Justice League Unlimited

Season 4 Episode 2

The Ties That Bind

Aired Saturday 10:30 PM Feb 12, 2005 on Cartoon Network

Episode Fan Reviews (4)

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  • The Short-Enders Come Through

    The title of the review refers to the fact that of the original seven from the first two seasons, two heroes have inevitably got the short end of the stick - the Flash (not appearing at all) and J'onn (stuck in the Watchtower). Here the episode basically focuses on the two of them.

    But first, the main "guest star" of the episode. Interestingly, Mister Miracle isn't made a League member. I'm not sure that's an entirely wise decision - 40+ League members and more than half have had little more then a cameo, and now we get to dwell on two non-members? This could almost have been a Season 1-2 episode based on the dynamics - everyone's gone on a mission but J'onn and Flash, and J'onn refuses to help.

    Scott Free/Mister Miracle doesn't really come across as that interesting a character. He had a few good moments at the beginning and then near the end with his escape and "We make miracles!" but he didn't seem well-served here by the half-hour approach.

    Barda does a little better as a berserker-type who puts Wonder Woman to shame. Oberon is pretty much a enigma and most casual viewers would be puzzled by his presence here. This episode might suffer from too many characters - Flash, J'onn, Miracle, Barda, Oberon, Granny, Vermin, and Kalibak, all playing significant roles, makes for a pretty crowded half-hour.

    This episode is another one that, like Hawk and Dove, seems to rely excessively on guest casting. Ioan Gruffudd doesn't really bring anything to the role except a name check for the upcoming Fantastic Four movie, and Arte Johnson basically redoes his German Soldier schtick from Rowan & Martin. Granted his character Vundabar in the comcis isn't that three-dimensional either.

    We do get an update on Apokolips (in civil war) and Darkseid (still missing). This episode is definitely a homage to the creations of artist/writer Jack Kirby, and it's nice to have Ed Asner and Michael Dorn back. The X Pit doesn't really come across as that threatening - shouldn't it be filled with deathtraps that give the Flash a hard time? Instead it seems to mostly be filled with soldiers.

    And that brings us to the Flash. One only wonders what's been keeping Michael Rosenbaum away - his work schedule or the writers/producers just not being able to figure out where to slot in the character. Whatever the reason, it's a mistake - he brings a substantial element to the show here that has either been lacking, or we've had lesser "humor" replacements like Booster Gold and Elongated Man.

    Maybe a 50-member League doesn't need a "conscience"...or maybe the writers just can't come up with how to figure how to put Flash in in this role. They need to. For one thing, he serves as the audience's point of view - here he asks why the League does/doesn't get involved and we get an answer (of sorts). Maybe we should have an episode where the Flash asks why the League has and needs a WMD in their Watchtower, or why they have jerks like Hawk & Dove on the team who can't bother to answer their calls.

    Anyhoo, Flash gets appropriate humor and one-liners - another aspect of the show either missing (except for Batman's grim sense of humor) or transferred to other folks. He gets a few good superspeed moments although he does spend a lot of time running around at human pace.

    J'onn doesn't get a lot to do, but it's more then he's had character-wise in the third season. One thing lost in the third season is that the original 7 Leaguers were, to one degree or another, friends. We've had plenty of the Superman-Batman and Wonder Woman-Batman and Green Lantern-Hawkgirl relationship in season 3. But there's been no Flash-Superman, or Flash-Batman, or J'onn-Hawkgirl, or heck, even Green Lantern-Superman or Wonder Woman. Those pairings above, we've had, let's try a couple of others with the original League.

    Elongated Man makes an appearance - as has been noted, J.M. DeMatties wrote the episode and the Leaguers that appear (even the cameos) are ones he wrote as part of Justice League International. Unfortunately, it's hard to tell if that's deliberate or not - DeMatties did a lot of characters.

    Overall, I don't think "The Ties That Bind" was an incredible episode, but it made a decent half-hour of entertainment and brought us up to speed on a few subplots and relationships that were abandoned in Season 3. Hopefully they'll continue this trend throughout Season 4.
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