“Salvage” turns out to pack in a whole lot more than expected as a team-up between Superboy and Blue Beetle and an intervention for Red Arrow fill in even more of the gaps left by the show’s five year jump. It’s another episode where the ongoing alien invasion plot takes a backseat while the story addresses what has been going on with our main characters.
The Superboy and Blue Beetle side of this episode provides most of the action and plot. Superboy suspects that Intergang, known for smuggling alien weapons, may have some ties to increasing complex alien conspiracy happening on Earth. When ganglord Bruno Mannheim pops up on his radar, he takes Blue Beetle along to investigate. This is actually a pretty neatly put together little plot with Intergang trying to take advantage of the Hall of Justice being understaffed. The trophies Intergang steals were nicely set up in a previous episode too. While nothing about this situation is terribly relevant to the main alien invasion plot of the season, it does work well as a standalone adventure.
This part of the story also gives more information about Blue Beetle and where he comes from. Or at least, where he thinks he comes from. It’s a pleasant surprise that the show has decided to incorporate Ted Kord. For those who don’t know, Ted was the previous Blue Beetle in comics too. The show could have easily bypassed him entirely and just focused on Jaime Reyes, but the way Ted is involved in Jaime’s origin complicates things in an interesting way. Ted’s alleged fate at the hands of the Light is reminiscent of his fate in comics.
As I’ve mentioned before, I expect Blue Beetle to have a major role in this season. Thus far, he’s the new kid who has gotten the most screen time. It’s more than that, though. We’ve been given more than one hint that his scarab is connected to the alien invasion plot going on. Comic fans know that Jaime’s scarab is a piece of alien technology, but as we learn in this episode, Jaime isn’t aware of that. This is definitely going to be a factor in future episodes.
The only thing in this part of the story that doesn’t quite work is Jaime confessing to Superboy that the voice he sometimes talks and argues with is the artificial intelligence in his suit. The team didn’t already know this? We’ve seen this gag in every Blue Beetle appearance so far. It’s a little hard to believe that it has taken until now for osmeone to ask him directly about who he’s talking to, and if it’s not the first time, we’re given no reason as to w hy Jaime would come clean now.
We also get introduced to one of the Light’s new agents -- soft of. He’s partnered with Sportsmaster but kept in the shadows. So it’s supposed to be a mystery. Hopefully, the show doesn’t drag this out very long. By the end of the episode, it seems pretty obvious who this person is. They probably should have revealed him at the end of this episode, but as I’ll get to, twe already get some pretty heavy reveals at the end. So next time this guy shows up? Drop the shadows and show him. We know.
The other half of the episode is the intervention for Red Arrow. In the first season’s finale, everyone learned that Red Arrow is actually a clone of the original Roy Harper created by the Light. He then embarked on a search for the true Roy. Five years later, that search has obviously not gone well and Red Arrow has fallen into a deep pit of self-loathing. I’m still surprised that the show decided to go this route to replicate Roy’s drug addiction story. It does work for all intents and purposes. I just wonder how that story meeting went down. There had to be less out there alternatives to bringing drugs into the show than going with cloning.
The intervention is actually a nice scene that works for what it’s trying to do. It’s not perfect, though. It’s disappointing that we jump forward five years and this subplot doesn’t seemed to have progressed very far. I was expecting to see the real Roy Harper running around as Arsenal with a prosthetic arm, but instead, they still haven’t found him yet. Five years feels like a long time to drag out this search. The other problem with this scene is Jim Harper, Roy’s uncle and formerly Guardian. Also, he’s a clone too. Yeah, that’s right. They just kind of drop that in there. Guardian is an obscure character even for comic fans. It’s a little much to drop that in there without any setup I remember in the show. The show did at least establish previously that he and Roy were related. But even that would have worked better if the first season had given us an actual scene between the two characters to solidify that connection.
It’s in the epilogues where this episode really shines. The mystery of what became of Kid Flash and Artemis gets answered, and for Wally West, it’s not what people were generally expecting. There’s been a lot of dark turns for the show’s original cast. Miss Martian and Superboy have broken up, and Miss Martian is a little scary now. Aqualad has gone bad. Red Arrow’s crawling on rock bottom. It’s just nice to see two characters who, five years later, are just happy.
The other epilogue introduces a character I honestly did not expect to ever see in this show, but I guess I should have with the kind of allowances a five year jump can make. This really takes Red Arrow’s story in a new direction that mostly makes up for how the search for Speedy seems to have spun its wheels for five years. What makes it extra great is that this is a character who was recently terribly handled in comics before being wiped from existence. She’s here, though. And that is pretty awesome.
All in all, “Salvage” lives up to the show’s high quality when it comes to animation, action and drama. Its faults lie in trying to balance catching up the audience on certain things while making the five year jump believable. Hence Blue Beetle not explaining himself until now and the original Speedy not being found yet. The character developments we get more than make up for these flaws, though. This episode leaves me looking forward to more than one new subplot, and that’s nothing to complain about.