"Ancient History" is the 11th episode of the third season of Justice League Unlimited, and the 37th of the overall series. It originally aired on April 29, 2006.
Green Lantern chases the Gentleman Ghost, but then Ghost gets the upper hand until Hawkman intervenes by capturing Ghost in an Nth metal reinforced net negating his ability to escape them. Lantern grudgingly thanks Hawkman for the help, and he departs after making the request that he tell Shayera that he said hello. Shadow Thief witnesses this encounter and begins his plan.
At the Metro Tower, Shayera and Vixen are working out in the rec room. The two women toy with each other over Lantern. Shayera half jokes about not knowing the proper protocol about getting John back. John enters as Mari is leaving, and the two set up a date, but before Mari leaves, Shayera throws her back her water bottle. Knowing that Shayera joked about "poisoning your water", as she leaves, she throws the water bottle in the trash can outside the rec room, not wanting to take a chance of drinking poisoned water. However John is preoccupied with something else as he asks to speak to Shayera alone. Hawkman's reappearance is commented on as an encounter with her stalker boyfriend, but Shayera seems unconcerned by Carter's return.
The next day Mari is off to a photo shoot though catches Shadow Thief phasing through the wall into the apartment she is sharing with John. She and John battle him, but it takes a step up after Mari is knocked out. In the end John is beaten and taken hostage, and Shadow Thief announces he is after Shayera next and he tells Mari to stay out of it.
Shayera and Mari head for Midway City Museum to find Carter. Shadow Thief thanks her for coming to him as it saves him from having to find her. The two women battle him unsuccessfully. Mari tries to free John, but gets thrown into the next room and ends up buried underneath the collapsing T-Rex display. He then manages to throw Shayera into a wall, but she keeps falling before finally stopping on the floor two levels down. Hawkman arrives, but he is unable to beat the Shadow Thief.
Shadow Thief takes both down and he binds them up around the Absorbacron, the same memory interface that gave Carter Hall the memories of Katar Hol. The memories led to Carter Hall's claim that he is the reincarnation of Katar and Shayera is the reincarnation of Chay-Ara, a pair of Thanagarians that were stranded in Ancient Egypt and became local deities as authority figures.
John, Shayera, and Carter awaken to the Absorbacron and Shadow Thief forcing their free hands to touch it. A memory flashback is begun.
Katar and Chay-Ara Hol are shown being welcomed as royal and religious figures in Egypt. Katar is bent on bringing the benefits of Thanagarian advances to this land whereas Chay-Ara wants to have a child. He insists that it will have to wait, but it is then that Bashari returns announcing another success in the field. He also brings horses as tribute from this new land.
Chay-Ara comments that horses are unnecessary for her, due to her wings. He offers to show her and they ride horses through the city, then the aqueducts, and finally into the desert before stopping near a watering hole. He drinks from the cistern, then she does, but she spills all over her face. He wipes it off her face, but she grabs his hand before he can let go. She removes her headdress and they kiss.
Hath-Set had followed them and after he alerts Katar to this interlude, but Katar refuses to believe his wife and his closest human friend would do this to him. He observes their return, which seems friendly at first, but when they kiss in front of him, he smashes a section of the balcony railing. He mutters about wishing they were dead, and Hath-Set takes this as literal.
A chamber attendant runs away from Chay-Ara's room screaming and Katar grabs her for a moment before going into the room himself to find her and Bashari dead. A poisoned wine had killed them. Heart broken, he seizes her limp body in his arms before Hath-Set arrives announcing that it was done as he commanded so. Katar yells at him to leave, and the priest looks mortified, now understanding that Katar's jealous comment was in haste not truth.
Katar drinks the wine too after the priest leaves and the last sound before the flashback nears its end is the clattering of the wine glass. Then its the linked hands of Katar and Chay-Ara, which mirrors the sarcophagus they were entombed in together. The same tomb where Carter found their bodies and the Absorbacron years before.
Shadow Thief then reveals why he is doing this: he is the incarnation of Carter Hall's deepest, most unspeakable desires, the perennial villain to the 'reborn' hero. He captures Shayera to reunite them and captures John in order for Carter to regain her by killing John. Carter instead frees John. John makes a splint with the power ring and goes after Mari. However he does share that bittersweet momentary stare with Shayera. They still feel for each other, maybe even still love each other.
John gets to Vixen while Shayera and Carter battle the Shadow Thief. Carter realizes the only way to beat the Thief is to deny him battle, to reintegrate him, and so he does then prepares to bid Shayera farewell. He holds her chin after she comes over to check on him after the absorption. He admits that they were not meant to be together and she is left to herself again.
Back at the Metro Tower, Vixen is recovering and Shayera comes out to find John at the window. He finally tells her about the time he and Batman went to the future. He tells her about their son, Warhawk, but then contends that if they are destined to be together, it will be on their terms, not fate's, and for now, he is staying with Vixen.
Later, Shayera visits Batman while he is working alone in the computer lab. Sitting down beside him, she makes the request: "Tell me about my son".
- The episode picks up on the plot line of "Shadow of the Hawk".
- This is the last episode to focus on John and Shayera's relationship. Their reunion has not been shown on screen, but can be inferred from the events of Batman Beyond. Bruce Timm also confirmed that they will eventually rekindle their relationship and give birth to Warhawk.
- The scene where Bashari and Chay-Ara kiss at the watering hole is a direct homage to John and Shayera's first kiss at the end of "Wild Cards".
Home video releases
- Justice League Unlimited - Season Two (DVD)
- Justice League - The Complete Series (DVD)
- Justice League Unlimited - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
- In the closing credits for the previous episode, there is a clip of Vixen summoning a gorilla. Judging from the background and Vixen's attire, this scene takes place during the fight in John's loft, presumably before Vixen throws a couch at Shadow Thief. That scene was cut off from this episode, probably because of time issues. It explains, however, how Vixen could lift and hurl such a heavy object when the last animal she was mimicking was an electric eel.
- Some scenes in the Flashback sequence share similarities from "Wild Cards" and "Starcrossed"
- The scene where Chay-Ara and Bashari kiss was copied almost frame for frame (apart from the end, when they lie down) from the scene in "Wild Cards" where Hawkgirl and Green Lantern share their first kiss. The same musical theme also plays.
- When Chay-Ara Hol tells Hath-Set that she wishes to speak to her husband alone, it is almost like the scene in "Starcrossed" where Hro Talak scolds Kragger for interrupting his and Shayera's private moment and conversation together.
- When Hath-Set tells Katar Hol about his wife's affair with Bashari, it mirrors the scene in "Starcrossed" where Kragger tells Hro Talak that Shayera should be properly debriefed after spending five years on earth.
- Hath-Set's "modern day" counterpart is Kragger. The two are both voiced by Hector Elizondo.
- Bruce Timm has gone on record saying that Shayera and John do get back together and eventually have Warhawk. What happens between John and Vixen or how long it all took was left to speculation.
- When Shadow Thief kidnaps John Stewart, he says "Blackest night beats brightest day". This is a reference to the Green Lantern Oath.
- Gentleman Ghost's presence in this episode is most likely a nod to his origin: he was a highway robber who was hanged by the 19th century reincarnations of Hawkman and Hawkgirl, but cast a spell not to pass on until his killers were dead. Given that they've been around for four thousand years, Gentleman Ghost has a slight problem.
- The ruler of the nation Katar conquered, Teth-Adam, is the real name of Black Adam, the predecessor of Captain Marvel to wield the power of Shazam and (after Doctor Sivana) one of his archenemies.
Chay-Ara Hol (uncredited)
|Phil LaMarr||John Stewart|
Katar Hol (uncredited)
|Robin Atkin Downes||Gentleman Ghost|
Shayera Hol: Tell me about my son.