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Young Justice - "Misplaced" Recap

When every adult on the planet disappears, only the team, Zatanna and
Billy Batson are left to defeat the five most powerful sorcerers on
Earth.

“Misplaced” is an exemplary demonstration of the multifaceted writing that has helped Young Justice to excel compared to its peers. The story here advances several aspects of the overarching plot of this first season, yet it also seamlessly blends in thoughtful details and some emotional moments that genuinely resonate. This episode also shines a true spotlight on Captain Marvel, whose dual identity as the boy Billy Batson turns out to be crucial to saving the day.

Here Klarion the Witch Boy returns as an antagonist, and his actions do a lot to dismiss any lingering perceptions from “Denial” that he might be a pushover or an odd choice as a member of The Light. In concert with four other sorcerers he executes an incantation that causes all people over the age of 18 to vanish, leaving the our heroes scrambling to take care of the abandoned youth of Happy Harbor, exhort the world to stay calm and figure out how to attack the problem. The latter point demands some growth from Zatanna, who has to replicate the same spell her father used to find Wotan and the Injustice League in “Revelations” despite her doubts about her ability to pull it off.

Events take an unexpected and interesting twist when it’s revealed that Klarion’s spell didn’t exactly make anyone disappear, but rather split the Earth into separate dimensions. Just as the Earth’s children and teenagers are without their parents, to the adults of the world the kids are all missing and the older heroes are doing their part. “Misplaced” does a fine job making this angle appropriately emotional; we see adults panicking in multiple scenes, to the point that much of the Justice League has to focus on trying to keep things calm. On the other side, Kid Flash is particularly impacted after using his speed to rescue so many kids from their empty homes. In both dimensions, the heroes ponder if they are “desperate” enough to once again equip Dr. Fate’s helmet for Nabu’s power, well aware of the costs of that option.  

If this episode has a star, it’s Billy Batson. As a mere kid he does everything he can to make his way to the cave after realizing he can’t get to the Justice League’s watchtower, and when the situation demands it he has the courage to try turning into Captain Marvel despite having no way of knowing for sure that he wouldn’t disappear. As the good Captain he can interact with the adult heroes and help them take on Klarion’s allies, while as Billy he’s able to interact with the team and give them advice from the adult side during their fight with the Witch Boy and his ferocious familiar. It’s thanks to Billy that the two groups of heroes can cooperate and manage to stop Klarion’s ritual.

However, “Misplaced” will likely be most memorable for the poignant and surprising twist that comes near its end, for victory comes at a price. Despite everything Zatanna ends up daring to put on Dr. Fate’s helmet when the tide of battle turns against the team, and this time Nabu is not willing to relinquish control. He is convinced that he is needed, and with Zatanna’s sacrifice he has gained a magically adept and youthful host. No longer will he heed the protests of the late Kent Nelson, who he has finally sent onward to the afterlife that awaits him. So Zatara steps up to do the only thing that can spare his daughter from this destiny: give the Lord of Order a better deal by offering his own body.

With Zatara’s vow made Zatanna is freed, giving the father and daughter a fleeting moment to joyfully reunite before Zatara dons the helmet. Up to this point Zatara was depicted as a very protective father, and the start of this episode saw Zatanna saying she wanted him to give her some space. Now she’s gotten her wish in the worst way, permanently losing what everyone else in this episode only temporarily lost. She’s not alone, but her father was evidently the only family she had and nothing can replace him. Who would have thought that she’d officially join the group like this?

Meanwhile, we have yet another successful Xanatos Gambit going on. Klarion’s actions caused enough upheaval for the Riddler to steal the piece of Starro from Star Labs for The Light without being noticed, assisted by an unmasked Sportsmaster helping spark a riot. So Black Manta’s failure in “Downtime” was indeed only a temporary setback, while The Riddler’s presence confirms that every detail of the Belle Reve incident from “Terrors” served the plans of The Light. What they’re ultimately really after remains obtuse, but by now it ought to be beyond clear that what happens in Young Justice happens for a good reason. Meanwhile, Zatanna will have to cope with this change in her life and there are unanswered questions about what Dr. Fate will do next and what his relationship will be with both the Justice League and our young heroes going forward. “Misplaced” is unmistakably a consequential episode, just as it is an engaging and powerful one.

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