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"The Great Brain Robbery"

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Justice League Unlimited episode
"The Great Brain Robbery"
Airdate: March 4, 2006
Production Number: 34
Airdate Order: 34
Animation Services by: Dong Woo Animation Co., LTD.
Teleplay by: Matt Wayne
Story by: Dwayne McDuffie
Directed by: Dan Riba
Episode images (11)

"The Great Brain Robbery" is the eighth episode of the third season of Justice League Unlimited, and the 34th of the overall series.

Plot

Lex Luthor, after trying repeatedly to resurrect Brainiac from his remaining fragment, realizes that because Grodd was the one who found it and held it over Luthor's head, Grodd must be withholding important information in order to block Luthor's goal. When Grodd refuses to talk, Luthor becomes determined to force his way into Grodd’s mind and literally take Grodd's knowledge for himself, using Grodd's mind-control helmet. Other members of the Legion, however, are dissatisfied with Luthor's leadership, fearing that he's obsessed and unbalanced, but Luthor offers them a plan that will make them all rich. This pacifies most of the Legion, but some still have misgivings about Luthor's leadership (most notably, Dr. Polaris).

Meanwhile, in the Watchtower, Dr. Fate proposes that he try to locate Grodd by tracing the psychic resonance left when Flash was under Grodd's mind control.[1] The two processes are started at the same time, and Luthor and Flash’s brains are accidentally switched. Luthor (as Flash) immediately runs amok in the Watchtower, looking for a way to escape and thinking of several new and destructive uses for Flash’s powers.

Flash (as Luthor) only discovers what has happened when he goes into the Men's Room and sees himself in the mirror. He has to bluff his way through leadership of the Legion of Doom, especially while other members are becoming suspicious. He confronts Grodd, who knows what happened since he was involved in the switch, but Grodd says he’s not going to "bust" Flash to the Legion. Instead, Grodd will enjoy the show, waiting for the moment the truth is inevitably revealed.

Luckily, Luthor had already explained his latest plan to “the crew,” so Flash doesn’t have to reveal his ignorance. In fact, Flash cleverly manages to get the Legion to explain Luthor's plan to him. The plan is to steal a shipment of 100 million newly minted Euros from Kaznia (which has recently switched to Eurozone currency due to going democratic and joining the European Union). Polaris add that it will be the largest single robbery in history. Flash goes along on the heist in hopes of sabotaging it, but Luthor, from the Watchtower, sends a communication signal to the Legion and reveals that their "Luthor" is actually a Justice Leaguer in disguise.

Now more suspicious than ever, Dr. Polaris puts Flash on the spot by asking something the real Luthor would know: "What's my real name?" Unable to answer, Flash makes one last desperate dive for the communication equipment in hopes of sending an SOS to the League. Now convinced that "Luthor" is an impostor, the Legion seizes Flash. However, enough of Flash's message got through to where Mr. Terrific could trace the signal and dispatch Doctor Light, Steel, and Ice to the scene. The Leaguers arrive, and a brief battle ensues. Dr. Polaris' magnetic powers easily start throwing around Steel's metal armor and hammer, which gives Tala the chance to conjure an escape portal. The Legion abandons the money but still manages to take Flash with them as their prisoner.

Meanwhile, Luthor (as Flash) diverts the pursuing League members to another part of the Watchtower, then speeds onto the teleport pad. Mr. Terrific shuts off the artificial gravity, causing Luthor to float off the pad. Mr. Terrific taunts Luthor, saying speed is useless without gravity. Luthor scoffs and uses Flash’s speed to propel himself downward — at which point Mr. Terrific turns the gravity back on, and Luthor rockets into the floor, knocking himself unconscious. Dr. Fate reverses the mind switch, and Flash returns to his body. At first, Green Lantern is still unsure if it is really Wally, so Wally begins to tell the story of John's nickname before he joined the Marines, at which point John cuts him off and confirms that Wally is back. Mr. Terrific asks Wally about the Legion, but all Wally learned is that the villains' headquarters is in a swamp somewhere.

At the Legion’s headquarters, Luthor (who has also been restored to his own body) is being held prisoner. Some of the Legion aren’t sure he’s really been changed back. Polaris suspects it's really J'onn J'onzz as a spy, but then decides that he doesn’t care; He’s taking over the Legion himself anyway. Polaris prepares to kill Luthor, but Luthor merely touches a control on his belt, turning Polaris’s power back on himself and imprisoning him. The button also released the bonds that were holding Luthor captive.

Luthor explains that, in augmenting the abilities of all Legion members, he has also given himself the power to override them. Luthor dares anyone else to challenge him, but there are no takers. Luthor is still in charge. Tala, who was seriously warming up to the "new" Luthor, is disappointed.

Continuity

  • Sinestro mentions the time Grodd tried to turn the world into apes in "Dead Reckoning".
  • Also in "Dead Reckoning", Luthor successfully usurped Grodd by shooting him with a non-lethal weapon and seizing control of the Legion. Polaris was obviously inspired by this move, as he tried (but failed) to pull off the same coup in this episode.
  • Mr. Terrific says that when Grodd took control of Flash's mind in "The Brave and the Bold, Part I", the connection left a psychic resonance between them.
  • Grodd's outspoken hatred towards the Flash is presumably due to the hero's foiling of his plans in "The Brave and the Bold, Part II". In the comics' continuity, Grodd is one of Flash's most well-known and dangerous enemies.
  • This episode expands on the storyline (and ramifications) of Luthor's scientific genius enhancing the Legion's abilities, first mentioned in "To Another Shore".
  • Luthor's belt-button and his penchant for fail-safes against his fellow Legion members play a big part during the Legion civil war in "Alive!"

Background information

Home video releases

Production notes

  • In the DVD commentary to "This Little Piggy", the producers commented that exchanging brains is a common trope in television shows. Another, changing the main characters into children, was used in "Kid Stuff".

Production inconsistencies

  • Ice is shown to be one of the several superheroes knocked unconscious by Luthor-as-Flash on the Watchtower. However, she is later seen alongside Steel and Doctor Light when they transport from the Metro Tower to the site of the train robbery. However, she could have recovered and transported down.

Trivia

  • The title is a pun on "The Great Train Robbery", which could refer either to:
    • The 1975 novel of the same name by Michael Crichton, loosely based on the Great Gold Robbery of 1855
    • The Great Train Robbery of 1963
      • As a tribute, the episode also features a train robbery, as the Legion of Doom hijacks the train carrying the money.
  • Michael Rosenbaum, who voices The Flash, plays the young Lex Luthor on Smallville. In the Justice League: Chronicles special feature, Bruce Timm and Dwayne McDuffie said that they'd been planning to switch Lex and Flash for a while, but ended up giving Flash-in-Lex more screen time than Lex-in-Flash, because Clancy Brown's "Flash" stole the show with his comic performance. They also stated that, per their usual practice, they had each character's voice actor read the lines first so as to allow the voice actor of the body to mimic how the character would say the lines.
  • Though obviously not his mommy, Lex was responsible for Bizarro's creation as it was his project that attempted to clone Superman and got Bizaro as a result.
  • Bizarro's chest emblem is reversed in several scenes when Luthor turns on Dr. Polaris.
  • This episode features one of the DCAU's very few suggestions of sexual activity, when Tala tells Flash (as Luthor) that he needs to relax, then pulls him behind a closed door, and he is heard remarking "Hey... That's not restful".
  • Grodd makes a joking reference to the late Charlton Heston, who starred in Planet of the Apes (which also featured the late Roddy McDowall). Heston and Powers Boothe (Grodd's voice actor) also costarred in Tombstone.
  • The coordinates in Kaznia that Mr. Terrific sends to Metro Tower (45°09'08" N 19°56(?)'13" E) are actually in the former Yugoslavia, currently Serbia, a mile or two from the Danube.
  • Though not confirmed within the DC Animated Universe, in the comics, Lex Luthor was a natural redhead until he lost his hair. As Wally, Lex has red hair in his only hairful experience in the DCAU.
  • This episode is the first time that Clancy Brown and Ted Levine have worked together since the 1997 Disney movie Flubber where they played the two henchmen, Smith and Wessen, respectively.
  • Dr. Polaris tests Flash-in-Lex by asking, "What's my real name?" Flash-in-Lex is exposed when he is unable to answer. Though the answer isn't revealed in this episode (or any future episode, for that matter), Polaris' real name in the comics is Dr. Neal Emerson.

Powers

Luthor-as-Flash seems very comfortable with Flash's powers. He displays several abilities deriving from speed that Flash had never used. Among them:

  • Brandishing his fingers as a gun and threatening to vibrate them through someone's head.
  • Using vibrations to set up an unstable resonance in a bay door, causing it to collapse.
  • Using his fists to create an uncomfortable resonance in Dr. Fate's helmet.

These abilities are not often exhibited for several reasons. As remarked by Green Lantern, setting up the resonance in the door was very dangerous, hence why Flash never performed it. Threatening to scramble someone's brains with your fingers is simply not superhero-esque, and overall, Flash seems to prefer non-violent methods of disabling his enemies as opposed to hitting them really, really fast.

Outside the DCAU, Green Lantern Power rings traditionally cannot affect things that are colored yellow directly. This has normally not been true for the DCAU, where the Sinestro ring and Green Lantern ring are typically evenly matched. However, in one scene, Luthor-as-Flash is in the cafeteria tossing objects at Red Tornado and Green Lantern. Lantern is well-protected by his power ring, until Flash tosses a bowl of yellow jello at him. The jello easily penetrates the shield and smacks Lantern in the face, humorously.

As Luthor-as-Flash leaves the cafeteria, he shovels in several handfuls of food. The Flash mentioned his "hyper metabolism" in "The Brave and the Bold, Part I". Flash burns so many calories so quickly, he regularly consumes large quantities of food to keep up his energy.

At one point while Luthor-as-Flash is trapped in a bathroom, he remarks that at the very least he can finally know the Flash's secret identity. However, after removing the mask, he realizes that he has no idea whose face he's looking at in the bathroom mirror.

Cast

Actor Role
Clancy Brown Lex Luthor
The Flash
Powers Boothe Grodd
Red Tornado (uncredited)
Phil LaMarr John Stewart
Steel (uncredited)
Angle Man (uncredited)
Michael Rosenbaum The Flash
Lex Luthor
Dr. Polaris (uncredited)
Juliet Landau Tala
Michael Beach Mr. Terrific
Oded Fehr Dr. Fate
Ted Levine Sinestro
George Newbern Bizarro
Evil Star (uncredited)
Lauren Tom Dr. Light
Rampage (uncredited)

Uncredited appearances

Quotes

Grodd: It must pain you to see me like this, after what we've been to one another.
Tala: My taste in boyfriends has evolved.


Sinestro: After Grodd tried to turn the world into apes, you can imagine how seriously we take something like that. What are you going to do, make everybody bald?


Flash: Just be careful with my head — it's where I keep all my one-liners.


Lex-in-Flash: Beam me out of here, or I'm going to vibrate these fingers and scramble your brains.


Flash-in-Lex: (looks in a mirror) Aaah, that is just wrong!


Dr. Polaris: Are you gonna wash your hands?
Flash-in-Lex: No... 'Cause I'm evil!


Flash-in-Lex: My fellow bad guys, I, Lex Luthor, your leader, will speak now about my, Lex Luthor's plan. My... villainous, villainous plan. Question the plan at your peril. Uh... Any questions?
Angle Man: We all get a cut, right?
Flash-in-Lex: Watch your step, my evil minion. You presume too much! One of these days, you'll go too far.


Bizarro: Me got answer.
Flash-in-Lex: Excellent. Do enlighten us.
Bizarro: Ever since you plug into monkey's head, you act perfectly sane and rational. Am you Bizarro mommy?


(Lex-as-Flash hides in a bathroom in the Watchtower to escape the pursuing League members.)
Luthor-in-Flash: (Panting.) Lex, you're having a difficult day.
(Lex looks in the mirror.)
Luthor-in-Flash: Hmm... If nothing else, I can at least learn the Flash's secret identity. (Unmasks and looks in the mirror, then frowns.) I have no idea who this is.


Flash-in-Lex: Me, the Flash? You've, like, totally lost it, Grodd. I'm Lex Luthor!
Grodd: And I'm Charlton Heston.


Grodd: Ah, Tala, my old groupie. I so miss bending you to my will.
Tala: Go eat a banana. Lex is my man now. (Leaves with Lex.)
Grodd: If you say so.


Mr. Terrific: Dr. Fate, your patient just anesthetized himself.


Flash: Guys! I was starting to think I was going to go out as the bottom of a supervillain dog pile!
Green Lantern: It sounds like Wally. But is there any way to be sure?
Flash: You want proof? Until he went off into the marines, GL’s nickname was…
Green Lantern: Stop! It’s him. And you promised never to repeat that story!
The Flash: I know. I was just messing with your head.
Mr. Terrific: Can you tell us anything about Grodd's secret society? Where's their Headquarters?
Flash: I don't know. In a swamp...


Tala: Lex, is that really you?
Lex Luthor: Of course it's me, you twit.
Tala: (disappointed) Ooh...


References


Previously produced episode:
"Patriot Act"
Episodes of
Justice League Unlimited
Next produced episode:
"Grudge Match"
Previously aired episode:
"Patriot Act"
Next aired episode:
"Grudge Match"

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