After last week’s plot- and action-heavy outing, it was natural for Young Justice to take a bit of a breather, to showcase the ramifcations of the events of the past couple of episodes. And I like that the show does this—actions should have consequences in narratives—but "Cornered" was mostly a dull slugfest.
Despero is not a character I’ve ever particularly enjoyed, and his incarnation here—a growling, non-speaking, roaming space gladiator—was about as engaging as I’ve made it sound. He arrived on Earth due to the League’s expanding galactic presence, to prove himself tougher than the mightiest champions, but had to settle for Zatanna, Captain Marvel, Conner, M’gann, Malcolm, and Karen at the Hall of Justice. He punched, they punched, he uses his psionic third eye, and the Hall got destroyed.
It was so boring.
A large part of the problem is that Despero has no personality whatsoever. He’s a brute who fights and leaves the talking to his robot, L-Ron. It would've been one thing if there was some witty banter between the heroes and Despero and L-Ron, but everyone sort of ignored each other. Despero didn’t speak, and the heroes more or less ignored L-Ron, who was quite funny, but the robot’s schtick could only go so far without anything to bounce it off of.
The fight did afford a bit of character work. Malcolm, frustrated with being placed in an abandoned warehouse in Blüdhaven, of all places, following the destruction of Mount Justice, tried to move in with Karen, but she continued to shut him down. Poor guy. But he also donned Guardian’s outfit to buy everyone some time during the fight, in keeping with the character’s pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths history. It was the highlight of the A-plot since Mal’s bombastic parody of a superhero was genuinely amusing, and it was nice to see Malcolm finally do something.
M’gann was forced to deal with the fallout of her psychic assault on Kaldur as she resisted using her abilities on Despero. She was understandably slow to use that ability, but she does have other powers that might’ve been useful in the fight. It was mostly place-setting for a bigger emotional moment about this particular plot, as it resulted in her taking up residence in J’onn’s Chicago apartment instead of the warehouse. Conner, of course, noticed all this, and the episode ended with the two of them about to talk.
While all this was going on, Black Canary was debriefing/counselling the teens recovered from the raid on the Reach’s undersea lab. There wasn't much going on with that arc, but I appreciate the throughline of Canary as counselor; it nudged along the Jaime-as-the-destoryer-of-Earth plot, as he wants the League to do whatever it can to get the scarab literally off his back. Like Bart said, this course of action may be what triggers all the badness, but we’ll see how it goes.
If there’s one thing I did really enjoy, it was the Reach ambassador’s consistent undermining of the League in the light of both political institutions and the media (well, G. Gordon Godfrey, anyway). Last week, commenter @opalemeraldcat questioned why the the League just didn’t tell the truth about the Reach and this week we saw how that’s no longer an option. The League’s been keeping things, including the Watchtower and the team, hush-hush from the governments of the world, and the Reach ambassador (voiced with diplomatic slipperiness by Phil LaMarr) has been more than happy to make all this known. He even took down Despero’s forcefield and then took Despero into custody. He is a public relations master.
So the fallout from the first big confrontation with the Reach is being felt. I just hope that the impulse to stage largely pointless fights doesn’t continue to get in the way of the more interesting aspects of the series.
Notes & Quotes
– DC Nation Short: Part two of the Amethyst story involved our hero being sent on her quest and having a quick crisis of confidence before dispatching a spider, sent by Dark Opal, with a green pepper. It was fine, nothing too awful or awesome. The serialized nature of the short sort of works against it, but it’s unlikely we’d ever see a half-hour version of this character, so we’ll see how it goes.
– The Reach exposed Virgil to "little static shocks." We see what you did there, show. It also seems that you're going to continue to draw out the full awakening of his abilities. Static fans are going to have to be patient a little while longer, it seems.
– I really fail to see how no one knew about the Watchtower. Is it in some sort of weird orbit that avoids any and all other satellites or space stations? Even by comic book logic standards, it’s a real stretch.
– "Magicism is cheating!" So Zatanna’s spells aren’t allowed, but Captain Marvel’s abilities are okay?