With Young Justice: Outsiders, the third season of the Young Justice animated series, premiering on Friday, January 4, 2019 on DC Universe, now is a great time to get caught back up with the first two seasons. However, holiday and end-of-year commitments may make it hard to binge nearly 17 hours of content over 46 episodes. Not to worry! Yesterday, we highlighted the eight best episodes of season one. Today, we're continuing our look back with the eight best episodes of Young Justice season two.
As discussed yesterday, my criteria for selecting the top episodes are simple. First, does the episode serve the characters, either by introducing a character, providing us a deeper look at the character's motivations, or by changing the character in some manner? Second, does the episode serve to advance one of the primary story threads running through the season? If an episode answers both of those questions, then it makes the short list of what I feel are the top episodes of the season.
In the second season of Young Justice, the primary story threads are:
- The 16 hours that Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Hawkwoman, Martian Manhunter, and Green Lantern John Stewart went missing while under Vandal Savage's control during season one
- The invasion of earth by alien species — first the Kroloteans and then the Reach
- The hunt for the original Roy Harper
- Aqualad and Artemis infiltrating the Light
Episode 3: "Alienated"
Five years after the events of season one, the earth is being invaded by the alien Krolotean race in retaliation for the six members of the Justice League going on a rampage on the planet Rimbor while mind controlled by Vandal Savage. The Kroloteans are being assisted on earth by Black Manta and his partner–who is revealed to be Aqualad. The Justice League members head back to Rimbor to stand trial for their crimes.
Action and intrigue. Treachery and betrayal. This episode serves as a strong re-introduction to the team, including newer members like Blue Beetle, and sets up the conflicts that drive season two.
Episode 5: "Beneath"
Blue Beetle goes in search of his friend, Tye, who has run away from home. Miss Martian, Wonder Girl, Bumblebee, and Batgirl go on a mission to investigate boom tube transport of alien tech. The two seemingly unrelated storylines converge when the ladies find pods of runaway teenagers that the bad guys are abducting.
There is so much to like in this episode. The ladies striking out on their own. Jamie talking down his scarab while doing some actual detective work. The introduction of Apache Chief. All of it wrapped in the continuing mysteries of season two.
Episode 6: "Bloodlines"
The mystery of what the Kroloteans wanted with the abducted runaways is revealed to be a hunt for teens with the meta-gene. Red Arrow and Cheshire find the original Roy Harper. Impulse arrives from the future to keep his grandfather, The Flash, from being killed by a new supervillain, though he may have ulterior motives.
In addition to introducing another speedster to the team, this episode adds a new layer to the invasion storyline and a new wrinkle to Red Arrow's quest to find out more about himself and the original Roy Harper.
Episode 7: "Depths"
Having stepped away from the team, Artemis returns to action, to Wally's chagrin. The mission is to guard the launch of a new communications satellite, but Black Manta and crew arrive to destroy the rocket. In the ensuing battle, Aqualad battles and appears to kill Artemis, setting up their undercover operation to infiltrate the Light.
The non-linear storytelling used in the episode creates tension as we're told early on that Artemis is dead, only later to see the events leading up to her "death", and ending with the revelation that this was all a plan by Nightwing, Artemis, Aqualad, and Wally. Brilliant storytelling.
Episode 10: "Before the Dawn"
A captive Blue Beetle meets the Reach. Batgirl, Robin, and Bumblebee hide among the abductees in an attempt to get aboard the alien ship. In the battle to save the teenagers and members of the team from the ship, Miss Martian attacks Aqualad's mind and learns the truth about his and Artemis's mission. Impulse reveals Blue Beetle's future betrayal, which Impulse has come from the future to stop.
There is a lot of story to unpack in this episode. The invasion story shifts squarely to the threat posed by the Reach. Miss Martian has to deal with the weight of what she did to Aqualad and keeping the team's secrets. Showing that even a victory can be turned into a loss, the Reach preempts the Justice League's announcement of the Reach's invasion by coming out and spinning the news in their favor.
Episode 16: "Complications"
Black Manta tells a captive Miss Martian that she has 24 hours to restore Aqualad's mind after she attacked him in the previous entry. Aqualad, however, is just fine. He is buying time while they try and figure out a way to save Miss Martian's life without breaking his and Artemis's cover. The situation is further complicated by Sportsmaster and Cheshire stealing aboard the Manta-Sub to avenge Artemis's death. Meanwhile, Blue Beetle's actions concern Nightwing.
This is another taut episode, where complications are turned into advantages by quick thinking on the part of the heroes. The secondary storyline of Blue Beetle betraying the team and the Reach publicly declaring Blue Beetle the hero sets up the coming fight for the fate of the earth.
Episode 19: "Summit"
The alliance between the Light and the Reach is fractured when Aqualad and Artemis alert the aliens to the Light's plans. It's the team of young heroes versus the Light versus the Reach. While the heroes emerge victoriously and declare to the public that the Reach is an invasion force, Vandal Savage has escaped with Warworld and the Reach are prepared to blow up the earth in order to hide their illicit activities.
This episode is where all of the season two puzzle pieces are laid out and fitted together to give us a complete picture. At the same time, it leaves enough open-ended for both the season two finale and for future seasons.
Episode 20: "Endgame"
Vandal Savage's bribes lead to the Justice League being found guilty of the crimes against Rimbor. Superboy and Miss Martian play to the tribunal's greed and convince the governing body to overturn the convictions. On earth, Lex Luthor aids the heroes in attempting to thwart the Reach's destruction of the planet, but it takes Kid Flash's sacrifice to save the world.
The season two finale serves as both a conclusion to the season's storylines and as a reinforcement of the big themes. It brings the story of Wally and Artemis full circle. The two were trying to leave the superhero life behind. Wally objected to Artemis's mission because of the danger she would be in, and in the end, Wally not only placed himself in danger but gave his life as a hero in order to save the world. As if that wasn't enough… Vandal Savage takes Warworld to Apokolips and meets with Darkseid!
The above eight episodes give viewers a good feel for season two in an easily binge-able, three-hour chunk. Do you agree with these selections? Is there a different episode in your top eight episodes of Young Justice season two? Let us know in the comments below, and catch Young Justice: Outsiders when it premieres on Friday, January 4 on DC Universe.