Young Justice season 3, episode 3 review: Eminent Threat


Young Justice: Outsiders has some heavy content. But it continues the tradition of solid storytelling in the various DC animated universes. Spoilers ahead.

On Friday, the third season of Young Justice kicked off with three episodes on DC Universe. This season has been dubbed Young Justice: Outsiders. It has been nearly six years since the last new episode of the show in March of 2013, so the anticipation has built for quite some time.

The third episode of Young Justice: Outsiders is entitled  “Eminent Threat.” The first half of the episode is spent saving Connor (Superboy) from Bedlam, who runs the Markovian meta-lab that is trafficking children. If the children have the meta-gene, they have their super powers activated. If not, the dead children are disposed of like trash – pretty heavy stuff, especially for a cartoon.

Nightwing finds out that Bedlam is actually Baron DeLamb, and realizes that those names (Bedlam and DeLamb) are anagrams of one another – so he should have seen it coming. The middle of the episode ends with a small victory for Nightwing’s team of ‘outsiders’ – they destroy the lab and save both Prince Brion and Superboy. But the victory comes at the cost of missing out on the children at the facility that get smuggled away via a boom tube – a travel portal commonly used in DC stories.

In the second half of the episode, Prince Brion ends up defeating his uncle (Bedlam/Baron DeLamb) with the help of Superboy and Nightwing. This win also comes at a cost, as his brother Gregor tells Brion to leave Markovia for becoming a meta. So, it looks like Brion may be joining the team.

Another new character emerges on the team named Halo Girl. She not only helps the ‘outsiders’ to defeat Bedlam’s forces with her halos, but she can heal non-fatal wounds on herself and others. She also appears to be a new member of the team going forward.

When it looks like Halo Girl gets killed by a Plasmus monster (also known as Otto), the powers of Black Lightning (aka Jefferson Pierce) finally come back to life. At the beginning of this season, Pierce’s powers stop working because of the mental distress of killing a child. That child happened to be Otto’s sister Ana, who had also taken the form of a Plasmus monster.

During the fight, Black Lightning notices something on Otto that is controlling him, and blasts it. When he does, the Plasmus monster ends up helping Jefferson and the team. Just as they seize victory, it is short lived. A local citizen of Markovia shoots the Plasmus monster with a fatal wound that kills Otto.

The episode ends with Artemis asking, “Nightwing, what do we do now?”

What’s working

The DC Extended Universe, which is the current live-action movie universe of the DC characters, has its share of issues in my opinion. Those issues do not really exist in their DC animated counterparts.

In just three episodes, Young Justice: Outsiders has laid out a new season of heavy concepts for a superhero show. Meta-trafficking can be seen as an allegory for real-life human trafficking, where children are put into jobs like prostitution or slave labor.

The metas can also be seen as a metaphor for terrorists. Not only in that bad metas could actually cause harm to people, but that such threats are used to create legislation that gives unlimited powers to the government. These legislative powers can be used to stop bad metas, but bad people in the government (like Lex Luthor) could use these powers to impede those doing the right thing (like the Justice League).

There is always a balance between power and the abuse of power. And these abuses can exist on both sides of the argument. That is why the writers of Young Justice: Outsiders are so good. It gets you thinking about stuff like this. Cartoons from the 70s and 80s like “Super Friends” were fine at telling simple stories of ‘good vs. evil.’ But the lines can be blurred. Young Justice: Outsiders looks at the ways in which ‘good vs. evil’ is not simple – both sides can be right or wrong, pending the point of view.

What’s missing

The humor of this show has not shined through thus far in Young Justice: Outsiders. It is one of the elements that has paid dividends in the first two seasons, but is lacking with such a serious start in season 3.

Hopefully, there will be room to share some lighter moments. These young heroes separated themselves from their adult counterparts by having some levity as they fought off the bad guys. But perhaps, as they are now adults and witnessed so many tragedies, that levity has disappeared for good.

Final score – 9/10

I like to save the 10/10 for the exceptional episodes. But Young Justice: Outsiders (like its two previous seasons) will live in that high score range because that’s what they do. Show runners Brandon Vietti and Greg Weisman (and their awesome staff of writers and directors) clearly have lost nothing in their six-year hiatus.

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Here’s hoping that season 3 of Young Justice leads directly into however many more seasons they need to finish this terrific story. Maybe Young Justice: Outsiders will be the end, which would be sad – but it will certainly be fun to watch.