Comic Books Magazine

Young Justice Re(af)Watch Season 2 Episode 2 Earthlings

By Reaf @WCReaf

Now that season 3 is on its way it’s the best time to rewatch the show, preferably on the DC Universe streaming service if you’re in America as that helps support the show directly and hopefully get us more than just season 3. This Re(af)Watch series is not quite a review, more of an opinion piece about each episode as I rewatch them. Covering all 46 episodes of the show’s first 2 seasons, and maybe more. Continuing on with season 2 episode 2 Earthlings.

Written by: Nicole Dubuc
Directed by: Doug Murphy

Episode synopsis: While the Team are dealing with the Kroloteans on Earth Miss Martian, Superman, Beast Boy, and Adam Strange, are on Rann trying to find the source of the Krolotean invasion and stop it. They locate the main ship and destroy the Zeta Beam platforms just as the Kroloteans from Earth show up. They send them packing as Miss Martian find out why the Justice League has been branded criminals in outer space.

Young Justice Re(af)Watch Season 2 Episode 2 Earthlings

If the first episode was a breakneck pace introduction to everything again while still keeping it action packed, this episode is much more sedate. It still starts out with an action sequence in medias res, but then we get a flashback to how they got into that sticky situation. It’s just two of the main cast, one new regular cast (Beast Boy), and guest stars Adam Strange and Alanna, so there’s a lot more breathing room to get more character focus this time around.

Personally I’m more a fan of the character orientated episodes, as much as I like the big action episodes (Misplaced being one of my favourites from season 1) I feel like they’re better off as tentpoles rather than the whole tent. This episode is more of a mix of the two, more story oriented with some character focus moments, which is a good descriptor of this season as a whole. The episode moves along the Krolotean plot, stopping their home base from sending more troops to Earth or retrieving the ones still stranded on Earth, also while forcing their ship to flee their hiding spot on Rann. The way it’s structured, with the last episode ending with them arriving on Rann and this episode ending with the tease that M’gann knows what happened to the League, feels very Netflix/streaming binge watching TV. The episodes are meant to flow into each other and works well for watching them all at once more so than watching them weekly. It’s only the first three episodes that do this, as I recall, and then the show structure more resembles season 1. But it shows this series was doing the binge watching techniques before those had really become a well known thing.

I liked that this episode was set at roughly the same time as the previous one. Since most of its plot is literally disconnected with Earth that it didn’t matter when the events were taking place; and most other shows would’ve just had it take place after the last episode, but Young Justice really capitalised on that disconnect. It’s just a nice fun realisation that the Kroloteans that show up on the Zeta Beam platforms are the same ones from the previous episode, before they blew up their Earth base. Which means those Krolo’s are having a really bad day going from one exploding base to another. That’s some good accidental coordination from the Team there. The bad coordination was no one keeping track of the bomb timers that were set for three minutes, Beast Boy could’ve been toast.

This episode also gave a few answers for one of the big questions fans had from the season 2 premier, what happened with Conner and M’gann. It didn’t answer everything, but it did address the elephant in the room. We know Conner’s the one who broke it off, that it has something to do with his ‘forever-16’ clone status, and that Beast Boy is very unsubtle in his attempts to get them back together. While Conner doesn’t say what broke them up the episode does tell us, if you already know what to look for.

Conner’s clone problem is something from the comics, where due to the forced growth of the cloning process he’s now stuck looking the exact same age for the rest of his life. Which can sound like a good thing, until you realize that everyone you know is going to grow old and die you look 16 years old. It rules out having any sort of normal life, even the pretense of one. Even with other people who know all about the clone status it would be disconcerting to them after a while, it would be hard not to be. It’s something that comes up in fiction about immortality, in The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde we see that eternal youth has pushed away all of Dorian’s old friends who became incredibly creeped out by Dorian eerily not aging. Dorian’s personality didn’t help either. So this is something Conner has to grapple with, since five years have already passed since season 1 it won’t be too long before people really start to notice.

Beast Boy on the other hand is much more fun loving character, and the chemistry between him and M’gann is delightful. They are just like brother and sister, and their little playful moment together after they avoided the Krolotean patrol was really sweet. A nice disarming moment, especially for M’gann who had been all serious business this episode. Then we get the cruellest heartbreaking moment as the show reveals why Gar is on the Team. Gar has a PTSD flashback to his mom dying in a car wreck. It is beautifully shot as it cuts from the alien waterfall to the flashback of the younger Gar watching his mother die right in front of him, just heart-wrenching. And as we learn it was not some accident but Queen Bee’s handiwork, in a very cruel and petty attack on M’gann. The show also does a good job of getting that across to the audience without saying “Gar’s mom is dead” as it’s still a children’s cartoon and there’s only so far you can go.

Young Justice Re(af)Watch Season 2 Episode 2 Earthlings

Adam Strange is our revamped DC character this episode. Technically he appeared last episode and we got his backstory of being accidentally teleported to the the alien world of Rann by a Zeta Beam. Except in this version he’s a scientist working for the Justice League keeping all of their Zeta Beam technology running. It is a nice combination and streamlining of DC mythology, so all teleportation uses Zeta Beams and leaves Zeta Radiation behind, and that’s used in the League teleporters rather than an entirely different and separate thing. That’s been part of the tech jargon since the beginning of the show and now it pays off with the character the Zeta Beams originated with. We get to see Adam Strange have an adventure on Rann and a flirty relationship with Alanna, though it’s a bit low-key compared to his usual comic adventures.

I don’t really know a whole lot about Adam Strange, he’s one of those DC characters I haven’t much knowledge of. The Batman The Brave And The Bold cartoon was my only other real exposure to a typical Adam Strange story. From what I understand he’s the inverse of the DC alien hero story, instead of an alien ending up on Earth and becoming a hero (like Superman, Martian Manhunter, or Icon) he’s an Earthman ending up on an alien world and becomes their hero. In Young Justice he’s not a hero just yet, he’s simply a scientist helping the League and very much on board with going to alien planets it seems. I like Adam’s updated outfit. I think it’s the hood that gets me, I just think it looks cool.

Young Justice Re(af)Watch Season 2 Episode 2 Earthlings

He doesn’t do much action wise in this episode, though he does get some good sequences running away from the science police. Alanna is the one who gets to spend the majority of time with the main heroes, which would not happen in other cartoons. As much as I love Brave and the Bold they did not do a whole lot of episodes with female heroes, so much so it felt like there was an executive poking them with a stick saying “boys don’t like the girl heroes, no girls, only boy heroes!” And a lot of other actions cartoons have felt that way. So Alanna, Adam’s love interest, gets to be in the spotlight more than he is, which is certainly different. I think it had to do with Conner’s relationship talk, something easier to do with Alanna than Adam, more than anything else, but still a nice change of pace.

Despite not being on Earth at all this episode still manages to have a part of the season’s running theme of racism, or more accurately fear of the Other. This time it’s Rann’s xenophobia, which does get casually mentioned and is a plot point for why they have to sneak around and not go to any authorities. Something that did strike me is that when Conner calls out the fact that himself and M’gann aren’t Earthlings and he’s annoyed at constantly being refereed to as such. Sardath’s response, “You came here from Earth, did you not.” It’s such a simplistic view that just because they transported from Earth means they are Earthlings, and yet it mirrors plenty of real life examples. Sikh’s getting harassed because their harassers think they are Muslim and don’t care to know any nuances because racism. There’s an entire dissection to be had of the fact that the entirety of Earthlings are unjustly demonised and called criminals because of the actions of six Justice League members; and it’s not even the League’s fault for that, they are the victims as well. That maps onto several real world modern events, but I am very much under-equipped to tackle such an essay.

Anyway this episode is a good respite from the first episode. It’s a little more like the first season, dealing with character drama while also solving the main plot. Focusing on three of the main cast helps in that regard, it gives the episode some space and breathing room. I think this is a much needed break from the rather action heavy episodes surrounding it. I wonder if there is any future plans for Adam Strange and Rann, knowing this show and the creators there probably is. What form that’ll take is anyone’s guess.

Little things I liked: Adam quoting Alice in Wonderland at the science police to distract them and lead them away. I think it says a lot about him if that’s his go to idea for how to distract them, there’s a quirky personality in there that we didn’t really get to see. Getting to see Alanna copying him to distract the Krolotean was just the cheery on top. Beast Boy had a lot of fun moments, him immediately going for the alien bird and then copying it, going “wow, I’m on an alien planet” and then asking if M’gann she feels that way everyday on Earth.

Quote of the episode:
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun The frumious Bandersnatch!” Adam Strange

Quote that takes on a new meaning after watching the series:
Not a quote this time but the look Conner gives when M’gann uses her telepathy to translate for everyone. He’s very uncomfortable with her just invading everyone’s minds without even asking first. He gives a similar look of disapproval at the end when he sees what she’s done to to the Krolotean captain. This sets the stage for the rest of the season between the two of them.

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