‘Young Justice’ Episode Guide: Season 1, Episodes 5-6: ‘Schooled’ / ‘Infiltrator’
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, we've got Ivo, Amazo, and Roquette, oh my! 'Schooled' was written by Andrew Robinson and directed by Christopher Berkeley, and originally aired on January 28, 2011. 'Infiltrator' was written by Nicole Dubuc and directed by Michael Chang, and originally aired on February 4, 2011.
Chris Sims: Before we get into this week's episodes, Elle, I have an honest question for you: When does this show get good? I don't mean that in a snarky way, either, I trust your opinion and I want to have something to look forward to, so what do you think is the first really great episode?
Elle Collins: I'm hesitant to say for certain, because I've only watched it once, and it was a while ago, and also I binged it, so episode blur together. But actually the second episode we watched this week, "Infiltrator," overall works really well for me. There's also a Doctor Fate episode right after it that I remember enjoying. It's possible I just have slightly different taste in cartoons than you. But I definitely feel like we're reaching a place where the show takes a step up, and then it steps up again down the road.
Chris: I'll admit that things definitely pick up during "Infiltrator," but for me, we're definitely in the weeds as far as "Schooled" goes. There's a moment right at the top of the episode that really captures it for me: Bruce Wayne is watching from his office (which is in Metropolis for some reason) when a bridge starts to collapse and a schoolbus almost goes over the side. So he turns dramatically, opens up a statue of Shakespeare, and hits a button that makes his costume come out. And this one scene is like a metaphor for how I feel about the show so far.
It's got stuff that I know I like, but it's all put together all wrong. I mean, the bust of Shakespeare is from Batman '66, but when he hits that button, it literally just opens a drawer in his desk. Why does Batman keep his Batman costume in his desk?!
Elle: I guess because that's his satellite office in Metropolis and he doesn't have a Batcave there? Just a Batdrawer? I honestly don't know. I thought you were going to say the problem was that Bruce never puts on the suit, he just watches Superman being a bad dad through his office window.
Chris: I mean, that is also a problem.
Elle: But I'm with you that this is not a good episode. I feel like Justice League Unlimited found an interesting take on Amazo, and Young Justice just kind of... does Amazo. And still finds time for an extended big rig truck-based action sequence.
Chris: Friend, I have never hated Amazo like I hate this Amazo, but we'll get there. For now, let's start with this Superman stuff, which I simultaneously hate and love. As the bridge is collapsing, Superman and Superboy both arrive on the scene, and Superman takes a few seconds out of his day to tell Superboy that he's not very good at using his powers. Superboy's response, telling him that maybe someone with a big red S on his chest could probably help him out with that, is probably the most sympathetic he's been since he told us he knows the names of things back in Episode 1.
Elle: Yeah. Superboy's a tool, but it's hard not to feel bad for him about Superman wanting nothing to do with him. There's even a moment when Superman stumbles over saying "Super...boy," like he doesn't even like him being named that.
Chris: Superman telling him to go ask Batman and then immediately taking a call from the Justice League is the biggest jerk move ever. I almost wish that there wasn't a reference later in the episode to this call actually being about a mission so that we could just read it as Superman faking a call while talking to someone who also has super-hearing and would know he was lying. I mean, if you’re gonna do Jerk Superman, go all out with it.
Elle: I like that Batman is so bothered by Superman's behavior. Despite the fact that he sends these kids on black ops missions into war zones, Batman seems to have a grip on parenting. Kid Flash and Miss Martian have uncles, and Aqualad and Speedy have mentors, but Robin has a dad, even if he doesn't call him that.
Chris: To be fair, Batman's been a dad since 1940. Superman just had a surly teen in cargo shorts show up. I imagine that can be a little off-putting. Still, while I don't mind Superman's initial reaction being weird, and while I definitely don't mind Batman stepping in with some parenting tips for troubled vigilante teens, it's a little off-putting to see it going on his long. I won't ask you to spoil the show, but I actually am curious to see how and if that ever really resolves.
Elle: We'll see when we get there. In the meantime, this is the first episode where we see combat training with Black Canary. And as much as I'm generally fine with Canary's traditional costume, I really feel like she might want to wear something less cleavagey while teaching teen boys how to fight.
Chris: I'm glad I'm not the only one who took notice. I feel like the JLU and Brave and the Bold versions of Black Canary weren't exactly un-sexy by any means, but YJ sure does seem to be leaning into it.
Elle: I feel like it goes along with the video gamey aesthetic of this show. Although not as overtly as that ridiculous floor in the training room. When someone is on their back on the floor, do you really need a digital readout that says "FAIL?"
Chris: When you have a door that says your name and code number every single friggin' time you walk into the room, a floor that chips away at your self-esteem just goes along with the aesthetic.
Superboy finds that out the hard way after he goes full Surly Teen about having to do combat training — and while the other teammates don't know it, it's actually pretty nice to see how he falls back into putting up walls and thinking of himself as being nothing but a weapon after his encounter with Superman.
Elle: That's the thing about this Superboy. As unlikable as he is, his unlikability makes sense.
Chris: If only we could say the same for Robin and Kid Flash.
Elle: I'd forgotten about Robin's quirk of picking apart words. That's really silly and annoying.
Chris: I hate it, Elle. I hate it so much. I am a person who loves having conversations about etymologies, and every time he opens his mouth I am filled with white-hot rage. It doesn't even… It's like someone asked that computer that plays Jeopardy to come up with wordplay. The concept is there but the execution lacks a human understanding of comedy.
Elle: That is an excellent way of putting it. But it's still probably better than Kid Flash's horndog gimmick.
Chris: That, I can at least understand. Robin not knowing the Latin root of "disaster" (an event that happened under unlucky stars) is just shameful? Burt Ward would weep.
Elle: Someone responding to our first recap pointed out that this Young Justice team is never given an in-universe name, and now that's driving me nuts. Like when Batman appears on the vidscreen saying, "Batman to cave," like he's talking to the cave.
Chris: Oh my God I got so mad at that! There is a place! That Batman! Would refer to as "cave!" Would you like to guess what that place is, and what place that is not?!
Elle: He could have at least said "Batman to Mount Justice!" I mean, probably not with a straight face.
Chris: So the reason that Batman is calling up the Cave Crew is to tell them about "a new menace" — which, dialogue-wise, is just one step above Commissioner Gordon calling Batman to tell him about "a new villain" in Batman and Robin. It's Amazo, an android who can scan and reproduce the powers of the Justice League, and it's why Green Arrow was calling Superman earlier. And seriously? I love Batman throwing some severe shade here, talking about how Green Arrow's dumbass decision to call in reinforcements was almost a disaster (or ill-starred event).
Elle: "This robot's copying everyone's powers! I better send for Superman!" is a pretty Green Arrow move, I have to admit. But anyway, Amazo's been beaten, and I'm a little unclear on the next bit of plot. They take Amazo apart, right? And put him in several trucks? And the kids follow two of those truck for some reason? On motorcycles, for which they each have their own branded motorcycle outfits?
Chris: I don't remember seeing a lot of Young Justice action figures, but this thing's more toyetic than GI Joe ever was. There is one interesting quirk to the mission, though: At one point, we see the route that they have laid out for them, and for some reason, as near as I can tell with a quick search of Google Maps, Young Justice places Gotham City in Northeast Connecticut.
Elle: I can't even begin to start thinking about how geography might work on this show. I feel like that way lies madness. I'd literally rather talk about Professor Ivo's flying robot monkeys, and what function their giggling could possibly serve.
Chris: Why would you build a small army of robot monkeys and not make them capable of giggling?
Later, in what is a genuinely fantastic moment, we will find out that these are Ivo's Mobile Optimal Neural Quotient Infiltrators. You know, MONQIs.
Elle: Yeah, that's pretty good. But honestly my favorite thing about the MONQIs is Miss Martian growing extra arms to fight them off (including one out of her head!) and scaring the crap out of everyone who sees her.
Chris: I don’t think it’s actually made explicit in the episode, but Superboy hating the MONQIs because they remind him of the G-Gnomes that controlled him back at Cadmus is a really nice touch.
The MONQIs are tracking down the Amazo parts using GPS, because apparently the World's Greatest Detective didn't think to check for that before shipping them through the vast cornfields of Connecticut, and they give the kids plenty of trouble. But while that's going on, Batman and Superman have met in a diner so that Batman can tell Superman he's being a bad father.
Elle: Bibbo's Diner, specifically. Where Clark orders apple pie and Bruce orders "the devil's food." And then when Bruce makes Clark mad by saying Superboy is his son, Clark stands up and angrily declares, "I'll have that pie to go."
Chris: Kind of a perfect Clark Kent anger move, to be honest. It's like a Brooklyn 99 gag.
Elle: I feel like Clark probably eats a lot of apple pie when he's upset, to be honest. You know it's his go-to comfort food.
Chris: We also see him stopping to pay the check before he walks out the door, rather than leaving Actual Billionaire Bruce Wayne to cover the cost of two desserts. Even if his relationship with Superboy seems a little jerky, I have to admit that this show got its Clark Kent stuff pretty spot on.
Elle: Oh totally. On the other hand, the closest this show has to Jimmy Olsen is Professor Ivo. And that's bafflingly bizarre.
Chris: Right! So Professor Ivo shows up, and he's… He's just straight up Jimmy Olsen, right? I'm not imagining things? He's one hundo percent Olsen.
Elle: Red hair, green sweater vest, red bow tie... he looks exactly like Jimmy Olsen, but he's like 60 years old and frankly, reads pretty strongly as gay. And usually in comics he's this bulky black-haired guy who's kind of scaly. I'm not sure what inspired his animated appearance, but it's pretty strange.
Chris: Yeah, Ivo of the comics has been pretty much a monster in a smock for the entire time I've been reading comics, so designing him to look exactly like Old Jimmy Olsen had to have been a choice. I just have no idea how they arrived at it.
Elle: Me neither! I've even Googled around about it, and despite the internet being full of fan-generated YJ content, I can't even find a mention of the resemblance, let alone an explanation for it.
Another thing I don't understand is why Amazo has to announce out loud whose power he's about to use. But that's not a baffling mystery, it's just annoying.
Chris: I mentioned before that i'm already bugged by the door announcing who they are every time they walk in, but this is exactly why I hate this Amazo, despite him being in a pretty solid fight. Every single time he uses a power, it's "Access… Superman" or "Access… Black Canary." Not only is that very disappointing for fans of the Marvel/DC co-owned character Access, it's the absolute worst to hear. Imagine Superman going "Time to use my super-strength!" out loud every time he had to hit or lift something, and you will quickly realize how annoying this is.
Elle: Absolutely. This Amazo is the worst. I'm struggling to even come up with anything else to say about him, except that he has a big fight with Superboy in Gotham Academy, of all places.
Chris: Where Dick Grayson is a champion mathlete!
The fight with Amazo, while fun, is pretty perfunctory. The only big twist is that at one point, an arrow — a suspiciously green arrow — shows up from out of nowhere like one of Tuxedo Mask's roses. At the end of the episode, this gives the Mathletes (still trying out these team names) the idea that the grown-up leaguers followed them, but as we'll find out, that's not the case.
Elle: Speedy cares about them, Chris! He acts like he's too cool to hang out with them, but he totally cares!
Chris: Real shame the feeling's not mutual. I couldn’t care less about that guy.
Elle: Honestly I don't either, but that pretty much brings us to "Infiltrator," so I guess the next obvious question is, what do you think of Artemis?
Chris: She's fine so far. Now, uh… this is not Arrowette, right?
Elle: No. She is a character from the comics, but she's not Arrowette (although they clearly mixed in some Arrowette for the show). At this stage, I feel like that's all I should say.
Chris: Right, okay. So once again, we have a character who's added to the show just by having a Justice Leaguer walk her in through the front door, and while I know there's a longer-running plot here — some of which is hinted at by the end of this episode — it's frustrating to have that again after Megan was added to the team in the same way. Really, this whole thing could've been avoided if they'd just had her in there from the pilot.
Elle: Yeah, I agree. It's an especially bad look because the boys became a team by having an adventure, and then the Justice League keeps being like, "Hey, we found you another girl."
Chris: There is, at least, an adventure going on here that… well, I guess it relates less to her than it does to the dude who used to have her job, which might actually be worse now that I'm writing it out.
Elle: But she at least has her own stuff going on from the start, what with her connection to Cheshire and whatever secret Speedy is keeping for her. I will never call him Red Arrow.
Chris: I always liked "Arsenal.” If you're going to have an objectively stupid name, at least you're just calling yourself Player 2 Oliver Queen.
Elle: I prefer Arsenal too. And by the way, if you were wondering how many of Roy Harper's storylines from the comics are going to be incorporated into this show... Well, Cheshire sure is introduced in this episode.
Chris: No way.
Elle: But we're getting way ahead of ourselves. We haven't even talked about Beach Day yet.
Chris: You can't just drop the possibility that Young Justice Season 3 is going to be a 13-episode adaptation of Cry For Justice and The Rise of Arsenal and walk away, Elle, but fine, let's move on. With Speedy off doing a covert mission elsewhere, it looks like our still unnamed team (the Beach Buddies?) can have a day of sun and fun!
Elle: I love that the team's been hanging out right next to the beach all summer, and they apparently waited until Wally's first day back at school to have a beach day. I can only assume Megan deliberately arranged this so she wouldn't have to listen to his comments about her bikini.
Chris: I just now realized that this is basically an anime that's drawn in the wrong style, and that Wally's the guy who's always shooting geysers of blood out of his nose every time a pretty girl walks by.
Elle: That is 100% true. The only girl he's not into is Artemis, who he immediately hates for absolutely no reason.
Chris: Also hating Artemis: Roy Harper, who shows up to complain about the membership of a team he's not even part of. Dude. You don't even go here.
Elle: I hate how all the guys on the team are always telling Roy how much they want him on the team, as if he's ever been nice to them or acted like someone you'd want to hang out with.
Chris: Once he's done with complaining about the very existence of another archer, he finally gets around to telling the team about his mission. He's been palling around with Dr. Serling Roquette, who was imported into Young Justice from the pages of the '90s Superboy series, giving me hopes that this show will eventually get around to Dabney Donovan, Knockout, and/or The Ravers.
Elle: Roquette has invented some kind of nanotech matter-destroying, data-eating fog. Which is really just a macguffin that only serves to give the League of Shadows a reason to come after her with assassins. Mainly Cheshire, but also Hook, best known as the guy who killed Boston Brand, and Black Spider, who's pretty much just assassin Spider-Man.
Chris: Oh my God. That really is the guy who killed Deadman as a Masters of the Universe figure.
Elle: Pretty much. One of the running jokes in this episode is that the team is maintaining a psychic communication network during the mission, and it turns out to be pretty awkward for a bunch of teenagers to all be able to hear each others' thoughts.
Chris: This also leads to a bunch of scenes where they're having arguments that we can hear while silently glowering at each other, which is actually a pretty good gag. Turn off the volume and the subtitles, and you're basically looking at the world's angriest mimes.
Elle: Yeah, that's pretty great. The introduction of Artemis has added a lot of tension to the team, both because Wally hates her and because she also (loudly) thinks Superboy is hot, which Megan is not thrilled about.
Chris: At last, the Love Parallelogram is complete. Presumably Aqualad and Robin are off, I don't know, building model trains or whatever.
So the bad news is that the League of Shadows already has the all-consuming nanite fog, but the good news is that Roquette is working on a virus that'll stop it. The thing is, Speedy thinks it's a good idea to just leave her in a high school computer lab to finish her programming, giving us two episodes in a row where there's a fight in a high school for very little reason.
Elle: The other running gag in this episode is that Roquette basically hates everyone. Because what this show really needed was another jerk. But I enjoy the fights with the assassins a lot, and I have to admit I like Cheshire's mask. This show is the first time I feel like her code name has ever been justified in any significant way.
Chris: Yeah. While we might get distracted by The Guy Who Killed Deadman, Cheshire is the real star of the show, and she's done really well. The mask not only plays into the codename, it also gives a reason for her connection to Artemis to stay a secret until the end of the episode.
And on top of that, the way they foil her in their second encounter, by having Megan act as a decoy for Dr. Roquette, is pulled off pretty well. It might be the second time that they've pulled this trick in the span of five episodes, but the scene where Megan twists her head around to smirk at her would-be assassin is pretty nice.
Chris: Between that and the extra arms in “Schooled,” I really like the idea that they're playing up Miss Martian as a horror-movie superhero.
Elle: I'm into that too. And if you're a shapeshifter protecting someone who's under attack, that does make sense as a go-to move. I think the Artemis drama is handled really well at the end of the episode. She confronts Cheshire and lets her go under threat of having her secrets exposed. Then she's immediately accepted onto the team with open arms, and even an awkward offer of sisterhood from Megan. And then Roy the jerk shows up to remind her that she's bad and a liar.
Chris: But on the bright side, we have Megan's cheerfulness at bonking Hook over the head with his own hook. She's my favorite member of the team by far, even with the catchphrase holding her back.
Elle: I like Megan a lot, catchphrase aside. And now with Artemis joining, the team has both kinds of female character: the sweet girl in the skirt with bare legs, and the tough girl in pants with a bare midriff.