Today is the day…that I tell you to check the first letter of every episode of this season, then come back and read this post as we gear up for the end of Young Justice: Outsiders. If this show were still being released three episodes at a time, this would be the middle episode of the third drop. This means only five more episodes to go after this as we head into the season finale.
“Unknown Factors” continues along from last episode and picks up two weeks later giving us more Fourth World action, and a true post-credit scene – marking this show’s first use of that device. There will be full spoilers from here on out as we explore this episode that in my head was a downward dive from last week’s stellar output, though nowhere near as bad as the few weeks before this. Let’s dive in!
1. Dick in trouble
Alright so this week’s entire episode revolves around Dick and Jefferson deciding they need to break into Gretchen Goode’s house to check it for any Fourth World tech and continue to try to bring her to justice. Nightwing still has Beautiful Dreamer’s Mother Box from last episode, which can somehow sense other Fourth World tech and goes off because of Granny’s place. Dick and Jefferson investigate with Barbara as Oracle backing them up, though they get right inside, their signal disappears and they are captured. They even remark how the entire process of breaking in was “too easy,” so you’d think they wouldn’t fall for such a simple trap? Also it was really inconvenient that Batman and Tim were off on another mission and Barbara couldn’t get either of them, or any of the rest of the secret group to rescue Dick and Jeff. You’d think if anyone was following-up on their ONLY lead, that back-up would be close by, or at least available within 24 hours unlike what happens here.
This gives us a chance to rope Kaldur and his boy in though, which is fun and good and an excuse to dive into their relationship more. I’m glad to see more of Kaldur, and happy that Jefferson and Dick are back after being largely absent in the entire second half of this season. Honestly though, the trap for them felt really lazily written and contrived. A lot of this episode did (see point three). Granny Goodness isn’t that much smarter than the heroes, and they aren’t that dumb. Also after Granny’s just outright admittance that she had Dick and Jefferson to Kaldur and Wynnd was also odd. I’m usually not one to pick out contrivances, or pull crap like question how realistic a cartoon is, but some of these moments felt so glaring and distracting. So here we are.
2. Meet Wynnd
Alright Wynnd is here and him and Kaldur are dating and happy and he’s funny and can hold his own and I’m here for their relationship. Also happy that Dolphin officially took that name and is chilling and being her best self in Shayeris. This show has used a lot of different names for Atlantis cities by the way, and if anyone can tell me which comic run those are from I’d love to know.
Wynnd accompanies Kaldur on his rescue mission, and manages to hold his own as a magic wielder and solider. All good things. They are very cute together, though Wynnd’s admission that he doesn’t understand why Kaldur would want to stay on the surface world signals to me either that they’re gonna break up or Kaldur is going to retire by season’s end. It was a very cute moment, but so few people get to be happy on this show.
3. A child is born with bad graphics
Ok here’s the strangest part of the episode to me, and the weakest. Karen and Mal are in Ivy City and chatting it up about metagenes and other whatnot when Karen goes into labor. Following me so far? Who remembered that Karen and Mal were even having a kid? We haven’t seen them really at all this season.
Ok that’s all fine, and could have been a few second cut before coming back to the main plot, but instead we spent a third of an episode with the couple. They have to perform a surgery on their daughter as she’s born with a slight heart defect. This means Karen has to go Bumblebee into their daughter to patch her up. She also makes an extended detour to edit her daughter’s DNA. Why?…Continued below
The inclusion of these characters who have not at all had a role in this season this late in the game seemed off to me, but I could have accepted it if the scenes didn’t feel stiff, lazy and cheap. I read a couple other reviews that also had similar thoughts, but it really felt like to me that these scenes weren’t fully animated? It was like watching stop motion videos as the action seemed really slow moving and odd from a technical sense. Mal, Karen and their nurse’s animated bodies appeared lifeless. Their eyes don’t ever seem fully rendered, and in Karen’s case they appear crosseyed all episode. Their dialogue seemed emotionless. I don’t have the technical knowledge to know whether this is completely true, but I don’t think I’m the only one who found these scenes odd from both a technical and practical sense. I hope they didn’t run out of money or something.
4. X Pits
Ok so Kaldur and Wynnd go on to rescue Jefferson and Dick from Granny’s prison, which she calls her X-Pit. The pit is being controlled by some small machine called Overlord, and much of the rescue is pulled from the pages of Kirby’s “Mister Miracle” #2. The rescue pulls in Vic and Violet who sense Dreamer’s Mother Box being attacked by Overlord and they Boom in to help with the rescue. The chanting of “My command is Darkseid’s will,” in the X-Pit was disturbing, and Jefferson and Dick coming up mind controlled from the pit only added to the suspicion that we’re headed straight for Anti-Life Equation territory. Well that and the episode titles spelling it out. I’m cool with Anti-Life. I’m cool with odd Fourth World things. I’m here for Granny saying Violet sounded like the Old Gods. This season has taken quite the turn into the Fourth World mythos which was unexpected, but absolutely not unwelcome. I just wish we’d dive into something deeper if we’re going there. I need some more progress toward a Darkseid conflict and confrontation. Luckily one might be on the horizon.
5. Reveal reveal
Alright two reveals at the end of the episode that spell out fun for the future. First, Jace is working with the Ultra-Humanite, and that’s the “mentor” she’s been talking about. It’s unclear if she’s also a Light spy, or self-serving pawn. She calls Brion and Violet her “kids” in the text message she sends along, making it sound like she wants all of them to be extracted and kept away from whatever bad thing’s must be coming. Does this mean Violet isn’t actually dying? Hopefully we’ll know in the next few episodes. Again, we sort of knew Jace was evil and there was something off about her. She illegally gave Brion powers and was working with Bedlam. She’s been bad since the beginning. Glad we’re getting somewhere, shocked it took this long.
Finally, in a true post-credit sequence, Granny contacts Darkseid and says she has found the Anti-Life Equation. This spells major diaster on the horizon, and the first major step towards a conflict with Darkseid, which, again, has been boiling for 6 years (our time) since “Endgame” ended. Are Violet and Vic the key to Anti-Life? Why is Dick still hurting after they make it back to Hollywood? Bring on the “Final Crisis”!
That’s all for this week folks. Overall this episode was a bit of a disappointment that promises (again) more on the horizon. We keep getting promises, but I’m ready for some pay off. Do you agree? Sound off in the comments below and we’ll see you again next week!