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Young Justice: Invasion – Endgame Review: Don’t Make Me Cry

And it’s over. “Endgame” is the final episode of Young Justice: Invasion as Cartoon Network cancels another fan-favorite show. And while it’s not fair to the show, I can’t help but have my knowledge of its cancellation color how I watch this episode, which is excellent as a season finale but less so as a series finale.

The show made an unusual choice by having the second to last episode be this big, epic blowout. That’s usually reserved for the finale. While “Endgame” does have its cool moments, it never really comes close to matching the excitement of “Summit” last week. So pacing-wise, it’s a little awkward and does leave “Endgame” feeling a bit more like “Epilogue” since the big final battle has already happened.

It's good to be able to see Kaldur'ahm back in action as Aqualad one more time.
Black Beetle is the last threat standing as we begin, and Aqualad continues his badassness from last episode by leading the charge to defeat the last remnants of the Reach invasion force. It makes for a decent bit of action to kick things off, but as I said, there’s no reaching the action-packed heights of “Summit” here. And this is largely just setup for the real crisis, namely Black Beetle’s doomsday protocol for Earth. After being such a dominant threat in the last half of the season, Black Beetle does go down relatively easily, even though Green Beetle would probably disagree. Still, Blue Beetle has been through enough to earn this win, and it works well as the culmination of his season-long character arc.

Speaking of Green Beetle, I feel more justified to declare him a waste of space now that all is said and done. The premise of having a third Beetle around serving as a sort of middle ground between the good human Blue Beetle and the evil Reach Black Beetle had potential, but B’arzz O’oomm just never panned out as an interesting character. The story purpose he served wasn’t necessary either. In an overcrowded series like this, Green Beetle just occupied space that could have gone to some of the many worthy characters already around.

We also head to Rimbor to wrap up the trial of the Justice League. I think a little more time than necessary is spent here resolving this, given that it’s kind of a foregone conclusion that they would be cleared of the charges. It could have been wrapped up sooner, giving more room for other scenes. But still, it’s hard not to enjoy the gleefully corrupt alien judge as he’s obviously aching for some kind of bribe. 

We never got much from these two this season. I bet that would've changed in the third.
The real fun comes from the Team and the Justice League having to split into pairs to disable all of the Reach’s doomsday devices. It lets the show squeeze in a few more character moments before it’s all over. Aqualad and Lagoon Boy reconnect after Aqualad’s long and tense undercover operation. Kid Flash and Artemis have their own little romantic adventure in Paris, which is my favorite scene of the episode. There’s a Black Lightning and Static team-up, which I know i’ve been waiting years to finally see.  The shame here is that we couldn’t get a couple more of these, partly due to the aforementioned time spent on Rimbor. I really think we should have seen Red Arrow and Arsenal in action together, especially since we never really do get to check in with Red Arrow again.

So, let’s get to the elephant in the room. I’m going to try not to spoil it outright, but let’s be clear. If you don’t know yet and don’t want to know about the death of a character yet, leave now. Even though I won’t say the name, there’s really no way I can talk about this without giving you enough to figure it out on your own.

It’s a serious gutpunch, but honestly, he’s the one to kill if you’re going to kill anyone off. He’s the cop with five days until retirement. He carries the most emotional payoff, because he’s the last one who deserves it. And that factor also makes his death the most heroic. To the episode’s credit, it doesn’t gloss his death over either. It propels forth a handful of interesting character changes, one of which being Artemis’ choice to become Tigress full-time. It’s an intriguing direction for the character and one that reflects her comic counterpart, who always used the Tigress identity.

Still, the biggest problem with the death is that the show really should have given the character a little more to do this season if it was all building toward this.

...What? These aren't tears. I'm just so manly testosterone comes out of my eyes!
And now, here’s where the fact that this is the series finale and not season finale really starts to hurt. The episode ends with what is basically the premise for the third season. It’s one many have seen coming, but we saw it coming in a way that we were looking forward to. The third season probably would have been titled something like Young Justice: Apokolips Now. And it would have been awesome.

But beyond the obvious setup for the third season, there are so many new developments here that we will never see played out. These are the things we would have had to look forward to. Virgil Hawkins completes his origin story, joining the Team as Static. Nightwing goes solo. Batgirl steps up as the Team’s second in command. A new relationship starts between two of the younger characters. Another one changes his identity to live up to a legacy. There’s a suggestion that Artemis make go down a dark path as Tigress. And honestly? I expect that the character who died would have made a dramatic return midway through the next season. There’s so much here leaving you looking forward to a next chapter that will never be.

With it all now over, we can get a better idea of what did and didn’t fall through the cracks. And you know, I’d say the show has done an impressive job of having and addressing so many subplots. Not a perfect one but it feels like the major ones and many of the others did get addressed in the end. Red Arrow is the biggest absence. Since rescuing the original Roy Harper and learning he’s become a father, we never do follow-up on him. There’s also the fate of Tula. Her death played a major factor in Aqualad’s character arc, but we never learn a thing about how she died. There are some smaller elements that this season brought up and never really gave us answers on too. Who exactly is Rocket marrying? Who were the members who joined and left during the five year gap (Greg Weisman actually answered this in an interview)? How and when did Jason Todd die? This is a mix of things the season left us hanging on and potentially more we had to look forward to if the show got another season.

It's about damn time we see these two together. It's a shame DC Comics can't seem to make the Black Lightning and Static connection work.
Ultimately, “Endgame” faces the impossible task of making viewers feel satisfied with the show’s cancellation. This was never going to happen. In terms of animation and storytelling, Young Justice has been the best DC animated series thus far. It raised the bar for everything that follows, much like Batman: the Animated Series did in the ‘90s. There is just no such thing as a good series finale for a show like this after only two seasons. But as the season finale it was meant to be, it does its job well. The season’s villains are defeated. The Earth is saved. The death of a fan favorite character provides one final emotional punch. It brings to an end one chapter and leaves you eagerly awaiting the next.

Young Justice isn’t at fault for not getting that next chapter, though.



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