One of the biggest gambles taken with the Green Lantern cartoon had to be the creators’ decision to keep Hal away from the greater DC Universe and focus solely on his exploits in space. While that may not seem like a huge deal to those of us who have a working knowledge of the Green Lantern mythos (past and present), introducing the character to an audience that might only know Hal Jordan in passing or through the lackluster movie was risky. Taking that risk one step further, the creators made the overarching storyline of the season’s first half about the discovery of the Red Lantern Corps and the introduction of the emotional spectrum based on Geoff Johns’ successful run on the Green Lantern comic. Thankfully, the gamble paid off because, other than the Red Lanterns and the Star Sapphires, we also got to see the beginnings of the Blue Lantern Corps with the rise of Saint Walker, which leads us to this week’s episode.
Arriving on the planet Odym, Hal, Kilowog, and Aya seek the counsel of former Guardian Ganthet on the problem of the Manhunters that have been popping up all over Guardian space. And wouldn’t you know it, they’ve just happened to arrive on the day the blue lantern battery goes live! Unfortunately, the ceremonial charging of the battery is a bit of a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it supercharges Kilowog, Hal, and Aya since hope enhances and fuels will-power, and presents a means of defeating the Manhunters. On the other hand, the damaged Manhunter on their ship suddenly goes online again (supercharged as well) and the resulting wavelength of hope-powered energy attracts three other Manhunters who head directly to Odym to collect the super battery.
The best surprise, however, comes in finding Razer (finally!) amongst the newly formed Blue Lantern Corps consisting of Saint Walker and new recruit Brother Warth. Though Razer remains a Red Lantern, he is trying to learn from the mild-tempered Walker and Warth how to quiet his rage so he can move past his anger and find peace. But hope isn’t exactly an emotion the hot-headed lantern can easily wrap his head around. Considering Razer is part of a corp that feeds on, supposedly, one of the strongest emotions, hope might be the one emotion furthest from his heart at all times. Being around Aya again doesn’t help. If you’ll recall, Razer became a Red Lantern after the love of his life was killed and his conflicting emotions about Aya, coupled with his doubt over whether he can or should love again, do not make for an easy reunion.
Though the episode is entitled “Blue Hope,” the Blue Lanterns factor very little in terms of the overall story except to present a method of defeating the Manhunters that’s quickly crushed when it turns out the Manhunters also feed off the same power source, making them extra hard to stop. Instead, the lion’s share of the story belongs to Razer and Aya’s unspoken, yet obvious feelings for one another. The central conflict is that Aya is an artificial intelligence, a machine, and though Razer may feel for her, he’s also very quick to judge (against Saint Walker’s teachings) that machines are incapable of feeling real emotions since they have no soul. When confronted with the Manhunters, Razer’s words may ring true since the Manhunters were programmed with the express purpose of eliminating all evil, which stems from emotions.
Aya, however, accomplished something the Manhunters could not. She observed and adapted, evolving beyond her original programming from the beginning of the series. Her evolved state pushes her to try to convert the damaged Manhunter by positing that it too is capable of evolving. She’s even willing to teach it how. Aya’s actions are as much rooted in her desire to prove Razer wrong as they are in her hope of showing the Manhunter that sentience and emotions are not entirely evil. Unlike Aya, the Manhunter doesn’t see the logic in her argument, drawing a clear line between sentient beings and machines by way of the ability or inability to feel emotions. This is ultimately confirmed when one of the invading Manhunters observes strong emotions in both Razer and Aya towards each other at a pivotal moment. It’s also when we learn that if you mess with Aya, Razer will straight up murder you! Even hope can’t negate the rage of a man who feels he’s lost the woman he loves again. But at least his rage was righteous!
To the episode’s credit, though hope is continually derided by most of the characters, unless it’s useful to them, the Blue Lanterns – Ganthet especially – make a point of stating that hope cannot so easily be put on hold. Hope is ever-present, even in the darkest of places. And as long as it shines even a little bit, there will a place for those who seek it as well as a source of power for those who can wield it.
Nitpicker’s Corner: Where did Tomar-Re go? When did Aya reform her android body? Where’s Sayd?
- “Lute face!” Never change, Kilowog. Never change.
- The Blue Lantern Oath!
- “That ain’t no normal Manhunter.” “Yeah? Well we ain’t no normal Green Lanterns!”
- Hal’s first question while interrogating the Manhunter, “What is your PROBLEM?!”
- Razar’s takedown of the Manhunter!
- Yay, the gang’s all together again!