SPOILER ALERT! This is a full episode recap, so if you don’t want to read any spoilers, please watch the episode first!
Blue Beetle gets a lot of focus and embellishment this episode which opens with a flashback to his origin. Standing outside of a burning Kord Industries, Jaime Reyes finds the mysterious scarab that affixes itself to his back and supplies him with his armor and weapons.
Back to the present, he snaps awake inside his containment pod, in the clutches of The Light’s enigmatic partners who are finally revealed to be The Reach, exoskeleton wearing aliens who excel at scientific experimentation. The head female scientist (sorry, they don’t give her name) is trying to study the scarab’s data bases but discovers they are corrupt and she can only access from the point that it fused with Jaime. Their mysterious leader steps out of the shadows: it’s Black Beetle, a hulking variation on Jaime’s armormed form.
Elsewhere, the Reach Ambassador escorts Aqualad through their facility located beneath the Pacific Ocean. Kaldur gains valuable insight as the Ambassador reveals the nature of their experiments on the Meta Gene, the “genetic marker indicating the potential of an individual human to survive catastrophic physical trauma by adapting new abilities.” In other words, why some people develop super powers. Aqualad tries to persuade the Scientist that Lagoon Boy has super powers and therefore is not an average human, but she counters that his powers are magical in nature so he is, in fact an average Atlantean. She then shows him Impulse and Beast Boys in their containment pods being shocked with energy. The point, she says, is to see if their abilities can be duplicated.
The Scientist departs and Aqualad makes the assumption that Blue Beetle is in the third lab. The Ambassador says that neither that lab nor Blue Beetle is any of The Light’s concern.
In Star City, Tigress is preparing to ship additional meta gene carriers to The Reach. Batgirl and Robin, incognito, along with a shrunken down Bumblebee, sneak their way in with the ordinary humans, including Stephanie Brown (in the comics, once a Batgirl herself as well as employing the identities of Spoiler and even Robin). The civilians question why they should trust them, but with Bumblebee’s appearance, they let it go. Tigress has all of the teens loaded into pods and transports them to The Reach’s base. Meanwhile, they are being trailed by Miss Martian, Nightwing and Wonder Girl, who gets suspicious of how Nightwing knows so much about what’s going on, not aware that Kaldur and Artemis are working as covert agents, but he deflects her inquiries, chalking them up to “wishful thinking” and intel obtained by Aquaman.
Jaime experiences another flashback of him and his buddy Ty skateboarding before snapping back to consciousness in the Reach lab. He overhears them saying that he is supposed to be The Reach’s Earth-bound agent but the scarab will not function properly. Black Beetle says that finding a new host will be easy, but removing the scarab will kill Jaime.
The Bioship, in stealth mode, follows Tigress’ ship to the Reach’s base, which Nightwing notices looks like the bombs that blew up Malina Island and Mount Justice. Cassie notices that it looks like “Blue’s armor.” This disturbs Nightwing, but he shakes it off and sends in Miss Martian, who makes mental contact with Batgirl who tells her they’re in a docking bay and that they have visuals on their captors. She and Robin then spy Aqualad and worry that they’ll be recognized, but Nightwing assures them that he won’t be looking for them. One by one, between Batgirl and Miss Martian, they locate all of the missing teens– not to mention the villain Shimmer– except Blue Beetle. Batgirl hesitates, but Nightwing orders the Alpha Team to make their move.
M’gaan frees Beast Boy and Impulse, but before she can stop him, Impulse takes off to find “Blue.” An alarm goes off and one of Manta’s men reacts, but Tigress orders him to hold his position. He picks her up and flings her against the wall before taking down the other troops in the area. It’s Superboy in disguise, clearing the way for the others to escape. “Nice timing, handsome,” Bumblebee says leading the civilians to freedom. Batgirl and Robin quickly join them, but en route, Miss Martian and Beast Boy encounter… Aqualad!
Miss Martian was NOT in on the secret plan! She still thinks Aqualad betrayed the team and killed her best friend Artemis! Before he can do anything, she growls “MURDERER!” in the scariest voice ever and assaults his mind!
Superboy attempts to contact Miss Martian telepathically but realizes the link is down. He attempts to go in after them, but is knock back by Black Beetle, who quickly touches the wall and seals the docking bay off from both the Bioship and the docking bay with large doors, stranding Superboy, Wonder Girl, Shimmer, Lagoon Boy, Bumblebee and a civilian boy in the small airlock with him
Impulse continues running around the ship, unseen because of how fast he’s going, until he locates Jaime. He knocks the Scientist out and frees his teammate.
As M’Gaan attacks Aqualad’s brain, she experiences his actions during their time on The Team, from her joining through many of their different adventures up to the night he “killed” Artemis, to the two of them going undercover. It’s too late. M’Gaan has seemingly mind-wiped Kaldur who collapses in a vegetative state while M’Gaan also drops to her knees in remorse just as Tigress arrives. Telepathically, Artemis asks what she’s done and M’Gaan mutters (still telepathically) that she thought that he’d killed her and that he deserved it. Not realizing what is going on, Beast Boy morphs into a tiger and lunges, but Tigress throws down a smoke bomb and vanishes with Kaldur. Beast Boy goes to M’Gaan but she is in nearly as bad shape as Aqualad now.
The trapped heroes attempt to battle Black Beetle, but he is ridiculously more powerful than all of them. Even the trapped human boy attempts to fight, picking up an energy rifle only to be taken down by Shimmer who has chosen to ally herself with The Reach.
The scene shifts to a dark, post-apocalyptic world where we see urchin Bart being confronted by Blue Beetle even bigger and more evil than Black Beetle. Bart tells Jaime that in his future, The Reach gets their scarab back online and that Jaime conquers the world. Impulse says that Jaime was the “real… the main reason” that he came back in time, to stop him from enslaving the world.
Beast Boy and a clearly dazed Miss Martian telepathically connect with the others but are still cut off from contact thanks to those huge doors. Beast Boy tells M’Gaan to “get in there” to help the others, but she spacily replies, “What? How?” He tells her to phase through and she tries, but gets trapped mid-phase by Black Beetle and collapses stuck halfway through! With the other heroes already taken down– except Batgirl who is fighting Shimmer– Black Beetle grabs Wonder Girl and ruthlessly pounds her against the door until she is unconscious.
He approaches Batgirl and Shimmer, but suddenly the doors fly open with Miss Martian falling intact to the ground. Blue Beetle has figured out that he also can control the base. With no other option, Jaime gives full control of the armor over to the scarab, who powers him up and takes on Black Beetle.
Batgirl tells Nightwing that Blue is keeping Black busy, but that he needs to be at the helm ready to take off as soon as she gets everyone loaded. Blue ends up providing the only real challenge Black has faced yet, pouring his all into the fight. But Shimmer stands up and puts her hands on the wall… dissolving it and allowing the ocean to come flooding in. Regardless, the Beetles continue going at it as salt water pours in by the gallon. Beast Boy arrives on board the Bioship with Impulse, meaning that everyone is present except Blue. Impulse attempts to go after him, but a wave knocks him back. Batgirl orders Nightwing to seal the hatch. Beast Boy protests, but Batgirl tells him that they can’t help him if they drown or get crushed by the pressure of the depths.
Blue and Black Beetle create large energy cannons and fire, with the blasts hitting each other until they explode, knocking Black Beetle against the wall and Blue out the hole Shimmer created. Black angrily picks up Shimmer’s unconscious body and touches the wall, sealing off the hole. Blue meanwhile floats helplessly in the water as The Reach’s energy cannons fire in an attempt to take out the Bioship. Lagoon Boy weaves through the blasts to rescue Blue and return him to the ship.
No one seems aware of what’s happened with Miss Martian. As Blue wakes up, assuring Impulse that he’s still the regular Jaime, Nightwing asks if Miss M wants to take over piloting the ship, but she is staring shellshocked out the window. Beast Boy covers for her.
Nightwing briefs Captain Atom and Aquaman and says that he can tell the world that they are there. “Their secret invasion is no secret anymore,” he says with joy. Unfortunately, Aquaman has bad news. While they were on their mission, a diplomatic party from The Reach arrived at the United Nations and introduced themselves as friends. The conniving G. Gordon Godfrey has even embraced them! The League are still the under scrutiny while The Reach are in the public’s good graces.
Finally we close with a shot of the Marinas Trench where we see dozens of Reach crafts lying in wait.
This was a full ensemble episode with lots of nice bits for several characters. Batgirl emerged as a true leader. We learn secrets about Blue Beetle and Impulse. And of course, dire results for M’Gaan and Aqualad, who may be completely mind-wiped! Does this endanger Artemis now, since she is essentially on her own, behind enemy lines?
And we finally get the reveal of The Light’s partner… The Reach. They seem pretty unstopable right now!
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