Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Young Justice: "Complications"

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After last week’s series highlight, it’s hard not to be disappointed by “Complications,” an episode that is by no means bad, but just doesn’t have the scope of “War.” Huge thanks to Sonia for delivering a great recap on a daunting episode, but as an avid follower of this show and DC lore, I would have given “War” an enthusiastic A. It had everything I want from this show, and the fact that it juggled so many plots and characters made it even more impressive, although I can completely understand how non-regulars could struggle with the sheer amount of information being thrown their way.

Last week was a blockbuster superhero epic, but “Complications” is more in line with Young Justice’s covert espionage foundation, telling a story full of secrets, lies, disguises, and stealth action. With most of the team off the grid after Beetle’s betrayal, “Complications” brings the focus down to just a few characters. While Nightwing investigates the disappearance of his friends, there’s some resolution to the Kaldur/Artemis/M’Gann storyline as Sportsmaster and Cheshire infiltrate Black Manta’s ship to get revenge for Artemis’ death. The combination of Sportsmaster, his two daughters, Manta, and Deathstroke means this episode is heavy on hand-to-hand combat, and director Tim Divar choreographs dynamic fight sequences that amplify the impact of every hit. Sportsmaster goes all Gogo Yubari on Black Manta while Cheshire slinks around throwing knifes, and then Deathstroke appears to mix things up with his giant sword. Embracing an anime-inspired look has done great things for DC’s animated line, both on TV and in their direct-to-DVD films, and Young Justice has become a standout series in the DCAU canon with its detailed design and sleek animation.

One of this show’s greatest strengths is the way it balances character drama with superhero action, and the twisted family dynamic of Sportsmaster, Cheshire, and Artemis embodies both elements. The former two are avenging Artemis’ death, a rare display of affection for the villains, but Artemis is forced to fight them to protect her secret identity. This episode is all about deception, beginning with Kaldur being fully cured but pretending to be mentally incapacitated until he, Artemis, and M’Gann can figure out a plan that will allow them to stay undercover. That’s a lot of lies layered on top of each other, and things get more complicated when Manta tells M’Gann that she has 24 hours to finish with his son or she will be killed, presumably by the explosive inhibitor collar around her neck.

Artemis’ family reunion actually ends up being very beneficial for the young heroes, and once Artemis is able to shut down M’Gann’s collar, she pulls everyone into Artemis’ mind for a telepathic conference where Sportsmaster and Cheshire learn all about the team’s plan to infiltrate the Light. It’s a risky move for Kaldur and Artemis that could potentially compromise the mission, but Sportsmaster wants to take down the Light as much as Young Justice, so they play along for now. It’s not clear how long they’ll be able to keep the secret, and at the end of the episode, Cheshire tells her mom that Artemis is still alive, which is a nice gesture but not really keeping the discretion needed for this mission to work.

The other big deception in “Complications” come courtesy of this show’s big traitor as Blue Beetle lies to Nightwing about what happened to the rest of the team. Blue says that a boom tube opened up and took the rest of the team while he was away, but being Batman’s protégé, Nightwing isn’t satisfied until he’s done some detective work on his own. It’s perfect that the first clue he finds is a mark left by Blue’s giant staple gun, because there’s only one hero on the team that uses office appliances as a weapon. The busted airlock proves that more happened than Blue said, and when Nightwing finds one of Robin’s birdarangs covered in residue from the Scarab armor, the true story begins to take shape.

Dick’s fears are confirmed when the Reach ambassador shows up on television and declares Blue Beetle the hero of Earth, leading to Jaime revealing his secret identity for the entire world to see. Dick snaps the birdarang as the episode cuts to black, and with the rest of the team gone, it’s going to be nice to have a Dick Grayson spotlight episode. I would very much like to see Nightwing and M’Gann team up to rescue their teammates, maybe with the help of Wally West and Lex Luthor’s new teen superteam? The conclusion of this series is quickly approaching, and now that most of the subplots have been taken care of, it should be an exciting trip to Invasion’s endgame.


Stray observations:

  • This week’s DC Nation: A repeat of Vibe’s short, which is fitting considering his new ongoing series begins at DC Comics this week (uh…wha?). Also, a new installment of “Amethyst: Princess Of Gemworld,” which has quickly become one of my favorite shorts with its adorable design sense, witty dialogue, and incredible momentum. There have been four Amethyst shorts and so much has already happened.
  • Deathstroke’s motivation is the hope that he’ll gain a seat at the Light’s table if he works for them. I don’t know if any of that will pan out in the remaining episodes of this season, but I would have loved to see a Deathstroke spotlight episode in season 3. (Runs to bedroom and cries over his Young Justice action figures.)
  • I love the Alice In Wonderland poster in Artemis and Cheshire’s childhood bedroom, along with Cheshire pointing out how her sister has stolen her look.
  • M’Gann should have psychically implanted the name and number of the person who cut her hair in Deathstroke’s mind, because that ponytail has got to go. It’s the Dick Grayson mullet of this show.