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 separately learns about Savage’s plans to invade the USA. Steve Trevor and Wonder Woman learn about it via the comms device stolen by Trevor and decoded by Ernst. Superman, Hawkgirl, and the Flash learn about it from Martian Manhunter who has been in Savage’s facility covertly. Lantern learns about the plan during his time with Easy Company. Lantern’s group fails to destroy Savage’s runway but Lantern boards Savage’s personal jet as it takes off on its attack of the USA.
On Savage’s jet, Lantern sabotages the radio equipment and the engines. This slows Savage enough for the rest of the Justice League to catch up and route Savage’s air force. Flash even warns the Americans that the invasion is coming with enough time for U.S. gunships to fire on the invading planes over the ocean. At the last moment, J’onn realizes Lantern is *on* Savage’s plane. Hawkgirl is able to rescue him seconds before the plane crashes into the water. The episode ends as the heroes return through the time portal and find their world and the timeline mostly restored.
THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:
Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor are with Ernst in his cell. As they look outside, they see several of Savage’s armored tanks roll up. Ernst tells them that Savage knows they have the communicator and that the Axis wants it back. Wonder Woman removes the electronic components of the communicator from their plastic case. Steve asks what she is doing and she asks him to trust her.
The tanks begin to shell the cell. Wonder Woman protects the other two with Ernst’s cell mattress and her own body. The tanks then roll over the cell with her continuing to protect them in the same way. After the attack is over, one of the German soldiers searches through the rubble and finds the plastic case of the communication device.
We a soldier run in to see Savage at her war room table. He reads the note, says that they were lucky, and then gives the order to begin Operation End Game.
At the location where the communication device case was recovered, we find Wonder Woman breaking through the rubble with her fist. Steve, calling her angel, tells Wonder Woman that he is glad she is on their side. She blushes. Ernst agrees and thanks her in German.
Wonder Woman: You’re German?
Ernst: Please believe me, we are not all like them.
Wonder Woman: I understand.
Steve: Okay [handing Ernst the communications device] now that they think this thing is kaput, let’s see if you can figure out how it works.
Superman and Hawkgirl, along with the Black Hawks, are approaching the armed facility that the Black Hawks are targeting. The two of them eviscerate the Axis defenses easily. As the Axis soldiers are closing the gates to the facility, we see Flash zoom inside – as a blur – before the gate closes.
Flash enters the facility and yells at all the workers to get out. The workers do not appear to know English so he breaks an alarm with his elbow. The sound of the alarm sends them running. After the anti-aircraft defenses are destroyed and after the workers are evacuated, the Black Hawks begin a bombing run on the facility.
Once the facility is destroyed, the Justice Leaguers learn that the facility was building a jet engine. Hawkgirl says that the technology is way too advance. Just then, Martian Manhunter arrives and tells the others that it is from the future and that he knows how Savage is planning to use it.
Lantern is still with Easy Company and still powerless. The group is studying a map and noticing that it has a problem – namely that there is a hill in their location and the map fails to note it. As Lantern studies the hill, another of the soldiers from Easy Company falls inside. Lantern announces that the hill is a phony and climbs down inside to find his comrade who fell inside. Inside the phone hill, Lantern points toward the runway they are supposed to destroy. The underground facility is massive and well defended.
In a bunker, Ernst has cracked the code on the communication device and he is listening in. Steve Trevor asks if he can tells them where the Axis plans to land and asks about Britain.
Ernst: Britain is not their target. They are invading America.
Steve Trevor says that they have to alert the Allies. Wonder Woman says that she can do it. He asks her to wait and asks further what if he never sees her again. In reply, she kisses him. Then she runs out the door and flies away.
Back under the fake hill, Easy Company is debating how best to destroy the runway. As they debate, a car arrives containing Vandal Savage himself. The dictator announces that he will personally lead the invasion himself. Easy Company opens fire. Savage orders his troops to ignore the attack and to launch the plane. It begins to take off – despite Easy Company fire. Lantern yells that he has a plane to catch. He commandeers a motorcycle and begins chasing the aircraft. Easy Company provides cover as he catches up to the jet and jumps onto it.
On the ground, one of the Black Hawks announces to Superman, J’onn, Hawkgirl, and the Flash that they have just received information that Savage is launching an invasion of America. The Justice Leaguers immediately begin running and flying west.
Inside Savage’s plane, Lantern begins sabotaging its engines and electrical components. The plane begins losing altitude. In the cockpit, Savage gives the order to radio the others instructions to go on without them. The pilot says that the radio is not working. Savage orders him to learn what the problem is. The co-pilot finds Lantern with a crowbar while he has a gun. He is able to over-power Lantern. A few moments later, the co-pilot and other soldiers carry Lantern to Savage. The soldier tells Savage that someone named Stryker is repairing the damage.
Savage puts on an electrified glove and begins torturing Lantern for information about what he is doing and who he is working with. As the torture is on-going, Savage and the rest of the crew hear explosion outside. As they look through the plane’s window, they see Hawkgirl destroying other invading jets with her mace. An air battle ensues. A few moments later, Wonder Woman arrives to join them.
Just as it looks like the Justice League is going to win easily, one of Savage’s soldiers tells him that the wiring is repaired and that all systems are operational. Savage orders to him signal the others and to fire the afterburners. The jet he is on then does just that and leaves the Justice League behind is a cloud of smoke.
Hawkgirl: They’re getting away.
Superman: Maybe not.
Ahead of Savage’s fleet, ships in the water begin firing up at them. We see Flash holding a pair of binoculars on one of the ships.
Flash: What did I tell you? Right on schedule.
On his jet, Savage orders the pilot to make evasive maneuvers. He is prevented from doing so by an escaped Green Lantern. Savage finds Lantern holding a gun. He tells Latern that he is welcome to try killing him. Instead of doing that, Lantern opens fire on the plane’s control panel.
Some distance away, as the plane is crashing, J’onn senses Lantern on the plane. Before he can do anything to help, an explosion near by injures him. Hawkgirl catches J’onn. While she holds him, J’onn tells her that Lantern is aboard the crashing plane. She flies toward the burning plane as it dives toward the water.
On the plane, Savage and Lantern are fighting, Lantern bare-handed while Savage is wearing an electrified glove.
Lantern: Say your prayers, Savage.
Savage: A god doesn’t grovel.
Hawkgirl breaks through the cockpit window to the surprise of both of them. She grabs Lantern by the arm and flies him away just before the plane hits the water and begins flooding the inside of the plane.
Lantern: What took you?
Hawkgirl: [laughs] I had to fix my hair.
On board the ship, Flash announces that the Axis jets are turning back. As everyone cheers, Wonder Woman asks if they should go after them. Superman says that he does not think they will need to. The Black Hawks arrive just then providing air support. The Justice League smiles and lets the Black Hawks and their twin propeller planes take on the Axis fleet of jets that look like stealth bombers.
Back in Europe, an Axis general tells others that Savage’s plan has failed and that his ridiculous air fleet has been destroyed. Another man asks the general who will lead them. The general opens the cryogenic chamber where we see a frozen Adolf Hitler.
General: Who indeed!
The Justice League jumps back through the time worm hole just moments before is closes.
Flash: Home sweet home.
Batman: [in his normal garb] I should have known you’d be here. The instruments in the Watchtower picked up this anomaly hours ago.
Superman runs over to hug him. Batman asks if he is missing something. Abashed, Superman says that it is a long story. Hawkgirl tells him that he will never believe what they have been through. Wonder Woman waits behind, alone, and she seems pensive.
Sometime later we see Wonder Woman in an assisted living center. The nurse tells her to please keep her visit short. She goes inside and finds a much older Steve Trevor staring outside.
Wonder Woman: Steve?
Steve Trevor: Angel!
She sits next to him on a bench and holds his hand.
This episode is noteworthy because the JL did not wholly succeed.
In the DC animated universe timeline, Savage’s temporary take-over during WW2 (with advanced weapons, etc.) happens… D-Day was a failure… everyone now remembers it… the JL just changes the timeline so that the takeover is only temporary. That also means that the Allies spend the decades after the war musing over costumed super-powered beings intervening in the war to help them out. That’s wild. You have to know that military brass at some point put that together to some extent whenever Superman shows up decades later.
Think about this. The American command was warned by a man with super speed in a red costume that Savage was invading. How did Flash convince them? How did that effect American policy in the ensuing decades? Just based on this episode alone, I’d love a story examining the time between WW2 and “present” (when the show aired.) It could focus on people like Steve Trevor or maybe eventually the Waynes, Amanda Waller, etc.
Also true in the DCAU timeline… Hitler was intentionally cryogenically frozen – and then unfrozen – by the Axis Powers during the war. How did they apologize for that after they unfroze him? Maybe they did not need to. Interestingly, the DC version of events paints Hitler as something of a spokesperson for “High Command” chosen as the leader, and easily replaced when Savage came along. Again, I don’t mind the choice from a story-telling standpoint but I’d like more time seeing how that worked.
Overall, I enjoyed the story and the conclusion to Season 1. I’ll write a season 1 review sometime soon but for now I’ll focus on The Savage Time.
In Part 3, everyone finally reunites. The Axis is not really treated as a formidable threat – and given the context it should not be. Superman by himself probably could have done this job but for the time constraints. The Axis is treated as a formidable threat to the world without the Justice League, though. I think the episode would have benefited a lot from elevating the stakes for the JL themselves. The biggest factor working against the Justice League in this three-part story is time. They were limited by a forty-eight hour window to defeat Savage. Reinforcing the time constraints would have created some additional tension during Parts 2 and 3. So we have a story where the JL’s stakes could have been raised and a story where I left more interested in the fallout of the story than the story itself. That said, I still liked it. It just could have been better.
As big story arcs go, Lantern and Hawkgirl are well on their way to being a couple. We got the little hand squeeze at the end of the episode as she flies him away. These two have gone from constantly bickering to openly affectionate. It’s been slow-burning enough to be believable.
Wonder Woman also has a nice moment with Steve Trevor as the episode ends. He probably had some thoughts about the past whenever Superman started showing up in the news. Within the context of the animated universe, for him, that was several years ago. Wonder Woman has been in the news for months. He might have been expecting an eventual visit from “Angel” and the episode delivers that at the end. Tying back in with my initial “what did military brass think about this incident” it seems very likely that Trevor was part of that decision-making himself, to some degree. [Hear me out.. a Cold War era DC animated show where military brass is fixated on the oddities surrounding WW2… it could include Steve Trevor, the Waynes, Clark and Kara’s space ship crashes, Vandal Savage himself, and maybe at some point a young Amanda Waller.]
All in all, this was a good story and it ended the season on a good note.