‘Young Justice’ Episode Guide: Season 1, Episode 25: ‘Usual Suspects’
How do you do, fellow teens? Because you demanded it, Young Justice is returning for a third season in 2017, and that means that there's no better time to get caught up on the first two seasons. Elle Collins, who has seen the entire show and likes it a lot, and Chris Sims, who hated the pilot and never went back, are sitting down to watch the entire series before it makes its triumphant return.
This week, hey, did you know there's a mole on this team?! How is this the first I'm hearing of this?! "Usual Suspects" was written by Kevin Hopps, directed by Jay Oliva and Tim Divar, and originally aired on April 14, 2012.
Chris Sims: Elle, can I ask you a question?
Elle Collins: Sure.
Chris: Who is the mole?!
That's right y'all, as Season 1 draws to a close, we're back on this once again, and this time, we're finally getting some answers.
We start, however, on the induction ceremony for the five newest members of the Justice League: Plastic Man, the Atom, Dr. Fate (possessing Zatara's body, so not really a new member either way, but he still gets to come to the ceremony), and Icon, who finally gets some lines in this episode. And he's voiced by Tony Todd!
But Icon, as some of you may already know, doesn't come as a solo act. He has a sidekick, Rocket, who joins up with The Team™ for their next mission, in which they're ambushed and trapped inside what is essentially a giant snowglobe by the Riddler, Cheshire, and a couple of other ne'er do wells.
The team manages to pull out a victory, but it's a tough fight --- so tough that we're back on the question of who's leaking information to the bad guys. And when Superboy heads off, at Lex Luthor's request, to join the Gathering of the Injuggalos, we have our answer:
Everyone. Everyone's the friggin' mole.
It turns out that putting a bunch of sullen and secretive teenagers into one room just pretty much guarantees that they're going to accidentally betray each other, and one by one, they show up to learn that they've all been manipulated over the course of the first season.
The truth about everyone — including Superboy's addiction to stickers and Miss Martian secretly being an HR Giger design — comes to light. It all works out okay — except that Red Arrow is the real mole because he sucks, and is now working for Vandal Savage, by way of Starro the Star Conqueror.
Elle: In a world so full of uncertainties, with every character so full of secrets and conflict, who can we truly, at the end of the day, say is really the mole?
Speedy, it's Speedy. Speedy's the mole.
Chris: I am ridiculously frustrated at the very idea that the mole on the team is a guy who hasn't even been on the team for about 85% of the show, but I also kind of love the idea that there was a second mole, which is everyone else. They're not bad people, they're just terrible teens!
Elle: On reflection, the idea that there was necessarily only one mole was never well-founded. Of course the Light would be exploring every possible avenue to get at the Team, from blackmailing aliens to offering drug stickers to being somebody's actual family.
Chris: It really is a pretty perfect Lex Luthor plot. Just going at the problem — in this case the Justice League — by exploiting every possible angle. But there are a couple of other things I want to talk about before we get into the meat of the episode proper.
Elle: Is one of those things the appearance of Icon and Rocket? Because I like them a lot.
Chris: Yes! It's great to see Icon actually showing up and getting some lines, and I love that Rocket just sort of gets to go sit at the Kids' Table that is The Team, and is completely lost when they start talking about the mole. It's especially fun to see her with Zatanna, who's another latecomer to all these grumpy dynamics.
Elle: Rocket is a really fun addition to this show, and it's kind of a shame that she's joining the Team right before the status quo explodes. Also Tony Todd is a fantastic choice to play Icon, and I only wish we actually got to see the awkward scene of Superman asking him if he's Kryptonian.
Chris: With as successful and fondly remembered as Static Shock was, I've always been really surprised that we haven't seen more of the Milestone characters showing up in DC projects like this one. I do like that YJ's background indicates a big enough universe that you can have two or three Superman analogues on the Justice League, but what really matters here is that Icon and Rocket bring us one step closer to seeing Buck Wild: Mercenary Man showing up on television.
Elle: On this show I wouldn't rule anything out. One of the things I enjoy about Young Justice, as much as we make fun of the really deep cuts, is that they always seem to be using characters because they'll be interesting and fun to use, rather than because they're popular or tie into something else that was going on at the time. Bafflingly, nobody at DC Comics was (or is now) doing much of anything with Icon and Rocket, but they ended up on the show anyway.
Chris: That brings me to my second question: Who isn't on the Justice League? They have such a huge roster that I kind of assumed it was a JLU sort of situation where it was just everyone being rotated through, but it's apparently a big enough deal that the induction ceremony gets a huge media presence and live TV coverage. So who's out there who hasn't been asked yet? Gunfire? Hitman? The surviving Blackhawks? I mean, they let Red Tornado and Zatara's corpse join. If I was Icon, I'd be a little cheesed off that it took this long, to be honest.
Elle: Well we know Guy Gardner's not welcome in the League, and based on who we haven't seen on the Watchtower, I'm guessing Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Fire, Ice, and Mr. Miracle haven't gotten the call either. Black Canary and Captain Marvel don't know what they're missing.
Chris: I like that it's reflected in the villains all unionizing, too, and it's actually done really well here. Having a 22-minute episode with the Riddler, Cheshire, Lex Luthor, Queen Bee, Bane, and a handful of other bad guys showing up and actually being relevant to the plot is a tough trick to pull off.
Elle: I admit I was a little confused by the "this entire plane crash was actually a trap by the Riddler" twist, but overall I agree. And speaking of that trap, I need a minute to deal with the fact that this sequence is specifically set in the Smoky Mountains. As someone who grew up in those mountains, I'm afraid the background designers on this show overestimated how majestic (and snowy) they actually are. Or maybe they're just bigger and cooler in the DC Universe?
Chris: How amazing would this fight have been if it had happened in Maggie Valley or Gatlinburg? Just Superboy getting too crunk on Kryptonian DNA and smashing up a Leather Goods And Souvenir Store. Discount cowboy boots raining down on a terrified populace?
Elle: I think Superboy and Miss Martian could have a really good date in Gatlinburg. As teenage aliens, they'd get an ironic kick out of the Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum. And they've probably never been to a Hard Rock Cafe.
Chris: One more small touch for those of you watching along with Netflix: This is the episode where they finally decided to actually subtitle Zatanna's spells by writing them backwards. Things are looking up all over!
Elle: Tell me, were you surprised to learn that Superboy's reliance on topical power drugs given to him by a supervillain might lead to negative side effects, as opposed to being a totally safe thing he can use forever?
Chris: My jaw hit the floor, Elle. I will say, though, I do like the big hook of the episode being that the kids got it together before they were all summoned to Santa Prisca so that they could turn the tables on the Injustice Gang — or the Light, I guess? Not only do we get Robin casually bragging about knowing Artemis's secret — and Superboy revealing that he always knew about Megan — but it reinforces the idea that while they might be terrible teens, they're still Good Kids. And they're smart enough to know that this is going to be a problem. Plus, Artemis going "eff it, my whole family's villains, how y'all doing?" is the most I've ever liked her.
Elle: This episode does a really good job of setting us up to expect a betrayal, or at least more drama and confusion, and then reminding us that these kids are a team and they care about each other. Of course they set us up by spending most of the season showing these kids being terrible, but at least it paid off.
Chris: I sure hope Artemis got an apology from Kid Flash, though.
Elle: Wally owes a lot of apologies, let's be honest. This is the last episode before the season finale, so it actually makes a lot of sense that it ends with the Justice League under the control of Vandal Savage, thanks to weaponized bits of Starro. Plus the revelation that Red Arrow's been a mole all along, which we can only hope will make more sense later.
Chris: I know that we've been building to Starro — or the Weaponized Starro Biomatter or whatever they called Starro in 2012 so that it wouldn't sound too silly — for a while now, but I don't recall it actually being set up all that much before now. With all that's happening in this episode, that's the one thing that seems like it's coming in without a lot of buildup. But, since it's building up the finale itself, I guess that makes sense.
Elle: The Team having to fight the Justice League is an obvious but inevitable first season finale for this show. Although if Geoff Johns was in charge, they'd have fought in the first episode. Anyway, the Space Starfish Biomatter is doing its job, and I'm doing my best not to worry about how it works on Dr. Fate.
Chris: At least the villains are involved! That's something!
Elle: Young Justice definitely has no shortage of supervillains doing supervillain stuff.
Chris: I also do really like that Vandal Savage is the ultimate villain of the show. Because really, if you're going to put the focus on kids, the bad guy should definitely be the oldest man in the DC Universe.
Elle: I'd never thought about that, but it's a really good point. Vandal Savage doesn't just hate your music, he hates all music and fondly remembers the peace and quiet before it was invented.
Chris: I can only assume he will be undone by his love of sharing Minions memes on Facebook.
Next week: The coming of Starro! And the end of season one!