After the shocking conclusion of Young Justice: Invasion’s last episode “Darkest”, this week’s episode “Before The Dawn” shows that Aqualad has finally proven himself worthy to find out who The Light’s mysterious partner is. We come to find out that they are another alien race calling themselves the Reach and are bent on learning and using people’s metagenes to weaponize them either for the Light or, worse, for themselves.
I started to get the feeling that either toward the end of Season 2 and possibly with Season 3 there was going to be an Alien vs. Predator story in Young Justice with the Krolatoans and the Reach aliens trying to occupy and invade Earth minus the “No matter who wins, we lose” because Alien vs. Predator didn’t have superheroes. At the end of “Darkest,” Blue Beetle’s scarab made an attempt to free himself and the others from the captivity of Aqualad’s team but ultimately failed, and in the beginning of we see him captured inside one of the Reach’s hidden underwater ships and is constantly having nightmares of his early days of first discovering the scarab. Blue Beetle is, for some reason, alone and not included with the other captured metagene humans, making him seem a lot more valuable than the rest. This is confirmed when a large shadowy figure reveals himself and looks like Blue Beetle with his armor on, but taller, bulkier and a lot more intimidating.
Meanwhile in an unknown harbor location, Tigress is busy rounding up more possible metagene captives and Robin, Batgirl and Bumblebee take this opportunity to infiltrate their operation. This turns out to be an infiltration plan on a bigger scale once we see Nightwing, Miss Martian, Superboy, Wondergirl and others finding the Reach’s ship, thanks to intel given to Nightwing from Aqualad in the last episode. Once Miss Martian finds some of the team members that were captured, she starts a full alert break out that surprisingly goes smooth until the bulky, Blue Beetle look-a-like antagonist finds them.
On her way to regroup with her team she runs into Aqualad. This leads to her immediately using her martian abilities to, essentially, probe his mind and, in turn, finds out the truth, but in the end lobotomizes Aqualad. She is so shocked at what she has done, since she believed him to be a murderer and almost cannot cope with what she had done to her friend. I hope that the writers will focus on this a little in the coming episodes, especially since she did the same to a Krolotean and Superboy told her that she shouldn’t use her powers that way.
Impulse, having been freed by Miss Martian earlier, uses his super speed to try and find Beetle. Once he does, he gives Beetle shocking news by telling him that the big guy who looked like him but only bulkier, is in fact the same Blue Beetle, but from the future, and that Impulse was sent back to the past to make sure that the Reach couldn’t put beetle on the “Mode” to make him turn into that an interesting, if not a somewhat clichéd concept.
While all of this was happening, the majority of the Young Justice team spent their time trying to fight the Blue Beetle look-a-like, but even with all their might, they can barely stand a chance. Miss Martian, still in shock over damaging her friend and ally, becomes a mess and can barely operate during the rest of the mission. Luckily Blue Beetle arrives in time to give the team enough time to escape and while they almost had to abandon Blue Beetle due to their ship flooding, Lagoon Boy was able to rescue Beetle at the last minute. Towards the end, back at the watchtower, Nightwing informs Aquaman and Captain Atom that they need to let the invasion plan of the Reach go public, but unfortunately the Reach went public before the team could expose them.
The Reach now have the “we come in peace” card in their hands and this makes for their invasion plans much easier. The episode ends with a large number of their underwater ships ready to attack. I found it fitting that this was the last episode before Cartoon Network’s abrupt hiatus of Young Justice. This has been by far my favorite Young Justice episode all season long, and with one of the team members who was out of the loop finding out about Aqualad’s undercover work, I can’t wait to see how the rest of the season will play out.