Superman on Television
Justice League Action: Episode Reviews
Season 1 - Episodes 23: "Double Cross"Reviewed by: Thomas Dreyfuss
Originally Aired: March 10, 2017 (France); June 10, 2017 (U.S.)
Written by Jonathan Callan
Directed by Shaunt Nigoghossian
P.J. Byrne as Ronald Raymond/Firestorm (voice)
Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne/Batman (voice)
Robert Picardo as Harvey Dent/Two-Face (voice)
Christian Slater as Deadshot (voice)
Dana Synder as Plastic Man/Penguin (voice)
Stephen Tobolowsky as Professor Martin Stein/Firestorm (voice)
Rating - 5 (out of 5): The Penguin (aka Oswald Cobblepot) hires Deadshot (aka Floyd Lawton) to retrieve Two-Face (aka Harvey Dent) from the custody of Batman (aka Vengeance, the Night) along with the half a million dollars he stole from one of Penguin's heists. Now all of that would make for a fairly conventional Batman crime caper but as I've mentioned with my previous JLA reviews, this series is better off trying to subvert exceptions instead of just playing by the numbers so the twist here is that Batman's called on Plastic Man (formally, Patrick "Eel" O'Brian) to pose as Two-Face to lure Deadshot out in the open while Firestorm (the fused combination of Bolin and Ned Ryerson) guards the real Two-Face. Pretty crazy stuff, right? And the episode pretty much delivers the goods.
First and foremost, I loved that they got Christian Slater as Deadshot. Slater's take on the sharpshooting assassin sounds eerily close to Steve Downes as Master Chief from the Halo video games which suppose is appropriate for a stone cold badass like Deadshot. Secondly, Robert Picardo's performance as Harvey Dent AND Two-Face is doing something a little bit different from what we usually get. You see, most on screen adaptations of the Harvey/Two-Face dynamic either zero in on Harvey having already succumbed to his dark side but he needs to flip a coin to make his decisions or they show his fall from grace and tie the coin with his fractured psyche. This take on Two-Face feels more akin to the Ventriloquist with Two-Face being the dominant persona, Harvey as the submissive half, and no coin flips to get in the way of what Two-Face wants. It's very compelling stuff and it's made better by clever uses of reflective surfaces to showcase the inner conflict raging inside of Two-Face as well as Picardo's acting range.
Returning Leaguers Firestorm and Plastic Man are used well here and serve to highlight the theme of duality. Firestorm's inclusion is fairly obvious but I like that the episode restrains itself to one quick observation that the 2-in-1 superhero has to guard the criminal with a spilt personally instead of hanging a big-ole lampshade on that aspect. The real highlight is once again Dana Snyder's Plastic Man as the character's desire to impress Batman at all costs coupled clashing with his quirks is very entertaining to witness on screen. And kudos to the animators for selling the evolution of Plastic Man's shapeshifting powers to include changing colors. That initial scene where Plastic Man has to change his appearance to match Two-Face's is very impressive but that moment where Plastic Man transformed into Deadshot's gun and back again was a genuine surprise.
While JLA isn't laser focused on character growth and serialized storytelling (so far...), it's always nice to see returning heroes evolve their power set and for the crew to best utilize them for storytelling, humor, and action scenes. "Double Cross" does all of that but also turns what would've been a decent Batman tale into an enjoyably goofy romp. Hell, that ending where Firestorm finds out the truth about Plastic Man's costume is well worth a 5 star rating.
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