Justice League (Season 1, Ep 11): Paradise Lost Part 2

Hi! Welcome to my episode-by-episode recap of, and reaction to Justice League. There will be no spoilers beyond the current episode. As is my custom with recaps, I will give you a short summary recap followed by a long and unnecessarily helpfully detailed version. My reaction will follow at the end if you just want to scroll past all of the recap.

If you want to see my prior Justice League episode reviews, click HERE:

THE QUICK AND CLEAN SUMMARY:

The Justice League meets up at Faust’s home that Batman has tracked down. There they learn that the relics are pieces to a key that will open the gate of Tartarus, a realm of the dead to where the god Hades has been banished. From there they decide to return to Themyscira with a plan to ambush Faust after delivering to him the key. They succeed in ambushing him but he proves a sufficient match to fight all of them off long enough to actually open the gate.

Hades leaves through the open doors and immediately betrays Faust by giving him what he wants – ultimate knowledge. The ultimate knowledge is that humanity will always know pain and suffering and it abruptly ages the sorcerer and nearly kills him. A fight ensues. The Justice League is initially overmatched by Hades. However, a feeble Faust casts one last spell on the god and reveals his true monstrous face. Hades subsequently becomes distracted by trying to kiss Hippolyta with that face. Wonder Woman uses the distraction to break the key to Tartarus – causing a vortex that pulls Hades back inside. Later, with Faust now dead, the stone statue Amazons return to life. Hippolyta rewards the Justice League for their actions but she also exiles her daughter Diana for violating the island’s edict against allowing men to visit. Tearfully, Wonder Woman leaves.

THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:

Wonder Woman stares at the relic she and Superman recovered from the mall and says that powerful forces are at work here. Superman rubs his head and says to tell him something he doesn’t know.

Wonder Woman: I hope I didn’t hurt you.
Superman: Let’s just say I’m glad we’re usually on the same team.

As Superman and Wonder Woman exit through the mall their fight just destroyed, Batman calls Diana and tells her that he has dug up something on Faust and that she needs to see it for herself.

In the next scene, the Justice League has descended up Faust’s home. It’s filled with relics and old books. Flash wonders aloud if he bought this stuff at WarlocksRUs and picks up a staff adorned with an amulet. It immediately fires a beam at Batman which he narrowly averts.

Batman: Don’t touch that! Don’t touch anything! We don’t know what kind of powers we are dealing with.

The next frame shows Superman and J’onn sheepishly holding objects while Diana only looks sheepish. Superman asks who Felix Faust is and Batman gives a short biography. He was a respected archaeologist until he became fascinated with the mystic arts, whereupon he was kicked out of his university for his heretical ideas. Batman says that Faust swore revenge on those who mocked him and several of those people subsequently disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Wonder Woman says that she has a pretty good idea of what happened to them – just before we see several terrified-seeming heads mounted on Faust’s wall.

Flash: Eww!

Superman says that Faust is mad and Batman tells him that it gets worse. He tells the others that he found Faust’s journal and that the last several entries make reference to Tartarus.

Wonder Woman: The pit of lost souls.
Superman: Isn’t that just a myth?
Wonder Woman: If only it were.

Now it’s Wonder Woman’s time to get a biography of the god Hades. She says that long ago, her mother fell in love with the god Hades, however, when war broke out between the gods and their foes the titans, Hades struck a treasonous bargain with the titans. Hades agrees to deliver Mount Olympus into the titans’ hands and in return Hades was to be given dominion over all humanity. Diana continues saying that Hades tricked her mother into opening the gate of Olympus to the invading titans. She says that this led to a battle of which the muses still sing – with the gods ultimately prevailing over the titans. Hades was cast into the pit of Tartarus for his treachery by Zeus – where he will rule over the dead for eternity. To make sure Hades was never freed, Hippolyta, Diana’s mother, was made to guard the gate of Tartarus. The only key to Tartarus was broken apart and scattered across the globe.

Wonder Woman: Mother told me that she kept one of the pieces in the temple as a daily reminder of her shame.
Martian Manhunter: Then these relics we’ve been gathering are the parts of the key.

Superman: Diana, you can’t give Faust the key.
Wonder Woman: If I don’t, my mother and sisters could remain petrified forever.
Batman: And if you do it could mean the end of the world.

Wonder Woman returns to Themyscira with the pieces of the key. She tells Faust to first release her mother. He agrees. As Diana is seeing to her, Faust triumphantly approaches the relics she sat down. Before he can get to them, he announces that he has no more use for them, and points his amulet at them to petrify them. Flash speeds by and pulls the amulet from his hand. He asks Faust if he thought that he would be the only one with an ace up his sleeve. Just them Batman rappels down and knocks Faust to the ground, as Superman tells him that it’s over. A fight ensues.

Faust’s magic proves a match for the Justice League. He succeeds in creating a living plant that holds them at bay while gathering the key and Hippolyta and leaving. By the time the Justice Leaguers free themselves, Faust and Hippolyta are gone. Wonder Woman leads them down a staircase below the temple to the one place she says that they could have gone.

Below ground, Faust has tied Hippolyta to a broken pillar’s base and tells her that they should not keep their new lord waiting. She replies by saying that he does not know what he is doing. He places the key in the key hole and begins turning it. Ancient cobwebbed gears begin turning and the doors open to reveal fire on their other wide. Late arriving Wonder Woman sees this.

Wonder Woman: Hera, help us!

Hades steps out through the open door. He seems surprised and pleased to see Hippolyta there waiting for him. She tells him that not a day has passed where she has not been reminded of his treachery. He grabs her face with his fingers and says that not a day has passed where he has not longed to touch living flesh again.

Faust tells Hades that he has fulfilled his end of the bargain and he says that he wishes for his end of the bargain. Hades says that he will give him ultimate knowledge as promised. He touches Faust’s head and says that pain and suffering are all that man will ever know. Faust ages rapidly and collapses while shrieking in pain.

Wonder Woman uses the distraction to fly to her mother. She cuts loose her mother’s chains with a sword and pulls her away. Hades speaks casually and notes that Hippolyta did not tell him she had a daughter. He then breaths fire at them. As Hades wonders whether Diana is as loving as her mother (eww) Superman flies down and punches him in the face – as one does. Batman then throws an exploding Batarang at him. These have no effect. Flash circles him with superspeed, punching him, also to no effect. J’onn manages to knock Hades into an opening in the ground but is flung out easily by Hades a moment later.

Hades: You dare to challenge a god!

As he says this, dead hands reach through the stone floor and grab at the heroes. They come through the ground as an ancient Greek army, armed, with some riding dead-but-moving horses. The army’s individual members are easily defeated one on one, however, they continue coming.

Wonder Woman: They’re endless! How can we overcome them?
Hades: You can’t!

Hades calls out for the mortals to bow to him. As he says this, a now ancient Faust stands and casts a spell in the direction of the god. Hades begins shrieking. When he is done doing that, he has the face of a monster.

Wonder Woman: Great Hera!
Hippolyta: Now you see his true face!

Hades, with glowing red eyes, monstrous looking jagged teach, and a tongue divided in three parts, too large to stay in his mouth, pins down Hippolyta to kiss her. Hippolyta calls out the Diana to tell her that she must get the key. Wonder Woman grabs it, still in the keyhole, and seems to be electrocuted in the process. Hippolyta calls out to Diana that she must destroy the key. Wonder Woman pulls it loose from the keyhole. Hades runs toward her and shouts no and she throws it to the ground.

Wonder Woman: Back to the pit, you monster!

The open door to Tartarus begins sucking everything from the room outside of the door violently inside. Faust’s now dead body is pulled inside as are large broken marble pillars. Diana fights to avoid being brought insider herself. Her mother flies through the air toward the door. Hades yanks on Hippolyta from one side while Diana pulls her mother on the other side. Wonder Woman breaks the stalemate with two violent kicks to the god monster’s face. He lets go and flies backward farther into Tartarus. Now on the wrong side of the door, holding her mother as the door closes, Wonder Woman’s fingers gauge the stone floors and she pulls her mother and herself through moments before they close. As Diana and her mother emerge, the rest of the Justice League does as well.

Wonder Woman asks her mother what she ever saw in him and her mother says that it’s ancient history.

Hippolyta: Thank Athena it’s over.
Diana: Is it? What about our Amazon sisters?

Outside, we see that the Amazons are all still stone statues. Hippolyta grieves. J’onn asks if there is nothing that they can do for them. Flash says that he still has Faust’s amulet. Just then, it begins glowing and grows hot. He drops it and yelps. Blinding light shines from the amulet and the Amazons return to human form.

Flash: But how?
Batman: Faust’s enchantment could only last for as long as he willed it.

Sometime later, in an official ceremony, Hippolyta tells the male members of the Justice League that in appreciation of their efforts, the Amazons are eternally grateful. Flash leans over to one of the Amazon soldiers and suggests that after the medals are headed out that she take him on a private tour of paradise. The Amazon soldier just glares at him.

Hippolyta then speaks to Diana. She tells her that as her mother she is overjoyed to see her. However, she says that as her Queen, she must punish her for violating the island’s most sacred law by bringing men there. She then banishes Diana from Themyscira. Flash loudly protests and Superman does so more humbly. Wonder Woman though says that her mother is right. Tearful, she tells her mother that the Fates were against them. As she leaves, Flash continues to complain until Batman whispers sternly in his ear not to make this harder than it already is.

Diana and the Justice League get back on their jet and fly away. As we see Hippolyta watching them leave through the sky, she says “may Hera watch over you, my little sun and stars.”

REACTION:

Typically these “the fates are against us” love stories are romantic. That this one is between a mother and daughter made for a pleasant reinvention of the plot device.

Based on what we saw from Hades here, I am not sure that Superman at full strength matches up. Superman *does* match up well against the New Gods in the DC verse. Does that mean that the Greek gods were more powerful than someone like Darkseid? It might. I’m sure the comic books have explored that at some point. If that Greek gods > DC New Gods supposition is true, though, it implies that Wonder Woman – who is powered by the Greek gods – is probably more powerful than Superman. Their fight in the mall was pretty much a draw but neither of them were going full steam.

Speaking of the mall fight… Bruce is going to have a relatively large expenditure to repair all of that. Can the Amazons repair their own temple relatively easily? That place got wrecked, too. In addition, there’s no chance that security cameras are not going to show Wonder Woman wrecking a museum and a mall. She has some PR work to do.

The story for this episode was not as complicated – and thus not as good – as part one. Part two is primarily action scenes. Those action scenes were well done, though. The Hades transformation to his “true face” was grotesque and terrifying. I don’t think this cartoon was aimed at kids, directly, but the monster faced god trying to force himself on Wonder Woman’s mom was a bit much for a younger audience. It was subtle, but he also implied he would be doing the same to Wonder Woman when he was finished with her mom.

Speaking of too dark for children, the decorations at Faust’s home were also maybe too dark for children. He mounted the heads of his former archaeology colleagues, like one might mount a big game kill, on the wall. Their heads were also contorted in fear.

For adults, or those who are almost adults, the dark character choices made sense for the story being told. But you probably should not show this to your superhero loving 6 year old.

This one kind of ends on a down note with Diana sent into exile. The two part title makes sense in the final moments of part 2. I assume that won’t turn out to be permanent, though.

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