WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for "Early Warning," Episode 18 of Young Justice: Outsiders, streaming now on DC Universe.
When it comes to the Young Justice franchise, the junior division of the Justice League has usually fallen in line when it comes to the rules and regulations surrounding the safeguarding of Earth. Sure, there have been cases such as Speedy abandoning ship and Nightwing concocting that dangerous plan to infiltrate the Light in Season 2, but overall, this team -- and the show in general -- has usually involved aspiring heroes who don't really upset the established order.
But with the recent arc involving Harper Row and Halo, Young Justice: Outsiders is clearly shaking things up in the series' third season, and with Harper being a bit more rebellious than you'd expect, let's just say it's exactly what the show needs right now.
Even though Beast Boy's Outsiders did seem like a mini-revolt, they're still being overseen by Miss Martian, so you can see that it's one happy family working under the League. But too many teams or sub-divisions like this could make for a boring show with the troops coming off like cub scouts: overly obedient and, well, domesticated.
But in "Early Warning," Harper proves to be a bad influence whose corrupting Halo on the heels of news that they're dying. It turns out every time Halo regenerates after being killed in the field, her human body (as they're basically the essence of a Mother Box) withers away. This leads to her cutting loose a bit with Harper, which draws the attention of Happy Harbor's cops. To make things worse, Halo's not communicating with her teammates, especially Brion, her boyfriend, and it's clearly sending her into a downward spiral as she won't even take phone calls.
During their girl's day out session, Halo ends up cheating on Brion by kissing the bisexual Harper, who later urges her to wield a pistol in order to vent as she can sense Halo's bottling secrets up. But while Harper can be viewed by purists as someone the budding hero doesn't need at her side, Harper's actually perfect to the narrative in terms of creating tension and conflict the Outsiders don't have right now.
Luring Halo into an affair adds to the teen angst factor we see in so many young adult dramas, but we can clearly see that when the cops reveal Harper's dad can't pick her up from jail as he too is drunk somewhere, Harper really isn't being a brat. This behavior is her way of getting him to notice her. She's not simply acting out to get Halo to break bad, she's rebelling against the patriarchy and a growing sense of neglect in her life.
By having her wayward ways affecting Halo and trickling down to poison the Outsiders from the inside, the heroes, in turn, get an enemy they can't really fight off easily. It's all about Halo's maturity at this point and coupling this with Terra being planted in the team, while the latter's a physical traitor, Halo's betrayal will be a mental one, shaping trust issues within the squad and breaking philosophies they all live by.
Now, it's worth noting that fans did voice concerns when Harper offered Halo alcohol quite nonchalantly. Halo was reluctant to drink it, which led to Harper asking if it was because "of the Muslim thing." Halo then had to clarify that because they wore a hijab, that didn't necessarily mean they were Muslim, and proceeded to guzzle down the liquor.
It seemed a bit tone-deaf and insensitive that Harper only asked the question as an afterthought, with folks feeling it was insulting to the religion. However, this is clearly done to show Harper's immaturity and how far gone she is, not even recognizing that her selfish ways are destructive, not just to her, but those around her.
She's a lost soul, which makes for an even better redemption story if she joins either Batman Inc. (as per the comics where she trained under Batman) or the Outsiders. The show clearly wants to paint her as someone who's abrasive and ignorant, and it could be Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti's way of making a statement on how young people can be blind to sensitive issues in the heat of the moment when they're ticked off.
Either way, Harper being this unlikeable right now is good for Outsiders because it doesn't just make her an interesting character who needs a world of improvement, it's also going to rock the core of everything Miss Martian, Beast Boy, and their seniors are working towards.
New episodes of Young Justice: Outsiders premiere Tuesdays throughout the summer on DC Universe.