Of the three episodes of Young Justice: Outsiders that dropped last Friday, the first “Private Security” is the funniest — though you can’t call it straight filler.
Young Justice always moves the plot forward, even in its lighter episodes, and “Private Security offers a bit of respite from the action, it turned out to be the most emotional of the new incarnation.
[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for “Private Security” the fourth episode of Young Justice: Invasion]
The episode begins with Artemis, Superboy, and Black Lightning figuring out what to do with the three stragglers from their mission to Markovia. All of them contact Nightwing, but he is very deliberately ignoring their calls.
Instead, Nightwing shows up at Bowhunter Security, a private security firm (wink, wink nudge, nudge) owned by Will Harper (Roy Harper’s clone from the first season who has since reformed). Along with Nightwing are original Roy Harper (going by Arsenal) and Jim Harper (another Roy Harper clone, going by Guardian). They’re here to convince Will to accompany Nightwing on yet another covert mission. Roy agrees — but only if they help him on a Bowhunter Security job.
Cue the Rent-a-Cop uniforms! Cue the riffs! Cue that instant face of regret on Nightwing’s part!
“Let’s not pretend you were planning to hit your traffickers before nightfall,” says Will
“That is the Dark Knight way, right?” chimes in Jim.
“I hear all those bad boys turn into pumpkins in daylight,” adds Roy.
The job turns out to be a bit more complex than the group thought, as a a bunch of thugs decides to steal the shipment of Goode Goggles in broad daylight. Fro there, it’s car chases and more jokes, as the clones and Dick take on the VR headset bandits. But while the banter is fun and it’s hilarious to see the usually secretive Nightwing dressed in this uniform, there’s something off — why isn’t Dick answering his calls? Why is he guarding goggles with the Harper clones instead dealing with the Markovians? Will is suspicious, but of course, there are goggles to protect.
At the same time, Artemis brings Halo to a meeting with Zatanna. This subplot hints at the deeper undertones of the Bowhunter Security plot, as Artemis and Halo watch Zatanna meet up with her father. In the original Young Justice seasons, Zatara was a prominent League member, who allowed Lord of Order Nabu — also known as Dr. Fate — to inhabit his body instead of taking over Zatanna’s. Once a year, for one hour, Nabu releases Zatara so he and Zatanna can reunite.
This feeling of grief and loss continues to permeate through the episode, especially when we learn just why Nightwing has called Will Harper on this mission.
In a slip of tongue in the midst of battle, Nightwing calls Will “Wally.” That’s when Will realizes why Nightwing specially asked him on this mission— he needs his best friend. Since Wally West is dead, fake Roy Harper is the closest substitute.
Nightwing is defensive at first, but while beating up the bad guy with a flashlight and a clipboard (no Batarangs for private security guards), they eventually have a heart-to-heart. Nightwing is reluctant to “do teams” anymore, given what happened with Wally, but Will confronts him about this hesitation: Dick needs to step up.
Nightwing relinquishes and then the two toss the crook that they’re holding above their heads into the street. Against a setting sun, Dick realizes that he needs to step it up and make it right. He doesn’t mention Wally again, but the speedster’s presence is felt.
Young Justice: Outsiders excels when it balances its humor with its depth. “Private Security” is now the best example. The loss of a major character isn’t something that the show’s third season hand-waved or overused: no one’s forgotten Wally West, but at the same time, those closest to him aren’t wallowing in pools of grief or swearing vengeance. Instead, the feelings of loss are subtle, but still very much present.
The next three episodes of Young Justice: Outsiders premiere on Jan. 18 on DC Universe.