With significant plot developments, emotional character moments, a heavy dose of comedy, and strong use of this show’s huge cast, “Intervention” would be a near perfect Young Justice episode if not for two things: exposition and magic. After “The Hunt,” the rest of the team has been rescued from the Reach, and Nightwing begins the next phase of their mission: saving Jaime Reyes from the Scarab’s control. What follows is an elaborate mix of double crosses, intentional losses, and ancient Bialyan magic, with former Young Justice members Zatanna and Rocket helping out to get Blue Beetle contained. Peter David wrote this week’s episode, and the story has his fingerprints all over it. The writer of DC’s original Young Justice comic book, David steadily built up a large cast of teenage heroes who dealt with conflicts both fantastic and personal, and “Intervention” strikes that same balance while also incorporating a lot of DC mythology.
The episode begins with Mongul and Black Beetle continuing their fight from last week; the perfect way to build a lot of momentum is to have two hulking bad guys beating the crap out of each other at the very start. Starting with “War,” Young Justice delivers a four-episode epic that ends in “Intervention,” and the show has sustained a high level of energy and suspense over each chapter. This week, we jump right into the events immediately following “The Hunt,” and the newly recovered team is quickly dispatched to rescue Jaime while the Reach is still weakened.
Blue Beetle continues to be paraded around by the Reach, and after stopping Toyman in Metropolis, he panders to the crowd for a bit of signature Peter David comic relief. We get to hear Jaime Reyes inside Beetle’s head, lamenting how dumb he must look as the Ambassador forces him to wave endlessly and talk like he’s on a superhero radio serial. Luckily, his old teammates are around to get him back in control of his body. As Blue Beetle flies back to Jaime’s home, he’s ambushed by Batgirl and Impulse, who disrupt the Scarab long enough for Rocket and Zatanna to encase him in a magic-reinforced force field that can’t be destroyed by Reach technology. They take Blue Beetle to the ancient Bialyan ruins discovered by Batgirl in “Beneath,” where they’re attacked by Shimmer, Blockbuster, Devastation, and Green Beetle as Zatanna uses an ancient spell to cut off the Reach’s control of the Scarab.
Good old magic, it’s always there to get you out of a storytelling crunch without needing much in the way of an explanation. Turns out the ruins that Batgirl discovered contained the directions for an ancient Bialyan ritual used to cut the Scarab off from the Reach when it first crashed on Earth. Zatanna says a bunch of words while her teammates fight, and the room basically turns into the end of Journey, with a bunch of runes and totems lighting up, summoning a spectral blue woman who sets off a magical explosion that somehow puts Jaime and B’Ars O’Ohm back in control of their bodies. It’s the usual type of superhero magic nonsense, but it gets the job done. After completing the spell and saving the Beetles, there’s a massive infodump as the team fills Jaime (and viewers) in on the history of the Scarab, from its ancient origins to possession by Dan Garrett and Ted Kord. It’s a whole lot of exposition that I would have loved to see as a full flashback episode because it just seems like there’s so much potential in a superhero story that has such a heavy pulp influence. Alas, this series only has so much time left, so we just have to settle for snapshots of these stories with some voiceover narration hurrying through the major plot points.
I’ve written plenty about how fantastic this show is when it comes to action, but it still amazes me how captivating the fight sequences are when the entire team is assembled and working as a well-oiled machine. It’s the kind of thrill I had when watching The Avengers last summer during that sequence where the camera moved from hero to hero in the big climactic battle. For a superhero comic fanboy like myself, there’s something infinitely exciting about seeing the characters I love on the page brought to life on screen, whether it’s in a cartoon or live action. It’s part of the reason Justice League Unlimited is so spectacular, constantly introducing new heroes from the comics and translating their look and backstory to fit in the Timm-verse. Young Justice does the same, but with a sleek sci-fi anime aesthetic, and Invasion has been a steady stream of heroes making the transition from the comics to the screen, and then kicking a whole bunch of ass.
When was the last time Bumblebee did something really cool in the comics? Beast Boy? Wonder Girl? These characters aren’t being used all that well at DC Comics right now, so it’s nice to see them get some time to shine in Young Justice. And yeah, they may not do much, but I’d rather watch Beast Boy transform from a lizard to an elephant and crush a villain over the course of five seconds than read whatever is happening in Ravagers right now. Impulse gets a lot of great moments this week, with director Mel Zwyer taking advantage of the character’s super speed for some dynamic slow motion sequences. The action highlight of the episode is when Green Beetle shoots at Zatanna as she’s finishing her spell. Impulse sprints forward, grabbing Wonder Girl’s lasso that is wrapped around Green Beetle and swinging the Martian into both his and Blue Beetle’s blasts, knocking them out as Zatanna completes the ritual.
This week’s personal drama comes courtesy of M’Gann (as usual), whose time in captivity has given her clear eyes to look at her relationship with La’Gaan. When she visits him in Atlantis, he gives her a hug and she congratulates his healed leg, but then she drops the “I want to talk” bomb. La’Gaan’s not enthused, and he shouldn’t be because she’s breaking up with him. On the trip back to base, M’Gann tells him they got together because he made her feel better about herself, an unfair reason to pursue a relationship. La’Gann angrily responds that he should be the one to decide if something’s unfair to him, but M’Gann breaks it down and bluntly says that he was the rebound guy. She’s trying to make the cut as sharp as possible so that he doesn’t harbor any affection for her, but she does maybe too good of a job. Especially because La’Gaan is right when he accuses Conner of being involved somehow. M’Gann says that this isn’t about him, but when she gets back to base, the first thing she does is ask Nightwing if Connor is around. When she finds out that he’s out with Wendy Harris, she’s visibly disappointed, but she also shouldn’t be going after Conner immediately after breaking up with her boyfriend. That’s just rude.
- DC Nation: It’s a rerun of the very Static Shock-influenced first “Thunder and Lightning” short, and what looks like the penultimate chapter of “Amethyst.” “Amethyst” channels Sailor Moon hardcore in this chapter, with some glamorous anime action as she takes out the Big Bad and heads back home.
- Peter David suffered a stroke in December, but according to his wife’s most recent post on his blog, he’s making steady progress ten weeks later. David is a fantastic writer, and I wish him the best of luck with his continuing recovery. Here’s how David’s fans can help.
- Doesn’t M’Gann know you don’t break up with someone when you have to take a long awkward drive together after?
- Blue Beetle’s staple gun would be the hottest toy of next Halloween if this show wasn’t ending in two weeks. (sob)
- Turns out the Scarab likes hanging out with Jaime more than being a slave of the Reach. They’re like super best friends forever now.
- “We have to set him free…y’know, before he conquers the Earth and enslaves all mankind.”
- “Time to put the Toyman back on the shelf.” The Ambassador loves his cheeseball superhero banter.
- “Stop waving! I look like the Queen of England. Great. Now Peter Pan.”
- Rocket: “Girlfriend! Some day you have to tell me how you figure out those backwards words so fast.” Zatanna: “Maybe backwards is my native tongue.” Rocket: “Seriously?”