I don't like to speak ill of the canceled, but this was a pretty lackluster finale. You know, aside from that one part that elicited a bit of emotion beyond boredom.
Young Justice has never been that great of a show for me. Its first season picked up a lot of steam toward the end as it finally found a solid balance between character- and action-driven plots, something it had generally struggled to achieve before the last three or four episodes of that season. But then Season 2 more or less eradicated all of that with tons and tons of new characters and a shift from character-focused stories to more action- and plot-driven narratives that ended up being more convoluted than complex. What's more, the show decided to ignore the richer character beats that its undercover operations and burdens-of-leadership plots provided. It would've been one thing had I found the invasion arc and the end of the world timeline more engaging—I could've forgiven its lack of character depth—but since it wasn't particularly satisfying, both flaws became increasingly noticeable.
And that was certainly on display in "Endgame." The big showdown with Black Beetle was hardly worthy of the term 'showdown,' as it essentially amounted to "Get into position to reprogram his scarab." For what has been the show's biggest bad, and the source of some very good action set pieces, this was a very dull fight. It was a good final showing of how Jaime and his scarab have come to terms with each other—and of all the character arcs the show's done in the second season, Jaime's has perhaps been the cleanest and most consistent—but it also very easily set up the final big MacGuffin montage.
Because there's nothing I love more than a MacGuffin montage.
Did any of you find that run around the world to stop the Reach's magnetic disruptors interesting or exciting? I found it decidedly anticlimactic considering the season's worth of build-up that led up to it. Yes, a great deal of that was dealt with in "Summit," but the episode just frittered away the momentum. There were some good bits, including Wally and Artemis interacting in Paris and Black Lightning offering to mentor Virgil, but as a big bit of world-saving action, it was decidedly flat.
Not to mention all for naught if it only takes one of those disruptors to destroy the world—the one at the Arctic was doing a bang-up job of causing (un)natural disasters that would consume the world (why were there 20 of them then?) and bring about Bart's timeline. And so the remedy, as is often the case, was for the Flashes to run really fast, counter to the disruptor's energy flow, to dissipate it. I'm not knocking this as it's a common-enough solution to these sorts of plans in comic book narratives, but they sort of did the same thing in "Bloodlines" to stop Neutron, just sucking out oxygen instead of energy.
At that point, the episode started setting up the third season that will never happen. Wally's death was surprising as hell considering the show's general unwillingness to actually kill anyone prior to now. My sadness at his passing felt a little hollow given how small of a role the character had this season, and was driven more so by my fondness for him last season and Artemis across both seasons. Had he been more involved in the action this season, it might've hit harder. I wanted it to hit harder.
But clearly Wally's death was intended to have very real effects on the characters, and I wish we could've seen that. Dick left the team in Kaldur's hands (with Barbara running missions from the Watchtower!), Bart assumed the Kid Flash mantle, and Artemis retired her archer persona (and cover identity, really) to resume her identity as Tigress because Artemis was Wally's partner. It was a way of honoring their relationship, and it was very touching.
The destruction of those Reach disruptors did serve a narrative need that will go undeveloped as well. It allowed Lex Luthor to become U.N. Secretary General, and Vandal Savage, as had long been suspected, delivered Warworld to Darkseid on Apokolips. So, yes, the universe's most ruthless despot now has a mobile base of operations that is armed to the teeth. No need for parademons now! I wouldn't call this an exciting development since it was something that had been floating around the series since the first season, but it represented a shift to a threat that felt decidedly more brutal and dangerous than the Reach ever did.
Despite my decidedly conflicted feelings about Young Justice overall, and this season in particular, I am sad that it's over. I've been writing about the series since it started, and as a result, it's been a significant part of my writing-about-TV identity, and so it's leaving a bit of a void. But it's also, along with Green Lantern: The Animated Series and Star Wars: The Clone Wars (and probably TRON: Uprising), another loss in the ongoing struggle to maintain, at the very least, ambitious and entertaining action animation on American television, and that doesn't benefit audiences.
Notes & Quotes
– DC Nation Short: Another Farm League. One with the Flish against Captain Cod that was weird and Green Lamprey versus a hippopotamus Sinestro. My only takeaway from this collection is the reminder that the lamprey is a horrifying creature.
– "Now all the hero meat will die."
– Mark Rolston allowed so much disdain to seep into Lex's voice when referred to everyone as "heroes" while delivering the anti-Reach technology, and I loved it. Best line delivery of the episode. Second best? Black Canary thanking Captain Atom for handing over chairmanship of the Justice League.
– I didn't discuss Conner and M'gann kind of reconciling. It was... fine, I guess? Again, it was one of those incidents where I felt disconnected from the arc because it hadn't been very well developed. But I'm glad to know that Wendy and Marvin are together. Thank goodness.