After grousing about the need to maintain his rep in the past (and continuing to do so this week), Sportsmaster finally made his move against Black Manta, with Cheshire tagging along to get her revenge on Kaldur. This is something that has been floating around the season for a bit, so it was nice to finally pay off this particular thread as we head into the homestretch of the series.
Given all the various cogs in the subterfuge aboard Manta’s submarine, there was a lot of, “We need to disable this thing before we can do that thing so that we can finally do this one other thing, and we need to do all of it while maintaining our covers.” As a result, "Complications" was pretty busy trying to handle all of those necessary elements, and to its credit, managed to integrate its action sequences around achieving those ends, from M’gann shooting the camera that Deathstroke was using to observe Kaldur’s cabin to Artemis locating the power inhibitor’s deactivation switch.
Of course, once the power inhibitor was removed, things became easier as M’gann was able to explain the whole plot to Sportsmaster and Cheshire, thus eliminating their grievances against Black Manta and Kaldur. Except for the fact that Sportsmaster knowing the plan shouldn't've made that much of a difference, since Sportsmaster is all about maintaining his rep, and his rep is a very public thing, so letting Black Manta off the hook will still make him look like something of a chump. Instead, he’s going to wait for Artemis and Kaldur to take down Manta, and the Light, from the inside? Right.
And that’s the big failing with having to knock out those cameras and get rid of those collars and maintain appearances: The character beats driving both Sportsmaster and Cheshire were lost in that shuffle. Probably the bit that I liked the most was Cheshire and Artemis having a brief exchange about why Cheshire would even want vengeance for the death of her sister. She can play it off as being annoyed that Artemis wasn’t available to babysit Lian, but the two do care for one another, albeit in ways that come off as a little dysfunctional, and it was nice to see that element bleed through all the action. Even nicer of Cheshire to explain to their mother that Artemis is alive and well.
While all this was going on, Dick got around to investigating what'd happened to his missing team members. The story Blue Beetle told involved a boom tube and Mongul getting the better of everyone, and ended with them being held captive somewhere. It appeared, however, that the Reach are truly horrible at cleaning up crime scenes and crafting consistent stories for their agents. A ruined airlock is one thing, and given the evidence of a boom tube, it wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility that someone attempted to space whatever or whoever came out of the tube. But to leave Tim’s birdarang on the scene, complete with little scarab microbes, was just careless.
It could've been rationalized away that Tim just didn’t aim correctly (Batman would be furious) or that Blue Beetle somehow got in the way, but then the Reach held a press conference and touted Blue Beetle as the hero of Earth, and they overplayed their hand. Jaime appeared not only poised and press-ready—something he is very much not—but he also thanked the Reach for the scarab. Every single one of the heroes who's still on Earth, from Dick to Black Canary to the Atom, knows that the last thing Jaime wants is that scarab on his back. You’d think that given Green Beetle’s access to Jaime’s mind, the Reach would've had a more consistent presentation lined up. In any case, Dick’s onto the whole scheme now, and he has to prioritize: His teammates, or dealing with the Beetles and the Reach?
Notes & Quotes
– DC Nation Short: It was Level 5 of the "Amethyst" shorts, and probably the weakest since the very first installment. She had to sing a spell to the cursed Frog Prince. While it felt a little like a Zelda-esque boss battle, what with the musical aspect and all, it wasn't all that engaging. But Dark Opal emerged at the very end, signaling perhaps that the final showdown will happen next week.
– “So it would appear, Mr. Fakes A Mental Condition.”
– Deathstroke’s line about wanting to take a seat at the Light’s table was a nice one, but it’s too bad we’re probably not going to see that happen.