Spoilers ahead for the first half of Young Justice Season 3, a.k.a. Young Justice: Outsiders**.**
It seems like Young Justice only just returned to the small screen with new episodes, and the show has already finished the first half of Season 3. Fans will be waiting until June to see what happens next, but the good news is that the midseason cliffhanger gives us plenty to think about. The final moments revealed a big betrayal that should shape the second half of the season. Tara Markov was finally rescued, only for the ultimate reveal that her loyalties do not lie with the heroes.
The search for the missing princess drove a significant portion of the first half of the season, largely due to Brion’s constant push for the team to try and rescue her. After a couple of leads failed to pan out, Nightwing learned that Tara was part of a group of enslaved meta-teens being auctioned. He and the rest of his team managed to infiltrate the auction and “buy” Tara, getting her to safety and rescuing the other meta-teens while they were at it.
Tara and Brion actually helped save the day, as Tara wasn’t content to sit by while her fellow metas were in danger. The makings of a real Young Justice hero, right?
As it turns out, not so much. The finale seemed to end on a happily-ever-after with the Markov sibs reunited and all the young heroes (with the exception of a still-struggling Victor Stone, recently transformed against his will into Cyborg) happy and healthy, and Nightwing even suggested that perhaps Brion, Tara, Halo, and Forager were ready to join M’gann’s team of young heroes. Coming from Nightwing, the suggestion that they might be ready to move away from “outsider” status is a huge compliment!
Alas, no matter what team these young heroes join, it’s probably not going to end well. The final moments of the midseason finale were set in Star City, where Halo and Tara are staying with Artemis and Roy. While Halo slept, Tara picked up a cell phone and sent off a surreptitious text message: “I’m in.” The recipient? None other than Deathstroke.
Now, if you’re a fan of DC Comics (or saw the DC animated movie from 2017 that covered this arc), you probably weren’t 100% shocked at the reveal that Tara Markov isn’t one of the good guys. In the legendary 1984 Tales of the Teen Titans run known as “The Judas Contract,” the Titans discovered that one of their own was a traitor.
Terra, who had powerful geomorphic powers, had secretly been planted among the heroes by Deathstroke as part of a long con to take them down from the inside. At only 16 years old, Terra’s partnership with Deathstroke had some seriously disturbing implications even beyond her role as traitor. Thanks to Terra, Deathstroke very nearly succeeded in taking down the Titans, with Dick Grayson escaping and finding a way (and new ally) to win the day.
“The Judas Contract” had an unhappy ending for Tara in the comics, and if this version of Young Justice still aired on Cartoon Network, I wouldn’t think that the show could cover some of the uglier aspects of the arc. Given how dark Young Justice: Outsiders has gotten on DC Universe -- with everything ranging from the bloody assassination of Brion’s parents to Halo’s many deaths to the graphic depiction of Vic’s injuries -- I wouldn’t be shocked if Young Justice’s take on “The Judas Contract” pushed the envelope.
Interestingly, Young Justice: Outsiders may not be the only DC Universe original to tackle “The Judas Contract” in its own way. All of this said, there are bound to be differences in how Young Justice handles the arc.
For one thing, on Young Justice, there’s not just one team with the potential to be infiltrated and taken down from the inside. Dick’s comments in the midseason finale raise the possibility that Terra and the others will join M’gann’s sanctioned team of young heroes, with the likes of Wonder Girl, Kid Flash 2.0, and Blue Beetle, which would give that group screen time that they lacked in the first half of the season.
Alternately, they could stick with Dick’s outside team. Dick was key to the “Judas Contract” arc in the comics, and Deathstroke’s association with both the League of Shadows and The Light may mean that he’s too big of a fish for the younger group to try and fry.
Selfishly, I’d like Terra to stick with Dick’s group because Nightwing and his team were my favorite parts of the season so far, but there are so many heroes that she could be planted among just about any of them other than Batman Incorporated or the Justice League. I’d also be interested in any parallels between Brion with a traitorous Tara and Dick with the resurrected Jason Todd, who probably won’t be the guy Dick remembers from before his death. Season 3 did confirm that Jason Todd was resurrected, after all.
There’s also the question of what Deathstroke’s end game is. If he wants to take down a team from the inside, it would likely have to be the main team with M’gann as leader, Robin’s team (featuring no Batgirls), or Dick’s team, as a young “hero” like Tara wouldn’t be with the League or Batman Inc.
Is Young Justice going in a different direction than “The Judas Contract” with regard to Deathstroke’s plan for Terra? Does she serve a larger cause than just Deathstroke? Does she have a specific goal/purpose to achieve rather than just sowing seeds of dissent and eventually betraying everybody?
Young Justice does have an awful lot going on even without this version of “The Judas Contract.” Vandal Savage and Darkseid are still out there; The Light and League of Shadows aren’t going anywhere, with Lady Shiva and Cassandra Savage now amongst them; metahuman traffickers are likely still at work, even if the heroes did deal them a serious blow; and I’m honestly still expecting the Anti-Life Equation to play a part in Season 3, even if my theory about the Goode Goggles wasn’t entirely on the money.
Unfortunately, we have a while to wait before we know for sure what happens next. Young Justice: Outsiders won’t be back with new episodes until June. The good news is that DC Universe will have another original series to premiere before then, as Doom Patrol is debuts next month, as you can see on our midseason TV premiere schedule.