaming service. I’m old and my old man brain is starting to forget things.

-I am fairly sure we haven’t been asked to care about Karen and Mal’s baby for six and a half months real time (“Home Fires” came out on January 20th).

Karen going into her baby’s heart for some quickie neonatal superscience and then shrinking further to futz with her baby’s DNA is the kind of thing that should really be seeded further out, right?

This has been happening a bit lately, as the show starts to head downhill towards its season finale. They’re running out of time and space to tie off loose ends in the story, and even though we now know that they’ve been renewed for Season 4, they still need to finish a bunch of story this season for it to be successful. And as much as it pains me to bring this up, plot-relevant non sequiturs aren’t the only way the show’s been skimping.

If I wanted to watch a motion comic, I’d dig out the old CD-ROM drifting clipart that I have lying around somewhere and watch a motion comic. This is two weeks in a row that Young Justice has resorted to frozen figures listing across a background to tell its story, and I do not care for it. It just feels lazy and cheap, like they didn’t have the time or the money to finish animating the whole episode so they mailed off some Shrinky Dinks to the South Park people to knock it out quick. I sincerely hope this is the last time we see it.

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Otherwise the episode has a few pretty big story beats – Brion and Violet make up just in time for Aqualad and Wynnd save brainwashed Black Lightning and Nightwing from the X-Pit. Overlord tries to kill their Motherbox, which triggers something in Cyborg and Halo, and the team booms over to Granny’s chalet. Violet uses her purple aura (and the “words of the Old Gods” according to Granny) to fix motherbox and the heroes. Everyone escapes, and we see Dr. Jace reporting back to her “mentor” – the Ultra Humanite. And Granny does the same with her boss – Darkseid – as she tells him in the post credits scene that she’s found the Anti-Life Equation.

“Unknown Factors” moves plot forward, but with none of the elegance or character work that has otherwise made this season so terrific.


– Props to Justin Carter (@GigawattConduit on Twitter) for finding this, but if you look at the first letter of every episode title, we are now up to P R E P A R E T H E A N T I L I F E E Q U. So what with that Halo or Cyborg revelation, that’s real nice timing.

– Also, big thank you to commenter Urizen61 for flagging that Kaldur’s partner’s name is Wynnd and not off-model Garth. Thank you!

– Acrostic aside, they should have just called this episode “Mister Miracle #2 by Jack Kirby,” because it’s all about Kirby creations. Granny as a Fourth Worlder is obvious, but Overlord is straight out of that issue, as Granny’s murderous computer pet and overseer of the X-Pit. And the clear elevator down into the X-Pit is straight out of that issue, too.

– Mal and Karen eventually did have meta powers in the comics, but originally, both were science based as they are here. I can’t find who their daughter is or what powers she’ll eventually develop, but chunks of this storyline look like they were borrowed from Titans Hunt, the Rebirth series about finding Old 52 Wally West.

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– Condiment King was created for Batman: The Animated Series by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, before he migrated to the comics, where he got his ass kicked a bunch, then died and was resurrected by Rebirth.

– “Has anyone ever heard of Infinity Incorporated?” Well yes I have, Prince Brion! Infinity, Inc. was initially a superteam comprised of the second generation of Justice Society heroes – Huntress, Power Girl, Obsidian and Jade, Steel, etc. Post-Crisis, they shifted away from that, and in 52, they were basically Lex Luthor’s Ultimen.

– To my knowledge, this is the first time the show has used a real post-credits scene. It was worth it though!

Keep up with all our Young Justice: Outsiders news and reviews right here.

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2.5 out of 5