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And so, it comes down to this, with the fate of Green Lantern: The Animated Series seemingly sealed and the fate of the universe hanging in the balance, the final episode of the series in upon us.  The million dollar question was whether the shows creators could wrap up everything in the twenty two minutes left before them and I’m happy to say that they did, and they did in grand style.  “Dark Matter” satisfies on every level and that’s not saying that everything ends without some tragedy and gripping emotion; if it did it wouldn’t be much of a finale at all.

Producer Jim Krieg steps in to pen the finale and as one might expect he comes bearing gifts of pain, love, triumph and tragedy.  We get it all during “Dark Matter” and the cast of characters viewers have made a part of their Saturday mornings are given the greatest challenge thus far by facing off against one of their own with the stakes being existence itself.  The question to be answered coming into the finale was never really whether or not the crew of the Interceptor would succeed or not, it was always a question of what it was going to cost to survive and Krieg does a great job of keeping the viewer on the edge of their seats, gleefully twisting a knife in our hearts as the story reaches its climax.

Hal’s visit to the Book of Oa leads to a revealing discovery

Starting on Oa, Appa Ali Apsa gives a rousing speech in what Krieg and co-producer Giancarlo Volpe called a message to the fans of the show.  Meanwhile a contemplative Hal Jordan reviews Aya’s path of destruction in the Book of Oa, something I have been looking forward to seeing how it would translate to the screen.  When Tomar-Re makes a comment about the lifeless system that the Aya-Monitor destroyed in his sector, Hal makes a startling discovery that while Aya has destroyed a lot of planets none of them were inhabited.

Hal’s realization that there’s more going on  inside of Aya’s circuitry is wasted on Salaak, who is coordinating the assault by the Green Lantern Corps on the Manhuters.  Director Rick Morales give us a battle that is everything we’d hope for in a struggle of these proportions.  Nearly every member of the Corps we’ve seen up until now gets their moment to shine, with Larvox, Chaselon and Ch’P stealing the show.  Deidrich Bader returns to voice Guy Gardner, who helps provide some of the episodes few lighter moments and reminds us of all the reasons why we love to hate him…..and sometimes hate to admit we love him.

Larvox and Chaselon get their moment in the sun

This is a confrontation on a galactic scale that really shows off some of the benefits of CG animation.  The camera movements are very smooth and the visuals crisp and detailed.  Yes, Sinestro, Mogo and Iolande were among the missing and while it might have been great to have seen them the reality is that there are only so many minutes to spend on this episode and choices have to be made.  Excluding them was a wise decision, especially Sinestro who would have have stolen the spotlight shined on some of the lesser known members of the Corps.

Confronted with Hal’s discovery Aya chooses to allow Hal to join her while she travels to the dawn of time and changes history, wiping it clean of organic life.  We are treated to the sight of the great hand that is all too familiar to comic book fans, but it has never looked as awe-inspiring as it does here.  As Aya manipulates the origins of the universe Hal tries to reason with her by revealing the secrets of her origin and Razer makes an incredible journey as a Red Lantern bullet which Kilowog fires from clear across the cosmic battlefield.  And then things get really start to ramp up!

It’s fitting that at the end it’s Razer, Aya and Hal who share the stage when all is said and done.  The drama increases when a teary eyed Razer tries to rid the universe of Aya, but finding himself incapable of feeling rage towards her he instead finds himself on the wrong end of Aya’s rebuttal, leaving him near death.  The realization of what she’s done and Hal’s strong words are all that’s needed to shock her back to normal.  Krieg gives Josh Keaton, Grey DeLisle and Jason Spisak so much to work with and all three of them maximize the scripts potential, turning in superb performances that hopefully don’t get overlooked by the next Annie Awards.

Razer’s journey reaches dramatic new heights….and depths

As much as Aya’s return to normalcy and her rescue of Hal and Razer are a triumph, there is nothing but pathos to follow.  Perhaps doomed to a love of Shakespearean proportions, Aya’s sacrifice denies every viewer’s hope of seeing her and Razer having a happy ending, but there is a price to pay and it is wonderfully poetic to see a character that began this series as an artificial life form evolve to the point of making the most altruistic of decisions.  While we all would like to think that Razer and Aya would end up together what we got was something far more powerful.

The animation in these particular sequences is top notch, especially when it comes down to the facial expressions on Razer and Aya.  The feelings of regret and pain are clearly etched on their faces and along with the excellent performances we get some of the best moments of the series as this epic story reaches its conclusion.  Razer’s expression of shocked disbelief at Aya’s final actions says everything going through our own minds as the scene unfolds.

The animation visually speaks volumes about what’s going on inside Aya’s confused mind

If Keaton, DeLisle and Spisak don’t already pull at your heartstrings, Frederick Wiedmann rips them out with another amazing score that elevates the entire production.  The poignancy of the music cradles Aya’s final moments, providing the tenderness needed as once again Razer finds himself losing someone he loves.  This episode alone screams for a soundtrack release and I hope we are rewarded with another chance to buy Wiedmann’s amazing work on this series.

No finale is complete without final resolution and from the depths of tragedy we are rewarded with a message of hope.  Razer’s journey from a man gripped by rage and fear to a man who has somehow found inner peace has been an amazing tale and as he parts ways with Kilowog and Hal Jordan we see how their time together has changed them all.  Once at odds with each other Kilowog and Razer embrace in a man hug   episodes in the making.  Perhaps the greatest evidence of Razer’s evolution lies in his admission that he’s been saved due to his time with the Green Lanterns before he leaves for the stars in search of his destiny.

A far cry from where Kilowog and Razer began

And it’s in the final moments that we the viewer are given one last lesson, that despite our paths in life there is always hope.  Hope for ourselves, our race and our future if only we have the faith in ourselves and the will to do the right thing.  Perhaps, too, there is hope for this amazing show if we all stand together and make sure our voices are heard, but that is something for another post.

Green Lantern: The Animated Series has been an adventure that ended far too soon and certainly there are plot points intentionally left underdeveloped and seeds left unsown, planted for a future that is hopefully not as finite as the Cartoon Network has deemed it.  “Dark Matter” is an incredible episode which effectively wraps up the season in an dramatic bow.  It absolutely gets my highest recommendation.  Ten out of ten lanterns!

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