This episode opens in a post-apocalyptic setting, where a man in a prison uniform with an inhibitor collar is speaking to a teenage boy, who is busy setting up a time machine.
We then cut to Mount Justice in the present, where Nightwing is analyzing the Krolotean intel that Miss Martian and the Martian Manhunter extracted from Malina Island in the episode, ‘Alienated.’ He discovers that the aliens were experimenting on humans to discover their meta-genes. (In the comics, the meta-gene is what is responsible for a person developing super powers after a strange accident– for instance, getting struck by lightning and doused with chemicals– rather than… y’know dying.)
Suddenly, the time machine materializes in front of them and out steps Impulse, Bart Allen, The Flash’s grandson from the future. He quickly establishes that in the future there are exactly two slang terms, “Crash” which is good and “The Mode” which is bad. He enthusiastically races around Mount Justice, while Robin and Beast Boy attempt to apprehend him. For the first time on this series, we get an examination of super speed powers as Impulse “limbos” under Robin’s bo staff in slow motion. Ultimately Nightwing takes him down and cuffs his hands and feet.
Elsewhere, following up on the episode ‘Salvage,‘ Red Arrow and Cheshire, baby Lian in tow, locate a mountain fortress where Cheshire’s Intel reveals the original Roy Harper/Speedy is being held. The only problem is that it’s a fortress packed with ninjas!
Back at Mount Justice, the heroes are skeptical of Bart’s story, that he is The Flash’s grandson from the future and that he’s in the past as a “tourist” and is there to watch his grandfather in action in his prime. He also reveals that he knows that Nightwing is Dick Grayson, Robin is Tim Drake and Beast Boy is Garfield Logan, which Beast Boy at least wasn’t aware of. “Oops! Spoilers!” he mutters. Beast Boy asks for more information about the future, but Impulse tells him they shouldn’t risk altering the time stream. Mal arrives and Impulse vibrates free of his handcuffs and escapes the cave. Nightwing reveals that he planted a tracer on Impulse– the water he was drinking. He determines that Impulse is headed to Central City and calls in help.
Speaking of, Barry Allen (voiced impeccably by ‘CSI’s George Eads) and wife Iris are celebrating the 70th anniversary of his mentor Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash and his wife Joan. Barry gets a call (presumably from Nightwing) when Impulse rushes in and introduces himself. Barry stammers, “Iris and I don’t even have kids!” Iris then informs him that she just found out she was pregnant that morning. Bart then says hi to his dad (Don) and Aunt Dawn. (In the comics, they grow up to be known as the speedster duo The Tornado Twins.) “Wait, there are two in there?” gasps Barry. Bart then mutters, “Oops, spoilers,” again. Wally suddenly arrives and cautions Bart on revealing too much about the future. Iris gets a call and Bart tells her not to answer it, but she does anyway. There is a new super villain, the atomic-powered Neutron, rampaging downtown, demanding The Flash’s blood. Barry suits up, but Bart tries to convince him not to face Neutron. He, not-convincingly, tries to act like he doesn’t want to break up the reunion, but Barry tells him he’d “Be back in a flash,” which causes everyone to groan. Looks like Bart isn’t the only one spouting annoying catchphrases. Bart then races after The Flash.
Neutron is randomly blowing stuff up in Central City. The Flash rescues a woman and her baby and tells her to seek shelter at the corner of “Fox and Gardner” (homage to comic writer Gardner Fox, who created the Golden Age Flash). Bart arrives and insists that he’s just there to watch Barry defeat the bad guy in his prime.
Not far away in a factory, two beings that are clearly not Krolotean, but are speaking Krolotean are monitoring the destruction and imply that they are responsible for Neutron gaining his powers. They aren’t shown full-on, but it looks an awful lot like Miss Martian and Martian Manhunter. But that can’t be right? Or can it?
Back in the mountains, Roy and Cheshire sneak into the fortress, but Lian’s cheerful squeal draws attention to them. Roy remarks, “Told you we should have left her with your sister.”
Wally appears in downtown Central City, back in his Kid Flash costume and urges a fireman to stay back. The fireman calls him “Speedy” and Impulse (along with The Flash) pops in and tells him “Speedy is the other guy, although the history books are really unclear on the why.” He also lets slip that they are facing “Neutron” although the villain hasn’t revealed his name. He bluffs and says he heard him shout it. The Flash hatches a plan to form a wind tunnel to neutralize the villain, but as he goes on, both he and Impulse speed up their talking until no one else, not even Wally can understand them.
They implement their plan, but once again, both Flash and Impulse are significantly faster than Kid Flash who gets frustrated when they start lapping him repeatedly. Their vortex lifts Neutron off the ground and his powers overload and he explodes, taking a good chunk of downtown Central City with him. Kid Flash isn’t fast enough to outrun the energy wave and Flash and Impulse must save him. “This is so humiliating” he groans.
Once clear, Impulse starts to head back, but The Flash stops him. Impulse claims he just wanted a “closer look.” Kid Flash uses his pimped out goggles to zoom in and see that Neutron’s body is reconstituting itself. Once reformed, the former Neutron is disoriented and doesn’t know where he is. The “Krolotean” observers indicate that in his explosion, Neutron destroyed the device they were using to control him. He has “crashed The Mode.” They destroy the factory and their observation device and depart.
Wally determines that Neutron was wearing a containment suit and without it, he’s even more unstable and looks like he is about to blow up again. The Flash plans to grab him and take him to the desert, where he will do the least amount of harm, but this plan alarms Bart. Barry tells them to stay put and once again remarks, “I’ll be back in a flash.” In an ominous slo mo sequence, Barry dodges energy blasts as he races toward Neutron. Suddenly, Impulse appears running beside him, until he accidentally trips them both.
Neutron detonates and the blast looks as if it will take Bart and Barry with him, but two other blurry figures zoom in and rescue them, Wally and Jay back in his classic Flash costume. Wally is angry that Bart almost got Barry killed, but Barry defends him, saying that Bart and the others saved him. “Even at my top speed, I’d have never made it to the desert,” he explains. Barry asks why Jay is back in uniform, when they suddenly realize Bart is missing.
Back at the explosion site, Neutron is once again reforming. Bart appears and pulls out a mysterious blue capsule. The capsule bonds with Neutron and seems to negate his powers. The others arrive and Jay asks what happened. Bart lies and says that Neutron just “ran out of juice.” (Also, Neutron– real name Nathaniel Tryon– appears completely NAKED! Um, this is still a cartoon, right?) Depowered, Nathaniel asks, “Who’s Neutron?”
Back at the mountain fortress, Roy is concerned at the “obvious delight” Lian expresses over the “ultra violence” of their battle. Red Arrow and Cheshire have defeated all of the ninjas and discover a chamber with a containment unit inside… they open it and find the original Roy Harper, Speedy, his right hand removed.
At Mount Justice, the heroes have analyzed Bart and determined that he is indeed who he claims to be. He hops into his time machine which does nothing. He seems frustrated when he emerges. “The whole thing’s fried,” he exclaims, then kicks it. “I’m trapped in the stupid past!”
But is his frustration real? The scene shifts back to the desolate future seen at the beginning of the episode. The man in the prison jumpsuit cautions the kid, Bart, that travelling to the past will fry his time machines circuits. “This is a one way ticket.” Bart says “Does this look like a future worth returning to?” It is revealed that the devastated location in which they are standing is the remainder of Mount Justice, forty years in the future. Bart tells Neutron that he better get into character. Neutron/Nathaniel tells Bart not to use that name. He seems remorseful of the destruction he has caused as a super villain. Bart reveals he is going into the past to cure Nathaniel and save Flash’s life. As soon as Bart gets into the time machine and vanishes, Nathaniel changes. He is no longer wearing the prison uniform or inhibitor collar. At first he rejoices, but when nothing else around him changes, he seems distraught. “The Mode… it should have crashed!”
What is “The Mode?” Yep, another mystery. Something tells me this is going to prove to be a real pivitol episode, even though at the moment I don’t understand how. There are a lot of major events, most obviously, the arrival of Impulse. Impulse, not Kid Flash, was actually a star of the ‘Young Justice’ comic book, so this brings the show slightly more in line with that, although this is clearly its own continuity. Even so, Bart is a fan favorite and his arrival should make a lot of people happy. But while a lot was introduced, there was seemingly a lot more unanswered, something this series seems to do quite well! I’m sure The Mode is going to prove to be a huge plot point. Plus who were those two shadowy figures speaking Krolotean and manipulating Neutron from afar? It was implied that it was J’Onn and M’gaan, but was that a red herring? I hope so! Or was it them, but are things not as they seem? At this point, who knows!
I also want to point out that Clone Roy has finally recovered Original Roy. That’s huge! That’s been a major plot point that has been lingering since last season, so I’m glad to see it finally heading toward resolution, however… once again there’s still a lot unanswered. What happened to him? What are we going to do with two Roys running around?
Knowing that in the comics, Barry Allen died and Wally rose to take on the mantle of The Flash, this episode felt quite ominous as Barry took on Neutron. But with Wally retired and clearly not as fast as either of the Allens, what could this mean. Will Barry eventually die, forcing Wally to take over? Will Wally excel and become the fastest Flash, as he did in the comics? It seems like a logical path, albeit a sad one.
Once again, props to George Eads. He toned down his Texas accent to portray Barry as a sweet, midwestern everyman. He’s corny, with his “back in a flash” catchphrase, but loveable and warm at the same time. Eads brought the requisite charm to the role of the Justice League’s most down-to-earth member. The voice actors on this show always deliver, though, so great job to them all.
Overall, it was nice to catch up with Wally, who has been absent for much of this season. It was also nice to get a bit of closure for Red Arrow. (Although, nit pick, who takes a baby to a ninja fight? The worst parents in comics?) And of course, we get the introduction of fan fave Bart Allen, Impulse. Like I said, I’m sure this is hugely significant episode… I just don’t know why yet!
What did you think? Excited by Impulse’s debut? Comment below!
If you missed the previous episode be sure to read our ‘Young Justice – Invasion: Beneath’ recap to catch up.