When Young Justice: Outsiders started it was filled with potential thanks to the two year time jump and addition of interesting new characters. That potential has been something the show’s writers and producers continue to tap into as the season progresses. But as we’ve seen in recent episodes that story exploration is a double edged sword. That was never more apparent than with this week’s episode, “Early Warning.”
As has been the norm for a Young Justice: Outsiders episode we saw multiple things being juggled at the same time in “Early Warning.” First we see part of the Outsiders team first formed in the previous episode teaming up with Zatanna to battle Klarion. As that is going on Halo’s arc takes a big turn with news that shows her hanging out with Harper Row. Then there is some training going on with Artemis and Terra, that gives us a view of the latter’s training with Deathstroke.
All these things individually could have been strong main plots to follow and progress the Young Justice: Outsiders season forward. Unfortunately the episode is to scattered as it seemed as though it wasn’t clear who should get the main focus of this episode. There was never enough time spent on all the characters involved. Which once again points to how the giant cast of this show, while cool as a DC Comics fan to see, is hindering the story because there isn’t a core holding things together. That is clear throughout “Early Warning.”
The biggest example of the cast problem that Young Justice: Outsiders has is with the use of Zatanna in this episode. When she was introduced during the first season Zatanna had one of the best character arcs. There was a lot of potential with where the show writers could’ve gone with using her in the Invasion or Outsiders season. But that never happened until this point.
“Early Warning” was the first episode since the first season finale that she actually had an active role in. Being pushed to the side for over a season and a half made it hard to see her major showdown with Klarion as a cool character moment. Which should not have been the case since the Tower of Fate came into play. If she had been a bigger part of the show this could’ve been an incredible character moment given that her father was forced to become Doctor Fate. But clearly Zatanna’s character arc happened off-screen, leaving her victory over Klarion come across as a hollow plot development.
The Outsiders faced a similar problem in this episode. Static Shock in particular came across as an asshole character for no reason. The writers tried to play off Static Shock’s questionable comments about Kid Flash and Blue Beetle as an innocent mistake. It would be one thing if Static Shock didn’t know Kid Flash and Blue Beetle but that is not the case. Thanks to time jump between seasons we know Static Shock has been a member of The Team for two years. Given those two years that means he is not the rookie on the Outsiders and should be beyond making insensitive comments about his friends and teammates.
While this was not a great look for Static Shock at least he got some lines of dialogue. That can’t be said about Wonder Girl. Though she was part of the Outsiders who responded to the crisis Klarion created she had almost zero lines of dialogue. The only lines of dialogue that could be said that she got was a group “Yes” with other kids and a grunt after being eaten by a monster. Seeing her be completely mute when Static made his comments or when working with the Zatanna and Outsiders came across as out of character. Especially since we have gotten hints during this season that Wonder Girl has been having off-screen development with Robin taking place. This choice made it seem as though the show didn’t have the budget to have Wonder Girl’s voice actress, Mae Whitman, record dialogue.
The only character of the Outsiders that gets some positive progression was Beast Boy. It has continued to be fun to see Beast Boy take on a leadership role. This is completely different position for Beast Boy to be in from how he is portrayed in the comic books and other TV shows. Though now after several episodes of this development for Beast Boy his voice is starting to feel forced. The staff should not be afraid of giving Beast Boy some jokes or quips to help with developing him as a multi-layered character.
Now, while the Outsiders dominated half of “Early Warning” there were other things that happened in this episode. In a similar vein to Zatanna’s, Halo character arc was rushed for no reason. Honestly, adding the element that Halo’s powers are actually killing her was a good addition to her character. Since she is the character in this season we’ve gotten to learnt the most of this development creates genuine concern for her.
Where Halo’s arc goes south was the sudden pairing with Harper Row. In the comics, Harper has been a great addition to the Batman Family. That is not the case with her appearance in Young Justice: Outsiders. Before “Early Warning” Harper was literally in one episode and only had a few minutes of screen time in that appearance. This lack of development for Harper made her connection with Halo come out of nowhere. The pairing of Harper and Halo would have benefited greatly with more time spent on the school life for our new characters rather than just rushing things.
The Artemis and Terra training was fine for what it was. Given that Terra has been given mostly a non-speaking role up until now this is what Terra needed to create a connection with the audience. Starting to build a bond between them provides an added layer to where things will go with Terra given her connection to Deathstroke. This makes the possible “The Judas Contract” turn that is being teased for Terra a bigger deal within the show by having this personal connection created with Artemis.
The other thing that I will give credit to “Early Warning” for is how it continues to build this version of the DC Universe. We see that the introduction of Courtney Whitmore being introduced as a TV hose covering the rise of the Outsiders. There was also a sad payoff from the brief scene of Joan Garrick in a hospital bed as we learned in this episode that she has passed away. It is something I wish we would’ve seen touch on more to help develop the Flash Family. Still, it’s small things like this that help continue to show that the DC Universe for Young Justice is one where time passes and the world continues moving around the team.
At the end of the day “Early Warning” is by far the weakest episode of the Young Justice: Outsiders season and maybe of the entire show. The size of the cast is really catching up with the show’s staff ability to properly develop all of the spotlighted heroes. The way everyone from Zatanna to Halo to the Outsiders team came across as extremely rushed. Hopefully this is something that is quickly fixed in the remaining eight episodes of the season.
Episode Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
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