Love is a many-splendored thing. Love lifts us up where we belong. Love causes artificial intelligence constructs to go on space-destroying sprees that culminate in an attempt to reconstitute the Big Bang so that no organic life ever comes into existence.
Love is grand.
The second half of Green Lantern: The Animated Series was significantly better than its generally generic—albeit still entertaining—first half. There was a tighter, more focused threat in the form of the Manhunters and the Anti-Monitor. Yes, the Red Lantern arc was necessary to set up that threat, and by extension everything that came after, but it was never as compelling as the home-brewed force of the Manhunters. It was something that the Guardians were responsible for, could be held accountable for, and it helped to ground the Anti-Monitor beyond just a space-sucking entity because it associated him with the Manhunters.
It could've been a huge threat, a galactic one, the likes of which the Green Lantern Corps had never seen. But then the show went and did something damn clever.
Aya and Razer have been the only characters on the show with character arcs, with the opportunity to grow. Aya's learned about humanity and emotions, and Razer has learned to let go of his rage (to certain degrees) and to realize that there is some good that can be achieved in the universe. And they reached these conclusions because of one another. Their arcs intersected, creating an adorable little relationship as they attempted to navigate what their emotions and their inter-entity coupling meant for them. And all this in the face of the Manhunter threat that would wipe out emotional beings and the Anti-Monitor that would wipe out all life. If there was ever a bigger obstacle to complement their journey, it was this one.
And then the show just went and upped that threat. Aya's death. And then her return. And then Razer breaking her A.I. heart by saying that he never loved her (liar). And then, in her grief, she kicked the Anti-Monitor's butt and became the Aya-Monitor. Suddenly the show was no longer about the Guardians and their galactic screw-up regarding the Manhunters. It was about saving/stopping Aya, a decidedly more personal and character-driven story than what had been previously set up. It was an elegant bait-and-switch, and wildly effective.
It's to the show's credit that while I sort of hated how this arc positioned Aya as the vengeful ex-girlfriend who reacts very badly to a break-up, making her the Alex Forrest of outer space, I still really loved it how it all played out. That it was emotionally brutal for everyone—or as emotional as Hal and Kilowog are allowed to be since they're painfully static characters—helped ease some of my dislike for how they went about executing it.
"Dark Matter," named for that hypothesized matter that holds the universe together, sort of like love, concluded that arc, and the series. It was the best damn looking episode of the whole show, with a terrific space battle and Aya and Hal at the Dawn of Time to allow that to happen (gotta balance those budget demands). But it was also probably the most emotional the show has ever been, and had you told me back during the first half of the season that the show would be able to reach such heights, I would scoffed. The episode managed to bring together several elements, including the Science Director's story and the map of destroyed sectors, to land a big emotional blow against Aya, and allowed just enough of her emotions to bleed through when they were most needed.
So, yes, I sniffed and teared up a bit as Razer attempted to kill Aya with his ornate assassin's dagger construct and then when Aya healed him, using up all her anti-matter energy and returning to her Green Lantern self. And then, maybe, a couple more tears happened as Aya sacrificed herself—AGAIN—to wipe out the Manhunters, with her dying words being "It is just a feeling." Gah.
And so the series ended with Razer going off in search of Aya, claiming that she's too adaptable to have allowed herself to just die like that. And a Blue Lantern's ring, a ring's power that is derived form hope, zoomed off after him. It was an incredibly optimistic message for such a downer of an episode, but it fits with the show's never-say-die attitude.
Notes & Quotes
– I appreciated Guy's presence in this episode. It was a good tension reliever. "Get Red Pajamas here inside the giant robot corpse." Cracked me up.
– "I make this decision based on cold reason." Gee. You think they were maybe talking about the Cartoon Network executives, too? This entire episode could sort of be treated as an analogy to the treatment of both this show and Young Justice.
– So did not need a DC Nation Short after this episode, let alone a rerun of a World's Funnest. Mood killer in the worst possible way.
– Teen Titans Go! promos have started running. It looks... fine, I guess, for a lighthearted superheroic comedy. We'll know more next month.