Young Justice: Outsiders is back and juggling more characters, more teams, more squads within teams, and more backstabbers and two-timers than ever before. The first part of season 3 ended in January, and the back half tosses us right in the middle of the dozens and dozens of characters, heroes and villains alike. There are so many faces to track that the three new episodes are each devoted to the combat of a different team — and a different threat.
For a show whose first season shone because of the close focus on a small team, season 3 part 2 is a lot to handle. Who’s even involved? Where has everyone been? What’s everyone up to? Who are we even supposed to trust anymore?
[Ed. Note: This post contains spoilers through episode 16 of Young Justice: Outsiders]
The first episode, “Influence,” opens with the core members of the Justice League — Superman, Wonder Woman, Hawkman, Hawkwoman, Green Lantern (Guy Gardner) — in space. The majority of the League is primarily handling off-world matters at this point, partly due to the bad PR that the United Nations (led by Lex Luthor) is pushing on them. Meanwhile, Aquaman (Kaldur) is on Earth handling League affairs and trying to save face.
Earlier in season 3, the Justice League faced a schism. Batman and a few other sleuthy heroes split off into their own team. We didn’t see them in these episodes beyond a passing mention to Commissioner Jim Gordon turning off the bat signal.
Out in space, the League runs into a ship manned by Granny Goodness. The first half of the season ended with the reveal that Granny’s Goode goggles were actually tools to detect teens with the metagene and lure them to trafficking centers. On Earth, Granny Goode is handling it with as much finesse as a disgraced CEO of a tech company can, but out in space, she can be the cruel Apokoliptic dictator she is. At her right-hand is Big Barda (swoon!), who is eager to jump into battle and crush the puny Leaguers, but Granny Goodness warns her not to be so rash and only attack if needed. Superman ends up saving Big Barda, after an attack from Granny meant to wipe everyone out, and she questions her loyalties. Guy saves them from the blast, but Granny gets away.
Nightwing, Tigress, and Superboy, meanwhile, have a heart-to-heart with the teen heroes about whether they want to join the covert ops Young Justice team. Tigress and Nightwing are particularly candid about losing the old Kid Flash. Vic Stone decides to sit this one out, but Geo-Force, Halo, Forager, and Tara all volunteer. We’ll recall that the midseason finale officially confirmed that Tara is working with Slade and the League of Shadows, so unlike the other three who are motivated by a sense of justice and a need to give back, she has ulterior motives.
The Young Justice team, dubbed Gamma Squad, welcomes four new members. Beast Boy also returns to the team, trying to balance his acting career (controlled by Granny Goode’s iron-fisted contract) and his heroic life. The first episode sets up the new team — which at full size also includes Girl Thirteen, Blue Beetle, and Kid Flash (Bart Allen) — and the next one tosses them right into action.
In the second episode, “Leverage”, the Gamma Squad goes to Russia to investigate reports of a meta-program. At the same time Amanda Waller’s Task Force X (aka Suicide Squad), currently made up of Black Manta, Captain Boomerang, and Monsieur Mallah, crash the facility. The Russian base ends up being the site of the Rocket Red Brigade, Russia’s team of heroes hoping to out-Justice League the Justice League. Gamma Squad, the Rocket Red Brigade, and the Suicide Squad battle in a three-way face off, eventually coming to a stalemate and retreating. Waller agrees to keep quiet about the Justice League’s covert-ops team if Kaldur keeps quiet about her Task Force X. No one is happy, but hey, that’s hero work.
Back home, we see one of the centers dedicated to rehabilitating meta-teens who were either kidnapped for human trafficking purposes or working with the bad guys. Miss Martian and Black Canary work as counselors; Eduardo Dorado Jr. leads therapy groups for other teens. Some of the teens at the center include Livewire and Myst, who were apprehended in the first half of season three, and newcomer Wendy who boasts wind powers.
At the end of “Leverage,” we also learn that Halo was bribed to help the assassins who killed the king and queen of Markovia. Well, technically not Halo, but Gabrielle, the girl who Halo was before the Mother Box revived her. Halo wrestles with this guilt and doesn’t know if she should tell anyone at all.
The last episode, “Illusion of Control,” has all the heroes celebrate Thanksgiving — but the older members of the Young Justice team — Girl Thirteen, Blue Beetle, Kid Flash, Beast Boy, Eduardo, and Static Shock — chase down Count Vertigo. The count crash-landed the rehabilitation center’s harvest festival and kidnapped Princess Perdita. The teens are confused as to why Count Vertigo’s made an appearance now, but it turns out that it’s actually Psimon in disguise, working for Queen Bee kidnap the meta-teens at the center (who were rescued from one of the Bialyan operations). At the end, prompted by Beast Boy’s fame, they reveal to the press that they’re working to make the world a safer place.
The other characters, meanwhile, have more subdued Thanksgiving. Tigress’ mom isn’t so keen that she’s taken up the hero life again. Victor Stone struggles about what he wants. Everyone’s tossing each other longing glances.
At the end of the episode, Halo confides in Helga Jace about being the one who let the assassins in. Dr. Jace comforts her and swears she won’t tell anyone — but then immediately calls an unknown number asking for help. Could it be the current king of Markovia, Brion’s brother Gregor? Or maybe Baron Bedlam, the traitorous official she previously worked for? Is she contacting the authorities to bring Halo to justice or is there something else at play here?
Young Justice: Outsiders returns with a new episode next Tuesday on DC Universe.