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Young Justice – “Coldhearted” Recap

by on March 18, 2012

Wally West comes oh-so-close to fulfilling his birthday wish to finally
fight alongside the Justice League. Instead, a massively disappointed
Kid Flash is taken off the mission and tasked with a simple delivery
job. But a few deadly surprises await the birthday boy along the way…

“Coldhearted” is the notable as the first occasion the team overtly works together with the Justice League on a mission, but for the most part it’s a much needed character-focused episode for Kid Flash. His day starts out marvelously: it’s his birthday, he’s pampered at home, he’s expecting a surprise party for him at the cave, he anticipates using the occasion to steal a kiss from Miss Martian, and a snow storm cancels school. But at his party his shameless flirting comes to an end when he’s finally informed that Miss Martian and Superboy are an item, and it turns out that the snow is not a natural event but a product of five “ice fortresses” in the sky inflicting severe blizzards on the entire continent. Batman assigns nearly every available hero to take out the machines and deal with the problem, but Wally is singled out to make sure a heart transplant is delivered in time for a life-saving operation for a young girl. He grudgingly accepts once it’s made clear that he’s the only chance she’s got, but Kid Flash soon finds that his assignment is anything but mundane.

On the way Kid Flash encounters Vandal Savage and gets drawn into a one-on-one bout with him, and all things considered the battle is balanced within reason. Wally is too fast for Savage to attack easily but the villain clearly outclasses him, as he very well should considering the revelation that Savage has done battle with the Flash before. Nothing Wally does hurts him or even slows him down; Savage is built like a tank and clearly shown to be powerful, leaving little doubt that he could have kept up the battle all day long. Wally ultimately ends the fight when he realizes how much time he’s spent, but despite arriving at the hospital early he’s told by a doctor that the girl already passed away.

Wally is devastated, reflecting that he would have arrived before the death if he hadn’t gotten sidetracked with Savage. He turns over the heart in a daze only to be soon approached by other doctors asking about the organ, which was in fact meant for a VIP: Queen Perdita of Vlatava. Fortunately the speedster manages to catch up to imposter and reclaim the heart, though he also encounters the mastermind behind it all: the nefarious Count Vertigo, Perdita’s uncle and thus the man who would inherit his niece’s throne with her gone. Here Vertigo’s villainy shines to an extent that it couldn’t when he was one foe among many in “Revelation”, and he’s not at all above talking down to Wally (“that’s King Vertigo to you, peasant”) or gloating about his subtle and nefarious plan. Wally does well to hold his own against Vertigo through sheer willpower when it counts, and his cleverness is what ultimately proves essential to defeating Vertigo’s ambitions for good – that and Vertigo’s big mouth, matched only by his huge ego.

This episode is so valuable for Wally because for most of this show, he’s been most notable for his jovial personality. He’s been a major
source of comic relief in the show and he’s fun to watch, though more
than once his capacity to be affably foolish has been played for humor.
He’s nearly Aqualad’s opposite; it’s easy to perceive him as the most
unserious character on the show. The grown-up Wally in the DCAU’s Justice League was
much the same, fulfilling a role as the team clown. But as fans know,
that’s not at all the whole story. Flash had a serious and good-hearted
side too, and when it really counted he stepped up and proved himself a
great hero. Select moments in this show have shown that there’s more to this different and younger iteration of Wally West as well, such as when he ultimately connected with Kent Nelson in “Denial” and the way he opened up about the crisis that happened in “Misplaced” last time. “Coldhearted” is a great episode for Wally thanks to how it goes out of its way to emphasize that truth. Here Wally seems to resign himself to the reality of Miss Martian’s relationship without incident, and he gets a serious reality check with the deception about Perdita’s death (he could have truly been too late). Most importantly, his sincere and goodhearted side is fully exposed when he takes the heart container for his souvenir collection rather than accept the “cool” gift of Count Vertigo’s sword from Perdita. The act signifies his mature epiphany: his heroism was not about defeating villains, but rather what he protected.

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