This episode features the first animated appearance of the Terror Twins, who had previously appeared in the comic Young Justice #0, which took place between “Fireworks” and “Welcome to Happy Harbor.” Southern super-strong badasses Tommy and Tuppence Terror can leap long distances and are highly durable, if not invulnerable. In our opener, once more narrated breaking news style by Cat Grant, the Terror Twins are in New Orleans, holding their own against Superman and the Martian Manhunter. Yeah, that’s how tough they are, but as usual with “Young Justice,” there’s more here than meets the eye. Looks like orange could be the new black for two members of our team…
The Twins are knocked into a warehouse, where unseen by the public, they are apprehended by Batman, Red Tornado, and Batman – but not before Superboy and Miss Martian take their identities, and take their places on the way to prison. The best line, although the act is getting old, is when Tommy says he was just going toe-to-toe with Superman, and Superboy comments that it’s more quality time than he’s had with him.
Again this is a situation where it seems the Justice League is giving The Team the more dangerous undercover assignments. One has to wonder what the child endangerment laws are like on Earth-16. Superboy and Miss Martian are going to Belle Reve (pronounced to rhyme with ‘whatev’) Prison as Tommy and Tuppence Terror to find out why very recently four ice-based villains all were defeated easily and ended up there.
The villains in question are Mr. Freeze, who had himself declared sane so he could go to Belle Reve rather than Arkham Asylum; a chunkier version of Captain Cold with a thicker parka; Killer Frost; and the son of the older villain, the Icicle, appropriately yet ridiculously called Icicle Jr. Sharp readers and viewers will note these are the baddies all captured in the first episode on the Fourth of July. Four cold criminals captured on the same day, that’s some kind of cool coincidence. The League thinks not.
The Terror Twins, Conner and Megan that is, are taken to Belle Reve along with Freeze and Icicle, the latter almost immediately expressing an interest in Tuppence, while the former stays creepily silent. We are introduced to Amanda Waller, pre-makeover, as the warden and Professor Hugo Strange as the prison psychiatrist. Hmmm… one of these things just doesn’t belong.
Superboy gets stuck with Icicle as a bunk mate, but they throw Megan in with Killer Frost. A day in the yard (in reality inside with open skylights) becomes more or less an episode of “Oz” with super-villains. We see Brick, Mammoth, Blockbuster, Hook, Abra Kadabra, and the Riddler among others. Professor Ojo picks a fight with Superboy, almost blowing his identity before the big dogs intervene. The big dogs? Mr. Freeze, Captain Cold, and the Icicle Sr. And their plan? To break everyone out of Belle Reve.
A therapy session with the Twins and Hugo Strange bring to the surface Superboy’s daddy issues as well as his anger at Megan for thinking problems can be solved in a half-hour. After that breakthrough, the daddy thing thematically rears its head with Icicle Jr., whose dad only wants him around when he needs him.
As the ice villains plan their break-out, they are tracking the Justice League on the news, keeping aware of their movements. Mention is made of the Martian Manhunter capturing the Headmaster, one of his cooler enemies from his 1990s ongoing series by John Ostrander, who notably wrote the best of the Suicide Squad stories, most of which started from Belle Reve. It’s stuff like this that makes me love this show. We are also introduced to Wilcox, head of the guards, who is helping to smuggle tech into the prison – also not a nice guy.
As the ice villains take over the prison, I notice another difference in this Earth-16 characters, Freeze, Cold, and the senior Icicle have powers, no guns needed. Interesting. Additionally Icicle Jr.’s ice form is not just him made of ice a la Bobby Drake over at Marvel’s X-Men, he’s more of a weird evil ice elf, a demonic Jack Frost, almost inhuman. It’s a bit disconcerting.
Meanwhile, Megan has blown her cover with the female prisoners. Superboy uses Icicle Jr. as a pawn to turn the other prisoners against each other to thwart the breakout, and finally save Miss Martian. In that last moment they finally kiss, prompting Jr. to exclaim, “Dude, that’s your sister!” Love it. In the end, Strange becomes Warden and we learn it was he who was helping the prisoners, and as he discusses the ‘plan’ with Icicle Sr., they agree, The Light will be pleased.
Only the Riddler, the pseudo prison bitch of this equation ultimately escapes. Was that the plan? Or was it to test Belle Reve’s defenses? Or to see if the Justice League would send their stealth team in? Curious. I loved this further exercise in worldbuilding, was relieved when Conner and Megan finally kissed, and wonder what’s to come next.