Thursday, December 18, 2014

Recap: Young Justice "Drop Zone"

This week on Young Justice, the team heads to Latin America to get involved in a drug war between mercenaries, cultists, and terrorists. On an unrelated note, I can’t imagine why Cartoon Network ever canceled this show.

Kids love mercenaries!

The episode opens up in Bane’s lair in Santa Prisca as an alarm blares. The cultist intruders, Kobra, have him and some of his men surrounded. According to one of the Kobra cultists, their boss has given them orders to leave… but only if someone can defeat Kobra’s greatest fighter.

"You all merely adopted the darkness."
"Actually, we're working for the Light."
Naturally, Bane accepts the challenge. Being good sports, the cultists even give Bane some of his preferred steroid, Venom, which he uses to become superstrong. But Kobra injects their own fighter with “Kobra-Venom,” which has both Venom as well as Dr. Desmond’s Blockbuster formula. Kobra’s champion, named “Mammoth,” easily wipes the floor with Bane, and the cultists celebrate.

Wait, mammoths don't have sharp teeth. Unlike Mastodons, they don't have breast teeth, either. (Paleontology joke.)
Kobra Cultists: “Hail Kobra!”

No, the meme is “Hail HYDRA.”

After the titles, we cut to the Team flying over the Caribbean Sea in Miss Martian’s bio-ship. As an aside, has anyone else noticed that some of the important things in this show have no name? The team is just called “the Team” and Miss Martian’s ship is just “the bio-ship.” To be fair, Ultimate Spider-Man does the same thing with Spidey’s team, but at least they set themselves up for the “Sandwich Club” nickname in the third episode.

So am I just supposed to say that “the Team” is in “the ship”? The lack of proper nouns bugs me. While a name for the Team still eludes me, I’ve been throwing around a few nickname ideas for the bio-ship. Given that its most notable feature is its… feminine design, I looked up some slang terms online to help with the creative process. That was a mistake. Protip: 95% of the anatomical slang found on the internet are things that no sane human would ever say. But on the bright side, I’m more than happy to call the Team’s transportation “the ship” now.

On their way to Santa Prisca, the Team is oddly silent. At first, I though there was a problem with my headphones, but nope. Oddly. Silent.

Miss Martian: “We’re approaching Santa Prisca.”

She says to the people who can literally see Santa Prisca out of the front window. Way to make what little dialogue there is count for something. As the silence resumes, Robin flashes back to the briefing at Mount Justice.

Batman: “Isla Santa Prisca.”

Ah, ma dios!

Batman goes on to say that like most fictional countries in Latin America, Santa Prisca is a wretched hive of scum and villainy that specializes in exporting drugs. Specifically, a ‘neo-steroid” called Venom.

The weird thing is that the main manufacturer of Venom seems to be working just as hard as ever, but without actually creating any Venom. Batman tells the Team that their mission is to figure out just what this place is doing if it’s not making drugs.
Batman: “This is a covert recon mission only. Observe. Report. If the Justice League needs to intervene, it will.”

And as anyone who’s ever watched any TV can tell you, this means that communications will be disrupted and the Team will be forced to take care of business themselves. Speaking of TCOB, Robin asks the big question.

Robin: “So, who’s in charge?"

Batman leaves it up to the Team. Back in the present (June 22nd, to be precise), the team approaches the first drop zone. The bio-ship turns invisible, and Aqualad hits the “A” on his belt to turn his outfit black. For stealth, you see. Then Aqualad ejects out the ship and into the water, making an audible splash. For stealth, you see. He makes his way to the beach and rigs the motion/heat sensors to stay on a loop so the Team will go undetected. The bio-ship reaches drop zone B, and the Team prepares to descend on cables, Mission: Impossible-style.

Kid Flash takes this opportunity to touch himself the same way Aqualad did… Okay, I honestly didn’t mean that how it sounded. I just meant that Wally tapped his symbol, and his uniform changes to black. He shows this off to Miss Martian, who responds by shapeshifting into a stealthy catsuit.

Kid Flash: “Uhhh… that works, too.”

It seems that everyone has fancy-shmancy stealth outfits except for Superboy, wearing the same t-shirt as ever.

Superboy: “No capes, no tights.”

Ah, the first rule of Smallville. (Technically, it was “no tights, no flights,” but who’s keeping track?)

Superboy: “No offense.”
Miss Martian: “It totally works for you. …In that you can totally do good work in those clothes.”

You know, I’m starting to think that audiences missed the suggestive design of the bio-ship because they were paying too much attention to their own shipping. Seriously, this show is filled with more sexual tension than Grey’s Anatomy. Which is an interesting thing to say about something on Cartoon Network.

Oh, sure, interplanetary miscegination is apparently fine, as long as Earth isn't one of those planets. Speciesist writers.
Miss Martian turns invisible (making me wonder why she’s bothering at all with a stealth suit), and they hit the drop zone. Some hit it harder than others. While most of the Team gently lands, Superboy jumps out and lands hard enough to create a crater, which will probably alert the drug manufacturers to the Team’s presence. (sarcastic clap Colbert) The team contacts Aqualad before heading to the factory for their rendezvous. After some walking, Superboy hears something suspicious.

Miss Martian: “You do have great ears….”

Little known fact: Ears get Martians hot and bothered. Martians are weird like that.

Robin’s suddenly MIA, and Kid Flash’s infrared picks up a squad of goons in the distance while Superboy’s infrared-vision picks up a second quad, heading for the same location. They start shooting at each other, and Kid Flash goes to look for Robin. Thanks to some muddy ground, he ends up drawing the attention of both sides in the conflict. Bane, who was leading one of the two groups of goons, opens fire on the young hero. The plan quickly goes downhill as Superboy runs in to attack Bane. Robin shows up to take care of the other guys and starts yelling at them.

Robin: “What is wrong with you guys? Remember ‘covert’? Why didn’t you follow my lead? Vanish into the jungle?”

Because they’re not frickin’ mind readers, Robin! Okay, one of them is, but the point remains.

True story: When writing this Recap, I wrote that before this next line of dialogue.

Kid Flash: “We’re not mind readers, you know! …Er, I’m not, anyway."

Aqualad soon meets up with the rest of the Team as the final goon is defeated. They tie up all the goons they find, and Robin recognizes the Kobra uniforms. He quickly puts together that Kobra’s little war with Bane’s forces is responsible for the supply lines of Venom getting cut off. Kid Flash wants to “Mission Accomplished” this thing, but Robin notes that the Kobra guys aren’t actually using the Venom, just stockpiling it and he refuses to leave.

Robin: “Not until I know why.”

Wow, you really were raised by Batman.

Robin tries to use this moment to stake a claim as team leader, but Kid Flash argues the point. Chief among his arguments is the fact that Robin is only thirteen.

Robin: “And you’re a mature fifteen?”

Superboy and Miss Martian bond, meanwhile, over their mutual lack of interest over leading before Superboy picks up someone talking in… I want to say, Spanish? The helpful subtitles let us know that someone’s telling someone else to open fire on the Team while the tied-up Bane tells them to wait it out for a bit. As Kid Flash and Robin continue to argue, Bane chuckles loudly. He offers to help the Team stop Kobra by taking them to his secret entrance. Miss Martian reads his mind to search for the information, but he resists her.

Miss Martian: “He’s mentally reciting football scores. En EspaƱol.”

Meanwhile, at the factory, Kobra activates their radio-jamming net. Bane takes the Team up to a ledge overlooking the factory, and Robin scopes it out. Apparently, Korba’s organizing themselves a little drug deal with an as-of-yet unknown buyer. Robin and Kid Flash argue a bit more as Bane lifts aside a rock, revealing a tunnel.

Kid Flash: “So, now El Luchador is our leader.”

Bane takes them through the tunnel and into the factory, and they infiltrate the place, with Robin and Kid Flash rushing ahead of the others to continue to measure their… um, value as potential team leaders. Robin gasses a control room guy and starts a-hacking. Meanwhile, the rest of the team notices that only specific batches of Venom are being taken.

Superboy hears an incoming chopper, and Kid Flash finds Robin in the midst of making a discovery. Kobra’s been mixing Venom with the Blockbuster formula, resulting in a chemical that’s not only three times as powerful, but also permanent. Robin tries to radio Aqualad with the news that the buyer must be connected to CADMUS, but his comm is scrambled. Over at the landing chopper, Sportsmaster gets off to act as the representative of Kobra’s buyer.

Also, a note. This is Sportsmaster in the comics.

Wearing his least ridiculous getup. You should see the one with the football helmet.
This is Sportsmaster in the show.
On the right. Ignore the cloak guy and the punk.
The creative staff took what is essentially a joke character and created a mercenary to rival Marvel’s Taskmaster. And he fights with weaponized sports equipment. And I don’t mean he has a baseball bat with nails in it, I mean he throws spears like javelins, hurls shot puts at people’s heads, and probably could go a round or two at fencing and archery. And he’s one of the most important villains in the show. But enough about that, let’s watch this drug deal go down.

Kobra Leader: “Our friends will not be disappointed.”
Sportsmaster: “This is a game changer.”

They may have turned Sportsmaster into one of the greatest mercenaries in the world, but of course he still makes sports jokes. The invisible Miss Martian telepathies this info to Aqualad, who tries to radio Red Tornado to no avail. Bane suggests a course of action by leaping into action against the Kobra goons, drawing the attention of Mammoth, who runs in and attacks the Team. The suddenly-arrived Kobra leader (seriously, they were outside two seconds ago) commands Mammoth to destroy the interlopers, and the big fight begins. In the confusion, Bane sneaks off.

Mammoth fights Superboy, Aqualad fights Kobra cultists, and Sportmaster somehow spots the invisible Miss Martian and gets her with an exploding spear. Robin and Kid Flash join in on the fighting, and Aqualad orders Miss Martian to connect the team’s thoughts to coordinate their efforts without a radio link. Robin tries to take the fight to the Kobra leader and his right hand lady, but retreats when Aqualad gives the order. The Team regroups in the tunnel and breaks the support beams to catch the pursuing cultists in falling rubble. The Team takes a break in the tunnel and reflect on the situation.

Robin: “How could my first mission as team leader go so wrong?”

"Robin, we've been following Bane more than you this mission."
Aqaulad gives some speechifying about how Robin has been trained to fight with a partner, but not as a leader. Robin may be a bit arrogant, but he’s not stupid. As such, Robin suggests that Aqualad should be the team leader, since he’s pretty much been leading anyway. Kid Flash, who is arrogant and stupid, immediately disapproves, but they all soon go along with the idea. Aqualad accepts the job, but tells Robin that someday, when he’s ready, it’ll be his.

Aqualad’s new plan is quickly formulated. Step one is to keep the drugs from leaving the island. Luckily, Robin sabotaged the chopper earlier, so Sportsmaster can’t get going just yet. As the Team heads off to stop the bad guys, Robin and Kid Flash raise some interesting points. Sportsmaster has the motive and the opportunity, but not the means to pull this off. And he’s not smart enough to figure out how to improve the Venom formula by himself. Someone’s behind all this. But before that can be figured out, a fully Venomed-up Bane emerges from the shadows with a detonator. One wrong move, and he blows the tunnels sky high.

Aqualad: “You betrayed us!”

He says to the guy who broke Batman’s back.

As Bane monologues about his master plan to get his factory back, Aqualad mentally tells Kid Flash to get ready to run. And he does, nabbing the detonator before Bane can use it. Miss Martian uses her telekinesis to levitate Bane, making him unable to take advantage of his super strength, and drops him in front of Superboy’s fist for a knock-down blow.

As the helicopter gets fixed, the Team arrives to save the day. Sportsmaster tries to run to GET TO DA CHAHPPAH, but ends up grabbing his laser rifle to take some shots at Superboy in the ensuing hubbub. Wally grabs a souveneir as Robin fights the Kobra leader. It’s a bit unevenly matched, with the leader easily countering all of Robin’s moves. Sportsmaster pilots the chopper away in the confusion, but Miss Martian (who had planted one of Bane’s bombs on the helicopter during the fight) blows it up. Sportsmaster ejects over the island as Robin gets some backup in his fight against the Kobra leader. The leader wusses out and disappears into the shadows as the team assesses the aftermath.

Robin: “We picked the right guy to lead. Automatically making you the right guy to explain this mess to Batman.”

Twelve days later, the team is back at Mount Justice. Yeah, the caption says “August 4, 01:06 EDT.” Now, this is a mistake. Apparently, most of the dates given in this episode were wrong. The official dates are June 19th for the takeover on Santa Prisca, July 22nd for the Team’s mission, and July 23rd for the return to Mount Justice. I guess dates are confusing for someone at DC?

Batman: “A simple. Recon. Mission. Observe. And report.”

He goes on to say that each team member will get an evaluation of their mistakes.

Batman: “’Til then, good job.”

Mixed messages, Batman. No wonder Robin’s as screwed up as he is with parenting like that.

Happy Birthday, Robin.
Batman: “No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy.”

Except for the battle plans that just consist of “Nuke ‘em all.” Speaking of the enemy, Sportsmaster is reporting to his bosses that all he recovered was a single dose of Kobra-Venom. By “his bosses,” I mean “glowing figures on TV screens.” Sportsmaster is informed by a French-accented voice that the process of reverse-engineering it will soon begin. But what’s odd, as noted by the same voice, is that this is the third time one of their plans has been foiled by sidekicks. The French-accented voice and dome-shaped silhouette is a dead giveaway as to his identity, for DC fans like myself. It’s either the Brain, or a French Dalek. I'm leaning towards the Dalek.

Another of the mysterious glowy people grows suspicious at these latest events.

???: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. But three times is enemy action. And enemies of the Light must not stand.”

Review time. The Team has a leader, but does this episode have a direction?

1 comment:

  1. You kidding? The Bran has been a Dalek since Teen Titans. Just ask Derrick J. Wyatt.

    - That One Anon