Young Justice season 3, episode 7 review: Evolution


The seventh episode of Young Justice: Outsiders skillfully blends action, story, humor and heart to create a subtle but powerful installment.

The new season of Young Justice has been strong, so far, and things are only getting better. The sixth episode saw Nightwing and his team embark on a haphazard rescue mission to Ra’s Al Ghul’s island-compound. In “Evolution,” the three new members (Brion, Halo and Forager) are taking the next step in becoming heroes. Meanwhile, an alien invasion leads a surprising individual to step up.

An Unlikely Savior

At the start of the episode, a new extraterrestrial threat is quickly making its way to Earth. In his first appearance this season, Vandal Savage takes issue with this threat and consults Lex Luthor for help from the Justice League. However, the League is handling various threats (some orchestrated by Luthor and Savage) they cannot help. With this, Savage decides to handle the problem himself.

Savage then takes to the War World, to face the alien fleet head-on. Vandal skillfully handles the floating planet and battles the fleet valiantly. He is however surprised to find the aliens won’t respond to his messages. As the fleet grows, he turns to Darkseid for assistance. Per their agreement, the lord of Apokolips sends his son, Kalibak and a fleet to help out. But soon, Savage realizes something.

When a dead alien lands in front of the War World, he sees a star creature attached to his face, which fans of DC Comics know is the work of Starro. Vandal then hands over control the War World to his daughter, Cassandra and heads for the main ship. Once inside, he single-handedly defeats the giant star. Vandal later places the pieces of the star in a containment unit on War World with the likes of Mongul and Despero.

Making Vandal Savage the protagonist of this episode was a great decision by the creative team. It’s interesting to see his stoic demeanor which remains constant, even when he’s faced with great danger. This also showed just how layered a character he is. Additionally, it was great to Darkseid pop in, and the introduction of Starro was also a nice surprise. Vandal’s story was strong, but this was only one half of it.

The Tale of Savage

As mentioned, Savage is accompanied by his daughter, Cassandra, along with an older woman named Olympia. The latter has been recording Savage’s life and has now shared it with Cassandra. This story mostly follows Savage’s comic book origins. Centuries ago, he was a blood-thirsty caveman that gained immortality from a meteorite, technically making him the first metahuman. But there’s more to the story.

After gaining immortality, Vandal took on many identities over the years, which is in the comics, and one of them was the Mongolian conqueror, Genghis Khan. During his time as Khan, he came into contact with Darkseid and his forces from Apokolips. Although Savage (Khan) was defeated, his resilience impressed Darkseid and the two formed a lasting alliance. Savage’s two metahuman sons also caught his attention.

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Centuries later, Savage was known as the demigod Marduk, who had two children. One was a daughter named Ishtar and a son named Nabu, otherwise known as Doctor Fate! It is here we learn that Savage first encountered Starro during this part of his life, explaining how he knew how to handle the star in the present. He is ultimately victorious, but Nabu is killed in the skirmish. Soon, both he and Ishtar become the protectors known as “The Light.” Yeah, Savage founded The Light, and it’s been around for a while.

Back in the present, Savage stores Starro’s remains, and Olympia, looks forward to recording the battle. But Savage dissuades her and shockingly snaps her neck. Olympia is then revealed to be Savage’s daughter, who had been suffering from a form of dementia. It’s interesting to see Cassandra’s constant love and admiration of her father, despite his actions.  She’ll likely play a major role going forward.

Heroes in the Making

Back on Earth, Connor and Artemis along with the three new heroes relax on the beaches of Mount Justice. Dick then arrives and provides Halo and Brion with new suits, before they commence training. At this point it’s clear to see that all three are becoming more adept at using their powers.

As the day goes on, Dick explains the history of the metahumans, which ties right back into Savage’s story and rise to genetic dominance. And finally, the three also choose their hero names. Halo holds on to Halo and choose Violet as an alter ego. Forager also sticks with Forager. After the name “Hot Lava” is turned down, Brion chooses Geo-Force. This stems from the genetic trait that seems to run in his family.

This subplot was full of fun character moments and Easter eggs. If one listens to Connor’s radio, in the beginning, a major DC Comics character is explicitly referenced. Artemis accusing Dick of getting the name Nightwing from vintage mullet band is also a fun nod to his DCAU design. There’s also a nice bit of self-awareness here, especially during the name selection segment.

A Little Romance, Anyone?

While all of this is happening, Jefferson Pierce (Black Lightning) and Dr. Jace are getting closer, which we could admittedly all see coming a mile away. The two have dinner, during which Jace thanks Jeff keeping her filled in on Halo and Brion. Later, the two drunkenly go back to Jace’s hotel, where the apparently spend the night.

This arc was sweet but a little boring, and while this was expected, it may have happened a little too quickly. It’s hard to say what will become of this new relationship, but time will tell how it pans out.

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Young Justice has really hit its stride, and this episode provides plenty of evidence to support that. Now, with the new heroes geared to go, the fun can really begin.