REVIEW: Young Justice: Outsiders, Episodes 7 – 9

Young Justice: Outsiders (re)introduced more characters than any sane person could keep track of this week, but all the disparate parts tried to come together in one unified message: both heroes and villains are stronger when they work with their teams rather than separately. Or at least, that’s the message I took away from the scenes that were easiest to follow.

First came the weakest episode of the bunch, “Evolution,” in which audiences were given Vandal Savage’s origin story in through a journal Cassandra Savage obtained from the elderly Olympia on her birthday. Back when he was a Neanderthal, an attack from humans activated his metahuman gene and turned him into a God in their eyes – a God who now mans the Warworld ship and has to call on UN Secretary-General Lex Luthor for help when a fleet of enemy ships threaten to attack Earth and therefore their investment in it. They couldn’t even contact the Justice League, since Earth’s heroes were busy putting out fires that Vadal himself had started, so instead he had to request the assistance of none other than Darkseid. In keeping with the darker, more tragic atmosphere of this season, Darkseid’s son Kalibak died in the ensuing battle all while Olympia narrated how the immortal man and the god of destruction became partners.

This part of “Evolution” didn’t seem all that connected to the rest, but there was a haunting echo at the end where Vandal snapped the neck of his ailing and aging daughter Olympia because she had outlived her usefulness to him. This mindset is exactly why good always overcomes evil in the end, or so we hope. Overall, though, the origin story for Vandal Savage was unnecessary and took away from the lighter and more enjoyable storyline of the newest members of the Young Justice team practicing with their powers. The animation for it was unique, but not enough to justify its expanded presence in the episode.

The team-building exercises, meanwhile, felt like a breath of fresh air. There was even a fun thought experiment – or so they thought – regarding who would win between Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman in a battle and the responses revealed pieces of each character’s personality. Violet, Brion and Forager also chose their codenames – leading to the already expected christening of Brion as Geoforce, although he at first hilariously tried to go with “Hot Lava.” And as the young heroes got closer, so to did Jefferson and Helga Jace, which led us to…

“Triptych” provided a glimpse into Jefferson and Jace’s burgeoning relationship, as he thought updates on his Justice League misgivings would serve as good pillow talk. Clearly it didn’t, but it did allow for a somewhat smooth transition into a real-time glimpse of their shenanigans. They were dealing with the metahuman traffickers that have been woven in throughout the season, in this case a string of metahumans being freed by villains across the country. The ringleader of the various segments of said plan was Simon Stagg, and he used various methods to then control said metas which different branches of Justice Leagues – both young and older – separately tried to take down.

Hence the meaning behind the episode title, as it was indeed a triptych of three attacks that ultimately had the same goal. Artemis tracked down Cheshire and learned valuable information about the League of Shadows and the potential whereabouts of Brion’s sister Terra while the Outsiders fought off Cheshire’s team, and this was narrated by Dick to Barbara. Meanwhile, Robin told Batman all about how he, Spoiler, Arrowette and Orphan found out Jervis Tetch had been controlling Clayface and thus wound up saving their shape shifting sometimes-friend from the former’s mental prison. Lastly, Kaldur’ahm and M’gann informed Diana about a Sportsmaster and Abra Kadabra ambush that was handled by Bowhunter Security. This meant that every faction of the League managed to to make some kind of progress in their ultimate goal of protecting metahuman children.

Except things were not entirely wrapped up as they thought. One of the metahumans that was rescued turned out to be Shade, and Cheshire sent him right back to Stagg complete with Mad Hatter’s headpiece. There’s a sense of futility in both the heroes’ actions and the episode’s structure, but hopefully it’s a set-up for them to all join forces in the name of a greater cause soon enough. At the very least, Clayface’s freedom felt hard-earned and meaningful.

“Home Fires” would up being my personal favorite Young Justice: Outsiders episode of the week, most likely because it brought together the often unseen families of our heroes and made them part of the story. Iris West-Allen hosted a get together for the super babies and their moms, adorably bemoaning how the world forgot she was a reporter as soon as she had one set of twins. As a background, the audience was informed that Kaldur was building a Metahuman Youth Center in Taos to protect young metas, and that the League was being aided in this quest by Granny Goodness.

As more spouses and children gathered, Orm was watching the party from across the street and waiting for the moment to strike. Despite the imminent danger, “Home Fires” struck several lighthearted notes – such as Bart continuously forgetting the no spoilers rule and calling toddler Don “Dad.” In the end, it was Orm and not the families who met an end thanks to Lady Shiva and the organization known as The Light. Vandal Savage and plenty of other known DC villains had teamed up to orchestrate their evil doings with some semblance of balance, which explained why Granny Goodness was helping with the Youth Center as well.

Another event The Light had a hand in? Lobo interrupted another humorous Outsiders training session with a contract to kill Forager. The team rallied around him, protecting him diligently, but they were unable to hold him off until Forager apparently sacrificed himself. Of course, appearances deceived them all, because as soon as Lobo took off the Bug revealed that he had merely shed his exoskin as a distraction. It was a perfect callback to the start of episode 7, when he joked that he was always naked. Other cute moments included Forager unwittingly giving Brion tips on how to flirt with Halo, as it seems this ship is definitely a go even if it’ll be a slowburn.

While this set of episodes was more scattered than most and didn’t get us much further in rescuing Terra or stopping the League of Shadows, it did cement The Light as big villains to watch out for and created a sense of dread Granny Goodness promised to deal with all the “naughty children.”

Young Justice: Outsiders drops three new episodes every Friday on the DC Universe streaming service.