With Wally West in superhero retirement, Young Justice was going to need a new speedster at some point. Enter Impulse, the hyperactive grandson of Barry Allen. This season continues to move at a lightning quick pace, and “Bloodlines” introduces new characters, ends a long-running subplot, and reveals more details about the forthcoming invasion. Bart’s origin has had a few tweaks: he’s no longer a refugee from the 30th century, but rather the post-apocalyptic wasteland that will be Earth in 40 years. That tweak in Bart’s story is an example of what this season has been so successful with: adjusting the established histories of these characters to fit into a streamlined narrative. The more complicated, confusing elements of the heroes are stripped away so that the TV series doesn’t get bogged down in its own mythology like the comics have.
Written by Peter David, who penned the adventures of Bart, Tim, Cassie, and Conner in the ’90s Young Justice comic, “Bloodlines” strikes the perfect balance of humor and drama. Impulse has always been a comic relief character, and his brash immaturity sticks out among the increasingly grim heroes of this show. There’s definitely a grim element to this episode’s story, beginning with the cryptic opening scene of Bart and a bald man in a prison jumpsuit in the ruins of Mount Justice, but there’s also a sense of fun. That’s an integral component of any good Flash family story, and David strikes a tone that is serious but still light. He keeps the episode briskly moving with a stream of witty one-liners, and the emphasis on comedy gives the final dramatic moments added weight.
In case anyone hasn’t noticed, I’m a total fanboy. My favorite thing about this season has been the onslaught of new characters, but that’s because I have a familiarity with their stories from years of reading comic books. I’m sure the casual superhero fan feels nothing when they see four generations of Flash standing together, and is probably wondering why one of them is wearing a metal bowl for a hat. My favorite era of Flash comics was in the early aughts, when Geoff Johns was writing Golden Age Flash Jay Garrick in JSA, Wally West in The Flash, and Bart Allen as Kid Flash in Teen Titans. Barry was dead at the time, but I loved the familial bond that developed between the three men. “Bloodlines” captures that same dynamic, with the speedsters all working together to stop Neutron, a human who has undergone metagene experimentation at the hands of this season’s alien villains.
While Nightwing, Robin, and Beast Boy are looking over the information J’onn and M’gann retrieved from Malina Island, Bart appears in his time machine to cause some chaos. He reveals Nightwing and Robin’s secret identities to Gar, then races off to see his grandfather in his prime. Beast Boy and Impulse have very similar personalities, and I can easily see a friendship developing between the two, especially as they appear to be closer in age than the rest of the team. The Dick/M’gann/Wally incarnation of the team has entered adulthood, and Tim/Cassie/Bart are the tween heroes that are training to take their place. I’d love to see an episode written by Peter David and featuring the team of his Young Justice run. With Bart’s introduction this week, that’s now a possibility.
Impulse crashes Jay and Joan Garrick’s 70th wedding anniversary, doing all sorts of damage to the timestream as he tells Barry and Iris Allen that he’s their grandson. This confuses Barry but not Iris, who reveals that she found out she was pregnant this morning. Their celebration is cut short by a supervillain attack in Central City, and Barry and Bart team up to take down Neutron with last minute back-up from Wally and Jay. Apparently it’s not that hard to get him Wally of retirement, but it’s nice to see him back in the Kid Flash costume. There are some great displays of super speed this episode, from the slow motion action shot of Barry sprinting toward Neutron to Flash and Impulse’s sped-up dialogue as they discuss their next plan of action.
Neutron is being controlled by alien overlords, and when the Flashes are finally able to break through his defenses, Bart drops a little blue sphere that is absorbed into Neutron’s body, deactivates the metagene, and frees him from alien control. With the reveal that the aliens are performing metagene experiments on humans, it now seems likely that those four people from last week’s cliffhanger are going to show up as the Young Justice versions of the Super Friends/Ultimen characters. Could that blue sphere be some form of modified Scarab technology? I say that only because it’s blue and is absorbed into the body, but at this point in the show, anything’s possible. It would make sense for Jamie Reyes to hold the key to saving his friend’s life when a superpowered Ty Londshadow shows up under the control of evil aliens.
After Bart’s mission is accomplished, Peter David returns to the episode’s opening scene and reveals the bald man to be a Neutron who was never healed by Impulse. The rest of the scene is shown, and we learn that Bart’s journey to the past is a one-way trip. After Bart leaves the future, Neutron’s prison jumpsuit disappears and he knows that Bart has succeeded. Unfortunately, Neutron is the only thing that is corrected. The rest of the world remains in ruins, meaning there’s a lot more work for Bart to do in the past.
While Bart tries to fix the future, clone Roy Harper is making one last effort to let go of his past. Teaming up with his wife Cheshire to find the original Speedy, Roy has some quality family time as he tries to be covert with a woman that wears a giant cat mask and has a baby in her backpack. They learn the hard way that newborns aren’t conducive to stealth, but the couple cuts through the army of ninjas with ease. This is probably their version of foreplay, and Lian is lucky her parents find the original Roy Harper or she might have ended up with a younger sibling. So we have another new character coming to the show. Held in stasis for the past 5-plus years, this younger Speedy is going to fit right in with the new generation of Young Justice. And now that clone Roy has accomplished his life’s goal, he can stop moping and start changing diapers.
- This week’s DC Nation short: Atom’s wilderness adventure continues with more straightforward action, but the chibi New Teen Titans short is a hilarious Cyborg spotlight. Vic is working as a life guard at the local pool, but his robot parts don’t make him very mobile in water. A hilarious series of visual gags, the short ends with Cyborg giving a thumbs-up as he receives CPR from the swimmer that had to save him.
- The shot of Neutron rebuilding his body layer-by-layer is surprisingly graphic and looks absolutely fantastic. Really pushing the boundaries of that TV-PG.
- “Your name’s Tim? And you’re name’s Dick?”
- “When do I become leader of the team? When do I join the Justice League? When do I get my own reality series?”
- Bart: “‘Back in a flash.’ Does he say that often?” Group: “Too often.”
- “Told you we should’ve left her with your sister”
- “Should I be concerned over the obvious delight our daughter takes in the ultraviolence?”