Young Justice Season 3 Episode 24 “Into the Breach”, Episode 25 “Overwhelmed”, Episode 26 “Nevermore”
Directors: Vinton Heuck, Christopher Berkeley, Mel Zwyer
Starring: Troy Baker, Denise Boutte, Lacey Chabert, Zehra Fazal, Eric Lopez, Jason Marsden, Zeno Robinson, Freddy Rodríguez, Crispin Freeman, Phil LaMarr, Greg Cipes, Bruce Greenwood, David Kaye, Stephanie Lemelin, Yuri Lowenthal, Jesse McCartney, Danica McKellar, Nolan North, Khary Payton, Maggie Q, Mark Rolston, Alyson Stoner, Deborah Strang, Jason Spisak, Tara Strong, Fred Tatasciore, Mae Whitman
Runtime: 23 minutes each
Young Justice has always had a talent for doing the unexpected and it displays that skill in big ways in the third season finale. Despite all the theorizing about how Outsiders would end, I doubt many really saw many of the twists and reveals offered here coming. It’s not a perfect batch of episodes but the feeling that truly anything could happen and the focus on interpersonal dynamics make for an ending that is for the most part very satisfying, despite the show conspicuously making the decision to hold off on progressing some storylines until the upcoming fourth season.
The biggest surprise in this three-part finale is how the Apokolips storyline is wrapped up. Given how “Terminus” ended I think it’s safe to assume that most viewers believed, as I did, that the main plot of the last three episodes would revolve around the remaining heroes fighting to neutralize the Anti-Life Equation and free their colleagues. Which makes it quite a shock that that’s all accomplished by the end of the first of the three. “Into the Breach” features the Outsiders finally facing off with Gretchen, and eventually Granny (who, as it turns out, are two halves of the same whole separated by Overlord). Vic has finally gotten a handle on his abilities and almost singlehandedly finds and disables Overlord and is able to follow Gretchen back to the Orphanage and free Halo, who in turn releases all the other heroes from the Equation’s control before Vic, Jaime, and a few others destroy the X-Pit machine. Vic has been set up to play a crucial role in the conflict all season so it’s not like this is a deus ex machina or anything and the Outsiders, especially Gar and Jaime, take some serious damage in the fight, but this is still a relatively easy solution for what had become the biggest threat in the show’s history.
The choice to end this storyline in this way is motivated by the show’s desire to keep Darkseid and other elements of the Apokolips mythos around going forward. This is understandable to an extent. It’s difficult for any DC story to make a threat seem as dire as Darkseid, so the show’s decision to hold off on having its heroes face off with him directly is not unreasonable. But it is possible to build another villain up to that level. The DC Animated Universe managed it and the comics do so fairly often. And the promise Young Justice made at the end of the second season was that Darkseid himself would be the villain. I can understand why some fans may be disappointed that ultimately Granny was the major Apokoliptan antagonist of Outsiders, particularly given how long the wait was for the third season.
But, my job is to critique the story we got, not the one I was expecting. And, whatever my feelings about how “Into the Breach” ends, what comes after is, for the most part, very good. The penultimate episode, “Overwhelmed”, is a quiet one, focused mostly on the emotional stories of Conner, and even more so, Artemis. After sharing an awkward kiss with Will, Artemis’ grief over Wally comes back in full force. She calls Zatanna in the hopes that her sorceress friend can perform some kind of séance to communicate with Wally’s spirit and get the chance to say goodbye that she never had. Zatanna reluctantly agrees to send Artemis into a spirit world to spend time with Wally but warns her that if she doesn’t leave by the time the sun rises in the real world she’ll be stuck there. In actuality, Zatanna isn’t even capable of that and secretly has M’Gann place Artemis’ mind in a dream state in which she can experience whatever she needs to. What follows is a touching coda to the show’s best relationship that wraps up Artemis’ season-long arc in excellent fashion while even tying back to her struggle with the idea of living a civilian life from season 2. Be ready to shed a tear or two.
Meanwhile, Conner introduces Forager to Geranium City where the other Cadmus genomorphs live in secret, as a potential home on Earth for the New Genesian bug, who, after the defeat of Mantis that also came in “Into the Breach”, is struggling to decide which of his two worlds to stay on. Forager decides to stay on Earth with his new hive in a characteristically adorable moment but this subplot is really meant to introduce a change in Conner’s life. Dubbilex (in my opinion inappropriately) criticizes his genomorph brother for not championing their cause publicly or openly identifying himself as a genomorph and clone. This does nicely ties back into Conner’s arc about fully living up to Superman’s example. A big part of what Clark does is inspiring people rather than just fighting criminals in the shadows and it’s nice to see Conner realize that, but Dubbilex has no right to tell Conner that he’s not doing enough for the genomorphs. It’s not like they’re doing anything for him. This is a compelling subplot introduced in a less-than-compelling way.
For the true finale, “Nevermore”, everything circles back to Markovia. The Light busts Baron Bedlam out of prison and takes advantage of Gregor being out of the country visiting his siblings to help his tyrannical uncle mount a coup. Obviously this doesn’t sit well with our heroes and with the Justice League again barred from interfering, Brion and Tara deploy along with the Team and Outsiders in order to free their country. This is all according to the Light’s plan, however, as they ready to play the Tara trump card. Slade orders his young mole to kill Beast Boy while the world watches, as Lex believes this will be the final blow necessary to win the war for public opinion and enable him to push for superhuman registration. Fortunately, it’s revealed that some of the heroes have been aware of Tara’s allegiance since Batman eavesdropped on Slade back in “Exceptional Human Beings”. Artemis explains that they kept quiet in order to finally give her agency and allow her to choose for herself what side she’s on and the gamble pays off when Tara ultimately makes the right choice and turns on her masters. It’s seemed likely that the show would keep Tara a hero for a while and that’s probably for the best both for doing something different with the familiar Judas Contract storyline and for giving an optimistic ending to Tara and Artemis’ wonderful shared arc.
Unfortunately, Tara’s brother isn’t able to get past his demons in the same way. Finding out that Tara is a traitor, and maybe more to the point that her identity as such was another secret kept from him by the elder superheroes, are the last straws for Brion. When Bedlam rants about how he’ll continue to escape prison and returning until Markovia is his Brion gives into the multi-faceted rage that’s been building inside him all year and executes his uncle and names himself king. It’s worth noting that he did so at the urging of the Markovian royal advisor Zviad, who is apparently a meta capable of influencing emotions and the newest member of the Light. Still, as the show makes explicit through Zviad himself his powers fall short of actual mind control. All he did was “nudge” Brion towards acting on his “worst impulses”. So while the door is open for a potential redemption arc for Brion in Season 4 or beyond, for now, he’s very much earned villain status, as is made clear by the manner in which he kills Bedlam. Whatever your stance on the classic superhero morality debate burning someone from the inside out with lava is not a righteous act. If that’s not enough to drive home Brion’s turn (though it really should be) there’s also the striking image of him in the fairly ridiculous royal garb in his final scene, in which he proves he’s on the wrong side by letting Helga Jace back into royal service. This really was an excellently done twist. It’s emotionally logical based on how Brion’s character has been established for the last twenty-five episodes and adds a significant tragic cost to all the heroes’ questionable choices over the past year. Yes, I do think many of our beloved crime-fighters, particularly those in the Anti-Light deserve a modicum of the blame for Brion’s turn, even if only a small one. As sad as the twist is, it does well at establishing consequences for the season’s main interpersonal storyline.
Which is good, because in some other areas these episodes come up short when it comes to consequences. Jeff exposes a lot of Lex’s illegal activities to the U.N., including his ties to meta-trafficking, but when it seems like even those charges aren’t going to have much of an effect, Conner publicly outs himself and details all of the Cadmus secrets. This briefly seemed like it was going to be the big change in status quo I’ve been hoping the show would make in regards to its villains but much like last season we’re then giving an ending that promises business will go on more or less as usual for the Light, even if the lineup undergoes some changes. Sure, Lex is forced to resign as U.N. General Secretary and he’s indited on several charges but neither he nor Savage seems that concerned about this. Indeed, the final Light meeting of the season finds everyone in rather good spirits, especially now that Brion and Markovia are under their thumbs. Young Justice‘s ability to portray its villains as supremely competent is one of its greatest strengths but allowing them to always have a contingency for absolutely everything is starting to get old. At least one of the major Big Bads, whether it’s Savage, Lex, Slade and the League of Shadows, or Darkseid needs to suffer a more permanent defeat next season or the show risks making its heroes look incompetent.
That said, while I don’t think having both the heroes and the villains ending each season satisfied will work going forward, the creators manage to more or less pull it off one last time here. Despite the Brion debacle, we end with most of the heroes at one of the happiest points we’ve seen, at least since Season 1. After apologies are made, some of them convincing (like Nightwing’s), some not so much (cough Batman cough), the various factions bury the hatchets and reunite, with the members of Batman Inc. folding back into the League and Team respectively. Many members of the Team, including Conner, have decided to go public and move over to the Outsiders. With assurances from Dick and Bruce (with the former again being much easier to believe) that nothing like the Anti-Light will happen again, Jeff agrees to return to the League and accepts the enthusiastic nomination the group gives him for the position of chairman. With business concluded, for now, the scene moves to a more intimate one of the Season 1 cast and their closest friends and family (such as Wyynde, Barbara, and Lian) enjoying dinner at Bibbo’s. It’s a heartwarming final batch of images that ends with an enticing tease for the future as the camera focuses on the hand of a waitress serving Conner and M’Gann. The girl is wearing a flight ring from the Legion of Superheroes. My Legion knowledge is very limited but I know the group does fit thematically with Young Justice‘s study of heroic legacy. That said I also know there are a lot of heroes in the Legion. As with a lot of things on Young Justice it’s a bold move that is equal parts exciting and a bit concerning. But the show has earned my trust a few times over, especially considering it ultimately managed to give almost everyone in this season meaningful parts despite all my concerns about the cast’s size.
Wally West Watch: “Overwhelmed” is pretty clearly the creators’ declaration that our beloved Flash isn’t coming back and in light of that if I wind up covering Season 4 I won’t be continuing this feature. Some fans have already latched onto Zatanna’s inability to contact Wally’s spirit as evidence that he’s not dead but I think that’s really missing the point. Unlike the comics Young Justice has committed to having its deaths (or at least most of them, Jason Todd being the odd man out) stick and this is part of the reason it’s capable of such highly emotional storytelling. Yes, anything is possible on this show and if Wally does make a triumphant return at some point I’ll gladly admit my mistake, but I think we all, like Artemis, need to move on.
- As satisfied, and occasionally moved, as I was during these three episodes the credits sequence of “Nevermore” is the first time I’ve been genuinely mad at Young Justice. Lobo’s pinky has finally grown into a full-blown (and horrifying) baby Lobo… that the actual Lobo promptly squishes to death before lighting the blood on fire so it can’t regenerate again. For a show that has shown love to every character, it introduces this feels like an uncharacteristically mean-spirited bait and switch to pull on fans hoping to see classic Young Justice comic character Slobo join the show.
- In addition to getting Artemis into the right headspace to move on “Overwhelmed” also thankfully put an end to the possible Artemis/Will romance. A fact that Artemis and most viewers seem more relieved about than Will does. Which brings me too…
- What happened to Jade/Cheshire? I suppose the lack of closure given in regard to her situation could be meant to provoke the same confusing emotions it brings out in Artemis and Will but her goodbye to Will seemed to hint that she was getting involved in an even more dangerous criminal enterprise. At some point, we need at least a throwaway line to confirm one way or another whether she’ll ever be appearing again.
- Speaking of important characters who up and vanished without explanation, Cassandra Savage dropped off the map too.
- I have mixed feelings about how his arc played out this season but the image of Dick Grayson so happy and fulfilled with Barbara at the end got to me.
And that’s it for the third season of Young Justice. As much constructive criticism as I give the show, it really is an amazing production and one of the most concise and effective superhero stories of all time.
Young Justice: Outsiders Season Finale
Some of the smaller details are problematic but the end of Young Justice: Outsiders is, for the most part, an epic, emotional thrill ride worthy of the excellent series.