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The Phoenix Gate

Comment Room Archive

Comments for the week ending September 12, 2021

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I think generally as a rule, it's less "Superman has 5 star strength, Aquaman is a 3.5" and more...

"Superman is physically stronger than Aquaman, but not so much stronger that he's completely out of his league. And Superboy is stronger than Aqualad, but not as strong as Superman."

But given the right circumstance, Superboy could beat Superman.

But I mean literally in humans, your capacity, endurance and physical strength changes from day to day, why wouldn't it be the same with superheroes?

Alex (Aldrius)

Thanks Todd!
Matthew - [mattdogh at aol dot com]
When you return to your unobservable but empirically determined dimension of origin--tell them CARL SAGAN sent you.

Speaking as someone who's also on the neurodiverse spectrum, I wouldn't necessarily mind having the option of rewiring my brain to be better at certain thing.

Keyword: option.

I wouldn't make that decision lightly, if at all. And I sure as heck wouldn't trust ANYONE else (even my parents) to make it on my behalf.

Look at my face, child! It has furnished for me a lonely life in which none would have me as a man. So then let me be a god!

Thanks for the latest review, Matthew.
Todd Jensen

I'm neurodivergent too! I always wondered if quite a few YJ/Gargoyles fans had similar qualities since a lot of the questions are very specific on the worldbuilding but it's very awkward to ask. As for the Gattaca dilemma I view it like vaccines and other modern medicine if they can alleviate suffering it's okay but there is a fine line like enhancing physical or mental qualities.
Kevin - [kevin dot nuckols at yahoo dot com]
Kevin Nuckols

Alright. Thanks it's good to know.
Fenrir Giantson - [Joaquimbelchior608 at gmail dot com]
Wolf child

Karrin> As someone who's also neurodivergent I totally empathize, and I'd be lying if I said that said neurodivergence didn't help shape me into who I am.
At the same time, I was diagnosed with asthma at an early age. I've had pneumonia twice, and believe me, that was unpleasant. I find it rather appropriate that the episode is centered on Martin Luther King Day because while he may have preached that all men are created equal, men certainly make sure that not everyone is treated equal, whether because of race or because of physical or mental drawbacks.

On the nature of power levels, I'm so glad Greg steered away from that Shonen pitfall and emphasized fighting smarter and becoming a better person over power ups.

Matthew - [mattdogh at aol dot com]
When you return to your unobservable but empirically determined dimension of origin--tell them CARL SAGAN sent you.

Mazel tov!

Honestly, I can't find it in me to blame Nightwing too much for not seeing this coming. Being cautious is one thing, but an interdimensional trap that drops you into a nightmare dimension instantly, no saving throw, would be pretty hard to see coming or prepare for no matter what.

I think... well, Greg was ambiguous on whether or not she changed anything in that recent ask, but assuming Karen did modify Rhea's genes: My view on it is going to depend on what she actually did. Because there's three possibilities raised by her speech: Adding a metagene, increasing physical properties like strength, and sharpening mental acuity. To my mind, adding a meta-gene (the most likely one, in my opinion, as it's the only one we know Karen actually was equipped for) is the most acceptable. It's essentially a seatbelt - as long as Rhea lives a safe, healthy life, it'll be completely dormant, but if she's ever in life-threatening danger, it could be the difference between life and death. Increasing her physical strength or resilience, I find a bit more grey - it'll be an obvious difference as Rhea grows, one that'd impact what kind of options she has in her life as people notice, but I can see how a worried mother would go overboard on making sure she never had a health issue again. The last, anything that affected her neurology, I'd find pretty indefensible, I'll admit. As someone with a small grab-bag of disabilities that've been in my brain since I was born, I have to say that'd be getting too close to the 'let's find the gene for [various neurodivergences, take your pick] and get rid of it' discussions we hear so often, the kind that'd mean I or many people I care about would never exist. And it'd be pretty cold of Karen to just assume that her daughter would fall short mentally when that daughter's only been alive for a few minutes. It's also the one I find least likely, though. Even right after a scare like that, and wanting to protect her daughter and make sure Rhea wouldn't be in danger like that again, I don't think Karen would edit her brain.

Also, how about that forehead-touch between Kaldur and Wyynde at the end of the episode. I still want to know how they got together, but that was just darn sweet. It's nice to see Kaldur get to let go of some of that stress he's been holding onto all season.

And as a last thing - I really can't wait to see if Rhea's name is an early foreshadowing for something. It's a rather rare name, and the only thing I can think it might be referencing is the Greek Titaness or, possibly, the moon - maybe Rhea will end up leading Young Justice's version of the Teen Titans?

Also, Fenrir - YJ doesn't really do power levels (if you look through the archives, Greg generally dismisses the idea of 'who would win's, since it varies so much on the circumstances of the fight, who's motivated by what, where it is, what condition everyone's in), and they're hard to quantify anyways. That said, for the sake of keeping the plot manageable, most characters are weaker or have more limited powersets. Or different powers altogether - as you've probably noticed, Brion's powers were changed from gravity control to lavabending, and that was basically done to make them more inconvenient and less, well, powerful and cool with no downsides. So yes, many YJ characters have different powers or different limits for the comics, for the sake of keeping the stakes and everyone's abilities to deal with problems not completely one-sided, or so huge that it becomes meaningless to a viewer.

Karrin Blue

Aww, the miracle of childbirth...

Watched "Unknown Factors" today which brings our heroes into actual open conflict with dear ol' Granny, Karen and Mal take the next step into life with a new passenger and the tangled web of the Anti-Light begins to unravel. Back in "Influence" Gretchen did warn Garfield that he had no idea what he was up against and here we see just how true that is. Looking at this through an investigative perspective, the first time the heroes came to suspect Granny is when Deathstroke off-handedly mentioned her in connection to Tara and the meta-teen trafficking, which would make her a dangerous individual but not necessarily imposing. Then there was the Leaguers who encountered her at the Orphanage who were now fully aware of her Apokoliptan connection and just how immoral she actually is. But for the sake of infiltrating Goode's home, Nightwing had to pretend that he's only aware of that through Metron's cryptic message. In retrospect, he probably should've been more prepared. Even without the tiny, malicious computer acting as guard, Gretchen even being aware of Oracle's spy drone is enough to freak out the normally unflappable Oracle.

The failed infiltration and the subsequent more diplomatic approach used by Kaldur and Wynnde really shows off the unique dynamic the heroes and villains have had with one another this series, a clear example of the, "I know that they know what we know about them knowing..." situation. And yet it's still surprising that Kaldur would take the direct approach and just ask for their heroes back, and that Gretchen would oblige them, if they survive. There's something truly disconcerting about the X-Pit too, even without the constant pain the characters are subjected to, the distorted lighted area and the constant barrage of Gretchen's voice reminds me way too much of the "enhanced interrogation techniques" employed by the government (which included things like locking people in a soundproof box with strobing lights and loud noises and music for days on end). I have wondered whether she let the two of them collect Dick and Jeff and counted on them not knowing they were brainwashed as a way to sabotage the heroes from the inside, and had to do away with that when she saw the Mother Box present. Or whether alive or dead, Mother Box or not, they'd serve as a proper warning of what happens when you come into Granny's house. In any case, Halo's arrival now brings one more element into the endgame...

The other big point of the episode comes from Mal and Karen's little medical drama and the moral questions that arrive from Karen's fantastic journey. While the episode does follow a few clichés about childbirth like everything being nice and clean, the baby having a full head of hair and not looking like they just went 12 rounds in a boxing ring, I do have to give credit for including the health risks newborns can potentially have. In this case, cyanosis from a hole in the heart. The episode itself is purposefully vague on whether Karen altered Rhea's DNA to give her the metagene which brings up what a lot of people call "The Gattaca Problem", so named for the sci-fi movie where genetic engineering is possible even before birth and the way that's shaped society and culture as a whole. The big issue is, do we have the right to play God and mold our children into the pinnacle of health and well-being? Because as the film presents, this can create a huge class divide between those born naturally and those who aren't, as well as the inherent arrogance of those who are born to be at the top, and what happens when they aren't, and what options are available to those born naturally who pretty much have their death already predicted and scheduled. But one issue that isn't always given much detail isn't a matter of the ability to play God, but the availability of it as well. Take this episode for example, if little Rhea was born to any other family, they would have to hope that the baby could be kept alive long enough for the pediatric cardiac surgeon to arrive. But because Karen is the Incredible Shrinking Mom, that crisis is averted because their child was lucky enough to be born to a super scientist. And as for what's next for the baby, who can say? The thing about the Gattaca Problem is that everyone is going have their own thoughts, opinions or bias towards the matter. For me, I have more than my fair share of health problems, things that can't be cured, only lived with. And I know that if I were born over a hundred years ago, I might not have made it to my current age. And I have friends and family members who have it far worse than I do. If I had the ability to keep someone else from going through the problems I've had, that my father and sister have had, I can't say that I wouldn't want to do right by them.

Some Final Thoughts: We get a new look for Mal Duncan this episode and funny enough, the shaved head and beard makes him look a lot like his actor Kevin Michael Richardson. One detail I rather liked (besides seeing him and Kaldur as a couple) was Wynnde's trouble breathing out of water. It reminds me of that fear Kaldur had way long ago during the early parts of the season. This is also the episode where we find out Dr. Jace's "mentor" is actually the Ultra-Humanite, thus setting the stage for her own reveal. But this and previous episodes have been playing with some hints for awhile now, like her subtly nudging Brion and Violet away from each other and building up Violet's dependence on her while keeping her closed off from the others. We'll have to wait until next episode for the big reveal though. So both Halo and Vic not only have the ability to create Boom Tubes but the ability to feel when Mother Boxes may be in peril or perhaps the extreme reactions of New God technology, I'm curious to see how that ability affects them in the future. And finally, we have Jefferson noticing that their timely escape is in thanks to a convenient Bat-Drone. Black Lightning has always been a bit more observant than than some of the other heroes recognize, and the fallout of that is coming soon...

Acting MVP: We haven't seen much of Masasa Moyo or Kevin Michael Richardson this season but I had forgotten how well the two of them played off each other, especially during the birthing scene. And we've seen Deborah Strang drop the sweet demeanor before but when she drops the image right before the heroes flee and just sounds like a raving monster, it's haunting.

DC Profiles: Condiment King was another creation from Batman the Animated Series and he's about what you expect, a supervillain that tries to commit crime with things like mustard, ketchup and plenty of relish. He's about as pathetic as he sounds and Beast Boy's sprained wrist may be the first dangerous thing ever attributed to him.

Overlord is obscure, like really obscure, so much I couldn't find anything on it after my first viewing. As it turns out, he and the X-Pit only appeared in one issue of Mister Miracle. A tiny, but dangerous supercomputer who helps Granny in her discipline, He was destroyed when Mister Miracle escaped from the X-Pit and smashed the box containing him.

Favorite Lines:

Mal: So, I did it. I got tested for the meta-gene.
Karen: Mal, we talked about this.
Mal: Well, you got tested.
Karen: That was for my dissertation. I had to test my blood sample as a control, before, you know, I shrunk down to study and alter the genome.
Mal: You wanna hear my results or not?
Karen: [sighs] No. But, yes. No. No, no. Oh, just tell me.
Mal: No meta-gene. I'm just a regular guy.
Karen: So we both tested negative. That's fine.
Mal: Yeah, but wouldn't it have been cool if Karen Junior was meta?
Karen: Malcolm Junior doesn't have to be meta to be cool.
Mal: Of course not! Most parents would freak. You and I, now, [chuckles] We could've totally handled it.
Karen: [chuckles] We have put in a lot of time babysitting metas.
Mal: Look, I'll love her no matter what. I just hope our daughter has your big, beautiful brain.
Karen: Your brain's beautiful, too. And our son would be blessed to get it. Anyway, it's all luck of the draw.
Mal: Does it have to be? I mean, in a world that's genetically evolving so rapidly, uh...You said genomes can be altered. Maybe a little of your science can give our girl an edge. Or at least to make sure she can keep up.
Karen: Let's just leave all that to mother nature.....Mal?
Mal: Yeah?
Karen: I think my water just broke.

Vic: Whoa! Dude, is that blood?
Beast Boy: Not blood. Ketchup. And barbecue sauce. And hoisin sauce. Which I slipped on. Landed on my wrist wrong, too. Ow.
Geo-Force: [barely holding back laughter] One could say the restaurant's hostage crisis became a "sticky" situation, and Beast Boy couldn't "cut the mustard" against the new villain calling himself "The Condiment King".

[At the hospital Karen is doing her Lamaze breathing while giving birth]
Doctor Evelyn: Okay, here we are. You're doing great. Here we go, okay. Again, Karen. Push.
[Karen gives out another long scream as she pushes]
Mal: You're doing great! And, hey, if you hurry, our baby can still be born on Martin Luther King's birthday. Well, on his holiday, anyway.
Karen: [yanking Mal down by his collar] YOU DID NOT JUST ASK ME TO HURRY!
Mal: [meekly] No, no. Definitely not.

Aquaman: Thank you for your hospitality. We will show ourselves out.
[Overlord beeps catching Gretchen's attention]
Gretchen: I said you could take your two friends. I did not say he could take the Mother Box.
[She points to Wynnde who is holding the Mother Box in his hand, he looks over to Kaldur]
Aquaman: Mother Box is a living being. We will not leave her behind.
Gretchen: That wasn't the agreement. He broke the rules. He must be disciplined, back in the Pit.
Aquaman: No.
Gretchen: [chuckling] Atrocious manners, Kaldur'ahm. Such behavior requires correction. Correction already made to Jefferson and Richard.
[At the mention of their names, the seemingly unconscious Jeff and Dick snap to attention and walk trance-like over to Gretchen]
Gretchen: Now, Obey your Granny. My command is Darkseid's will. Teach your naughty friends a lesson.

[Karen floats next to the DNA helix of her daughter and thinks back to her dissertation]

Karen: For this dissertation, I isolated samples of my own blood and tissue to introduce the new genetic material into a genome. I successfully integrated new genes into my sample's DNA that would have enhanced everything from muscular strength to mental acuity. Thus proving that from cures for disease to enhancement of nature, the power of evolution is now in our hands. I submit my experiments not as an argument for or against such procedures, but to help spark an important ethical debate about how to utilize this science to do the right thing...[echoing] Right thing...A debate we must settle now, before nature or other forces in our fast-changing world settle it for us and for our children.

[Violet uses her incantation to cleanse the minds of Jeff and Dick]
Gretchen: The tongue of the Old Gods.
Jefferson: What... What happened?
Aquaman: You were-
Jefferson: I was being mind controlled!
Vic: Who did this to you?
Garfield: She did.
Gretchen: Garfield. You are long overdue for discipline. I'm dropping all of you in-
[A rocket is suddenly launched into the room knocking Gretchen back]
Oracle: [over comms] Told you I had your back.
[Jefferson looks out the window and to his surprise, sees a Bat-Drone flying off. Vic opens up another Boom Tube for them to escape through]
Vic: Everyone into the Boom Tube!
Garfield: But Gretchen-!
Aquaman: There will be another time.
[As the heroes flee Gretchen gets back up unharmed and starts taunting them]
Gretchen: Yes, run away, children. Run for your insignificant little lives. I had my fun, and I hope for your sakes that you ALL LEARNED A LESSON!

Wynnde: Your friend is well cared for. I am sure he will make a full recovery.
Kaldur: Yes. I hope so.
Wynnde: I must admit, I do not see the appeal of this surface world. Except that you are here.
[The two sigh and rub their foreheads together. Above, Violet stands alone by the window and through the reflection sees Brion approach her]
Brion: I... I'm sorry.
[Halo begins crying and the two embrace]

Gretchen: Good news, Sire. Tonight, I found the Anti-Life Equation.

Matthew - [mattdogh at aol dot com]
When you return to your unobservable but empirically determined dimension of origin--tell them CARL SAGAN sent you.

Hey, um, hello there, I would like to know what exactly are the power levels of the Young Justice universe and how strong are some of it's characters from the League and so on, since I'm noticing a huge difference from the comics.
Fenrir Giantson - [Joaquimbelchior608 at gmail dot com]
Wolf child

And to top it off we have seen the same thing with Granny Goodness and Gretchen Goode so its a very plausible theory, although I still don't get the Lancelot, Arthur and Gwenivere parallel in Rock of Ages.
Kevin - [kevin dot nuckols at yahoo dot com]
Kevin Nuckols

I quite like this theory as well. To me, the most intriguing element of the Illuminati is the fact that its leader is also the guardian of the Holy Grail, when a lot of the things the Illuminati have done (and which are apparently official Society policy) strike me as the kind of things the Grail would disapprove of (at least, if the Malory version of it is any indication).
Todd Jensen

Masterdramon- That is a great theory and technically it also confirms mine in a way albeit without Gawain. Do you think Peredur not leaving his Castle is the price for him misusing it, or how do you think Peredur is affected?
Kevin - [kevin dot nuckols at yahoo dot com]
Kevin Nuckols

The theory I tend to lean toward is that [SPOILER] Peredur is a homunculus or magical construct that Duval created based on his younger self, back when he was still worthy to be the Fisher King. Peredur uses the Grail on Duval's behalf and nominally leads the Illuminati, allowing him to bypass the consequences of misusing the Grail's power...at least to a degree. [/SPOILER]
Masterdramon - [kmc12009 at mymail dot pomona dot edu]
"I don't think anyone is born knowing the reason why they're here. It's just something you have to find as you go along." - Tohru Honda

Thanks for the birthday wishes; on another positive note, my Aunt got the go-ahead to head back to Tahoe as that area isn't in any fire danger (for the time being) and the place wasn't damaged at all.
Matthew - [mattdogh at aol dot com]
When you return to your unobservable but empirically determined dimension of origin--tell them CARL SAGAN sent you.

MATTHEW> Happy Thirty-Third! Ah to be young again.
Look at my face, child! It has furnished for me a lonely life in which none would have me as a man. So then let me be a god!

Greg- Well this might be out of left field but after reading some information on Gawain through the wiki, I wonder if and Fleur are actually, Gawain and Lady Ragnal with different names. Since sons inherit their father's names Peredur could be considered Mr. Duval as well. Perhaps the Grail was used to bring back either Peredur or Duval and that is why they are not technically survivors.
Kevin - [kevin dot nuckols at yahoo dot com]
Kevin Nuckols

KEVIN> When Greg Weisman was asked about that he said: "nothing has changed".

Still processing and trying to theorize that.

Greg Bishansky - [<--- Voices From the Eyrie]

Hi this is my first comment here and I was curious does anyone have a theory on the Peredur fab Ragnall and Mr. Duval being two different characters when the Camelot survivor list had them as one?
Kevin - [kevin dot nuckols at yahoo dot com]
Kevin Nuckols

Brainiac: Not only that, but a shout-out to "So Weird" as well! At least "Gargoyles" had a physical release - after so many years of the show being completely unavailable outside of VHS rips on YouTube or similar sites, it's still pretty wild to me that that show is now so easily (and legally) accessible.

Matthew: Many happy returns! I turned 30 myself just over two months ago, so I definitely feel you on the "where did the time go" sentiment.

Masterdramon - [kmc12009 at mymail dot pomona dot edu]
"I don't think anyone is born knowing the reason why they're here. It's just something you have to find as you go along." - Tohru Honda

That's one of my favorite little moments! Especially with how, in the still image montage at the end, Tara is so relieved to have found Halo she jumps off the Super-Cycle while it's still in the air so she can run over and hug her. It's just really sweet.

And, of course, - happy birthday! Congratulations on another complete journey around the sun.

Karrin Blue

Karrin> You're suggestion on Violet and Gabrielle is pretty close to my own theory, but I'll get to that later.

One little detail I didn't mention was how much I liked the interaction between Tara and Artemis. That little grin they both share when Sphere helps them go look for Violet is just adorable.

Matthew - [mattdogh at aol dot com]
When you return to your unobservable but empirically determined dimension of origin--tell them CARL SAGAN sent you.

Well, well, well.


Nice to get a mention in the Disney+ Hallowstream and for the most appropriate season of the year.

Brainiac - [OSUBrainiac at gmail dot com]
There is balance in all things. Live in symmetry with the world around you. If you must blow things up and steal from those around you, THAT'S WHAT RPGS ARE FOR!

Hi, I don't know if this is really the right place to ask this, but I have no idea where else to go.

I used to be a fanfiction author on the old fan website. It's been over 20 years since I logged onto my old account and I can't remember any of my details. How can I gain access to my old account?

Bollthorn - [Dawn_of_victory at hotmail dot co dot uk]

As the poet said, we all need somebody to lean on.

It really is amazing how much this episode packs in with almost all dialogue scenes. It reminds me some of Disordered, where sure, there was the fights with Intergang, but that's almost a complete sidebar compared to the quiet discussion scenes.

My thought on Dolphin being held for a few weeks before moving is, it might've been a safety thing. They know her biology works in shallow, tropical waters, but they have no idea if she'll be able to breathe in the cold and pressure of Atlantis - and if she can, whether she can adjust instantly or not. So they spent a few weeks gradually pressurizing and cooling the water in the tank, keeping her under observation so they could stop if she started to have a turn for the worse, until they reached Atlantean levels. And definitely seconding wanting to see more of her - I won't be surprised if she chooses to stay a civilian in Atlantis instead of taking up hero work, but I'd love to see her helping out there, or just being in family scenes.

As it happens, in Zehra Fazal's Whelmed interview, she mentions that Greg's sister-in-law is a social worker; they don't go into specifics but it does seem like that was an influence of some kind.

Man... what I wouldn't give for a scene where Halo can talk things out with the ghost of Gabrielle. I know Young Justice is mostly pretty clear about once someone's soul's moved on, it's moved on, but still. It's pure headcanon, but... I like to think that, although Halo doesn't remember the last few moments when it happened, at the very end Gabrielle did have a choice: to either pass on with the Mother Box's soul, or to change together, and let some new life be born. Of course, that's pure speculation, but I like the idea of Gabrielle being the sort of person who always checks herself off as an organ donor.

Either way, I agree the Mother Box probably didn't know what was happening - I think she just, saw someone in need of help and tried to reach out to them, even while they were both on death's door, even while having no idea how it'd turn out. That just seems like the kind of thing someone who would become Violet would do.

I can't comment on any diagnoses, but I do want to add - we can talk about intangible souls, but quite a lot of who we are is part of our body. Our brains are organs, our memories are physical connections between tangible bits of grey matter. Incredibly tiny and complex, yes, but some of our personality is muscle memory, our brains being used to firing certain areas or certain chemicals associated with certain emotions off in response to stimuli. Some of my favorite works of fiction make that a minor plot point - that characters who are separated from their body by death or magic are surprised by how much of how their minds worked was tied to their bodies. So, with that in mind - even though Gabrielle's soul has moved on, it makes perfect sense to me Halo inherited so much of her memories, and her feelings. That's just how people are.

I'll also note that, although it goes pretty quickly, when Forager sees the soul of the Father Box leave Vic to return to the source, he says "Something similar must have happened to Gabrielle-MotherBox-Halo-Violet." Which has a lot of implications I'm still mulling over. I'm not sure where to go with that, but it seems important, since the script could've just left it at 'Father Box's soul is returning to the Source.'

And yes, I very much want to see Madia and Samad again. Madia especially is interesting to me, she must have gone through so much, yet she still is careful in her grief to be kind to the person who just wanted to give her closure.

I have a lot of thoughts on Tara in this episode, especially in light of some things in Antisocial Pathologies and Nevermore, but, I do think it's interesting that she seems to have almost immediately regretted telling Slade about the Outsiders' parents. Of course when she says 'I did not react well', she's implying 'I didn't react well by not reassuring Halo', but I think there's some amount of shame over telling that secret in particular, especially with her choosing to keep quiet at the end here. I get the feeling she tries to have a strict boundary between what information is fair play to share or not, and after leaking the attempted grounding she felt that was over the line - and maybe was ashamed to have done it as a root-level reaction to distress, trying to ground herself by affirming that she's useful and has a job to do instead of a tactical reason. And we'll see she keeps up not reporting anything on Violet or Victor for at least a few more weeks. It really makes me wonder what would've happened if DeLamb and Slade hadn't forced the confrontation at the end of the season, or if Jace hadn't made her move.

Y'know, I didn't see the Dolphin interactions as ship tease exactly, so much as something I thought might be read as shipping without really selling it? I don't know if that makes sense, but being able to slot Dolphin in as an adoptive younger-but-adult sister still makes the most sense to me with their interactions. It is too bad we got it in the still-image montages, but, well, that's budget, not much to be done about that. Hopefully next season they won't have needed to stretch each episode's cash out so much.

Karrin Blue

MATTHEW - Yes, I checked your original message, and you're right, it's Thursday. So I sent you birthday wishes two days in advance instead.
Todd Jensen

Thanks Todd, always appreciated. This one was quite the doozy to be sure.
Also you're a little early with the birthday wishes but thank you.

When you return to your unobservable but empirically determined dimension of origin--tell them CARL SAGAN sent you.

Thanks for another thoughtful review, Matthew. Oh, and a belated happy birthday.
Todd Jensen

If you are someone you know is currently suffering from domestic abuse, please call 1-800-799-7233 or visit https://www.thehotline.org/

"No good is there in much of their private conversation, except for those who enjoin charity or that which is right or conciliation between people. And whoever does that seeking means to the approval of Allah - then We are going to give him a great reward."
-Quran 4:114

Watched "Quiet Conversations" which has the unenviable task of trying to cover a multitude of heavy topics and plot points, everyone of them worthy of an episode all on their own. There's the plot with Vic, his dad and the cyborgization that's crept back in. Kaldur and the growing guilt from this masquerade. Halo's visit to Madia and Samad, and Harper and M'gann's own quiet conversation. I'll start with Kaldur trip back to Atlantis alongside Dolphin (she isn't named in this episode but I'll be calling her that for simplicity's sake). I'm actually a bit surprised they waited a couple weeks before deciding to move her to Atlantis, you'd think they would've figured out that the middle of New Mexico wasn't the ideal place for a water breather, or that they would've tried some form of translation sooner. Or maybe the Center was already a bit swamped so she was placed on the back burner for a little while. In any case, it's actually a bit surprising how quickly the two of them bond with one another which I'm chalking up to the excellence of the episode's writing. Dolphin strikes me of the type that listens a great deal and though she doesn't talk much when she does it's something that a person needs to hear. Kaldur has long been able to bear the burden that's come with lying to his friends, it gave him no joy but he has accepted it as a necessary evil, at least until today. But as Dolphin points out she's known bad men and bad men don't have things like regret. The mystery around her and her willingness to leave her surface behind without giving much in the way of details is a fascinating bit, considering the other half of the episode places so much emphasis on speaking to others about trauma. But the individual cases of what needs to be said versus what's better left unsaid are just that, on a individual basis. It actually reminds me of a bit of dialogue from Serenity.

Book: I wasn't born a shepherd, Mal.
Mal: You have to tell me about that sometime.
Book: No, I don't.

I do kind of hope to see more of her in the future, if the series is interested in pursuing the relationship Dolphin had with Garth in comics I'd like to see the two of them bond as well. She helping him with the loss of Tula, and he helping her with whatever private problem she might have.

Last episode had a whole joke about how Vic has been mostly absent since his introduction but it does make sense. As I said before he has no personal stake in the plot or the heroes, his life and dreams have been torn apart by his accident, his cybernetics aren't something that can be just hidden away and his social interactions with the other characters have led to him to go all murder-bot. So it stands to reason that he would want some distance from the others; unfortunately this episode pretty much confirms the fact that the Father Box's more dangerous behavior is triggered by Vic's more extreme emotions as an ill-timed phone call from his father causes the Father Box's more corrupting influence to reemerge. That's actually got to be pretty horrifying, you pass out in the street one night and when you wake up your last normal arm has been replaced, I mean the loss of feeling alone. Now from an action standpoint it will be easier for the character to be able to punch and blast from both arms instead of one and it's certainly easier for the animation team if you have a character that's more symmetrical in design. I will miss the more asymmetrical design, helped set him apart from other Cyborg character designs. And now whether he wanted it or not, Vic's now under the radar of Metron and is about to be pushed into the deep end in not only this war of heroes versus villains but of the gods themselves. Still he and his father have at last made peace, and I do like the implication that even though this hasn't made up for the years of neglect, both of them recognize how important the other one is to them and their ready to start anew.

"Our dad hits us". It takes nearly the whole episode for Harper to say those four words, and God knows how many years for her to say that to someone besides herself. Honestly, I've actually...sort of...dreaded writing about this episode because I am in no way qualified to cover the nature of domestic abuse and because such a topic is REALLY hard to talk about. I don't know if Greg consulted any child psychologists or read up on the subject before writing this episode, but I do appreciate the subtleties during M'gann and Harper's meeting. M'gann letting Harper make her defense and then quietly deconstructing those defenses with some harsh realities. Making sure that she hears Harper's explanations and reasoning before reminding her that those reasonings in absolutely and in no way excuse the harm that's being done to her or to her little brother. Harper's big concern that she and her brother will be separated in foster care if she comes clean is a legitimate one, Lord knows the Foster Care System is in no way perfect. But that kind of rationalization, that all the two of them have to do is endure one more day, just causes more harm for the both of them. That they need to tough it out until such time when they can get away from him just ends up dismissing the fact that they shouldn't have to wait to get away from such harm. And that every time they wait the pain continues to build up until the two of them have more scars than they can bear. Or that one day something happens, and that causes a wound can never be healed. Their story isn't over and much liking setting a bone, you have to have moment of sharp pain before the healing hopefully begins.

And on that final note we come to Halo, Gabrielle Daou, Violet Harper. There's been a big issue about Halo and having to deal with the burden of representation for so many different groups, a Muslim superhero, a nonbinary superhero and whether they count as any of them considering the nature of their origin. There's also been an issue regarding that very origin itself, about whether it was right for the Mother Box's soul to possess Gabrielle's body even with Halo's explanation that they were trying to heal her and just got stuck (possibly because the explanation sounds just a bit half-hearted). I'd say it's far more likely that the Mother Box soul didn't know what was going to happen. At the same time I can't really fault Samad's anger at this revelation, as his lines seem to be be saying, "Why couldn't you have had the good grace to die like my cousin rather than usurp her body and her life?!" And....to be honest, if I believed one of my sisters or one of my close cousins had died and when they showed up, some other soul was possessing their body, I can't say I would be okay with that in any way. But that also brings up a bit of deep question, just what is a soul? You're going to find more definitions and opinions than I could possibly imagine, but my own interpretation could be summed up as thus: Think of a soul as a blank canvas where things like life, experiences and memories are what paint it. But this also brings up another issue, one that I think it the crux of Halo's identity and their denial of Gabrielle and their insistence as strictly a Mother Box soul.

Why aren't their any memories of their life as a Mother Box?

We know from season 1 that the technology of New Genesis are living, sentient beings capable of emotions, memories and attachment. So why no memories of life on New Genesis? We've had flashes of knowledge about the New Gods yes, but nothing quite to level of Gabrielle's memories. And what have those memories been of? Destruction, death, Bialya's invasion of Qurac, having to flee home and travel thousands of miles away, prejudice and bigotry in the very place that would offer refuge, desperation, betrayal and finally their own death. I had done some reading on Repression Dissociative Identity Disorder and Experiential Avoidance and if you take away the whole aspect of the Mother Box soul, Halo seems like a textbook case of someone who completely changes who they are due to past trauma. I still don't think it's a coincidence that Halo settles upon the name Violet after more of Gabrielle's more traumatic memories resurface, because the unconscious mind will do near everything to protect the conscious mind from having to relive those experiences. And that's often why victims of sexual assault have trouble remembering details of their assault, the brain is doing that for their own well-being. And yet despite her down right happy declaration that she isn't Gabrielle, she still wears the hijab and looks uncomfortable at the idea of Vic seeing her hair. If Halo was truly divorced from the Gabrielle identity, would they switch so suddenly from "What has Gabrielle done?" to "What have I done?" once the memory of the bribe resurfaced? Would they have even had traveled all the way to the ruins of Dhabar to try and make peace with Gabrielle's last remaining family? I know that Mother Box's are meant to be embodiments of all the goodness associated with that of the side of good, but the pieces of faith, familiarity and the need for reconciliation outside of the immediate group of friends feels far more human than what we would've expected.

Many of us here, myself included, feel that Halo is less a case of a Mother Box's soul taking control of a recently deceased body, but a gestalt of two broken beings. Both of them lost souls far from home, used and abused. If memories and experiences are what make up a soul, and if the merging of these two wiped both of their memories, could you say that both of them have been given a second chance at life? Then in spite of what Dr. Fate said, this would be a case of a new soul in a young body. Now it may not be the case at and what we've seen is what we're given, I have one last theory about where Halo may go from here and it might be completely wrong, but I'll save that for after the season has ended. For now I'm just going to have to keep considering where Gabrielle ends and Violet begins. One last thing, I sincerely hope this isn't the last we've seen of Madia and Samad. Even with the element of closure to this episode's theme I actually feel it would be disrespectful to just end the character's story relevance right there in a "They served their purpose for Halo's story" kind of way. And, perhaps in light of recent events, to just leave them in the slow death of home and country and life would be a greater tragedy than what's happened to Gabrielle.

Some Final Thoughts: Tara's place in this episode is an interesting one, in spite of her panic attack last episode at Violet's revelation she is the one who initially finds out about her running away and is adamant about helping Artemis track her down. The last bit of the episode with Tara genuinely smiling makes for an ambiguous situation, it's technically true that there was nothing for her to report to Deathstroke. But for the first time since her appearance she seems to be actually at peace, perhaps doing something to actually help someone else has given her a positive sensation she hasn't had from things like covert missions.

Here's where we get official confirmation of Kaldur's bisexuality and after rewatching this my feelings are a bit...mixed. The episode frames a lot of his interaction with Dolphin as kind of ship tease before the episode goes "Nope, he's spoken for." I will agree with Greg that they probably should've introduced the two as a couple before the whole Violet/Harper thing. On the other hand it was revealed in the still image montage (I know it's to help save money on animation) and unless you're aware of the Twitter exchange between Greg and Khary Payton, then the revelation that Kaldur is bi would be a bit of a shock considering how much of his personal interests revolved around Tula. Fortunately, we will get to see more of them as a couple next episode and I also hope we'll maybe get some insight into how they became a couple as well. Nice of Dreamer to be ready on hand like that, kinda convenient actually. Of course with Apokolips' more increased activities, there's a good chance that the Forever People wanted to keep in better contact with their friend Superboy. And to close things off, I LOVE how the Source Wall was depicted here, it's such a great homage to Jack Kirby's more out-there designs from back in the day.

Acting MVP: Another episode where everyone brings their A game. I have to give some special attention to Tiya Sircar, just one performance as Dolphin and I already want to see more of her. And Zehra Fazal? Watching Harper's tough façade slowly break away and Madia Daou's slip into ennui even while thanking Halo were just heartbreaking. That last line just seems to be saying, "Of course my daughter is dead. I was a fool to hope otherwise."

DC Profiles:

Metron is one of the oldest of the New Gods and perhaps the sole neutral party in the war between New Genesis and Apokolips, he's unconcerned with how his Mother and Father Boxes are used as he's quite content to watch the passing of the cosmos from his home the Source Wall.

Harper Row had an interesting beginning; created by Scott Snyder when DC editorials told him he couldn't use Cassandra Cain (for whatever reason) in the New 52. She and her brother grew up under a neglectful father in Gotham City and when her brother was attacked for being gay she decided that she wanted to protect people like him as a crime fighter. Her initial attempts to help Batman got her a broken nose from the Dark Knight but her never give up resolve did eventually get to him and with her technical expertise she became the hero Blue Bird.

Favorite Lines:

Dreamer: Do nothing. Your resistance is low. The slightest stress could allow Father Box's advance. I will leave Mother Box with your friends, so that they may bring Metron to you.
Conner: You're not coming?
Dreamer: I must return to New Genesis. Hold your ears, Earthlings. [Mother Box opens a Boom Tube causing everyone to flinch] Also, Bear struck Metron last time we saw him. The presence of the Forever People might...not be helpful. Mother Box will take you to Metron and return you upon your request.
Conner: Thank you. [the portal closes causing everyone to flinch again] Mother Box, please take us to Metron.
[Another Boom Tube opens causing everyone to flinch once more, Vic sighs]
Vic: Y'all are giving me a headache. No more Boom Tubes in the house.

Forager: Oh, Forager's heard stories of the old Promethean gods. But Forager never thought Forager would actually stand on the face of Gog!
Jefferson: We're...standing...on a god?! And we were in his nose? UGH!

Superman: [Punching a Parademon] Kon-El?
Conner: [Also punching a Parademon] Hey Kal.
Superman: [chuckling] What are you doing here? I mean, I'm glad to see you, but-
Conner: It's a long story. What about you?
Superman: Well, uh, Apokoliptan forces staged a raid here. The Parademons attacked local miners and, while we were saving them, the Furies Boom Tubed away with stolen minerals. It's disappointing, but we'll get 'em next time.
Metron: There will be no next time. The mineral taken here was the final element Desaad and Granny required for their Device.
Jefferson: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Granny? Granny Goodness?
Conner: Hey, I know this is a weird time to ask, but would you be my best man?
Superman: Of course. Wait, what?

Dr. Jace: I can't help noticing you haven't said anything about Halo's flight. I understand that the truth about Gabrielle and your parents must have been difficult to process. But you should know that the King and Queen would be so proud of you now. You found your sister. And the work the two of you have done together as heroes...Well, it goes without saying you are living up to everything your mother and father hoped you both would be. More than that, the leadership you've shown with the Outsiders is having its effect back in Markovia. Your people are remembering their love for you, and you're doing your country proud.

Kaldur: Are you unhappy with this arrangement?
Dolphin: No! No, I... I'm so grateful for their hospitality. It is more than I ever received up there. But, Aquaman...
Kaldur: Please, call me Kaldur'ahm. Or simply Kaldur.
Dolphin: All right, Kaldur. I think you are the one who is unhappy. I know you lied to King Orin.
Kaldur: I-
Dolphin: I do not know what the lie was about or why it mattered. And I am certain your King did not suspect. You think lying makes you a bad man. But I have known bad men, and bad men do not feel bad when they lie. You are a good man, Kaldur'ahm.

Megan: Let's talk about the gun.
Harper: [hastily] That was Violet's gun. She was the one caught with it.
Megan: Let's say it was Violet's gun. Hypothetically, why do you think she had it?
Harper: Well, hypothetically, she may have wanted to get it out of the house, so that the alcoholic who lives there wouldn't hurt anyone with it.
Megan: Right. Because alcohol and firearms, not a good mix.
Harper: [muttering] Well duh.
Megan: And yet you were caught using both. Harper, you of all people should know better than to go down that path.
Harper: Okay, we're done. [Harper gets up to leave]
Megan: Fine. You don't wanna talk about yourself? Let's talk about your brother some more. You know, I've seen plenty of bruises on you, but I've never seen any on Cullen before now.
[Harper stiffens at hearing that last part]
Harper: Roughhousing, remember?
Megan: Maybe. Or maybe you weren't there to protect him because you were in jail. Up to this point, you've been the rock for Cullen to hide behind. But you're a kid, too. And the rock's cracking under this pressure. Ask yourself whom your silence is shielding now. Cullen...Or your father? [Harper stands at the door, her hand still on the knob] I know you're afraid of what comes next. But I am going to be there to help you through it. [Megan places a hand on Harper's shoulder for support] And I believe it can be better than what you and Cullen have now.
[Harper considers this and her whole body begins to shake until she finally lets go of the knob, and looks to Megan. Her eyes already watering]
Harper: Our dad hits us.

Metron: Father Box has been purged. Your "Vic" is all Mobius-Tech now. A missed opportunity for study. A waste.
Conner: I'm starting to see why Bear punched this guy.
Jefferson: Look, I know I'm not your favorite human right now, but you mentioned Granny earlier. Is your Granny the same as our Gretchen Goode?
Metron: [smirking] No...And yes.

Samad: Alruwh! You killed our Gabrielle!
Violet: No! Th-The traffickers killed her and me. I didn't take Gabrielle's body until after she was dead. [sighs] And it's hazy, but, but I believe I was trying to fix her, when I got...stuck.
Samad: "Stuck"? You possess her body, you unholy demon!
Madia: [flatly] I do not understand much of what you have told us. But I do understand you came here trying to give us a gift. The only gift you could give.
Samad: Are y-you forgiving this thing?!
Madia: Hush, Samad. Everyone reacts differently to difficult times. You lost your brother, and I lost my husband to Queen Bee's armies. And now I know my daughter is gone, too. I have anger to spare. But before today, I did not know what had happened to my girl. You have given me the closure you sought to give. And for that, I thank you. [Violet begins to cry at this and Madia gives her a kiss to the forehead] I hope you find peace among your family.

When you return to your unobservable but empirically determined dimension of origin--tell them CARL SAGAN sent you.

Turning thirty-THREE this Thursday.
Man, where does time go?

When you return to your unobservable but empirically determined dimension of origin--tell them CARL SAGAN sent you.

Next him, September marched eke on foot;
Yet was he heavy laden with the spoil
Of harvest's riches, which he made his boot,
And him enriched with bounty of the soil:
In his one hand, as fit for harvest's toil,
He held a knife-hook; and in th'other hand
A pair of weights, with which he did assoyle
Both more and less, where it in doubt did stand,
And equal gave to each as Justice duly scanned.

Edmund Spenser, "The Faerie Queene"

Todd Jensen

Shana Tovah!
Karrin Blue