EPISODE REVIEW: Young Justice: "Image" (Episode 21)

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Young Justice Episode 21 Image

SUMMARY

The Team is tasked with preventing the combining of two countries: the hostile Bialya led by dictator Queen Bee and the peaceful nation of Qurac led by the benevolent humanitarian Rumaan Harjavti. Batman has determined that Queen Bee is controlling Harjavti but do not know how since she has remained in her own country throughout the entire ordeal. The people of Qurac are threatening rebellion and in order to prevent civil war, the Team is dispatched on a covert mission to rid Harjavti of mind control.

Shortly before being briefed, Batman calls in Black Canary, Green Arrow and Martian Manhunter to view surveillance video of Megan shapeshifted into Canary and kissing Conner. While this amuses Arrow and Manhunter explains that it is normal Martian romanticism, a visibly disturbed Canary goes to encourage Megan to be herself. The young heroine is embarrassed but assures her mentor that she is always herself.

As the Team infiltrates Qurac they are diverted from their mission by a Biyalian invasion and the rescuing of animal conservationist Marie Logan and her son, Garth. The Team remains at the Logan Sanctuary and Garth brings up Megan’s resemblance to his mother while a young actress on the show Hello, Megan! The boys find this odd and the coincidences of the matching appearance, name, clothing catchphrase and boyfriends named Conner seem to be too much to overlook.
An attack by drone planes results in injury to Garth and his rare blood type forces Megan to replicate it with her shifting abilities and provide a transfusion. After securing the Logan’s safety the Team continues with their plan and goes after Harjavti. Psimon is acting for Queen Bee and he and Megan square off for round 2. He reveals her biggest fear of rejection and exposes her true identity as a white, grotesque, Martian. An enraged Megan attacks relentlessly and defeats the telepath.

Afterwards (back in her normal appearance) she is confronted by the Team about her appearance and explains that she was inspired by the TV show after her uncle sent her media examples while she was still on Mars. The team assures her that appearance doesn’t matter and Conner promises her that masks aren’t necessary for him while Marie is honored to be looked up to. However after the Team asks to see her true appearance Megan lies once again by showing a bald, green skinned girl with facial structure slightly closer in appearance to her uncle.
While later checking on Garth, Megan is confronted by Queen Bee and threatened with the exposure of her true identity should she attack. Queen Bee is upset after Megan and the Team exposed her for the world to see while Megan impersonated her on TV and blackmails the hero into cooperating with her wishes.

OBSERVATIONS

It took a few views of this episode and ultimately writing the summary to fully appreciate the story here. The opening scene was one of the best of the series. The shock of seeing a grown Black Canary making out with a physically teenaged Superboy was the ultimate WTH moment. I’m surprised they got away with it since that’s a touchy subject even outside of the sheltered realm of cartoons. When you take into account that it wasn’t revealed to be Megan until after the theme song break, the entire sequence was a gutsy move by the writers and certainly showed that this show isn’t aimed at the young audience that I feel the DC Block is geared to. The dramatic themes hit on throughout the entire episode match up more in maturity with The Clone Wars and Thundercats than shorts about Super Hero Best Friends Forever. Heck, even Green Lantern seems willing to explore a bit darker territory since they have a major character that is convinced he is guilty of planetary genocide.

Image hits closer to mature side also because of society’s intense focus on appearance and reputation, particularly amongst young girls. Miss Martian has the unique position of being the most different looking amongst the team (even more so than we knew) yet also the only one with the ability to blend in any way she wishes. Sure technically Conner is also an alien, but as a half human clone and the biological son of the greatest super hero on Earth, his problems are of a completely different nature in regards to image, acceptance and expectations. Certainly physical appearance is not nearly as big of a deal to him as a Kryptonian and as a male.

The development of Megan’s obsession with who and what she is was the most intriguing and yet subtle part of the episode. I have long suspected her to be a white martian. Red herrings have been abundant throughout the series to those that are familiar with the comic’s history, but the development of her psyche has been the best so far in the series. The show’s writing really is improving as the story grows which is a huge positive. The mistreatment of white martians on Mars has been mentioned before and is alluded to again when Megan explains that growing up on Mars was hard for her. It probably didn’t help that the views she had of Earth life were Hollywood fabrications. If Martian physiology and hormone developments are anything close to human ones, combined with the social stigma of Martian prejudice, the poor girl had no choice but to fall into an unhealthy view of herself. The time that has now passed since she met the Team and League has made coming clean even harder. How will it look if she reveals herself now, after all of this time? The friendships and trust she’s built and her relationship with Conner would ultimately be severely damaged. Unfortunately, the longer she waits continues to dilapidate the chance of seamless acceptance. Furthermore it gives more justification to the rest of the Team should they choose to reject her. How must it feel to know that one of your friends and partners, including someone you trust with your life in battle, has lied to you about their appearance and personality literally from the moment you met? The damage that could cause to a team dynamic could be insurmountable, particularly with someone as paranoid as Batman in charge of you.

The other plot of this episode struggled for me. I like the focus on political intrigue and the necessity of a stealth operation to avoid sparking world war, but it was resolved too quickly. Here character study over shadowed action and it really could’ve benefitted from a two part episode. Robin during his first go as team leader deserved an episode all his own and the whole situation ended too neatly. The only moment in which I was invested in that side of the story was when it overlapped with Megan’s’ arc during the fight with Psimon. My failure to understand the adherence to one shot episodes continues particularly when two-parters worked so well in Justice League.

COOL MOMENTS
• The reveal of Megan’s true form and her continued lying to the Team was the highlights of the episode

• Garth Logan AKA BEAST BOY!! He’s already confirmed to appear later in the series in his heroic form. Is this episode the explanation to his trademark green hue and transforming abilities?

• Batman’s sense of humor by torturing Arrow and Canary with the video before revealing that it was Megan the whole time. Batman wasn’t laughing, but I was.

OTHER COMMENTS

• I don’t understand how the Team or League never questioned Megan’s true appearance since her default look never looked anything like Manhunter’s. Have they not ever seen what he views as his true appearance or is this it? In JL his native form was different than his Martian-on-Earth form.

• Is Jonn aware of Megan being a white Martian and, if so, has he in any way influenced her decision to hide it?

• Will Jonn be in trouble with the League when her identity is revealed?

• How much does Batman watch the Team when they don’t know about it? Knowing him it’s a lot. I don’t know where he finds the time. But is it just him? And does the Team know?

• I really like the dynamic of the whole team not being in every episode. It allows for better character focus. I can see Megan and Artemis bonding over their similar fates when their identities are revealed.

• I can’t wait to see how the rest of the Team will react when Megan’s image issues are shared with them.

Will conservatives like this episode?

I’ve been completely forgetting about this part of the reviews. I’m going to say yes and no. No since it portrays an Arabic themed country in a positive light with a benevolent, responsible leader. Yes since it shows American teenagers butting in and saving the day. There was absolutely no diversity among the Team this episode aside from Megan and ironically her arc focused on physical body image and acceptance.

Please discuss the revelations in this episode and what they could mean for the future of the show, especially season two's "Invasion" storyline below in the comments. I love reading everyone's opinions.

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