“Downtime” focuses on Aqualad’s background, taking us to the undersea world of Atlantis. Aqualad feels torn between his love for Atlantis and his leadership duties on the surface world, and decides to return home.
This is one of the stronger YJ episodes, because the writing is so well balanced: backstory and character development for Aqualad and his supporting Atlantean cast; viewers see Atlantis for the first time; and Atlantis is attacked by the villain Black Manta, so the show isn’t all flashbacks and dialogue.
Khary Peyton, who voices Aqualad, does a wonderful job in his performance; he gives a lot of depth and emotion to his character. While Aqualad still has all the makings of a leader, he still experiences insecurity and doubt, especially when his crush turns him down. Speaking of voice actors, my all-time favourite, Phil LaMarr, gives life to Aquaman, the king of Atlantis. If you listen closely you can hear some of his Samurai Jack voice :)
Once again the art is just gorgeous; there are several stunning scenes that focus on the coral reefs and fish life surrounding Atlantis. This might seem secondary but the attention to detail makes this a notch above your average cartoon. The conception of Atlantean sorcery was beautifully rendered too; I liked how Mara (the Queen) was the lead sorceress.
Black Manta is awesome, even though Michael Dorn remains the best guy to voice him. (Did he have any lines in Public Enemies?) I wonder if Prince Ohm will become another villain, as he does in JL, once Arthur and Mara’s child is born, and Ohm’s no longer next in line to the throne.
Even though the episode focuses on Aqualad, there are some wonderful scenes of the other teens during their downtime. I loved the scenes with Kid Flash and the other Flashes, as well as a bonding moment between Bruce and Dick. I think this was our first scene with Alfred, too!
One more note–the portal that Aqualad goes through to access Atlantis and the surface world looks exactly like a Stargate. Just sayin’.