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Young Justice: Invasion – Summit Review: Working Out Daddy Issues with Violence

Holy crap. The Reach and the Light at each other’s throats. The Team making their big move. All hands on deck. All cards laid out on the table. Kaldur’ahm and Artemis exposed. Father versus son. Gorilla versus gorilla! Ninjas! Not ninjas! You can do that to Ra’s al Ghul on a Saturday morning cartoon?! Wally West! WALLY FREAKING WEST.

What I’m trying to say is “Summit” is an awesome as all hell episode that I’m still processing.

With this being the second to last episode of the season, there are no A and B stories dividing time as usual. I expected as much coming in. It’s endgame time. There’s no room for side stories at this point. But I also expected “Summit” to mostly just set the stage for the big blowout final episode. You can guess my surprise when things start blowing out after the first few minutes here. As soon as I saw the look on Ra’s al Ghul’s face when he figured Tigress out, I thought I knew how this episode was going to end. Instead, that turns out to happen in the next minute.

Ra's al Ghul has an eye for necklaces apparently.

The first third of this episode is all about cranking up the tension. You can feel it as soon as the Reach and the Light convene for their secret meeting. These two parties are already near the breaking point of their partnership, and the episode decides to just start piling it on from there by exposing Kaldur and Artemis in the middle of all this. And given what we know of the show’s future, you can actually believe characters’ lives are at stake. From there, it’s a steady stack of moves and countermoves until the pressure just explodes into all out action.

And you know how good this show is when it comes to action.

The bulk of this episode is a spectacle of fighting. I think the entire Team gets in on the action, and there are plenty of good moments to go around. My favorite might be Lagoon Boy manning up to save Miss Martian regardless of any hard feelings he has about their break-up last episode. But it’s really hard to choose. Like I said, it is a spectacle of violence, but it’s one with several nice character moments threaded through it.

To be fair, I think the Reach Ambassador did a good job under the circumstances.

If this is anyone’s episode, it has to belong to Kaldur’ahm. This is the big conclusion to his season-long character arc. It has all been building to him making his big move on the Light and facing his father. Here we go. Kaldur comes through this looking like an A-list badass. He is always portrayed with this steady level of cool confidence, and that doesn’t change here. If anything, it reaches a new high. He doesn’t waver even when standing exposed between both the Reach and the Light. Even the immortal Vandal Savage is impressed with him. The showdown between Kaldur and Black Manta is an epic moment. The animation and voice acting is just top notch. You can hear the struggle and rage in both characters’ voices. I’ve said before how much I love the family drama on the villains’ side. The show finds the perfect balance of villain and father in Black Manta here, but that’s matched by the balance of hero and son in Kaldur’ahm. Never have a felt more justified in my choice for a favorite character in a show.

What really makes all of this so satisfying is that our heroes finally get a true, undiluted win of their own. Much of the season has seen events being manipulated by the Reach and the Light, so that even when the heroes succeed, their success is part of the villains’ master plan. This time, it isn’t the case. This time, the villains take a real and legitimate beating at the hands of the heroes. It’s not all over yet, but there’s no denying the heroes their victory on this one.

You know the moment I cheered for. Wally West returns! I’ve been getting increasingly frustrated with Wally’s absence lately, so his sudden arrival in the fray is so good. No, it doesn’t really make up for how little he has been used this season. But you know what? I’m just damn happy to see the character in action again. Best of all, it isn’t simply him zipping around in the background fighting either. He gets a couple of really nice moments with Artemis and Impulse. But seriously, it’s about damn time.

The Light poses for its group portrait. Vandal Saage is trying to smile. Really.

My problems with this episode are few and pretty minor. Where is Red Arrow? It’s a bit strange to see Wally called in but not Roy. I could see Wally volunteering himself due to Artemis, though. Still, it’s weird to see the band back together but no Red Arrow. Also, I’m not clear what the Team’s original plan was here. You can’t tell me they expected for Ra’s al Ghul to do what he does. So weren't Kaldur and Artemis planning to reveal themselves and that just fell into place like it did on its own? Finally, it would have been more fun to have more of the Light’s unique henchmen in the fight rather than a bunch of Reach and League of Assassins footsoldiers.

“Summit” is a big, blowout episode and one of the best of the season. It’s the action-packed payoff to Kaldur’ahm’s season-long double agent gamble. The Team finally gets a real win, but now the Reach are dangerously desperate and the Light are broken but still making moves. There’s only one episode left to go, and it looks like Young Justice: Invasion is going to go out showing everyone why it’s such a crime for Cartoon Network to cancel it.



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