Recap: The episode begins with the return of the Justice League, sort of. They are currently on trial on the planet Rimbor for their rampage across space while under the control of the Light at the end of season one. Superman is trying to explain and apologise for the fact that they were under mind control at the time. Understandably, the court is kind of sceptical at this defence. Meanwhile, two Kroloteans are watching the proceedings from the galley, with one being baffled as to why the trial is continuing, as the bribes the Justice League must have given to the tribune must have changed hands by now. His friend says that for some reason the JL have refused to pay anyone off, to the first Krolotean's shock. Suddenly all of the gallery are given a news upate regarding the presence of the Reach on Earth, which naturally freaks out a lot of the assembled watchers, particularly the two Kroloteans, though one seems to be happy someone is taking charge of "that rogue planet" while the other is worried the Reach gaining too much influence.
J'onn is kind of puzzled by who the Reach are, and John Stewart explains that thousands of years ago the Green Lantern Corp fought the Reach to a standstill to prevent their advance, making them agree to only occupy worlds that have invited them to be there. IF the Reach have been invited to Earth, however, the Green Lanterns are forbidden to return there ever again. News of the Reach's presence on Earth particularly annoys one member of the gallery, who thinks that if the Reach manage to exploit Earth's metahuman population then it could throw the likelihood of who will controlling the galaxy into question. And considering that member of the gallery is Mongul, being annoyed at someone taking his stuff is kind of his thing. Mongul stomps down to the actual courtroom, where after a tense moment between him and Superman, he just walks out. And it turns out the man told Mongul of the Reach's threat to his plans of galactic conquest was Vandal Savage... AH HA, I spy a game plan in motion here!
Back in the Solar System, the Team are alarmed by something huge approaching Earth on their long range scanners. A ship that is almost planet sized. The ship's presence particularly freaks out the Reach, as they apparently know that it's Mongul flying towards them on a Warworld, and tells him to go away as under the terms of the Guardian Treaty Earth is their property. Mongul, who appears to be voiced by either Keith David or Ron Perlman, says that the presence of the Reach on Earth is actually why he's there. Tellingly, this seems to be the first time that Black Beetle is shown actively worried about something in the show thus far.
Meanwhile at STAR Labs, Green Beetle gives the heroes the low down as to who exactly Mongul is and what the War World is capable of. Basically? It's a Deathstar. Hopefully no one will make the Moon/Space Station joke in this episode. The fact that WW manages to go from Jupiter's orbit to being visible from Earth's surface is also pretty alarming, as people see it and are naturally terrified by the approaching doomsday machine. The Media don't exactly help matters, but they do at least show the remaining JL members who aren't on trial helping the victims of the tidal waves and floods caused by the gravitational effect of the planetoid's approach (good work creative staff, a lot of other shows would have ignored that). In New York the Reach Ambassador apologises for not having any war ships to fend off WW, but publicly pledges solidarity with the United Nations to try and get rid of this "unprovoked" attack.
Captain Atom manages to get a line in to talk with Mongul, who requests to begin negotiations with him. Mongul though doesn't particularly care what CA has to say, saying that the Reach's presence on Earth will interfere with his long term plans, so the planet has to be destroyed. He does mention though that if humanity knew what they were in for now they were in bed with the Reach, they'd thank him for their impending deaths. He tries to fire his (actually pretty impressive) wave-motion cannon at the planet, only for Dr Fate to appear and deflect the blast back at him and melt his main weapon. Expressing annoyance at this, he activates his defences, only for the rest of the Justice League (and Green Beetle) to appear to attack him. While he's focusing all of his energy on the Big Hitters (Fate, Captain Atom, Captain Marvel etc.) the Team sneak in in the back to disable WW from the inside...
The Reach are observing the goings-on via Blue and Green Beetles' video feeds, and the Amabassador states that it's weird how they have to root for their enemies in this case, as their own plans to conquer Earth rely on the Team's success. The heroes are quickly spotted, and begin an action sequence, though Mal (now officially the new Guardian) seems to choose this time to have a spat with his girlfriend Bumblebee, having finally snapped after half a season of being ignored by her. Not really the time, mate. The team with Conner, Cassie, Arsenal and Wolf attack Mongul head-on, only to find that he comes from a species that is solar powered like Kryptonians are. Oops. Thus begins a brief beatdown for the heroes, and Mongul becomes irritated by it after a few minutes, an decides to forgo the mercy of just blowing up the planet in one go, and just spam the Earth with missiles and bombs until it's a cinder.
Between the League and Earth's military, they're only capable of stopping some 75% or so of Mongul's attack, so the Reach are forced to tip their hand and reveal their war fleet, which was hidden in the Pacific, to help "protect their investment". This results in two thirds of their ships being destroyed almost immediately in the defence of Earth. Meanwhile Karen and Mal's issues are coming to the surface while they try to depower WW. Mal then gets the idea of rerouting all of the power to the section of WW Mongul is in, which results in him getting electrocute by the feedback. This shakes Mongul enough to break his connection with the mental controls of WW, and Superboy and Co. spam him with punches until he's knocked out, with Cassie trying him up with her magical lasso to ensure he doesn't escape.
So the day is saved, Mongul is captured, the attack has stopped and Jaime steals the crystal key needed to operate WW (uh oh). The Reach believe that acquiring the key was worth loosing most of their warships. Which makes sense considering they seem to treat conquest like some kind of bizarre business enterprise. The Team, meanwhile, rejoice, and Karen and Mal make-up, now aware of what was causing the trouble in the first place (Mal thought that Karen thought he was stupid, and now she's aware of this she implies she's going to show she doesn't actually think this more often). It's this point that Jaime decides to just blow his cover by actively attacking everyone else, knocking Conner out and pinning Cassie under the unconcious Mongul. Arsenal freaks out at this, thinking that he's going to en up back in a tube again, and decides to open an airlock to kill Jaime, himself and everyone else to prevent this from happening. Yeah, probably not a good idea to let a guy with so many issues be on the Team, particularly as Superbike gets sucked into space. Arsenal runs away, while Jaime knocks out Conner with a blow to the face. Ending the rather triumphant episode with the Reach looking smug.
Review: I liked this episode, for a number of reasons. I liked that it seemed to highlight Mal and Karen as the main characters, and were able to end the tension that had been building between them for the past dozen episodes or so. I liked that Wonder Girl, Dr Fate, Robin and Batgirl got something to do, and how the Reach actually faced some significant losses in this episode. Mongul was fun as well. And it was also nice to see what the Justice League had been getting up to lately.
I also particularly liked how, for once, the Reach were facing a threat that they might not have been able to overcome, and invoking an emotion from them outside of just arrogant smugness. The fact that the episode didn't end with the Reach seemingly taking full credit for the defeat of Mongul (though there's still time in the next episode) was good, though I'm kind of puzzled as to what the Light's game was regarding pointing Mongul in the direction of Earth.
I mean, it can't have been a ploy with the Reach to have them defeat him to gain more crediblity with the population of Earth (defending them from another invading alien), as the entire plot hinged on the Justice League being able to defeat him solo and STILL resulted in the Reach loosing a lot of equipment and manpower in the process. Are they building a back-up plan due to their possible concerns regarding the Reach potentially screwing them over? Or are they just trying to weaken the Reach so they can take some kind of preemptive action against them?
Helping an alien race to enslave and nearly wipe out humanity doesn't seem to fit with the social Darwinist logic behind Vandal's thinking in season one is all I'm saying. So maybe they think the Reach have outlive their usefulness and are trying to dispose of them slowly or something? Hm.
Oh yeah, not sure what I think about the almost immediate payoff to the "Jaime's under mindcontrol!" storyline. On the one hand, subtle winks and nods could rapidly get annoying, though on the other there may also have been some wasted potential in triggering his "attack team mates" phase so soon. And, as I said in the review itself, I thought the fact that WW's gravity having an effect on Earth's tidal system was a nice touch, as most planet-sized space stations seem to ignore just ignore it.