"Tabula Rasa" is the twenty-ninth and thirtieth episodes of Justice League. While dying, Lex Luthor seeks medical help from a former employee but finds an android which may be able to destroy the Justice League.
During a fight with the Justice League, Lex Luthor's power suit is damaged by Hawkgirl and he causes a shipwreck in order to escape from the League. Desperate, Luthor flees to LexCorp and begs his former assistant Mercy Graves, now the company's CEO, for help. Mercy, however, shows no pity whatsoever for Luthor until he menacingly threatens her into telling him the whereabouts of his old employee Professor Ivo. Shortly afterwards, Batman and Superman pay Mercy a visit and order her to inform them if Luthor contacts her.
Luthor finds Ivo's house, but only manages to find Ivo's corpse, guarded by a nanotech android called Amazo who does not kill Luthor, but shows concern over Ivo's health. Luthor takes advantage of Amazo's naiveté by appointing himself as Amazo's new "father". Luthor then instructs Amazo to steal some fuel canisters from a nearby facility. During the mission, Amazo runs into Hawkgirl and uses his nanotech abilities to duplicate her wings and mace, taking her down easily. Amazo returns to Luthor with the fuel, and Luthor tells Amazo a lie about how the League are his evil enemies and must be crushed. Amazo vows to destroy the League and protect Luthor at all costs.
In an attempt to use his telepathy to track Luthor down, J'onn J'onzz scans all of Metropolis at once and is overwhelmed by the selfishness and duplicity he finds in humanity. Distraught, J'onn retreats to the woods outside the city to try to regain his focus, destroying his communicator when Superman contacts him. Amazo enters the city and begins fighting Hawkgirl along with Green Lantern, Flash and Wonder Woman. Amazo replicates Flash's speed, Wonder Woman's strength, and Lantern's power ring merely by looking at them. Despite Lantern's insistence that he not enter the fray, Superman intervenes and briefly covers Amazo's eyes with scrap metal to prevent the android from stealing his powers. However, Amazo quickly disposes of his makeshift blindfold and successfully gets an eyeful of Superman, copying his abilities. Now invincible with the combined abilities of five Leaguers, the android advances on the Man of Steel.
Despite the android's superior abilities, Superman continues the fight against Amazo until Batman intervenes. Amazo scoffs at Batman having no superpowers for the android to replicate. Then the Dark Knight pulls out a piece of Kryptonite that surprises and weakens Amazo. Batman deduced that he has gained the Leaguers' strengths, but also their weaknesses. Defeated for the first time, a confused Amazo flees into the sewers and heads back to Ivo's home.
Meanwhile, Mercy pays Luthor a visit at Ivo's house and warns him of the Justice League closing in on him. Luthor and Mercy flee to an abandoned garage somewhere outside Metropolis, where Amazo eventually manages to find them. Amazo, however, begins to question Luthor's motives and why he wants the League gone. Luthor plays the ill, innocent fool and tricks Amazo once again. After the android departs once again to do Luthor's bidding, Mercy warns Luthor about conning such a powerful creature. Luthor blows off her concerns and reveals to Mercy that should Amazo learn the truth and turn against him, he has a triumph card: A detonator for a bomb implanted inside Amazo's head.
J'onn, still pondering the reason he defends humanity when they are so selfish and dishonest, runs across a group of people searching for a missing girl. Scanning their minds, he finds that many of them do not even know the child or her family, but are searching for her anyway out of a sense of empathy and community. Inspired by their nobility, J'onn locates the girl telepathically and brings her to the search party, to their genuine gratitude. Wonder Woman finds J'onn and updates him on the situation.
Amazo locates the League and battles them once again, even overcoming and pulverizing Batman's kryptonite after having evolved and adapted to the attack. In his repaired battlesuit, Luthor joins the fight. Luthor and Amazo take down the entire League until J'onn arrives. Using a different approach, J'onn does not engage in battle, choosing to stand still and voluntarily allow Amazo to look at him and gain all of his abilities. J'onn then encourages Amazo to use his newfound telepathy, prompting the android to read Luthor's mind and thus, discover Luthor's dishonesty. Luthor activates the detonator and blows Amazo's head off, but Amazo uses J'onn's shapeshifting ability to regrow it. The scorned android tears into Luthor, reducing his armor to scrap and preparing to kill him. Luthor begs for mercy at the last moment, and Amazo, observing Luthor and the League, decides the Earth has nothing left to offer him anymore. Amazo turns his eyes to the stars, evolves into a gold version of himself, and flies off to explore the universe. Luthor is returned to prison.
The following day at LexCorp, Mercy receives an angry call from Luthor, demanding the best lawyers and doctors. Mercy has finally had enough and hangs up on Luthor in mid-rant.
- Mercy Graves calling Lex Luthor out on considering her a "dog" is a reference to her explanation to Superman in the Superman: The Animated Series episode "Ghost in the Machine" where Luthor took Mercy in like a stray.
- Batman's habit of carrying a piece of Kryptonite around as "insurance" is further confirmed in the Justice League Unlimited episode "The Doomsday Sanction" and the Batman Beyond episode "The Call". Presumably, after learning of Kryptonite's harmful effects on humans in the Superman: The Animated Series episode "World's Finest" as well as seeing Luthor's fate in "Injustice For All", Batman knew enough to keep it in a lead-shielded container.
- Ever the street-smart mad scientist, Luthor loves having failsafe measures against his own allies:
- In this episode, Luthor was able to convince Amazo to be on his side, and his killswitch didn't work against Amazo but it wasn't for lack of trying.
- In the Justice League Unlimited episode "Divided We Fall", Luthor is able convince Brainiac to be on his side as well.
- In the Justice League Unlimited episode "The Great Brain Robbery", Dr. Polaris tried to usurp Luthor as leader of the Legion of Doom. But Lex, ready for any of the Legionnaires by using his own scientific genius to install fail-safes that prevented any from using their new powers against him, turned Polaris' magnetic powers back to neutralize his insurrection.
- In the Justice League Unlimited finale "Alive!", Lex also used his fail-safe measures to take out Goldface, Tala and Grodd during a Legion civil war that saw Luthor's followers battle Grodd's loyalists.
- Amazo eventually returns to Earth to settle the score with Lex in the Justice League Unlimited episode "The Return".
- Lex gives Ivo some posthumous respect in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Panic in the Sky".
- As Batman lands on the rooftop beside Amazo, some of the rubble created by Amazo's impact is hovering in mid-air.
- Mercy Graves' pantyhose disappear and reappear between shots.
- When Wonder Woman finds J'onn J'onzz in the woods and hugs him, J'onn's belt buckle has vanished.
Home video releases
- Justice League - Season Two (DVD)
- Justice League - Season Two (Blu-ray)
- Justice League - The Complete Series (DVD)
- DC Comics Super-Villains: Justice League Masterminds of Crime (DVD)
- While searching for Lex Luthor, Amazo comes across a bald man talking on a phone who resembles (and is voiced by) Michael Rosenbaum (the actor that played Lex on Smallville).
- J'onn's mental breakdown is similar to a concept used in the comics miniseries Kingdom Come, taking place several years in the future, after the Justice League has disbanded. J'onn appears briefly in his "John Jones" guise, having suffered a near-complete breakdown after trying to open his mind to everyone on Earth.
- Though the League finds Ivo's blueprints labeled "Amazo", it was never revealed what these letters stood for in DCAU continuity. In the comics, the name "Amazo" was not an acronym.
- Having deduced that Amazo has gained the League's powers as well as their weaknesses, Batman uses Kryptonite, which only temporarily stops him. The tactic worked more effectively against the Parasite in the Superman: The Animated Series episode "Feeding Time".
The episodes name is based on the epistemological idea that individuals are born without built-in mental content and that therefore all knowledge comes from experience or perception.
"Tabula rasa" is a Latin phrase often translated as "blank slate" in English and originates from the Roman tabula or wax tablet used for notes, which was blanked by heating the wax and then smoothing it..
In the eleventh century, the theory of tabula rasa was extended more clearly by the Persian philosopher Ibn Sina (known as "Avicenna" in the Western world). He argued that the "...human intellect at birth resembled a tabula rasa, a pure potentiality that is actualized through education and comes to know," and that knowledge is attained through "...empirical familiarity with objects in this world from which one abstracts universal concepts," which develops through a "...syllogistic method of reasoning; observations lead to propositional statements, which when compounded lead to further abstract concepts." He further argued that the intellect itself "...possesses levels of development from the material intellect (al-‘aql al-hayulani), that potentiality can acquire knowledge to the active intellect (al-‘aql al-fa‘il), the state of the human intellect at conjunction with the perfect source of knowledge."
In the comic version, the android is actually called Amazo and has a different appearance. The contrast emphasizes the concept of "tabula rasa" in the character design of the animated version, where its appearance is totally rational and functional, in terms of design, with a simple and minimalist aesthetic.
The innocence of the android is later corrupted by Lex's reasons, reinforcing the concept of Tabula Rasa.
|Clancy Brown||Lex Luthor|
|Maria Canals|| Hawkgirl|
Blond girl (uncredited)
Search party (uncredited)
|Lisa Edelstein|| Mercy Graves|
|Susan Eisenberg||Wonder Woman|
|Tom Kenny|| Search Leader|
Search party (uncredited)
|Masasa Moyo||Beautiful woman|
|Phil LaMarr|| Green Lantern|
Search party (uncredited)
|Carl Lumbly||J'onn J'onzz|
|George Newbern|| Superman|
Search party (uncredited)
|Robert Picardo|| Amazo|
Balding man (uncredited)
Search party (uncredited)
|Michael Rosenbaum|| Flash|
Bald Man (uncredited)