Earlier this year, Warner Animation announced the return of their highly acclaimed series Young Justice. The series scooped the younger counterparts of many top-shelf DC superheroes into their own Justice League-type scenario.
The initial goal for most if not all of the team was to prove to their elders that they were ready to join the JL.
What made their adventures compelling was a common-sense approach to the first two seasons that allowed the kids to express emotions such as resentment, rage and loyalty.
At many turns they outshined the Justice League and proved to them and a universal threat called The Light that they were a go-to group that could stop any threat.
As we await a release date for season 3, let’s look at the pivotal episodes of the first two seasons. These rankings are not in chronological order and they contain plenty of spoilers without overdoing it on the details.
#10 “Drop-Zone” (Season 1, Episode 4)
There are so many pivotal events that took place in this episode. After a brief albeit tense struggle between Kid Flash and Robin over who will lead the team, Aqualad is chosen to be the group’s temporary leader.
Aqualad hesitantly agrees to keep the seat warm for Robin until his ready to take the spot. The power play takes place in the middle of hostile territory as we see the emergence of a key villain in the Sportsmaster.
#9 “Depths” (Season 2, Episode 7)
Artemis comes out of retirement to help the team with a satellite launch and is killed at the hands of a rogue Aqualad.
Or is she? In all actuality, her death is faked and she is given a magic charm which turns her into Tigress.
As such she continues to help Aqualad with his secret mission that most of the team is unaware of.
#8 “Welcome to Happy Harbor” (Season 1, Episode 3)
Young Justice began to find it’s true legs here as its rooted deeply at the team’s base of operations. It also begins the push and pull of Super Boy’s existence as he struggles to adapt away from his previous confinement and with his feelings of wanting a place within Super Man’s life.
Miss Martian has a lot of getting-to-know you moments as well.
“Welcome To Happy Harbor” also deals with a robotic threat that has a minimal long-term impact on the series.
#7 “Beneath” (Season 2, Episode 5)
The themes of child abuse, depression and an overall sense of empathy as to why damaged teens runaway from home are the foundation for this episode.
It sets up the ground work the team’s spinoff team, the weight of the Blue Beetle’s role in this storyline and it gives credibility to other secondary characters such as Wonder Girl who were not getting a lot of shine
“Beneath” was one of the show’s better set-up episodes.
#6 “Satisfaction” (Season 2, Episode 8)
Previously left for dead, Roy Harper a.k.a. Speedy a.k.a. the hero we thought was Red Arrow is found and is missing an arm.
Mad at the world which especially includes his mentor, Speedy pardons his clone Red Arrow but takes multiple verbal shots at Green Arrow.
Speedy pulls up on Lex Luthor armed with a rocket launcher and other artillery to avenge his suffering only to make minimal in roads on his revenge tour.
Luthor gifts him with a consolidation prize for his trouble and the gift pushes him to change his name to Arsenal.
#5 “Before the Dawn” (Season Two, Episode 10)
Miss Martian developed quite the mind-melting mean-streak during Season 2 and paid for her visits to the dark side during this episode.
In a fit of rage she destroys Aqualad’s mind only to find out that he was acting as a double agent to take down the Light from within as she wreaked havoc on his brain.
The ramifications for all of her actions came full circle as this was one team member that was down…for real.
#4 “Alienated” (Season Two, Episode 3)
“Alienated” was one of two jaw-dropping episodes that rocked Season 2. The explanation of what happened during the 16 hours that certain members of the Justice League went missing at the end of Season 1 is delivered.
In it are truths that have such dire consequences that it shoots most of the marquee members off of Earth and to the planet Rimbor to stand trial during proceedings that take up the bulk of the season.
Leaving the team to fend for themselves was a bold move but it paid off.
And that was not even the true showstopper of this episode. The moment that Aqualad revealed himself to be a traitor was deep.
Though his treachery was not allowed to live in front of the fans eyes for an extended period of time, the events at hand were executed well.
#3 “Auld Acquaintance” (Season One, Episode 26)
Season 1 ended with one hell of cliffhanger that generated a hunger for Season 2. The Light‘s leader Vandal Savage takes over the Watchtower and forces the Justice League into submission.
In doing so, all hope is left up to the team to discover and expose what is going on.
The revelation that the Red Arrow is a clone and the mole that is betraying the team is a lynch pin here.
While the JL’s manipulated turn to evil sets up the start of Season Two, this finale closed the door on a few matters as it opened up the hornet’s nest that was to come.
#2 “Endgame” (Season Two, Episode 19)
A major (real) death, an extension level event and the fate of the Justice League were all key pieces to the final episode of Season 2.
Kid Flash sacrifices his life to help The Flash and Impulse neutralize and field of energy that destabilized the Earth’s atmosphere thanks to a parting gift left by The Reach who came to blows with their former allies The Light in the episode prior.
This was the last episode of Young Justice to air before the upcoming season and while it was a satisfying ending to that season, the ongoing threat from Savage left the door open for future tyranny.
#1 “Independence Day”/ “Fireworks” (Season One, Episode 1 & 2)
The first two episodes were originally debuted together on Cartoon Network. While they are not personal favorites, they own the top of this list due to the fact that they did an amazing job of setting up what was to come.
The origin of Super Boy and the team’s mini-rebellion against a Justice League that underestimates them are themes and events that define the show’s meaning.
The Speedy/Red Arrow/Arsenal story arc begins here and without it children are not born and two sisters do not fight with or against each other in the future.
A perfect debut.
Watch: Young Justice Trailer