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Recap / Justice League Unlimited S 3 E 12 Alive

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Luthor and the Secret Society refit their headquarters and fly into deep space in a last-ditch attempt to reanimate Brainiac. En route, Tala frees Grodd, who leads a mutiny of other disaffected villains against Luthor and his supporters.

This episode includes examples of:

  • Alas, Poor Villain: Gorilla Grodd and Tala both die a Cruel and Unusual Death. The rest of Grodd's supporters (other than Killer Frost) also count given their deaths.
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  • Back from the Dead: Darkseid.
  • Bad Boss: Luthor as always. Grodd points out that the entire Enemy Civil War happens because of Lex.
    • Then, Lex retorts that many of the mutineers didn't side with Grodd out of loyalty either.
  • Batman Gambit: Lex goads Grodd into using his psychic powers by consistently insulting the gorilla’s intellect and bruising Grodd’s Fantastic Racism and ego. It works and Lex uses the metagene controller on his belt to reverse and defeat Grodd. Had Grodd simply relied on his brute strength, Lex probably would have died.
  • Call-Back: Luthor discovers from Tala that pieces of Brainiac are still intact in the middle of space, all the way back when Brainiac's base blew up back in "Twilight". And since Darkseid also died in that explosion, Tala uses his leftover presence to bring him back instead of Brainiac.
  • Came Back Strong: Darkseid comes back with a new outfit and, apparently, teleportation. Word of God says that his redesign is due to him being fused with non-sentient remnants of Brainiac's technology.
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  • Came Back Wrong: While Darkseid has always been pure evil, he was at least pragmatic about it. Apparently, dying at the hands of Superman drove him insane enough that he now plans to destroy Earth *and* New Genesis even though doing so will likely bring about his destruction as well.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Tala realizes that Luthor was always going to sacrifice her, even before she turned on him.
    Luthor: I'm a sick person, too.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Several villains change sides in the Civil War several times.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Luthor has ways to protect himself from all the most dangerous Society members, mostly through the metagene controller on his belt as poor Goldface finds out. This includes a magic talisman for Tala (hugely expensive, according to him) and a way to deflect Grodd's telepathy back onto him.
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  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Parasite, one of Superman's main rogues, was one of the Legionnaires who were killed offscreen in the ship explosion.
  • Dying Curse: Tala invokes this trope in a different sense by tampering with the process and bringing back Darkseid instead as a final middle finger to Lex.
  • Enemy Civil War:
    • The bulk of the episode is spent on one between Team Luthor and Team Grodd.
    • We also get a glimpse of one on Apokolips...which ends the very second Darkseid shows up.
  • Enemy Mine: The episode ends with Lex and the Society being forced to go warn the Justice League about Darkseid's revival and incoming invasion.
  • Eureka Moment: While they argue at the beginning of the episode, Lex dismisses Tala's magic as useless in bringing back Brainiac. Tala spitefully offers to use her magic and show that it won't work, not because it's useless, but because what Lex wants is transmutation. Lex is about to counter her about how transmutation is impossible (which is her point, or at least it's difficult), but he stops himself mid-sentence, realizing that Tala means that transmutation can be done, and he immediately orders her to do it.
  • Eviler Than Thou: Lex to Grodd and Tala. Then Darkseid arrives and shows him up.
  • Evil Is Petty: After Lex has Grodd be put into the airlock, he turns off the mind control device just so Grodd will die as himself realizing that 1) Lex is responsible for his impeding demise and 2) Lex has zero respects for the gorilla.
  • Evil Power Vacuum: As soon as Darkseid returns to reclaim his post as the ruler of Apokolips, the two factions that started fighting for control when he left surrender to him.
  • Evil vs. Evil: The premise of this episode.
  • Exact Words: Poor Tala.
  • Famous Last Words:
    • Gorilla Grodd: "You twisted pink rabble of a hominid, I'm not done with you! I'll get out of this and when I do...!"
    • Tala: “Lex, I beg you!” (discounting her bloodcurdling screams)
  • Fatal Flaw: Grodd’s need to show off his superiority in dramatic flair is what gets him killed. Had he simply used brute force to kill Lex, he’d have won. Instead, Lex taunting his intellect spurns Grodd to use his telepathy which backfires into a cruel and humiliating death.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Luthor as always.
  • He's Back: Darkseid IS once more! And now even more powerful than before!
  • Inadvertent Entrance Cue
    Luthor: your new lord and master!
    [Enter Darkseid]
  • Karma Houdini: Killer Frost takes part in the mutiny against Luthor but when given a chance to save herself she freezing her fellow mutineers. Even the villains on Luthor's side were shocked at the ease with which she did this.
  • Kill It with Ice: Killer Frost's specialty.
  • Killed Off for Real: Gorilla Grodd, Tala, and a host of other Legionnaires.
  • Kneel Before Zod: After Luthor manages to turn the mind control back on to Grodd, he forces the gorilla to kneel before him and call him the superior being. And that's before he has Grodd put himself into the airlock.
  • Living Battery: Luthor uses Tala as one of these to revive Brainiac.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": The entire Society's reaction when they see who they've really brought back.
  • Mercy Kill: For a certain definition of "mercy" — Darkseid "rewards" the Society for reviving him by blowing up their ship, a much quicker fate than the one he has planned for Earth.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Several of the members of Grodd's coup were members that Lex had previously yelled at, threatened, or hurt in some way.
    • Conversely, Giganta, previously Grodd’s girlfriend, sides with Lex because Grodd had earlier tried to wipe her mind to cover his tracks.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Among the villains that side with Luthor are Bizarro, Sinestro, Toyman, Giganta and Cheetah — all of whom were in the Legion of Doom in Challenge of the Superfriends.
    • Also from Challenge, Luthor modifies the Legion's domed base with rockets so it can fly just like in the earlier cartoon.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: The Society splits into two between folks who think Luthor is a fool, has a terrible plan, is an asshole, find Grodd better, and/or figure that they have a better chance picking the side with more villains, and folks who trust Luthor and want in on his plan. Subverted in the case of Luthor's people, since them working together against Grodd's people (who are disorganized and impulsive) is what allows them to win.
  • Plot Armor: Everyone from the original Secret Society except Giganta and Sinestro side with Grodd against Lex. While Giganta is seeking revenge against Grodd for betraying her, the creators admitted Sinestro has no real reason to side with Lex over Grodd. He only sides with Lex because the creators wanted to keep him alive for the next episode. Possibly justified in that Sinestro is on the bridge with Lex (and thus can’t be roped into the initial mutiny) and then just sides with the faction not pointing a blaster in his direction.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Metron arrives to warn Lex that trying to resurrect Brainiac from the remains of his asteroid will probably doom the universe. However, his warning is so vague that Lex assumes Metron just doesn’t want him to merge with Brainiac again and ignores him. Had Metron simply told Lex that the most likely scenario was resurrecting Darkseid, Lex probably would have not gone through with it. This gets lampshaded next episode.
  • Pre-emptive Declaration: Luthor scares the Secret Society into compliance by asking them to "remember what happened to poor Goldface" when he rebelled, shortly before Luthor uses his metagene controller to burn his face.
  • Red Shirt Army: Grodd's forces.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Darkseid was warned that if Apokolips attacks Earth, New Genesis will retaliate, as per the Highfather's pact. Darkseid doesn't seem to care anymore, as he just wants to kill Superman and all that he loves. Regardless how his planet and people will end up in the end, he hints that New Genesis will be their next target once he eradicates Earth.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves:
    • Tala receives a Cruel and Unusual Death. Subverted because she'd have received it even if she didn't betray Luthor.
    • Averted with Killer Frost — when Luthor asks the defeated mutineers if any of them can suggest a reason why he should let them live, she steps away from the others and freezes them.
      Luthor: Killer've got a future. Get rid of the rest.
      Frost: You got it.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Darkseid makes it clear his desire for this precedes even getting the Anti-Life Equation.
    "Superman must suffer for killing me. His adopted world will die screaming. Only then will I seek the ultimate end."
  • The Starscream: Tala.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: Gorilla Grodd.
    Luthor: Goodbye, Grodd. It could have gone the other way.
    Grodd: ...It really could have, couldn't it?
    Luthor: No; but why speak ill of the dead? [opens airlock]
  • Took a Level in Badass: Toyman.
  • Understatement: The cliffhanger shows Luthor and what remains of the Society appearing at the footsteps of the Metro Tower, telling Superman...
    "We have a little problem."
  • Undying Loyalty: All of the members of the Society that remain on Lex's side, despite previously ordering them around without totally explaining his plan to them and Grodd's coup outnumbering them later. Special mention goes to Bizarro, who realizes Luthor is in trouble and rushes to save him, and Sinestro, who warns Luthor to watch out before Grodd blasts him.
  • Villain Episode: The majority of the episode is spent on Luthor and Grodd's civil war.
  • Wham Shot: Smoke clearing to reveal Darkseid was revived instead of Brainiac, followed by a Mass "Oh, Crap!".
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Averted and then played straight. Grodd initially does attempt to just shoot Luthor with an energy gun, but Luthor is sporting metallic energy gauntlets that render it useless, so Grodd tosses the gun aside and settles for a fist-fight. He completely dominates Luthor and quickly has him at his mercy, but instead of snapping Luthor's neck like he said he wanted to, he gives into Luthor's taunts and tries to brainwash him. Luthor uses a button on his belt to turn the tables, and Grodd ultimately loses.
  • Woman Scorned:
    • Tala. She instigates the mutiny against Lex.
    • Giganta too towards Grodd for frying her brain in "To Another Shore".
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Tala realizes Lex was planning on using her to revive Brainiac all along, whether or not she stayed loyal to him, even though it would kill her. When it finally happens, Tala tampers with the process in a final act of defiance by reviving Darkseid instead. The evil alien invokes this trope by killing almost all of the remaining rogues for their efforts.
  • You Will Be Spared: "Though your world will suffer slowly, I grant you a quick death." Given how Darkseid makes all those he oppresses suffer greatly, this could be considered his form of gratitude.

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