Friday, February 14, 2014

Recap: Justice League Unlimited "Double Date"

Happy Valentine's Day!


Today, I’ve decided to give you all a valentine of your very own: my first Recap/Review of a Justice League episode! You’re welcome. Specifically, we’re going to be looking at the era known as Justice League Unlimited, where the League’s membership expanded to around a hundred different heroes, focusing on old favorites, new favorites, A-Listers and C-Listers alike! A sort of proto-Brave and the Bold, basically.

So let’s take a look at an episode thematically important for today, “Double Date.” Oh, and look! Written by Gail “I-put-three-solid-minutes-of-double-entendres-into-a-Batman-cartoon” Simone. This is going to be great!

The episode begins in front of a mansion, guarded by a couple of Joisey thugs talking about making that sweet, sweet dough.

Cecil: “But how come when I make da scones, dey don’t got dat good flav’r like yoahs, Tony?”
Tony: “Do I hafta tell ya again how ya gotta add da orange zest, Cecil? Ya gonna make me give you the recipe again? huh? Yeh killin' me heah, Cecil; killin' me.”

But before recipes can be exchanged, Tony notices something rustling in the nearby bushes. He whips out a gun and looks around. Hidden in the shrubbery, a purple-clad lady fires crossbow bolts at Cecil, pinning his jacket to the nearby limo, and fires another into Tony’s gun, blowing it up. She kicks them into unconsciousness, and fires a grappling hook to the top floor. Entering the building, she uses an aerosol spray to reveal the laser field, then flips through it. She makes her way through a room filled with taxidermied animals, and finally enters the unguarded master bedroom where she gives a speech to the mass underneath the blankets on the bed.

Woman: “Steven Mandragora. Been a while. I’ve changed some since we met last. But you haven’t changed. All these years, you’ve been building your empire with thievery and murder. But it ends tonight.”

The purple-clad vigilante, now revealed to be the Huntress (imagine if Batgirl used a crossbow and killed people; she appeared in the other Gail Simone episode on this site) takes out her crossbow and shoots more-than-enough bolts into the mass. Well, like ringwraiths before her, she’s been fooled by the old pillow-trick. She tosses the blanket aside, and sees for herself that she’s merely filled a mattress full of holes. A voice comes over her earpiece, and she’s teleported to the Justice League’s satellite headquarters.

Voice: “You were warned. You were told to stay away from Mandragora. You have violated my direct orders. You’ve crossed the line.”

Said voice is coming from the mouth of the mission coordinator of the League: J'onn J'onnz, the Martian Manhunter. If you don’t know who that is, here’s a quick explanation. The Martian Manhunter is the last survivor of Mars. He’s as strong as Superman, as fast as Superman, can fly, has heat vision, and he can also shapeshift and read minds. He is objectively one of the most powerful creatures within the solar system. And he's angry. And Huntress has just caught the attention of this god in physical form.
Yes, he voluntarily shapeshifted into those briefs.
After we come back from the theme song, we get some elaboration on the situation. Huntress is a member of the Justice League, and they’ve been monitoring her because they knew she’d pull a stunt like this because of her personal hatred of Mandragora. Huntress quickly deduces that Mandragora got tipped off, and Martian Manhunter reveals that he put Mandragora into protection.

Huntress: “So I get some Justice League demerits, fine, just spare me the lecture. I can find him without your help.”
Martian Manhunter: “You misunderstand. Tonight was a test. And you failed. Pack your things, Huntress. You’re out.”

He tells her to turn in her ID card, and she throws it at him and walks away. Back at her room, she overhears the guy in the room across from her muttering about "CADMUS," the organization opposing the Justice League. She opens the door to his room, covered in papers and pictures, as he mutters about finding the “connection.” “He” is none other than the faceless, fedora-clad hero known as the Question, a Steve Ditko creation and the JLU’s resident conspiracy theory nutjob. And my favorite character in the show. Huntress fires a bolt into the wall to get his attention and poses in the doorway.

Huntress: “Wildcat says you’re a nutjob.”
Question: “Funny, he says the same thing about you.”
Huntress: “He’s right.”
Question: “Okay, bored now, goodbye.”

They banter a bit more, and Huntress looks over some of his notes.

Huntress: “Wow. I had no idea that the Girl Scouts were responsible for the crop circle phenomenon.”
Question: “Few people do. Few even think to ask the question.”

They banter a bit more, and Huntress offers up some information on CADMUS in exchange for his help finding Steven Mandragora. Speaking of him, he’s busy at an undisclosed suburban location eating oysters while being watched over by government agents, and Green Arrow and Black Canary, the JLU representatives.

The morbidly obese albino bears a striking similarity to Tobias Whale. Mainly because this is an adaptation of Tobias Whale. Why the name change? I don’t know. Steven (voiced by the amazing Glenn Shadix) is ratting out some of his fellow criminals, starting with one who was recently killed by a “Tommy Monaghan.” DC fans will immediately recognize that name as belonging to Garth Ennis’ character “Hitman.” Nice cameo, there, Ms. Simone.
Albinos get a bad rap in fiction. Why is that?

Agent Faraday: “Now, why is it most of your criminal acquaintances seem to be deceased?”
Steven chalks it up to bad luck, and asks for more food in exchange for “squealing” on more criminals.
Mandragora: “Speaking of ‘squealing,’ Black Canary, I notice you can’t take your eyes off me. One can hardly blame you.”

Ew. And it gets sleazier when Green Arrow butts in.

Mandragora: “Yes, why don’t you go fetch me another four platters of oysters, like a good little leprechaun? I’m sure your girlfriend and I will have much to discuss when you’re gone. *licks plate* I like my oysters sweet, by the way. Sweet and juicy.”

Mandragora, you are one sleazy, disgusting bastard. And yes, this is Gail Simone putting double entendres in a kids’ show again. She doesn’t disappoint. Meanwhile, Question or “Q”, as Huntress calls him, meets up with Huntress in a city reservoir, and she hops in.

Huntress: “And just for the record, I usually prefer my dates to have a face.”
Choose your favorite pickup line!
"Is your name Jean Grey? Cause you've been in my mind all day."
"My heat vision must be malfunctioning because you’re smokin'."
"I'm Batman. Get in."



Back with Mandragora, Green Arrow is being restrained by government agents and demanding five minutes alone to knock him around a bit. Black Canary (voiced by Morena Baccharin of Firefly fame) remains as calm and collected as ever. That is, until Mandragora disses Green Arrow some more.

Mandragora: “Were all the real men in the Justice League taken?”

Soon, the two exit the building.

Black Canary: “Hope you’re proud of yourself. Now we have to do guard duty from outside.”
Green Arrow: “Hope I'm proud of myself? You’re the one who punched him.”

Green Arrow looks at her injured wrist from punching him (he may be a blob, but it’s all muscle), and the two gaze into each other’s eyes. Then they go find some higher ground. The two talk about the whole situation, that a killer like Mandragora’s allowed to go free if he rats out a few guys, and they start getting all philosophical.

Black Canary: “Makes you wonder how his victims would feel if they knew.”

"What are the odds of us exploring that question within the next ten minutes?"
Foreshadowing! The two switch from philosophy to kissing as more cops pull up, along with another car. The new cops distract the agents while Mandragora escapes and Black Canary and Green Arrow confront Huntress and Question.

Huntress: “I’m here on League business, Canary.”
 Green Arrow: “That’s not what J’onn said. We just called him.”

They cut the crap and start fighting, with Arrow wondering what’s in it for Question. Arrow and Canary take down Q and Huntress, but Mandragora escaped in the kerfuffle.

After heading inside, the heroes argue over what to do, and Green Arrow catches Question pocketing a key from the scene. Canary recognizes it at going to a storage unit by the train station, and Arrow and Canary head there right away. Huntress hits Question over this, but he reveals that he planted the key there. What he actually found was a flyer for boat arrivals, so the two head for the docks. But, in another twist, Green Arrow knew that the key was planted, and he and Canary watch for Question and Huntress to leave.

Black Canary: “You’re cute when you’re an insufferable smarty-pants.”

As Question drives down to the docks, Question reveals that he knew that Huntress knew nothing about CADMUS. She just wanted his help.

Question: "Talk to me about Mandragora. What did he do to you?”
Huntress: “You wouldn’t understand.”
Question: “Wouldn’t understand what? That he worked for your father, Franco Bertenelli? Or that your father was himself a powerful crime boss?”

And with that, Question narrates over her flashback that Mandragora was one of her father’s mob enforcers, even though young Helena didn’t understand the situation, being just a kid. And one day, Mandragora took over the operation. By killing Helena’s parents as Helena watched from her hiding spot. And from that day on, young Helena vowed to become… Batman. But Bruce Wayne beat her to it, so she became the Huntress instead. So, if Q knows what Helena plans to do to Mandragora and why, then why is he helping her?

Question:That… is the Question.”

In the rearview mirror, Q spots Arrow and Canary following them on a motorcycle.

Green Arrow: “You’re not supposed to drive when you’re angry.”
Black Canary: “They’re heading towards the waterfront. Hang on!”
Green Arrow: “It’s so funny you think you have to tell me that.”

After a chase that naturally led down a train tunnel…

Huntress: “Train.”
Question: “I see it.”
Huntress: “Train!”
Question: “I see it!”

Excitement ensues. After some fancy drivin', Question arrives at the docks without a scratch on his car, and Green Arrow gets the League to teleport him there to avoid hitting a train. Question takes Huntress to the right boat, telling her that Mandragora’s here to meet a boat, not get on it. Mandragora’s limo pulls up to the boat, and Arrow takes out Cecil and Tony as Canary attacks Mandragora. The four heroes attack the mighty Mandragora, and it’s an even match, even with Black Canary’s sonic scream powers. But Huntress aims her crossbow, and Mandragora puts his hands up. But before she can pull the trigger, the person Mandragora came here to meet gets off the boat: his son, Edgar.

Mandragora: “On my last trip to the old country, a rival criminal organization kidnapped my son. It took me all this time to arrange his rescue. Rest assured that his captors were taught the error of their ways.”
Huntress: “Rest assured, I’m about to teach you the same lesson.”

But when it comes down to the moment of truth, and Mandragora tells his son that it will be alright, echoing that day many years ago when her father told her the same thing… she can’t bring herself to do it. So instead, she fires at a rope, knocking enough construction materials onto him to knock him out. Later, Mandragora re-enters custody, his son is taken to safety, and Question tells Huntress that Steven’s plan the whole time was to run away with his son and start a new life.

Huntress: “You knew all along that kid was gonna be on that freighter.”
Question: “I do my homework.”
Huntress: “Then why go to all the trouble to help? Why risk your life for me?”
Question: “Because I… like you.”

In reaction to this, she grabs his tie and kisses him on his… where his lips would be before dragging him away by his tie.

Question: “Where are we going?”
Huntress: “Don’t ask so many questions.”
Black Canary: “I’m sorry, but… eww.”
I'm not saying anything. ...but I think we're all pretty much thinking it.
And with that, the episode ends. On with the review!

1 comment:

  1. It is infinitely pleasing that there are so many Firefly cast members in JLU. Also, when you keep calling Question "Q" I imagine John De Lancie's Star Trek character as a member of the Justice League.

    - That One Anon

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