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Young Justice: Outsiders — Episode 21: “Unknown Factors” review

“I did the right thing.”

Nightwing and Black Lightning run into trouble at Granny’s house, the Outsiders train in vain, loyalties are uncovered, relationships are tested, and a baby’s life hangs in the balance. This episode doesn’t slow down once it starts, so I won’t either! Let’s get into it, but beware of spoilers!

This week on Young Justice!

Much like last week, this episode really finds a good groove when it comes to juggling its various plot threads and moving them forward without seeming like anything is getting shortchanged.

The main plot focused on Kaldur and Wyynde confronting Gretchen Goode (a.k.a. Granny Goodness) over the disappearance of Nightwing and Black Lightning. Right off the bat, I was so excited to see that Kaldur and Wyynde’s embrace in the previous episode was more than just a brief moment of happiness and that the show is actually invested in exploring their relationship further. The two characters play well off of one another, flirting with and challenging each other in ways that strengthen their resolve. In other words, they’re seen to be a total power couple even before the sorcery begins.

Meanwhile, we see Mal and Karen for the first time in quite a while, preparing to welcome their first child into the world. Mal and Karen’s entire subplot exists to raise a very real, very loaded question: just because you have the ability to change something or alter destiny, do you have the right to do so? It’s the same conundrum the League itself now faces as they try to weaponize fake news in the name of justice.

DC Universe

The sequences of Karen shrinking down to help her newborn are visually interesting and emotionally charged, even if it’s a bit of a narrative curveball to see these characters given this much focus for the first time in a while. Some of the exposition feels a little much, but the strong character work more than makes up for it.

These scenes also lead to this episode’s incredibly effective closing credits tableau. While it’s as wordless as many of this season’s end credits sequences, it was perfectly constructed and literally made me hold my breath until it was over. If you’ve watched it, you’ll know what I mean.

On the lighter side of things, the character work continues to bring just as much levity to the series as it does drama. We get to see how much of a mischievous streak Dick Grayson still has as he gleefully excuses a B&E and flirts with Oracle over his headset. More than that, we get to see Beast Boy and Cyborg being total bros together, a more than welcome sight for Teen Titans fans. It’s especially good to see Vic finally lightening up a bit. He’s been put through the ringer this season, so he deserves to enjoy himself. It’s all comic relief that feels entirely earned.

This episode has a brief post-credits scene that nicely confirms some of my suspicions from earlier in the season. It will be interesting to see if Vandal Savage gets involved once more, considering his uneasy alliance with Darkseid. Again, this episode did a fantastic job of moving more pieces into place as we near the finale of Outsiders. Hopefully we’ll see the next step in Granny’s masterplan in next week’s episode, “Antisocial Pathologies.”

DC Universe

Outside Observations:

  • You can’t casually drop the line, “Batman and Robin are in Africa,” and expect me to not want to see that story.
  • Jace’s “mentor” is not at all who/what I expected them to be. Now I genuinely have no idea where this storyline is heading!
  • I love how much Jack Kirby weirdness this season has fit in. Overlord’s reveal may be the oddest moment of the episode.
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