Is Young Justice: Outsiders Going To Actually Introduce Jason Todd Or What?
Warning: spoilers ahead for Episode 6 of Young Justice: Outsiders, called "Rescue Op."
One of the biggest mysteries of Young Justice going into Season 3 is also one that hadn't been discussed on screen: what happened to Jason Todd? Dick Grayson's first successor as Robin died at some point between Seasons 1 and 2, and fans never actually got to see him in action. In fact, he was only revealed via hologram. Viewers have been waiting since way back in 2012 to learn more about the death of the second Robin and perhaps see Jason Todd in the flesh. Now, after the latest episode, there are big reasons to hope.
As comic fans (and fans of Batman: Under the Red Hood) know well, the second Boy Wonder was brutally beaten to death by the Joker in one of the darkest twists in Batman comic history. He was resurrected due to changes in reality following the events of the "Infinite Crisis" arc, and he wound up in the care of Talia al Ghul, daughter of Ra's al Ghul. After a dip in the Lazarus Pit, he was restored to health, although his mind was never the same. Jason became the anti-hero known as Red Hood.
Back when Young Justice aired on Cartoon Network, I never really expected the show to tackle Jason Todd's origin story as Red Hood, just as I never expected Barbara Gordon to get an Oracle origin story, simply because their fates at the hands of the Joker just seemed too dark for that platform. Jason Todd as a Robin who died between Dick Grayson and Tim Drake might have just been an Easter egg for fans.
The move to DC Universe for Season 3 has turned the show darker, and the events of "Rescue Op" seemingly point toward Jason appearing alive, although perhaps not-so-well. Nobody was explicitly named "Jason Todd" or a "Robin" other than Tim Drake, but a certain somebody in a red hood appeared, and he has to be Jason Todd.
"Rescue Op" took Brion, Halo, and Forager to Infinity Island on a rather shortsighted quest to rescue Brion's sister, who may or may not have been forced into a role as an assassin after having her meta gene activated. Unsurprisingly, they were captured, and Halo was (temporarily) killed again.
Fortunately, Nightwing, Black Lightning, Miss Martian, Superboy, and Artemis arrived to save the day, but they didn't escape without a fight against Ra's al Ghul's men, which included a man who was wearing a red hood. Let's just go ahead and call him Red Hood for the time being, shall we?
Now, the simple appearance of a man in a red hood normally wouldn't be enough for fans to justifiably state that Jason Todd is wearing it. The further evidence pointing toward Jason is more substantial. When the fight broke out, Red Hood immediately headed for Nightwing, and the two seemed quite evenly matched with similar fighting styles, although Red Hood had a slight advantage thanks to his sword while Dick just had his regular escrima sticks.
Ra's al Ghul eventually called a stop to the fighting, and the good guys were permitted to leave, although not without Ra's getting in a dig on Nightwing about "the Detective" being disappointed. After our heroes were gone, the Red Hood pulled down his hood, revealing black hair styled similarly to the Jason Todd in his hologram. Red Hood's face and eyes were still obscured, but he uttered one word: "Grayson?"
This pleased Ra's al Ghul, who said this: "Your memory's finally returning. Excellent." This has to be Jason Todd, right? There are far too many clues about the red-hooded man on Ra's al Ghul's island (complete with a handy Lazarus Pit) for Young Justice to play him as anybody other than the former Robin.
(Interestingly, "Rescue Op" also revealed somebody who is likely a future Robin: Damian Wayne. Talia al Ghul strode out of the shadows, holding a baby with black hair. Given Dick's familiarity with Ra's, the mention of Batman, and the presence of Jason Todd, all things al Ghul seem heavily connected with the Bat-family. Who else could that baby be than the biological son Bruce didn't know he had for a long time?)
Let's proceed with the assumption that Young Justice's Red Hood is indeed Jason Todd, as heavily hinted in "Rescue Op." There still lies the question of whether or not Young Justice intends to actually use Jason as a character moving forward. Season 3 has relied heavily on Dick Grayson so far, but Young Justice has never been about Dick, Outsiders' villain is not Ra's al Ghul, and this show is not a Bat-family series.
Furthermore, Ra's al Ghul revealed that Brion's sister was not with him on Infinity Island, and the search for Tara was the only thing that brought the heroes to Infinity Island. Ra's is no longer part of The Light. Unless he enters the fray on his own or sends Jason to do his bidding, what reason does Ra's and/or Jason have to enter the mix again?
Could Jason's appearance in this episode simply be an (admittedly huge) Easter egg that won't be explored? Will the Red Hood on Infinity Island ever be explicitly named as Jason Todd? Could this set the stage for a spinoff focusing on all things batty? It would be an interesting twist to have a resurrected Jason Todd as Red Hood on Young Justice as well as a still-living Jason Todd as Robin on Titans. Will we at least find out how young Jason died?
To be honest, part of me expects Young Justice to change Jason's origin story from being beaten to death by the Joker to something more along the lines of a freak accident, if only to explain how Batman went from losing Dick as Robin, taking in Jason as Robin II, losing Jason, to adding Tim Drake as Robin III within the five years that passed between Seasons 1 and 2. If Jason had been murdered by the Joker, would Batman have been so quick to add a third Robin? Not to mention a Batgirl?
Dick was still a few growth spurts away from becoming Nightwing as of the end of Season 1, so there's a lot that had to happen for the Bat-family within those five years. We'll have to wait and see. As somebody who has loved Batman, Batgirl, and Dick Grayson as both Robin and Nightwing going all the way back to watching Batman: The Animated Series as a kid, I'd be perfectly happy with attention to the Bat-familyon Young Justice, especially now that Oracle is in the mix.
Fans haven't really gotten Barbara Gordon as Oracle in previous DC TV shows, and my Batman: TAS heart is happy to see Dick and Barbara together. Those two as a couple at least helps me try to forget the super gross Batman/Batgirl hookup in the Killing Joke movie. Only time will tell if the focus will shift more onto other characters, with Dick and his Gotham pals taking a backseat moving forward, therefore making it less likely for more of Jason Todd.
New episodes of Young Justice release Fridays on DC Universe. Our midseason TV premiere guide can help you find other viewing options, including a bunch of other DC TV shows.
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Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.
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