Performance, plus SBBF
The episode begins in Bruges, that's in Belgium for those who don't know. And Belgium's a country in Europe for people that don't know that. Anyway, it seems that the circus has come to the city, and not just any circus, but the Haly International Circus, the one that Dick Grayson used to live with before his parents died. The ringleader, who appears to be voiced by John DiMaggio in his YJ debut I think, introduces a new act to the audience. The act is basically the Team performing each of their various skills as part of a meshed thing, though M'Gann seems to be moonlighting as an acrobat for some reason. It all goes well... at least up to the point where Robin misses M'Gann's hand and appears to plummet to his death. Oops.
Conner saves Dick by throwing a barrel at him from below, throwing him up high enough for M to catch him again. Robin insists that everyone pretend it was part of the act, and M'gann admits that she's been using TK all night as she's not really that cut out to be an acrobat. Dick appears to be sweating a lot, saying that it's because he's caught the cold virus that's been going around the performance lately... but whether it's that or the fact that he unintentionally just relived his parents' deaths isn't stated.
We have a flashback, explaining why the Team are at the circus. Robin says that there have been a series of robberies across Europe that coincided with visits with the Haly Circus, and that he proposes that they go undercover so that they could see if there's a connection. Red Arrow invites himself along, despite Robin's claims that he's got the mission covered, but Roy continues his theme of being an ass by saying that he's there to keep an eye on the "three potential mole suspects", aka M'Gann, Artemis and Conner.
Back in the present, Dick really isn't looking well. He keeps up appearances but telepathically asks that M'gann help him backstage as he's at the point where he's going to fall over. Backstage, we are introduced to the potential thieves: a pair of acrobatic twins who complain about the top slot in the performance being given to the Team, and a white haired man that seems to be both threatening Haly and voiced by Clancy Brown. The white haired man seems to be a cop, possibly King Faraday, who points out the fact that the circus visits coincidence with the robberies etc. and if he finds a connection he's going to shut Haley down.
Ah, turns out that he IS Faraday. Woot! And he's with Interpol. He questions the Team, but says that since they're a new act that'll probably clear them of any wrong doing. He then wanders off. Later the heroes are spying on a weapons factory, and Conner complains that if Interpol are investigating the robberies why are they getting involved too? Robin replies it's because Batman says so, which is good a reason as any.
They spot an intruder, who effortlessly jumps over the fence of the compound, with Superboy immediately deciding it was one of the Twins, though Robin tells him to keep an open mind. Conner then puts on another of the Luthor Patches, meaning we'll probably get a drugs metaphor somewhere along the line. He sweeps the factory with his x-ray vision, which I can't remember if he has normally or not, and spies the thief quickly. The Team jump him just as he's extracting a very New Godsy looking device from a crate, but the guy pulls out a flare and breathes fire at them. This ignites some boxes of live ammo, and the Team make a run for it just before they explode.
The Team manage to grab some shelter just before the building explodes, and Conner wants to go and basically murder the thief for exploding him, but Robin points out that the fire is actually killing (the actual word used) M'Gann. This shocks Conner out of his roidrage long enough to get M'Gann to safety, and after Robin collapses while trying to order Roy and Artemis after the thief, the archers pick him up and get him out of there too.
Back at the circus, Faraday is back and is shaking down Haly due to there being yet another robbery when the circus was nearby. Haly tells Faraday that he'd done a headcount last night, and the entire troupe was asleep at the time of the robberies. The Team, obviously, point out to each other that they weren't, which causes them to wonder what else he might be lying about. Later, in their trailer, they look over footage of the other robberies, and it appears that a strongman and the clown who can tightrope walk may also be involved somehow. M'gann suggests that this may mean that Haly is the mastermind behind the whole though, but this causes Robin to get defensive, despite the relative sense this might make.
After Robin storms out, Conner confronts Roy over the fact that he'd heard how he's only there to spy on the three potential moles, while pointing out that both Artemis and M'gann have been caught telling lies in the past while Conner may be programmed by Cadmus for evil without even knowing it. Conner, shows a bit of the aggression that character development had previously gotten rid of, the drugs possibly bringing it back, but M'gann leads him away before he does something they all regret. Artemis tells Roy that none of them are perfect, but that each member would give their lives for the Team, and that he shold keep an open mind.
While Robin is performing his angst walk around the circus grounds, he passes a poster for his parents' act. This causes him to have a mild flashback to when they were still alive, but it's interupted by someone signalling him over his comsignal. Turns out that it's Wally, who says that actually Dick is lying about being on a mission (he asked Red Tornado). Robin explains how his friend Jack Haly is implicated in an international crime spree, and he wanted to find out who was responsible because Haly could potentially loose the circus over this. Wally points out that he probably should have asked him to come along too, as he's Robin's best friend, but Dick said that he didn't ask him along as he knows Robin's "back story" and might question his objectivity. Wally said that questioning your friend's objectivity was exactly the kind of thing he was meant to do.
The Circus packs up and heads off to Geneva, and although Robin's gotten over the flu (which the fireeater and the clown both seem to have now) M'gann seems to have caught it. This leads to this funny exchange,
She then points out that she first came down with the flu right after a blond stagehand called Ray touched her shoulder prior to boarding the train to Switzerland. Turns out that the same guy did that to Dick prior to their first performance. Concluding that Ray might possibly be the one causing the flu, the team go to investigate, bumping into Haly outside their room. They ask about him, and it turns out that Ray joined the circus just prior to the first series of robberies, and thinking tha they have the information they need, the Team head off to confront him. But after they go, "Haly" shapeshifts into Ray. Uh oh.M'gann: I feel so silly, who knew that a Martian could catch a human virus!Robin: Err... HG Wells?
The team raid the room where Ray was meant to be, but he seems to have disappeared. They search some more, finding ash from the fire in Bruges and a Ray-mask, Robin orders them to split up and look for him, which they do. He quickly comes across the real Haly, who has been tied up in his office. The Ringmaster explains that Ray jumped him just after the train left Bruges, and Dick runs off to find catch him. It then appears Conner shortly finds Ray, disguised as a clown, and uses his x-ray vision to seem that it appears that the thief has constructed a bomb or something from the parts he'd stolen. Ray then also shows that he's stolen not just M'gann's shapeshifting powers, when he tk's an entire dining car's worth of chairs and tables at Superboy before running off.
The Team manage to drag Robin onto the train, but he's annoyed both at the fact that Parasite escaped and at how he seems to have powers that Conner doesn't normally have, like flight and heatvision. Conner adds to the web of lies surrounding the Team at this point, by saying that since he had the genetic potential for full Kryptonian powers, that must be where Parasite got them from. Gathering back in their cabin in their regular clothes, it seems that Robin picked Parasite's pocket in his attempt to tackle him, revealling a flashdrive that explains what exactly the bad guy is up to. And it seems he's working for Intergang (explaining the Kirbytech) and that the pieces combine to make a machine that makes black holes. Roy scoffs at this, as they'd need a particle accelerator to power it... like the one in Geneva, their next stop, oops.
Roy says Robin should ditch the others, as he claims they're useless without their powers, which gets a sarcastic remark from Artemis, who has a backup bow, and from Conner who has rebooted his powers thanks to the LuthorPatch. M'Gann, the only nonpowered one at this point, manages to convince the others to take her along too.
They get to the not-HADRON Collider, where Parasite has just finished assembling the device. However, just before Robin can formulate a plan to get the bad guy away from the machine so they could deactivate it while taking him down, Conner, who is pretty much off his face at this point, just screams and runs at him. He promptly gets smacked around with Parasite's TK, but while he's distracted M'gann comes up with a plan, which they set into action.
M'gann allows herself to be TKed towards Parasite, but ducks under him at the last minute and swiping his legs out from under him with a kick to make him loose his footing. While he's distracted, Robin goes and deactivates the machine, while Roy fires a foam arrow at him to temporarily immoblise him. And while he's attempting to crush Roy with his brain, Artemis fires an arrow with explosive gas at Parasite, which he blows up with his heat vision. This dislodges the foam, but it seems that M'gann counted on him having her weakness to fire too, which causes the supervillain to quickly pass out.
The episode closes out with Robin saying goodbye to Haly, who thanks him for saving the circus and basically admits that he knew who he was the entire time. The guy did know Dick from when he was born right through to when he was 9, he wouldn't change that much in four years mask or no. Plus he recognised his style on the trapeez. He then, as a favour, asks Dick perform and the others to perform their routine one last time. Aww.
Huh, this seems to be one of the few genuinely nice, non-twist endings that the show has had for a while.
Well this episode was a bit of a change of pace. A clear villain, Roy gets a clue and stops being an annoying jerk, Dick gets some character development and a happy ending. Not that an episode needs these things to be good, but it makes a nice change of pace to the last few episodes, which seemed to be mostly bitter sweet for the most part lately. Also good to see that the Light don't have anything to blackmail Dick with as well.
Overall I thought that this was definitely one of the better episode of the series, And it was nice to see how far the characters have come in the show thus far, like Robin isn't anywhere near the kind of cocky and annoying kid he was at the beginning of the series, and has actually matured both in personality and in terms of how he acts as a superhero considerably in that time. This contrasts significantly with the kind of transparent drug-metaphor that Conner seems to have gotten himself trapped in, which seems to be making him regress back to his personality at the beginning of the series, all aggression and violence. I wonder if Lex will attempt to start blackmailling him when Conner's supply of patches begins to run low...
Have to say that in terms of plot I was actually suprised as to what was going on, if only because I'd forgotten about Parasite at this point and assumed that it was another Amazo that was running around. Parasite, when he revealled himself, actually turned out to be a pretty fun, if kind of gross, villain as well. The little details like him muttering about how it was hard to assemble the machine after losing the flashdrive for example, made him seem more like a person then, say, Sportsmaster's watered down Deathstroke via the Teen Titans show persona.
Also, this poster was awesome, and the episode taught me was a roustabout was. :)
And, keeping with the Bat Family Theme that we seem to have this week, here's the new segment of Super Best Friends Forever,