Young Justice - "Humanity" Recap
The Team is on the hunt for Red Tornado, determined to find out once and
for all whether the robot was the mole – even if it means kidnapping
new friend Zatanna and dragging her along on their quest!
“Humanity” performs a successful bank shot for Young Justice, resolving matters regarding Red Tornado and the so-called “Reds” while taking the opportunity to effectively introduce another young hero-to-be. The team is just finishing up a training session with Black Canary when the magician Zatara brings his daughter, Zatanna, to the cave to introduce her to the group. A smitten Robin hastens to say hello and introduce everyone, but the team is promptly sidetracked by a psychic conversation about their perceived “probation” and restlessness about Red Tornado. Zatanna recognizes what they’re doing and calls them out, prompting the group to give voice to its discontent. Superboy and Robin point out that it’s been over two weeks since the cave was attacked in “Homefront”, and yet the Justice League has said nothing to them about the search for Red Tornado and the other androids while they and T.O. Morrow remain unfound. Black Canary assures them that the search is the league’s pop priority and restates that Red Tornado is solely the Justice League’s business, and Zatara promptly changes the subject by asking the team to give Zatanna a tour of the cave. But instead the team decides to start its own search, with a willingly “kidnapped” Zatanna in tow. Meanwhile T.O. Morrow uploads the memories and knowledge from the restored Red Tornado, Red Torpedo and Red Inferno into a new and stronger creation, Red Volcano, setting the stage for a fateful confrontation.
“Humanity” continues this show’s consistently excellent record of incisive writing and thrilling action, but beyond the usual virtues it deserves extra credit for complementing the team’s activities with the well-spent time used to highlight and reveal the legacy that Red Tornado is a part of. Torpedo and Inferno were formally constructs created to believe they were human, Tornado was a self-aware android that nonetheless pursued humanity and chose to continue being a hero rather than aid his creator in his schemes. Lovers of DC lore will doubtlessly appreciate the brief look at Earth-16’s Justice Society of America that’s offered during Morrow’s exposition. But just as Tornado was created to be a hero that would gain people’s trust, Volcano was created to cause a spectacular eruption that would plunge the world into a nuclear winter, and his programming to disregard humanity proves too effective when he immediately turns on his creator. He is a natural enemy to Tornado and his brethren, a fact Tornado makes them see after his attempt to protect the team via a deceptive ruse fails. “You were never human,” he acknowledges, “but you were heroes.” An excellent touch on this matter was a small bit of dialogue between
Superboy and Aqualad, where the former’s belief in Tornado’s betrayal is
challenged by Aqualad’s assertion that Tornado merits “…the chance to prove he’s more than the weapon others designed him to be”–the same chance given to Superboy when he was liberated from Cadmus at the start of the series. Morrow boasted that after Volcano there would be “no more Pinocchios”, but these three androids ultimately proved to be “puppets” capable of breaking their strings.
And Tornado’s last act on screen follows up well on an unexpected twist regarding Morrow earlier in the episode; it’s a noble gesture that decisively affirms Tornado’s capacity for morality and free will.
So far as room for improvement goes, even an isolated comment relating
to Kid Flash’s past disbelief in magic from “Denial” would have been
called for and welcome. It also seems to me that questioning Morrow’s
rival, Professor Ivo, about where Morrow could be hiding out is not so
much the counterintuitive “dumb idea” that we’re told it is. Kid Flash
explains his reasoning for questioning him in a very persuasive way.
It’s not an obvious course of action, true, but it’s hardly illogical. The matter is far from glaring flaw, but the concept that neither Batman nor anyone else would think of this over eighteen days seems at least a bit far-fetched.
She may not be joining the team right away, but Zatanna is surely a future regular. In this episode she fit in with the gang fabulously as if she belonged there the whole time, and this episode clearly established that her magical powers are unique and useful but very far from omnipotent. She’s a likable and assertive character too, perfectly willing to take part in their rebellious actions and capable of speaking her mind and trading words with any member of the team. This is too good a character for the writers and producers to merely tease us with. Yes, their actions in this episode may get her “grounded for life”, but no doubt we’ll see truth in television and it won’t last.
How the league will react to Red Tornado’s return could be an interesting topic next week; just as the teens can be credited for helping Tornado, they can also be fairly called out for not calling in the league once they got a solid lead. That aside, the resolution of the Red Tornado affair reintroduces a troubling question: who is the mole Sportsmaster spoke of, if there is one at all? Could this lingering issue be what leads the heroes to understanding that their greater adversary is still out there, and not the defeated Injustice League? Only time will tell.