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Episode guide

"I Know Why the Caged Cat Sings" is the eighth episode of the fourth season of Young Justice, and the 81st of the overall series. It debuted on November 25, 2021 on HBO Max.

Logline

For Tigress, saving everyone may not be an option, unless help is offered from an unexpected source.

Synopsis

Cheshire exits the Sandbar cafe and is beset by a barrage of exploding arrows, knocking off her mask. She is confronted by Artemis, but Cheshire threatens to reveal Artemis's secrets to her new Team.
 
Santa Prisca
April 21, 21:04 ECT

Tigress and her squad stand in front of Orphan's prison cell, surrounded by the League of Shadows. Lady Shiva makes it clear that surrender is their only option, and lays out her terms: Shiva will keep Orphan, Onyx and Cheshire, but Tigress may go free.

 
Smallville
April 21, 20:06 CDT

Clark, Lois and Jonny are vising the Kent farm, when Martha calls everyone if for dinner. Jonny asks if Conner will be coming, much to everyone's discomfort,

 
Gotham City
April 21, 21:07 EDT

From her apartment, Oracle tells Tigress that Orphan is working on freeing her self; she just needs to buy some time. Tigress keeps the Shadows talking by asking about Cassandra Savage's story. Savage confirms that the facts she described were largely true; her father did kill her sister and take her from her mother, but she was not upset by either event. The half-truths combined with the faked injuries were designed to engender sympathy. It was never the plan to plant a mole on the Team, Shiva simply wanted her daughter. Artemis scoffs, and guesses the main objective was gaining the Justice League's data. Savage went on to brag about the organic infiltrators used to steal the data. Onyx swears she was aware of none of this, and Shiva notes that the plan wouldn't have worked if she had. Savage explains how she became suspicious of Onyx after he complaints about life on Santa Prisca with Deathstroke and Shiva in charge, Shiva had similar concerns so they let Onyx believe Savage was being sent as a ole to test her loyalty; a test she failed. But by casting doubt on Savage, it prolonged the decision on her fate, allowing her the time to access the computer systems. Tigress boasts about halting the data theft, but Shiva insists that while the Light may be disappointed, she was not; she had her daughter back. At this point, Orphan finally frees herself and throws her lockpick at the light, casting the room into darkness.

Shiva has the door sealed and the two groups begin to fight in the dark. Orphan and Shiva begin a sword fight, while Cheshire begins taking down Shadow gunmen. Onyx and Savage fight, with Onyx angry at being used. Shade disappears as Oracle uses the drone to stun several guards. Oracle sees Orphan is not faring well against Shiva and Tigress, not battling Rictus, to intervene. Tigress and Orphan switch opponents, and Orphan soon cuts off Rictus legs and arms. Black Spider attacks Cheshire, but she is able to cut the webbing tank on his back, leaving him encased in the depresurized material. Onyx and Savage's fight continues, ending in Onyx taking Savage down. Tigress's fight against Shiva goes less well, and Shiva eventually stabs Tigress through the thigh with her own sword. The lights are finally restored, and once again Tigress's team is surrounded with no option but surrender... until Shade opens a shadow portal underneath them and spirits them and a couple of nearby Shadows away. Shave quickly jumps in the portal behind them, leaving Spider to wonder what was happening.

The portal spills everyone out onto the beach, Onyx and Orphan kick the two Shadows back toward the portal, just as Lady Shiva emerges and slices right through them.

Back at the Kent farm, Clark and Lois attempt to explain the situation with Conner to Jonny. They had previously told Jonny that Conner passed away, but he had interpreted that to mean he could not come to their house anymore, but because Conner always visited the farm with Wolf when they were there, and since Wolf was here, he thought Conner must coming too. Clark explains the concept of death more fully and they will not be able to spend time with Conner anymore, but reassures Conner will always be kept alive in their hearts and memories of him. Lois tells Jonny that they can use pictures to help remember him, and Martha explains that she believes they will see Conner again when their journeys end.

Back at the beach, Shiva rages at Shade for his betrayal. He explains he owed Cheshire a debt, and that he would now resign from the Shadows and go freelance, before disappearing. Shiva is about to attack the group, but is halted by fire from the Super-Cycle. Cheshire orders Orphan and Onyx to take Tigress to the Super-Cycle and dress her would. Shiva admits that she cannot prevent the group from leaving, but nonetheless demands her daughter's return. When Tigress refuses, Shave threatens to have her Shadows kill everyone they care about. Cheshire dismisses it as an empty threat, but when Shiva threatens Barbara by name, Orphan leaps into action. As Orphan and Shiva fight, Oracle pleads with Orphan to stop via the drone. Orphan impales Shiva through the upper abdomen, and looks ready to behead Shiva as she falls to the ground. Oracle implores her once more, and Orphan remembers Barbara's words to her when she injured her as Batgirl. Shiva is smiling as Orphan holds the blade to her neck, but frowns as she finally pulls it away. As Orphan boards the Cycle and the group leaves, Shiva rants at her from the beach. Orphan may believe she is no longer an assassin but Shiva thinks otherwise; she is still her daughter and will come back to her mother when she is ready to admit the truth.

As the Super-Cycle flies them home, Tigress and Cheshire remove their masks amid an awkward silence.

Back outside the Sandbar cafe, Artemis lowers her bow and allows Cheshire to leave. Later, Cheshire reports to Sensei, calling Artemis weak for letting her go. Sensei tells her that Artemis is still family, and she must try to recruit her. At their apartment, Artemis tells her mother about the incident and laments that Jade is just like their dad. Paula tells Artemis that she did the right thing, that only family can help her. Paula admits that it took her many years and losses to understand the importance of family. She hopes Jade will be a quicker study. Paula tells Artemis to try to convince Jade if she sees her again.
 
Key West
April 21, 23:38 EDT

At a safehouse, Jade finishes dressing Artemis's leg, and Artemis calls Will. She asks about bringing another stray home, but before she can go into details, Lian interrupts the call to show off her "mommy mask". Jade is horrified to see he daughter in her mask, and flees the safe house. Artemis ends the call and pursues, but is too late to stop her.

Back at the Kent farm, Clark is sitting on the porch when he is approached by Lois, who has just put Jonny to bed. Despite the difficult talk, he seems okay, but a tearful Clark admits that he is not, and laments that he had not gotten to Mars five minutes sooner. Lois reminds him that that would have just meant him dying alongside Conner. Clark also regrets the way he avoided Conner in the months following his liberation and how he wasted so much time, but Lois reassured him that he had long since made up for that and that Conner knew Clark loved him, and in the end, loving each other is all they can do.

 
Caribbean Sea
April 22, 01:23 ECT

The Super-Cycle is on a pursuit course for Chashire's stolen helicopter en route to Infinity Island, following a tracker planted by Oracle's drone. Finally the Cycle catches up with the helicopter.

Cheshire stands outside the window of her old bedroom, as Artemis reads inside. She considers entering, but instead leaves. On the rooftop she is confronted by Artemis, who accuses her of following in their dad's footsteps. Jade furiously denies it, before taunting Artemis about joining her on the Team, and telling her that she will never be trusted there unless she tells them the truth and brings Cheshire in. Jade doubts Artemis will do either. With the conversation at a stalemate, Cheshire leaves.
 
Infinity Island
April 22, 01:25 ECT

As they near Infinity Island, Cheshire's helicopter turns around and runs staright at the Super-Cycle, forcing it into the water. Cheshire heads to the Island and leaps off the helicopter, leaving it to crash into Sensei's meditation space. Sensie and the Red Hooded Ninja run out to find Cheshire. Sensei asks her if she came to live or die. She draws her sai; Sensei concludes she has come to die. Cheshire charges, but is stopped by Tigress. Jade pleads with Artemis to go home, with Will and Lian, but Artemis says she only lives there because Jade left, and demands to know why. Jade finally admits she is too much like her father, and that she doesn't want Lian to turn out like her. Artemis explains that they choose who they are, not their family, she herself is proof. Jade says she chose her destiny a long time ago. Artemis tells her she can change if she puts the work in, perhaps with help from her sister. But Jade says she cannot take Artemis away from her family, and cannot be apart of their lives either; then she would just be bringing them into her cage too.

Onyx, who has been listening intently, notes that we all live in our own cages. She explains how she was raised by her grandfather, who was good to her, but still she felt trapped. Until Sensei found her and promised her she could make a difference. She left for Infinity Island to find a new family with the Shadows. Jade notes that they did better by her than her father. Sensei scoffs that that was a low bar to clear, and explains that what they experienced with the Shadows was not family, it was manipulation. As Talia al Ghul watched them, unseen, he told them that the Shadows had kept an eye on the progeny of individuals like Sportmaster and the Amazing Man, and when they saw an opportunity, took them, forging a sense of family to ensure loyalty, to create fanatics. Onyx laments that Papa Willie died a few years after she left, she had never seen him again. Sensei tells her the Shadows made them into weapons, but since they are no longer in the business of Shadows, now they can help them recover. Artemis is shocked that Jade is even considering the offer, but Ra's al Ghul emerges from the shadows, and insists it merits consideration, and gives his word that they will try to help Jade and Onyx if they choose to stay. Artemis asks Jade what her end goal is. Jade is unsure, but feels this may be a step in the right direction. To her own surprise, Artemis agrees. Onyx also wants to stay, and Ra's welcomes both to his family, his true family. Artemis insists she will return to check on them, to which Ra's genially agrees. Artemis hugs Jade, telling her she won't get away from her so easily. Tearfully, Jade admits that, for the first time, she's glad to hear that.

 
Smallville
April 22, 09:13 CDT

At the Kent farm, Jonny laughs while riding Wolf, as his parents and grandparents look on happily.

 
Gotham City
April 22, 10:14 EDT

In her apartment, Barbara hugs Orphan.

At Ra's palace, Sensei, Onyx, Jade and the Red Hooded Ninja sit inn meditation as Talia watches from the edge of the room. Talia, holding Damian, turns and walks away.

 
Santa Prisca
April 22, 10:15 ECT

At the Shadows's headquarters, Cassandra Savage communicates with her father, while in the cell block, a bandaged Lady Shiva stares at the chains that once held her daughter.

 
Star City
April 22, 07:16 PDT

Artemis returns home, to find Will, Paula, Lian and Brucely in the kitchen waiting for her. She smiles.

End credits scene: Two framed photographs sit on Artemis's night stand; one of herself and Wally West, the other of her and Jade as kids. Artemis recites a quote commonly misattributed to Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Title

In line with the theme of literary names, the title is a reference to the 1969 novel I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. Young Artemis is seen reading the book, and she recites a quote often attributed to the book. The cat is Cheshire, who has been living in the proverbial cages of the League of Shadows. The theme of cages also extends to Onyx, who was similarly "caged" by the Shadows, and to Orphan, who starts the episode caged in a prison cell.

Cast and characters

Voice actor Character
Logan Browning Onyx
Zehra Fazal Cassandra Savage
Lian Nguyen-Harper
Martha Kent  
Oded Fehr Ra's al Ghul
Crispin Freeman Will Harper
Grey Griffin Lois Lane
Jonny Kent  
Kelly Hu Cheshire
Paula Crock
Josh Keaton Black Spider
Red-Hooded Ninja
Stephanie Lemelin Tigress/Artemis Crock
Justice League Computer
Nolan North Clark Kent
Alyson Stoner Oracle/Batgirl
Joel Swetow Shade
Gwendoline Yeo Lady Shiva
Keone Young Sensei
Uncredited
Wolf
Non-speaking roles
Arrowette (flashback)
Arsenal (flashback)
Brucely
Damian
Jonathan Kent
Orphan
Rictus
Sphere
Superboy (picture)
Talia al Ghul
Vandal Savage
Wally West (picture)
1 Character debut
1 Speaking debut
0 Episode debut


Continuity

Trivia

Goofs

Cultural references

  • Onyx says that her grandfather was more like Booker T. Washington than Malcolm X. Both were prominent leaders of the African-American communities of their times, with strongly contrasting views. While Washington advocated educational and economic self-improvement for black Americans over direct political and legal challenges, Malcolm X argued that black people should advance themselves "by any means necessary", rejecting the nonviolence of the mainstream civil rights movement.

Questions

Questions

Unanswered questions

Quotes

  • Clark Kent: Jonny, your uncle has died. This means that the part of his journey where his body is alive is over. His body doesn't breathe anymore, it doesn't play anymore. And, well, we don't get to spend time with him anymore.
  • Jonny Kent: Why?
  • Clark Kent: Inside a living body, there are many little parts that each do an important job to keep a body healthy and alive. Now if some of these parts stop doing their jobs, the body can stop working and die. And that's what happened to Uncle Conner. But even though we don't get to see or spend time with Conner anymore, because his body is dead, your memories of him will always be alive... in your head and in your heart.
  • Lady Shiva: Whom do you think you are fooling, child? I saw it in your eyes. You are still an assassin. In allowing these people to adopt you, you believe you have rejected me, declared yourself an orphan. But you are no orphan. You are Cassandra Wu-San. Come back to your mother when you are ready to admit who you really are!
  • Tigress: We are both children of our parents. But at some point, we decide who we want to be. Our parents, our upbringing, none of that has to define us. Aren't I proof DNA doesn't define destiny?

References

  1. Weisman, Greg (2021-11-25). Tweet. Twitter. Retrieved 2021-12-07.
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