Young Justice "Before the Dawn" Review: Beetle Juice

By Noel Kirkpatrick

Jan 05, 2013

Young Justice S02E10: "Before the Dawn"

Where were we before we were so suddenly and pointlessly interrupted? Oh, right, Kaldur blew up Mount Justice so that he could step into the Light, but he also managed to discover where the Light’s allies were keeping the abducted metahumans, including Jaime, Bart, Garfield, and La’gaan.

And that’s pretty much where things started in “Before the Dawn.” Jaime woke from his origin dream (which showed us how he obtained the scarab from an explosion at a Kord Industries building) to find that a group of aliens called the Reach were working with the Light to infiltrate Earth, and that they were the ones responsible for the scarab being on Earth in the first place. Oh, and they had a big bad enforcer that Cassie named Black Beetle.

So even though Dick was fully aware of where everyone is, thanks to the tracer Kaldur placed on La’gaan, he had to orchestrate an infiltration mission to play out that thread, and almost got caught up by Cassie (his excuse that Aquaman provided the intel was pretty damn flimsy). It all led to the big showdown in the Reach’s underwater base.

Of the things revealed as a result of this confrontation, the least interesting was Bart’s admission that he traveled back in time to stop the Blue Beetle (but not necessarily Jaime) from becoming the Reach’s ruler of Earth. And it was only the least interesting because I don’t really care about Bart’s goals or why he’s in the current timeline. His future is of less importance to me than the present; even though I understand that the two are related, I just can’t bring myself to care.

Which brings us to M’gann deciding to launch an apparently debilitating psychic attack against Kaldur. This I do care about. While the earlier episodes had established M’gann’s penchant for this sort of mental violence, it was still never as well developed to me had we more fully experienced her descent into this darkness (*angry fist shake* TIIIIIIIIIIIIMESKIIIIIIIIIIIP!), but to do it to Kaldur at least gives this some more weight than it previously had, even when it was just a contributing factor to M’gann and Conner’s break-up.

And now not only does M’gann have to deal with the massive abuse of her abilities in a very real way (please, show, deliver on this), it also throws a massive wrench into the non-alien team members’ secret mission to flush out the Light. I understand Dick not wanting to include Conner (Cadmus clone) or M’gann (shapeshifting Martian who hid her true form from everyone), but not telling one of the most powerful and increasingly emotionally impulsive members of your team about that plan leads to exactly these sorts of issues. Add to that the Reach’s sneaky media blitz by announcing themselves before the team or the League can, and you have one very sticky situation for the team to deal with.

In a silly thought experiment where the unplanned hiatus happened after this episode, I can’t decide if having it air before the hiatus would’ve been good or bad for the series. Certainly it made great progress in the invasion storyline, answering many questions that the arc had been raising—including revealing the Reach and why they wanted metahumans—and it also saw development on the double agent storyline as M’gann clued herself in on that plot but also appeared to have put Kaldur into a catatonic state. It was pretty damn exciting, and a worthy follow-up to the destruction of Mount Justice.

It would’ve all made for a very exciting cliffhanger, but a cliffhanger that we would’ve been dangling from for over two months, waiting for the next episode. Instead, we came back to the show with a very big and exciting episode that primed us for the next (hopefully uninterrupted) run.

Notes & Quotes

DC Nation Short: The first installment in the “Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld” series. It was heavy on the anime influence, which wasn't a problem for me at all, but I acknowledge it may be a sticking point for some. I grooved on the magical transforming girl aspect, and the use of a video game to frame the entry into Gemworld. Certainly it looks like it’s going to be way lighter and kid-friendlier than the current Amethyst-centric comic book is, and I think that’s a very good thing.

– I sort of love that Tim and Barbara were among the last few standing, along with Cassie, against Black Beetle. No powers, just utility belts. They’re so badass. Also: I want Barbara to get her own show. There. I said it.

– You know that Black Manta is not going to let this assault on his son go unanswered. Which will likely lead to a big confrontation with the team, but I suspect his attack on them will coincide with Sportsmaster and Cheshire’s plans to get revenge on both Kaldur and Black Manta for the “death” of Artemis.

– “Shifted the density of the door. Wasn't quite prepared for that, was she? But don't be jealous. I can put you halfway through the door, too. Halfway... the hard way.” Seriously. Black Beetle is scary. Not sure we needed to see Cassie slammed into that door over and over and over and over and over and over again though. Maybe just over and over.

– My Blue Beetle knowledge, beyond a very basic idea of how things played out with Ted Kord in the comics, is next to zero, so a lot of this is brand-new to me. I am curious how much this aligns with comics continuity and representations. Feel free to share in the comments, but make sure not to spoil things for others.

What'd you think of this week's episode?

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  • Loralee_jk Jan 13, 2013

    Billy is kinda my new fav!!!

  • jaden84 Jan 08, 2013

    The next couple of episodes are going to be very exciting.

  • DariusHill1 Jan 08, 2013

    It seems like Static....well Virgil stole the show. No powers but you thought he was going to jump into the action every time he appeared. Also is anyone getting the whole Nightwing and Robin thing mixed up still? I mean when the show comes on you know that's Robin but you quickly identify him as the "Dick Grayson" Robin not the "Tim Drake" Robin. And suddenly smash cut to Nightwing on the sub. I don't know maybe its just me but overall great episode.

  • kanniballl Jan 07, 2013

    Well, as far as not telling Megan, there are 2 big things in my book.

    1) You want to keep a secret? Tell nobody (or as few as possible)

    2) As you say, Megan is powerful but emotionally impulsive. Add in the fact that she's a telepath that routinely enters people's minds... who's to say it wouldn't slip? ALso add in the fact that her arch-nemesis is another telepath who might rip it out one day.

    3) Finally, he needs everyone acting like Artemis died. If the most emotionally impulsive member isn't acting the way she should... things might go sideways. She might be smart, but she's not always "all there" She's messed up acting before.

  • kanniballl Jan 07, 2013

    To follow up on my own post... recall how many "slips" Megan had about her true appearance. Conversations that weren't even ABOUT her true alien appearance had her mis-speaking or thinking it was about it. She pretty much let it slip a few times that something was "off" about her origins or appearance... and that's without someone talking about it.

    Now imagine that people start actually talking about Artemis like "if only she was still alive" she might slip up again. And sure, you COULD say "then she could wipe their memories of the conversation" that wouldn't work if it happened over the monitor or if someone was watching them.

  • JT_Kirk Jan 06, 2013

    Thanks for reminding us where we were when the show went on hiatus, with so much backstory to fill in, the flashback at the beginning of the episode was so dense I still hadn't really gotten my legs.

    Surprisingly, I found the break helped this episode's pacing far better than if they had aired it a week after the previous, this let it feel like the team was actively doing stuff, Conner getting into position in the Manta organization, that sort of thing. Still, that break sucked.

    I thought The Reach were working with the Mantas separately from The Light, that there were multiple big villain organizations working on their own goals while both using the Manta villains as boots on the ground. This episode was confusing though like that, so much information crammed through the screen, I didn't even catch that the red-headed girl was Barbara

    Bart's storyline being related to Blue Beetle and The Reach seemed quite interesting to me, Bart isn't that well-written but his backstory connects well for my tastes.

    M'gann's mindraping of Aqualad was pretty wild, and honestly the YJ conspirators should have considered this might happen, so yeah, I agree with you, it's on them.

    I think seeing Cassie bashed considerably put a fine point on why Black Beetle was so much worse than other villains, that was brutal in a way cartoon villains generally don't get to be.

    Overall it was an exciting return to the series, but could have used more time to tell this much story.


    Amethyst was a cute thing in concept, but really didn't feel enough like a thing, not even a setup, just a long opening sequence. I can't imagine I'd want to watch more of it either, she's not compelling to me in any way: the character is a relic of the '80s when comic book publishers thought they had to pander to a more girlie audience instead of just creating mainline comic characters and environments that could appeal to both genders; and the idea of a gamer girl being thrust into the role of She-Ra Princess of Power isn't compelling enough to hold my attention as the idea has been kinda done a lot the past decade.

  • noelrk Staff Jan 06, 2013

    I can see that confusion, but I was also flipping through the YJ fan wiki to keep myself refreshed, so that may explain my lack of confusion. Reach + Light = Bad news bears.

    Manta's their liaison, of sort, I guess since Ocean Master was booted from the Light. They need someone to make sure no one investigates the Mariana Trench (obviously they're scaring off scientists since that area is a hot bed for research (lots of weird creatures live in that area!)).

    To be fair to the story spread, I do wonder how it would've played without things. This one and the episode before the hiatus were probably conceived of as a pair given their titles ("Darkest" and "Before the Dawn"). But they do sort of toss you in with knowing that it's Barbara and Tim leading that group, and given that we've seen them out of costume probably never, I'm going to do another angry fist shake at the time skip right now.

  • JT_Kirk Jan 07, 2013

    If someone has to read a website to figure out what's going on in an episode, then the episode hasn't done its job telling its story correctly, hopefully this will be the last episode that pushes towards such domain.

    Having these air a week apart I think would have felt a little hollow, just Conner showing up in the Manta corps alone would have been a cheap move in a short period of time. In fact, checking the wiki now, I see the episodes take place a week apart so yeah, cheap to have all these characters in these positions in just a week.

    The wiki says we've had a lot more of Batgirl/Barbara than I remember, so I guess I'm selling it short, but it sure doesn't feel like it.

  • Dre5d Jan 06, 2013

    i just want to see static shock in action again

  • opalemeraldcat Jan 06, 2013

    I LOVED this episode. I was horrified for Kaldur--can he recover? Are we going to see a psychic repair him? I am so upset at M'gann. And for her. Seeing her deal will be pretty great. Also? I ship Bart/Jaime. Just a little (let's call them Jart, eh?). Black Beetle seems pretty unstoppable. And sorry, apparently Stephanie Brown and Static Shock were there? I honestly, honestly thought they were just civilians who got to be in the right place, and I was happy with that. I mean, civilians only scream on most superhero shows, so. Oh well. Also, the Mariana Trench reveal was quite good. VERY EXCITED for the next episode. :)

    Two issues, though: 1) Bad girls do bad stuff. That was such a random alliance, from kidnappee to ally because, idk, she's bad. Sigh. 2) The ending? Just tell the people the truth? That The Reach has been kidnapping people and almost shot down a ship full of League-ers? Is this really an issue?

  • kanniballl Jan 07, 2013

    I agree with Noelrk... they Justice League is in a bind.

    1) The country / world doesn't trust them as much thanks to the news anchor
    2) The Reach made a big spash with the UN and the world.
    3) The League's "big guns" and "most media friendly" heroes are off-world facing intergalactic criminal charges. Even if that didn't get out, the world would have a hard time believing the B-team / second-stringers / etc.

  • noelrk Staff Jan 06, 2013

    1) Oh, Shimmer. She's so fickle.

    2) It could be an issue. While it hasn't been as well established as I would like, Godfrey's media attacks have likely kept the League on its toes, swung public opinion against them. Factor in that a number of the big Leaguers are still out wherever trying to fix their wrong-doing while under Savage's control, and things could get messy for them if they tried to discredit the Reach.

  • EsmeBuffay Jan 06, 2013

    I thought this episode was going to be all new, but it was the one they released on itunes temporarily which I watched when it came out, so nothing new for me this week, I`m excited for next Saturday though.

  • TVvuer69 Jan 06, 2013

    I was a little disappointed that Static (it looked like Virgil) was just standing there doing practically nothing but looking scared while Black Beetle was pounding Wonder Girl and all the other action. Hopefully, he'll be in the middle of the action in the next few episodes.

  • EsmeBuffay Jan 06, 2013

    He`s in next episode with his powers, it showed it in a trailer.

  • linkthehero82 Jan 06, 2013

    His powers probably hadn't activated yet.

  • MicahSmith3 Jan 06, 2013

    I saw that episode months ago....

  • linkthehero82 Jan 06, 2013

    No too, I bought it from Amazon Instant before they removed it.

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