Young Justice "Before the Dawn" Review: Beetle Juice
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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