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Every great television show has epic moments that define them, that become foundational elements of the show’s fabric.  Ask any group of Star Trek: The Next Generation fans for a list of their top five scenes and you’ll no doubt find the time when the Enterprise’s leader, Captain Picard, fell to the power of the Borg and turned into the cyborg Locutus on all of them.  The latest episode of Green Lantern: The Animated Series is aptly titled “Loss” and features one of those kinds of defining moments.

Written by Michael F. Ryan and directed by Sam Liu, “Loss” on its surface serves to tie together the Red Lantern arc from the first half of the season with the threat of the Anti-Monitor and the Manhunters.  From the opening sequence there’s a feeling that this episode is something different, from the tone of Frederik Weidmann’s score to the scale of the the visuals.  What follows is twenty minutes of political intrigue, cosmic revelation and emotional touchstones that reach a crescendo in the episode’s closing moments that could bring a tear to anyone’s eyes.
Following up on their promise to make reparations to the Red Lanterns for the fiasco caused by the their Manhunters, the Guardians’ Science Director takes Appa Ali Apsa’s place on board Shard, accompanying Zilius Zox on his return to Ysmault as their new leader.  Zox’s distrust is on full display, chastising the female Guardian for Apsa’s broken promise to take care of matters himself.  Among the audience on Ysmault is Red Lantern Ragnar, Green Lantern Iolande’s defiant brother from earlier in the season, and it was great to see him there for the sake of continuity along with other familiar Red Lanterns that we’ve seen in previous encounters.

You know nothing good will come of this

The Interceptor crew is enroute to Ysmault as a symbolic gesture, but Kilowog is rightfully more concerned about the growing Manhunter problem than the political gain of their appearance.  The return to Red Lantern space is cause for sad reflection for Razer and the reminder of his tragic past and he asks Hal to make a side trip before going on to the Red Lantern ceremony.  Ryan does a great job in using the scene to show that Razer has grown as a character by choosing to use the opportunity to honor the memory of his loss, grieve and acknowledge that his life has to go on.   Aya, who accompanies Razer home, continues her evolution and her consideration for Razer and how her appearance there in particular may cause pain is another example of how her time as a member of the crew has made her far more than a normal “robot”.

Much has been made over the relationship between Aya and Razer and there are a whole legion of fans behind their budding romance.  This sequence advances that notion considerably with the two finally embracing one another and nearly kissing until a poorly timed call from Hal breaks the mood.  The scene is crucial to moving the characters past the awkwardness of their reunion on “Blue Hope” and edging them forward before fate intervenes.  It also shows just how far Razer has come since his debut in the pilot episode. and how far he may fall again.

The “Science Director” has her hands full this time

When the Anti-Monitor’s wave reaches Ysmault and activates a Manhunter lurking beneath the surface the potential for a catastrophic failure in the peace between the Guardians and the Red Lanterns comes undone.  The Science Director’s failure to be upfront with Zox plays along with the notion that the Guardians have not really learned from their mistakes and the revelation that the Anti-Monitor is a creation of Krona justifies all the “gut” feelings Hal has had about the Guardians since Ganthet was ejected.

The connection between Krona and the Anti-Monitor has long been a part of comics continuity, stretching back to the Crisis on Infinite Earths where it was first explained that his passion for seeing the origins of the universe created the multi-verse and unleashed evil upon it with the births of the Monitor and Anti-Monitors from the moons orbiting Oa and Qward.  This version of things is certainly much cleaner and paves the way for more background detail that ties itself to the emotional spectrum.  I couldn’t help but notice the colors of the energy during the flashback sequence and immediately thought of how this fits nicely into the recent developments in the Green Lantern comics that show Krona had more to do with the origins of the Corps.  While I think the revelation lacked the dramatic punch than the Manhunters past did it still managed to be a great surprise.

Krona makes his animated series debut

While Hal and the crew try to keep the Manhunter’s existence under wraps it’s not long before the whole thing explodes when Zilius Zox discovers the attempt at keeping the truth from him and that’s when things go from bad to worse when the Anti-Monitor and a fleet of Manhunters enter Red Lantern space.  We’re treated to some great visuals when the Anti-Monitor chillingly turns to face the Interceptor crew and the battle erupts.  Aya’s determination as she propels herself headlong into the fracas is extremely well portrayed and watching Razer unleashed against the Manhunters is a visual treat.

Hal proves himself the hero once again when he defies a direct order from the Guardian, unwilling to leave anyone behind even if it means the loss of them all, meanwhile Zilius Zox and the Guardian prove they have much in common by failing to lift a ring finger to help.  The pace picks up dramatically as the Interceptor tries to save their two crewmates, but the episode’s crowning moment comes when Aya proves that she is so much more, choosing sacrifice for another rather than perishing together with Razer in a blast from the Anti-Monitor.

Aya’s determination

Aya’s final moments of existence are powerful and given the opportunity to play out to their fullest, dramatically punctuated by Weidmann’s score and Liu’s direction.  Whether the romance between Razer and Aya was an important aspect to Green Lantern: The Animated Series to you or not it’s nearly impossible not to be moved by the poignancy of the moment when Aya discovers regret and Razer once again loses someone he holds dear.  Somehow the universe seems a little smaller without Aya in it, not that I’m far from convinced she’s gone for good.  What will be of great interest to me is to see how Razer moves forward from this; whether he is able to cling to the what he’s learned since he joined the crew or if he falls back into the despair of relentless rage.

If there’s an underlying theme for “Loss” it’s in the state of the relationship between Aya and Razer and how they, like so many of us, for whatever reason fail to take advantage of the time we have together to say and do the things that really matter.  We so often put off to tomorrow what we never do and it’s not until it’s too late that we realize the pointless folly in not having the will to do it while we can.  If we learn anything from thing dramatic offering it’s that we all need to make what’s important to us our highest priority.

A moment in time that defines the show

Sarah Douglas returns as the voice of the Science Director, whom many of us believe to be Scar.  Douglas perfectly captures the disturbing nature of the female Guardian and the disdain she has for what has become of Aya.  Tom Kenny turns in another brilliant performance as Zilius Zox, deftly switching from providing comic relief to being a threatening presence.  However it is Grey DeLisle and Jason Spisak who shine the brightest in this episode with performances that elevate Ryan’s script to a very special place.

The producers of the show indicated that “Loss” and next week’s episode “Cold Fury” were conceived as two parts of a greater whole, so if “Loss” is any indication we are really in for something extra special.  There have have a lot of comparisons over the years between Green Lantern and Star Wars and “Loss” clearly has an Empire Strikes Back feeling to it.  With a fantastic script, great direction and voice acting “Loss” defies my normal rating system.  But since I don’t have a graphic for a hundred lantern episode – five will have to do.


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