Justice League (Season 1, Ep 21): A Knight of Shadows 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:

Wonder Woman locates the Philosopher’s Stone inside Harv Hickman’s house. He is the Hugh Hefner of the DC universe. The Stone is on the headboard of his bed. She locates the Stone by allowing Hickman to make advances on her. Once the Stone is located, Morgaine le Fey and Mordred her son arrive to take it. The other members of the Justice League – and Etrigan – arrive in time to stop her. A fight ensues but the Justice League members escape with the Stone and hide it on the Watchtower.

Morgaine le Fey presents J’onn with an illusion of his home planet and promises to bring it back with the power of the Stone. J’onn accepts her offer. He steals the Stone from the Watchtower to bring it to her. Before he can give her the Stone, the other members of the team arrive to stop him, along with Etrigan. During J’onn’s battle with Etrigan, he he reads the demon’s mind and finally understands that his offer from le Fey is not worth taking. J’onn destroys the Philosopher’s Stone before she can take it. She and Mordred leave and vow to win another day.

THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:

Batman is lying on a bed in the medical bay of the Watchtower. He sits up, shirtless but still wearing his mask. J’onn tells him that he has a concussion and two broken ribs. J’onn apologizes to him saying that he hesitated in battle and that his hesitation nearly cost Batman his life. He suggests that perhaps Etrigan is correct and that he has been tainted by Morgaine le Fey. J’onn explains to Batman that the urge to see his loved ones again is more than he can bear. He also says that Batman cannot imagine how that feels.

Harv Hickman is showing Wonder Woman and Flash around his home while a Halloween party is happening around them. Hickman comes to a statue and begins to tell them of its Greek origins but Wonder Woman interrupts him saying that the statue is a Roman copy. When Hickman begins to protest, Flash tells him to trust her and says that she probably posed for the original. Wonder Woman’s eyes go slightly wide at the suggestion but Hickman wanders off musing over her being a model.

The three of them walk by a couple of bikini clad women in a pool. Flash tells Wonder Woman that he has a fresh lead before leaving her to join them. Hickman, now alone with Wonder Woman, puts an arm around her shoulders and says that he has the power to jump start her career.

Wonder Woman: [flirting] And what’s the source of your power? Some kind of crystal or stone?
Hickman: How’d you guess?
Wonder Woman: I’d love to see your stone, Mr. Hickman.

Hickman takes her back to his bedroom. The Philosopher’s Stone is on the headboard of his bed. He explains that when he was working on the castle excavation, he found this, and pretty soon after he had everything he ever dreamed of – cars, cash, and women.

Wonder Woman: Let me understand this. You possessed the most powerful object in the world and yet all you wished for is money and women?
Hickman: [taking off his glasses and smiling] What else is there?

Hickman growls, uh, seductively at her. Just then, Morgaine le Fey and her son crash through the wall and into the room. The sorceress sees the Stone and says that her quest is over at last. Wonder Woman grabs it and tells her “not yet.” Le Fey blasts something at Hickman and turns him into an enormous worm-like monster with razor sharp teeth.

Flash is in the water with the two bikini clad women telling them about his friendship with Superman. Just then, Wonder Woman and the worm monster crash through the wall. Flash checks on Wonder Woman, who is still holding the stone, and she tells him that Morgaine is here. Flash notes that he gathered that. He speeds away to the party crowd. He tells them where to go where he distracts the monster.

Flash: [to the monster] Hey Cecil, over here!

Flash battles the worm monster. Wonder Woman returns, punching the monster and apologizing to Harv in the process. As she is distracted, Morgaine uses magic to pull the stone away from Wonder Woman. Diana sees this and grabs the stone again. Morgaine pulls both of them to her. Just as she is about to take the Stone, an orange fire hits Morgaine.

We see Etrigan has arrived. He calls both Wonder Woman and Flash fools and asks why they are still here.

Etrigan: Run!
WW: I never run from a battle.
Etrigan: Get the Stone as far away from le Fey as you can. I’ll handle the witch.

Wonder Woman flies away. Etrigan battles le Fey. He loses badly. Just as she is about to kill him, Flash speeds by and grabs him. Le Fey is so angry that she destroys Harv Hickman’s entire house. Hickman in his human form, shirtless and in boxer shorts, falls down on the grass outside. A neighbor yells out a window at him to keep it down.

On the Watchtower, Flash places the Stone in a vault. He tells Etrigan that he would like to see le Fey try to get into that and the demon tells him to be careful what he wishes for. Flash fires back, saying that as far as he is concerned, this mission is over, and that Etrigan can go find some other house to haunt.

J’onn is walking through a hallway on the Watchtower. He appears to be sad and contemplative. As he stares out the window at a distant Mars, the red planet appears to glow. He hears the voice of his wife calling his name from the planet. He hallucinates again that he is on Mars and seeing his wife. He stops, falls to his knees, and says that it is a lie and that he must fight it. The illusion disappears.

Elsewhere we see le Fey looking at a crystal ball, at J’onn, saying that he is weakening and that she can sense it.

Wonder Woman is alone with Batman. She tells him that there is something unsettling about Etrigan. She notes that when he stares it is as though he is staring into her soul. Batman agrees but says he would rather have Etrigan with them than against them.

The lights aboard the Watchtower flash. Etrigan announces that they are not alone. An army of Medieval looking monsters, carrying swords, appears on the Watchtower. The monsters are resistant to Etrigan’s fire and strong enough to withstand attack from Batman, Wonder Woman, and the Flash. Wonder Woman wonders aloud where J’onn is.

We see him fly toward them. As he is flying, he hears the voice of his wife in his mind. He collapses to his knees and tries to fight the illusion.

The fight with the others is even as more and more monsters continue to appear. Etrigan tells Flash that they need a maelstrom and has to explain that he wants Flash to run really fast to create a whirlwind.

Etrigan: By the cold heart of Hera, I command you to freeze!

The monsters freeze. Etrigan yells at Flash to run faster and then faster. The speed of his whirlwind causes the frozen monsters to shatter. After the monsters are defeated, Wonder Woman again asks where J’onn is. Etrigan announces that the Martian is gone and so is the Stone.

Etrigan: You stupid, ignorant, pathetic excuses for heroes.
WW: It can’t be.
Etrigan: Oh really, Your Highness? Let’s take another look. I pursued that witch for centuries. Yet you blindly ignored my warnings and doomed the world.
WW: [slaps him] Enough!
Etrigan: The truth hurts, doesn’t it Princess?
WW: Why don’t you go straight to h-

Flash cuts her off and says that the Javelin – their jet – is gone. He reports that J’onn’s access code is punched into the hangar control. Wonder Woman calls to the jet. We see J’onn aboard and he turns off the comm link to stop hearing her voice.

Flash tells Etrigan that they will stop J’onn. He asks if they are prepared to take out one of their own. Batman says that they will do whatever it takes. Flash asks if all of this is a bit academic inasmuch as they are stranded on the Watchtower? Batman says, “maybe not” and says that they need to get a lock on the javelin.

Somewhere, apparently in London, Morgaine and Mordred stand outside on a balcony and look at the Big Ben clocktower. She tells him that before the clock strikes twelve, and before this All Hallow’s Eve ends, the world will be his. Mordred tells his mother that he must have his own castle. She claps her hands together, and tells him that he will. A green light travels outward from her and London transforms into a gigantic castle. Just as J’onn arrives, she tells Mordred that with the Stone’s infinite power that she can make this last forever.

J’onn walks toward them. He extends the Stone outward, to hand it to her, and a bright light appears between J’onn and le Fey. Wonder Woman, Flash, Batman, and Etrigan jump through the light. A fight ensues and we learn that Mordred also has magical abilities. He, his mother, and J’on fight the against the Justice League and Etrigan.

As J’onn and Etrigan fight, J’onn tells him that le Fey has promised to use the Stone’s powers to restore Mars. Etrigan tells him that her words are honey and lies. J’onn says in return that he does not care and that this is his last chance for happiness. He says that this is his last chance to embrace his family.

Etrigan: You’ll embrace them again after teh worms devour your bones.

The fight continues with le Fey, Modred, and J’onn getting the upper hand. Angrily, J’onn places his hands on Etrigan telling him that he will not be denied by the likes of him. As he reads Etrigan’s mind, he finds the story of Jason Blood as well as a story of fire and torment for the demon. He removes his hands from Etrigan’s head and the demon collapses to the floor – restored to the form of Jason Blood.

Morgaine calls for J’onn to give her the Stone. J’on looks around and sees his Justice League teammates and Etrigan lying on the ground. He sees a vision of his wife calling to him. He carries the stone to le Fey but just before she can take it, he crushes it in his hand, destroying it.

Morgaine: What have you done? You could have had anything you dreamed of, your family and your whole world could have been yours again.
J’onn: The price was too high. I see that now.

Mordred asks his mother if they have lost. She tells him that they have only lost the battle but not the war. They vanish. The others wake up as the castle begins to vanish and the city of London returns in its place. Batman announces that it is over.

J’onn tells the others that he has failed them. He says that in his yearning for his old family he almost lost his new one.

J’onn: Please accept my humble apology and my resignation from the Justice League.

As he walks away, Jason Blood calls out to him and tells him that the demon was wrong about him. Blood tells him that he redeemed himself today. Blood tells J’onn that he wishes he had J’onn strength centuries again.

Blood: But I am still cursed. I must walk alone throughout eternity.

As Blood leaves, J’onn tells Wonder Woman that he hopes the man finds the peace he seeks.

REACTION:

A redemption arc! I mean… kind of. J’onn did not really redeem himself until the last minute. At the very least, he should probably be on some kind of extended probationary period with the Justice League, right?

On the other hand, Wonder Woman went kind of rouge a few episodes back, destroyed a museum, and got magic’d into fighting Superman. So maybe this is just part of the job description.

Did J’onn destroy Jason Blood’s ability to eventually free himself from Etrigan by destroying the Philosopher’s Stone? Maybe. I’m not sure that there is any way to fix what Blood did wrong, centuries ago, without it. But perhaps we’ll revisit these characters again in a future episode and find out otherwise. Morgaine did not appear to view her goal as permanently defeated before she left with her son.

One mythology thing I picked up on in this episode: Etrigan calls upon Hera when he froze the monsters. Does that mean that there is a consistent connection between hell / the gods / magic across time and cultures in the DC verse? It certainly seems that way. That’s actually pretty interesting. The Snyder Cut of the Justice League kind of gives some deep history background of the DC verse and connects ancient history on earth to goings-on in deep space, too.

There was something kind of fascinating in the way that Hickman used the Stone. Rather than power and responsibility, he opted for money, attractive women, and the avoidance of responsibility. It seems kind of absurd to use the most powerful object in the world to that end, but I actually think that use might be more realistic than it seems on first blush. It’s not as though society is not replete with men and women who kind of embrace a permanent childhood to some degree. I was once more grossed out by the Hickman character and his place in a cartoon aimed at kids, but I covered that ground in my Part 1 reaction.

The story kind of wraps on a melancholy note. Blood remains cursed. Le Fey remains uncaptured/stopped. J’onn has betrayed the team against his will and is now feeling the loss of his world and his family deeply.

As story arcs go, this one was probably about average. I did not like the adult-themes in the story (given that the show is aimed at kids.) However, the consequences of the story -as they relate to J’onn and the team – might actually be significant. It was fun to see the team so clearly out-matched by a bad guy (woman) with respect to raw power. The mythology and world-building in this arc was also pretty interesting and took things in a new direction.

One thought on “Justice League (Season 1, Ep 21): A Knight of Shadows Part 2

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