This week, Young Justice: Outsiders only dropped one episode as opposed to its usual three. “First Impressions” opens with Garfield Logan (Greg Cipes) speaking to the older members of the Young Justice team, consisting of Kaldur’ahm (Khary Payton), M’gann M’orzz (Danica McKellar), Artemis Crock (Stephanie Lemelin), and Conner Kent (Nolan North). Garfield pitches the idea of a team of underage heroes who are in the spotlight as much as the Justice League is. As public opinion of the League and its subsequent teams gets worse, thanks to Lex Luther’s role as UN Security General, the heroes are scrambling to find a way to save the world, the meta-teens still being taken, and stop the Light without disrupting the status quo or destroying the already tattered reputation of the League further.
Garfield’s idea is more or less to use social media to raise awareness of all the good the heroes are doing. He argues that if people are posting it, not the League or the Light, it is more organic and will counter the fearmongering created by Granny Goodness (Deborah Strang) and G. Gordon Godfrey (James Arnold Taylor). When Kaldur tells Garfield they will consider it, Garfield, with the other younger members of the team, informs it to get on board as the rest of them have already made their decision to start this positivity campaign with many some willing to forgo their secret identities and all forgoing their privacy for the cause.
I should probably at this point preface this review of “First Impressions” by saying I have worked as a social media manager, currently for But Why Tho? A Geek Community and previous for various businesses in my marketing career. Because of this, the idea that a social media campaign is unbiased and authentic while being campaigned by a clearly motivated party, albeit with good intentions, is laughable to me.
The scene following this introduction has Garfield showing the team around their new HQ in Hollywood, complete with video game consoles and giant televisions. While I love the original Teen Titans cartoon, having Cipes as Beast Boy while Beast Boy shows off the team’s pad feels like a throwback and considering the often dark themes within Young Justice: Outsiders, it is out of place. But as the team settles into their new HQ, the Reach return, unleashing an all-out attack on a smalltown. It is now up to the team and to stop the Reach and turn around public approval rating of heroes through social media.
Young Justice: Outsiders throughout the season has been trying to show the serious division between the Justice League and its various teams with “First Impressions” finally diving back into that story. Since the League can no longer act without going through the proper governmental channels, it becomes nearly impossible to stop catastrophic events or at least stop events from becoming catastrophic – this is more or less the argument Captain America made in Captain America: Civil War. Beast Boy’s plan is just one part of the cog in the overarching goal to bring down the Light’s power over the UN and now the public.
The episode “First Impressions” attempts to make a bigger statement about using social media to further greater causes but unfortunately, it is bogged down in a complicated plot that is riddled with too many characters. Additionally, this episode is the first time I am reminded that this was initially created as a children’s series. Previously, I spoke about how Young Justice and many of the episode in Young Justice: Outsiders are unafraid to make jokes with innuendos, those some of that is still present in this episode, and delve into very heavy themes. All of that is thrown off by a laughable plan.
Once again, for perspective, social media plans are incredibly difficult to create, implement, and track so the idea they can be created without a team of marketing coordinators behind it is ridiculous. And while I understand this is a children’s show, it is still a children’s show that is unafraid to talk about human trafficking. Since its return, Young Justice: Outsiders doesn’t quite feel like the same show it used to be and “First Impressions” just further drives that nail into the coffin.
Young Justice: Outsiders is streaming now on HBO Max.
Young Justice: Outsiders Season 3, Episode 17 - First Impressions
Once again, for perspective, social media plans are incredibly difficult to create, implement, and track so the idea they can be created without a team of marketing coordinators behind it is ridiculous. And while I understand this is a children’s show, it is still a children’s show that is unafraid to talk about human trafficking.