Well it's been a couple of months since the show last airred, so it's probably necessary to do a recap first...
I think that it'd be easier just to link to the last review I did, which coincidentally was also for last week's episode.
We all caught up? Good, then let's begin.
Recap: The action begins IN SPPPPAAAAAAAAAAACEEEEEEEE, were a ship is travelling through the Milky Way, which is kind of unspecific. It's like saying someone's parcel was lost "in Europe". Anyway, aboard a blooping robot is telling his master about the current Justice League situation, as in how the mainstays off planet at the moment but the planet is still a breeding ground for an abnormally high number of people with superpowers. The robot's owner, longtime JLA villain (though this is his debut in-verse, I believe) Despero grins, as he apparently travels from world to world killing the toughest creatures so he can claim their skulls and bragging rights for having killed them in the first place. Huh, so he's one of the Predators then. They head to Earth...
Meanwhile, in New York, the Reach are hanging around outside the UN HQ, having outted themselves on their own terms in the previous episode to avoid the JLA painting them in a bad (yet truthful) light. Captain Atom, head of the League while Superman and Co. are offplanet is holding a press conference with the head of the Reach. It's a smart little scene, with both knowing what the other is about but are unable to say as much for fear of revealling their cards. Atom says how they're their to support peaceful diplomacy while the Ambassador implies that when diplomacy fails then the League can rely on their metahuman powers to enforce peace, getting an angry remark from the Captain. They head off in private to discuss how things work in more detail, which doesn't make one of the people covering the conference, G. G. Godfrey, very happy, as usual.
Godfrey argues that the reason why the meeting is in private is due to the League being secretive and prone to making dodgy backroom deals while under the guise of being a benevolent organisation. Like how crazy people see the UN. He then skillfull moves his crowdbaiting tactics from picking on the nonhuman members of the League to the ones who just wear masks, implying that they do it because they're dishonest and have stuff to hide, which basically means that the majority of the League now comes under the umbrella of fear and suspicion he's generating.
Over at STAR Labs, the abductees are glaring at each other from across a hallway as the scientists try to determine what exactly the Reach did to them during their medical experimentations. The non-Team are glaring suspiciously at the Team members, while the superheroes are glaring at the others for some reason. Turns out that it's because Impulse has been impatiently tapping his hands and feet for the past few minutes, due to him not liking to just sit still. Jaime is pleased to see his friend, Ty Longshadow, and goes to greet him, only to stop when Khaji Da reminds him that he doesn't know Jaime in-costume.
It turns out to be no so much medical tests, as it is Black Canary running councilling sessions/debriefings for the people kidnapped. Which I'm actually glad they're dealing with in this show, as trauma isn't something that is really delt with very much outside of his series. Dinah starts interviewing Virgil (soon to be known as Static Shock), who demands to know why it's being filmed and Dinah gives the frank answer that its so she remembers what and the other abductees say. She asks him why they Reach might have chosen him, and he responds by saying that he thinks that they were trying to break him. She asks him why he thinks this, and he replies that the tests started small, just little static electric shocks, but they kept increasing the dosages to see what would happen. He goes on to mention that despite this he was one of the lucky ones, as other kids produced results the Reach didn't like, and they were never seen again. Virg asks when he can go home, as his family is probably worried sick, and Dinah says that it won't be long and asks him to wait in the hall. He angrily throws the paperclip he'd been fiddling with onto her desk, which causes all of the other clips to be attracted to it by the electromagnetic charge he'd unconsciously given it.
Meanwhile, M'gann, Dick, Conner, Wolf and Mal are stopping off in an abandoned warehouse that's acting as a temporary home for those who lived Mount Justice until replacement quarters could be found. Mal isn't particularly happy with this, and heads over to the Hall of Justice with M'gann and Conner to pick up whatever bits of their stuff that they were able to salvage from Mount Justice before it was nuked. Once there Mal asks Bumblebee if he can crash at her place, what with how sucky the warehouse is, but she makes increasingly bad excuses as to why she doesn't want this. Not sure if she doesn't actually like him at this point or whether she's genuinely busy though.
An electric voice pipes up. It seems that the robot has appeared, to happily announce that Despero has chosen them to battle to the death. Their deaths. And he's confirmed to be L-Ron, yay! He seals them into the Hall with a pyramid force-field to keep them from escaping while Despero murders them one by one. The people Despero decides to attack outright are Captain Marvel and Zatanna, though I have a feeling that despite that she won't be getting any lines in this episode (sigh). Despero boots Cap into the Hall, and Zatanna tries to magic him away. Unfortunately this would mean that she'd have something do, so Despero uses his mindcontrol powers to disable her powers, because as Despero puts it "using magic is cheating, and the master is more a hands-on kind". The superpowered folks, except for M'Gann, all run off to help Cap, and Mal informs her how the forcefield has blocked communications and all means of escape, even the science fictiony ones. While Conner is fighting Despero, Bumblebee tries to wake up Zatanna. Only it turns out that she's completely out of it, even to BB's energy blasts. She's then equally concerned when her blasts don't work on the forcefield either.
Back in New York, the chairman of the UN to holding the meeting between Captain Atom and the Reach, and he mentions how he welcomes the Reach's openness and honesty. Things begin to rapidly go downhill though when Captain Atom brings up the various things that the Reach has done (hidden on Earth, abducted hundreds of people) only for the Reach Ambassador to have a "logical" comeback (they were worried that the League would attack them on sight due to them being wanted criminals across the galaxy, and how Cap is confusing them with the aliens from the beginning of the series, basically saying that they never kidnapped people and Cap is too stupid or racist to tell the difference between species). The chairman says that these are serious accusations on both sides, and asks Atom if he actually has any evidence or witnesses for these claims, which the Ambassador then defuses Atom's potential threat by asking for witnesses that aren't part of their team or "impressionable young fans". Realising that things are rapidly going downhill, Atom isn't too pleased to be notified about the situation at the Hall of Justice.
Yes, it seems that even if you cut comms, the fact that you have a giant glowing pyramid appearing in the middle of Washington DC might actually warrant the US army getting involved. The army blast the forcefield with tanks and Black Lightning uses his powers on it, but to no avail. Inside though things aren't going well, with both Captain Marvel and Superboy getting creamed by Despero's strength. Bumblebee asks M'gann to do something, as she's their heaviest hitter and thus far she's hung back not getting involved. She TKs a statue at him, but Despero swats it aside, leading Mal to yell at her to brainblast him, only for her to refuse. This naturally causes an already suspicious Conner to glare suspiciously at her, as he has an idea of what she might have done to become so reluctant to mindwipe folk all of a sudden. Captain Marvel tries to use his transforming lightning to disable Despero, but this just results in him turning back into Billy Batson. Despero goes to smoosh him, but L-Ron stops him, on the basis that his "master has no interest in fighting children". So Despero just mindwhammies him like Zatanna, and moves on to more "worthy" prey, namely Superboy.
Back at the councilling session, Dinah calls in Lagoon Boy. Yeah, this'll be fun. Jaime drags Impulse around a corner to ask him if he told Dinah about him potentially turning evil, and Bart says that he didn't as he doesn't know what caused him to turn evil in the first place. So for all he knows telling the Justice League is what made it happen in the first place, so for the moment he's keeping schtum. Khadji says that this is a good idea, and that Jaime should kill him before Bart changes his mind. Bart says that instead he's going to hang around Jaime and keep being his friend, so that he could stop him potentially going evil with Friendship.
In the Hall of Justice though, L-Ron is getting annoyed that Bumblebee and M'gann are helping Superboy rather than letting Despero kill them individually in single combat. Mal at this point realises that being a nonpowered human in street clothes isn't the safest option avaliable right now, so he dons the Guardian's armour from one of the display cases broken int he fight. Despero manages to defeat Superboy fairly easily, and then tries to pry his head off to keep as a trophy. Bumblebee tells M'gann to finally just mindwipe Despero already, but after a flashback to what he did to Aqualad she refuses. Bumblebee resorts to flying at Despero herself and even manages to blast him in his third eye before being knocked out by it. Just as he tries to smoosh her for her dishonourable surprise attack, Mal shows up to face the day.
Now it's Jaime's turn for councilling. Dinah mentions how all this time they thought that the Scarab was an invention of Ted Kord but now it seems clear that it was actually created by the Reach. Khadji warns Jaime against either worrying about or telling others about Bart's predictions, as it'll just result in persecution or worse. Instead Jaime tells Dinah about how the Reach intended the Scarab to be used as a weapon, but they lost control of it and the only way that they'd get control back would be to kill him and install it in someone else. Dinah says that this effectively makes Jaime their greatest weapon against the Reach, which is a prospect that cheers him up somewhat.
|Strength of the Earth and all Mankind, I summon you!|
Back at the Hall of Justice, Mal claims that he's the Guardian of Earth, it's secret guardian, and that Despero's fight is with him. M'gann telepathically asks him what the heck he's doing, and Mal says that he's distracting him until she and Superboy could think of an alternative solution. He then tells her to get the others to safety while he fights the alien. M'gann plays along, even bowing to Mal before floating everyone away, leading L-Ron to believe that Mal actually is someone even more powerful than Superman and the like. Mal makes a hammy speech about how he's absorbed power from everyone on the planet like he's from Dragonball Z or something, and they begin fighting. Or rather he uses his own atheletic abilities combined with Black Canary's martial arts training to dodge Despero while making him crash into stuff.
M'gann manages to break the others out of their mindcontrol just as Despero manages to capture Mal and Superboy (again). Luckily Zatanna manages to do something useful, in she manages to possess Mal and reflect Despero's powers back on himself. Superboy takes the opportunity to beat up the catatonic alien, resulting in L-Ron to start yell about how they're a bunch of sneaks and frauds. Before he can attack the Team with his hidden weapons though, Billy drops on him and destroys him with his lightning. It doesn't entirely work though, as, in a final reference to Predator, L-Ron explodes to take them with him. Outside the Hall Zatanna looks on with alarm as it crumbles to dust, but Cap manages to save them, yay!
The League can't get the forcefield to disperse though, and only the sudden appearance of the Reach Ambassador with an alien dohicky manages to make it go away. He says that it's a shame that the Hall was destroyed, but at least they have their other headquarters to retreat to, the one in orbit called the Watchtower. This news, enrages the UN chairman and the Ambassador smugly apologises, apparently "not realising" that that news wasn't public knowledge. Naturally Godfrey has a field day with this.
As the episode wraps up, Mal decides to stick with the rest of the Team in the Bludhaven warehouse, but M'gann has moved elsewhere due to it becoming increasingly like a "Boy's Dorm". Instead she moves to Chicago, disguising herself as J'onn J'onnz so she can use his apartment. She gets a call from Lagoon Boy, but she declines to speak with him. She does talk to Conner though, who appears outside her room having realised that something is up with her... Back at STAR Labs, Captain Atom is still seething about how the Reach has managed to use all of their secrets against them. He asks Dinah and Dick whether they have better news, and Dinah confirms that she does. She explains that from her interviews she's determined that the abductees come in two types, those with superpowers or those with the potential to gain superpowers. Dinah says that it's highly likely that the Reach were trying to cultivate the metagene in the abductees so that she could weaponise it. Just like the Kroloteans from the beginning of the season were trying to do. Jaime suddenly walks in, saying that he's got a secret he has to share. Khaji and Bart try to stop him, but he reveals that Impulse told him that he was going to be the cause of a Reach apocalypse, and to stop that he wants to League and STAR Labs to do whatever they can to remove the Scarab from him before that happens...
- Review: A strong episode that managed to balance both it's storyarc plotlines and individual episode plots well, I actually really enjoyed this epsiode, despite it becoming increasingly unlikely that there'd be a season three. I liked that Mal had something to do, and that M'gann is having to rethink things after her "accident" in the last episode. The Predator references were funny, particularly the end bit between Mal and Despero, which really was the franchise in a nutshell (resourceful human vs giant superstrong alien who kills for sport).
I also liked what little we saw of Virgil Hawkins, as he seems interesting, more so than some of the main actual characters upon occasion. As I also said in the recap, I liked how they are keeping up with the councilling sessions as it both shows a level of professionalism not normally seen in superheroes, as well as giving the potential for characte development within the episode itself.
Things I wasn't so hot on were Bart, yeah I know his deal and how a large part of his personality is an act to make him fit-in better (kind of like M'gann in season one now that I think about it) but to be honest he kind of bugs me. Maybe he'll grow on me like Wally did, I don't know. The other character that I didn't quite like so much was Bumblebee, though that's mostly because I couldn't get a lock on where exactly her relationship with Mal was.
Oh yeah, although I liked that Zatanna actually got to do something in this episode, the fact that the creators appear to think that using her could lead to deus ex machina after deus ex machina doesn't really excuse how little voice-time she's gotten in the season thus far. Maybe it's just me, but she was a fun character last year and it just seems a shame that with the expanded cast she's kind of been shuffled into the background at this point.
Oh, and One More Thing: Was Stephanie Brown abducted because all humans have potential metagenes or whether she did specifically? Not really sure what powers she'd have if the latter. The ability to become invisible for no reason? Superdeterminatorism?