I don’t know how your childhoods were, but I always looked forward to a trip to grandma’s house. I was always greeted with a loving hug, warm cookies and I never had to worry about being enslaved by the Anti-Life Equation. (My grandmother hadn’t learned how to unlock it yet.) This week on Young Justice: Outsiders, the Justice League tried to storm Granny’s Orphanage and found themselves brainwashed within minutes. The Team followed to try and rescue Halo, but the results were similar. Why do people keep going to Granny’s house? Don’t they remember what happened to Dick and Jefferson in “Unknown Factors”?
We’re one episode away from the three-part season finale, and this was quite a cliffhanger to end on. I’m a bit tired of examining the pessimistic scenarios where the Team might fail, so this week, I’m going to take a break from that to focus on the positive. You might be saying, “Josh, the Team has lost and Granny Goodness now controls the world. What is positive about that…unless…omigosh…is Granny controlling you too?”
No, I haven’t been enslaved by the Anti-Life Equation. I swear. (My grandmother never unlocked it, remember?) There is something positive in this episode, and it’s all thanks to Nightwing’s fever.
I’m not crazy for celebrating Nightwing’s fever—hear me out! During their battle on Granny’s Orphanage, Nightwing’s fever caused him to hallucinate an extended tribute to season one…and it was awesome! If you’re a longtime Young Justice viewer, you were probably grinning ear to ear as the Team was seen in their old costumes, spouting their classic catchphrases (It’s been too long since we’ve gotten a good “Hello Megan!”). The soundtrack even played the original theme music. But that wasn’t the part that got everyone’s attention. Nightwing’s fever dream featured Wally West, the original Kid Flash, back in action fighting alongside his friends. No offense Bart, because you’re a great Kid Flash, but I’ve really missed Wally.
Eventually Dick snapped back to reality, and we were once again reminded that Wally was gone. That moment hurt, but it was nice. When Artemis and Dick embraced over their mutual grief for Wally, I was holding back tears. The pair have both been trying to put Wally’s death behind them in their own way, while the fans have been dealing with it in their own way. The animated version of Wally West may not be a real person, but he was a character we watched grow and the fans emotionally connected with him. He may have been fictitious, but the emotions fans felt during his death scene were not. But the flipside of that is we were also able to feel real joy from Dick’s fever dream and seeing Wally again.
I’ve spoken in this column before about my tendency to live in denial, and that’s where I’ve been with Wally’s death. He’s a speedster who disappeared and how many times has that happened in the comics with the speedster showing up alive later? It’s practically a Flash rite of passage! There was no corpse, and anybody who’s a superhero fan knows that means a revival is probably coming. The producers, writers, voice actors and fictitious characters have all said he’s dead, but despite that, I keep on expecting Wally to come back when we least expect it. Maybe I need to come to terms with the fact that Wally is gone, just like Artemis and Nightwing have.
It’s been two years in the show’s universe since Wally disappeared (I’m still hesitant to say died), and it looks like Artemis has dealt with her grief and is getting ready to move on. She and her (now single) brother-in-law Will have been making eyes at each other, and it looks like something might be happening there.
Nightwing has avoided processing Wally’s death, which made Will uncomfortable in the episode “Private Security.” Dick called Will “Wally,” which made their mission even more awkward than it already was. The fever dream we got this week was a great way for Dick to process his feelings regarding Wally once and for all.
So, Dick’s dealt with it, Artemis has dealt with it, but there’s somebody who hasn’t—Brucely the dog! At the end of this week’s episode, he was seen resting by the hologram memorial of his former master, and earlier this season the pup was snuggled up with a Kid Flash doll.
Maybe I have something in common with this fictitious dog, and I need to accept that Wally isn’t coming back. But even if he’s not coming back, that doesn’t mean I can’t celebrate his memory, much like Dick did with his dream. So, let’s binge those old episodes again, and laugh at some of Wally’s funniest moments. Good night Kid Flash, you were a brave soldier.
What do you think my fellow Outsiders? Is it time to let Wally go, or am I giving up on the possibility of a revival too easily? Tweet your thoughts at me, and be sure to report back next week as we digest the events of the season finale event!
Young Justice: Outsiders airs exclusively on DC Universe. Subscribe now and catch new episodes every Tuesday!
Joshua Lapin-Bertone writes about TV, movies and comics for DCComics.com and DCUniverse.com, is a regular contributor to the Couch Club and writes our monthly Batman column, "Gotham Gazette." Follow him on Twitter at @TBUJosh.