Sunday, 6 May 2012

Young Justice: Invasion - Episode 2

- Recap: The episode begins right off the bat, with M'gann, Conner, Beast Boy and an alien woman in a jetpack fleeing through a Rannian jungle by some aggressive alien robots... which appear to have gained access to the Star Wars sound effects department, if my ears aren't deceiving me. Conner is blasted out of the air once, closely followed by the Rannian woman, and just before the credits roll, Conner tries to shield her body as one of the spider-robots charges its weapon to blast them...

Title sequence.

Which it does, resulting in Conner and the woman being thrown down a hill and off a cliff, with Superboy hanging on by one hand. He grumbles about this wasn't how the mission was supposed to go... Which leads to a flashback.

The Zeta Team arrive on Rann for the first time, and Beast Boy has a moment or two when he's just amazed about how he's on an alien planet. Then he realises who he's with, and says Miss Martian must feel like this all the time. This leads to a nice moment when she tousles his hair and admits that she might of does. Adam Strange's contacts on the planet show up, the scientist Sardath and his daughter Alanna, and M'gann and Superboy immediately cotton onto the fact that Alanna and Adam might have a thing going on.

After some basic introductions, Adam admits that this is usually the point where they have to start playing charades, but M'gann just links them all telepathically, so that everyone hears what the other is saying in their respective languages. So the Rannians hear the humans in Rannians, while the humans hear the aliens in English. Alanna says that this will make communication much easier, and makes eyes at Adam. They head inside Sardath's lab, as Earthlings aren't welcome in Rann's section of space and interplanetary travel is heavily controlled by the government, making the combination of both somewhat awkward to explain.

Inside the Lab, Sardath and Alanna explain the reason why people from Earth aren't welcome here is due to an incident on the planet Rimvarr involving a group of outlaws known as the Justice League. The scientist then says that he hopes that his new friends aren't affiliated with this group of criminals. M'gann gives him the mathematician's answer of "We are not members of the League".

Sardath explains how the League members where identified by the aliens that were invading Earth in last week's episode, who also kept the interplanerary watchlist updated for all the new members, including Zatanna and Rocket. He then said that he's now working on a Zeta shield, which he intends to use to keep people from teleporting themselves to Earth from Rann whilst trapping those hiding there on the planet, only allowing travel to those with the correct clearance. Alanna then says that she'll guide the Earthlings to the aliens' Zeta platform, causing Conner to get irritated regarding the fact that he's actually half-Kryptonian while Miss Martian is, well, Martian. Sardath justifies this Earth is where they came to Rann from, at which point Conner just gives up.

Alanna and the people of Earth-origin go to a train station to begin their journey, all in Rannian disguises. Adam's actually looks sort of like his superhero outfit, which he has yet to actually get. Science policemen board the train, making Adam believe that he's got to cause a distraction to keep them from arresting his troupe. Alanna tells him that she should do it, but he reminds her that she's their jungle tracker and that he can just loose them and make it back to her dad's compound, where she can help him with the zeta shield. They hold hands, causing another awkward moment between Conner and M'gann, and Adam leaps into action... by yelling 'the Jabberwocky' at the science police at the top of his lungs. He then confuses the heck out of them for a few minutes, and then runs away laughing causing the baffled policemen to chase after him. Alanna questions Superboy and Miss Martian about what the hell Adam was just yambering about, and all M'gann can manage is "Well, his last name IS Strange..."

As they approach the co-ordinates of the alien teleporter, Beastie Boy decides that now is the correct time to start teasing M'gann and Conner about their past relationship, which neither appears to be that comfortable in discussing. They jump or fly off of the train, and begin their jungle trek, Alanna using a tracking device to locate the aliens. Garfield almost gest himself killed trying to grab something for the souvenir room, but Alanna tells that him not to touch anything pretty here, as it'd probably kill him. The team eventually find the aliens' teleportation platform, which is hidden within a giantic building whose size impresses even Alanna. She seems amazed that even this far out in the jungle that something that big could be built without the Science Council's permission.

M'gann uses her invisiblity to go and spy on the complex, saying she'll let the others know where to meet her. And it seems that in the time since the last season she's learnt how to go intangible, which is a power that she said previously she wasn't experienced enough to use. When they all get into the base, they're amazed to find that it has SIX zeta platforms inside, but Conner make-of-factly says that they won't be there for long as they're going to blow them up. M'gann and Beast Boy grab the explosives and head down to plant them, which Conner said should be powerful enough to permanently wreck the platforms without exploding the facility itself. Unfortunately, an offworld signal activates the platforms, which causes the facility to lock down, trapping the heroes inside.

It turns out that the arriving aliens are the ones fleeing the attack by Tim, Jaime and Lagoon Boy in the previous episode (no mention of the fact that an apparent member of the Reach was involved though). M'gann then says she has a new plan, it being when the bombs go then they'll use the chaos to make a break for the exit. Beast Boy says that this is a good plan... but is promptly caught in one of the explosions as he was still standing next to one of the bombs. Oops. He's okay though, and turns into a gorilla to smack aliens aside as he makes for the door. Interestingly, he appears to have a costume made of that telepathic clothing stuff that M'gann has, at least it appears that way, as it turns into a collar when he's an alien bird or the aforementioned gorilla. The head alien notices the heroes escape, and seeing that this is the perfect opportunity to get back at them for the humiliating evacuation of Earth, he orders that they "Break out the mech!".

It's at this point where we get back to the beginning of the episode, with the team being chased by the mecha spiders. The spiderbots seem to be influenced somewhat by the tachikomas from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex in terms of design and movement, which is interesting. To me at least. Conner and Alanna hide in a cave while they wait for the robots to go away. The two halves of the team decide to stay put until the patrols decide to stop looking for them, or at least change their patrols. While in the cave, Alanna manages to get Conner to open up about what the deal is between him and M'gann, saying that as she's someone who has a crush on an alien the concept of weird dating isn't new to her, and as she lives thousands of light years away she'll never tell anyone he knows about their chat. Conner explains that the process used to create him locked his outward appearance to be that of a sixteen year old, while he continues to age internally. Alanna points out that since she's a shapeshifter this shouldn't really be a problem for M'gann, and Conner says that it wasn't. And that it was he who dumped her as "She left me no other choice".  *Dramatic sting*

Meanwhile, Beast Boy and M'gann are having a moment. In that he actually sees her as being his big sister, and she treats him like her little brother. Aww. She warns him about swinging from the trees, as a carniverous tree might take a bite out of him, but he jokes that he doesn't care as he could just get another blood transfusion from her, leading him to wonder what superpower he'd get this time. They banter a bit more as they travel back to the railway, but Gar suddenly stops and starts staring at something, even going from his standard vaguely monkeyish form back to regular human, albeit green, mode. M'gann become concerned over what he's looking at... And after she reads his mind, it turns out that the Rannian waterfall he's looking at reminds him of the one his mother died at after her car drove off a cliff. She apologises for not being there to save her, as she apparently was killed in the midst of the Light's Plan B. Which presumably involved targetting known friends and relatives of Justice League members, if Gar and his mum were the intended targets.

Unfortunately this brief stop to add some character development was too long, as the pair are knocked out at long distance by the alien mechs. The head alien packs the pair away, and announces that they're now on the way back to their homeworld, at which point it's revealled that the complex is actually their spaceship. And with M'gann knocked out, the automatic translation thing she'd worked out switches off, meaning that Strange and Sardath no longer understand each other, just as Conner and Alanna don't. Superboy and Alanna launch their rescue plan, which includes Alanna yelling a Rannian version of Jabberwocky at the mechs, while Conner punches them until they break.

Conner and Alanna save Beast Boy and M'gann, but the latter is knocked out. The aliens' ship then starts just shooting them, causing Gar to ask with irritation whether they were just trying to capture them still or whether it was a revenge thing now. Conner says that if that's the case they'll have to discourage them, and the pair pretty much demolish the craft mid-flight with their combined powers. M'gann eventually wakes up, and seeing the head alien, she basically holds him up in the air with her TK powers while she mindwipes him, an event that naturally freaks out Alanna. The aliens' ship wrecked almost to the point of uselessness, the two male heroes jump out as it tries to leave orbit, landing near their counterparts.

M'gann gives the head alien's sash to Beast Boy as a souvenir, something that he's happy about, but Conner is rightly not amused by the mindwiping thing either. M'gann brushes their concerns aside though, as she now knows what it is that the Justice League did in the 16 Hour Gap thanks to the knowledge that she sucked out of the alien's brain...

- Review: Overall, a solid episode, not really anything super spectacular, but contains a lot of nice moments, such as the Alanna/Adam stuff and the interaction between Gar and M'Gann. It certainly gave me enough information regarding what happened during the five years since the last season to be intrigued as to what else happened.

For example, what happened between Conner and M'Gann that made him feel he had no choice but to dump her? Considering Gar's mum died as a result of the Light's Plan B, what else might have happened too? Is Plan B why we haven't seen Artemis or Wally in the series yet?

I have to say that I do like the new, more mature personalities of M'gann and Conner, though I am curious as to how they got the way that they are. Maybe it's the result of M'gann kind of adopting Gar, forcing her to be more like an adult than someone pretending to be a tv version of a teenage girl?

On the whole, I thought that this episode, despite having good bits in, really operated in a way that made expanding the universe in-story more interesting than the mission Conner and Co. were up to, if that makes sense. Alanna getting more screentime than Adam was interesting, though not something I'm complaining about, as she was interesting and cool in her own right.

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