"Task Force X" is the fourth episode of the second season of Justice League Unlimited, and the 17th of the overall series. It originally aired on May 21, 2005. Unusually, it is told not from the perspective of the Justice League, but from that of a covert operations team employed by Project Cadmus to raid the Watchtower.
At Belle Reve Correctional, Floyd Lawton, aka the hitman Deadshot, is being led to execution, displaying defiance for his fate, even towards the priest. Upon entering the execution chamber, however, it is to find another man who hands some official papers over to the warden. After reading them, the warden orders Deadshot to be released and handed over to the newcomer.
On the drive away from the prison, Lawton's savior introduces himself as U.S. Colonel Rick Flagg who wants Deadshot to assist in a top-secret mission. Flagg also reveals that miniature devices have been infiltrated into Deadshot's body and will kill him if he does not cooperate. The mission is a simple break-in and theft - from the Justice League's Watchtower HQ.
They arrive at a warehouse formerly used by Lex Luthor and thus very secure against super-hero surveillance. Lawton is introduced to the rest of "Task Force X": explosives expert Bette Sans-Souci, a.k.a. "Plastique"; inventor George Harkness, a.k.a. "Captain Boomerang"; and planning expert Temple Fugate, a.k.a. "The Clock King". With the exception of Flagg, they are all criminals being offered amnesty in exchange for their services.
The plan is to infiltrate the Watchtower disguised as members of its support staff, at a time when only three major obstacles are aboard: Green Lantern John Stewart, Captain Atom, and J'onn J'onzz. Flagg warns the other members of Task Force X that there is to be no unnecessary killing. While the others go to the tower, Fugate will stay at base coordinating their progress.
The first phase goes off perfectly: The squad ambushes a group of four Watchtower staff members before they are teleported up. Once there, Flagg uses a device in a pair of prop glasses in order to cause a computer to break down thus enabling them to proceed without a security check.
Deadshot and Plastique then head to the lower levels and into the generator room, while Flagg and Boomerang make their way to the high-security storage area. Plastique sets off a bomb on the reactor to cause a diversion from Boomerang's breakthrough into the vault. There, Flagg takes control of the "package": a powerful combat robot called the Annihilator.
The damage to the reactor causes a radiation leak and an evacuation is ordered. Captain Atom flies down to contain the reactor explosion and reports to J'onn that it was done intentionally.
Deadshot and Plastique sprint up to join Flagg and Boomerang and together they and the Annihilator make their way to the bridge. Along the way, they are stopped by Shining Knight, Vigilante, and Atom-Smasher, but manage to defeat them with the Annihilator's help. Reaching the bridge, they are confronted by J'onn, who easily defeats them until the Annihilator literally tears him in half, disabling him long enough for the team to reach the transporter. J'onn recovers and defeats the Annihilator, but Plastique gets him to stand back by holding a bomb above the throat of an unconscious Atom-Smasher, and he is forced to allow the others to mount the transporter platform.
Just as Plastique is about to join them, Captain Atom arrives and tackles her and one of her bombs goes flying. Deadshot detonates it with a shot from his pistol and, in the confusion, three of Task Force X and the Annihilator transport away. Plastique is left behind, severely wounded. J'onn checks the transporter console, which has been sabotaged and blows up before he can trace the coordinates.
Flagg turns the Annihilator over to Amanda Waller and Tala of Project Cadmus. Before leaving, Waller commends Flagg, telling him his father would be proud of him. Deadshot bids everyone a cheerful goodbye, but Flagg decks him with a punch and informs him that he is to serve in Task Force X for five years before he can go free, otherwise he can go back to prison for execution. Deadshot snidely asks Flagg how Waller is blackmailing him, to which Flagg gives a sneer of contempt and states that he isn't being blackmailed at all: He is a patriot who serves his country loyally.
Aboard the Watchtower, J'onn has discovered that Vance, a member of the bridge crew, passed inside information to Cadmus, using an anti-telepathy device to mask his thoughts. J'onn is tempted to wipe Vance's mind, but Stewart tells him it would be pointless since Vance has already leaked everything he knows, and they can't trust any of their staff now.
- Deadshot references his encounter with J'onn J'onzz, as shown in the Justice League episode "The Enemy Below".
- Deadshot smuggles his weapon in Lightspeed Energy Bars wrappers — the candy bar that the Flash sponsored in "Eclipsed".
- Deadshot taunts John Stewart over his past romantic relationship with Hawkgirl from whom he is currently estranged.
- The Annihilator has apparently been stored in the Watchtower since the events of "Hawk and Dove".
- Tala first made reference to Project Cadmus's plans to steal the Annihilator in "The Doomsday Sanction". She is next shown working on it in "The Balance".
- Plastique's final fate is unknown.
- Captain Boomerang re-appears in "Flash and Substance", in which Batman mentions that he has left Task Force X. He claims to have had his sentence cut down to five years.
- The technician who sold the League out bears a striking resemblance to (not to mention the same name as) Bobby Vance from Batman Beyond. He's most likely Bobby's father and Robert Vance's son, who reportedly died from a heart attack at some point before the events of "Lost Soul".
- Among the objects in the secure vault besides the Annihilator are:
- A Gorilla City hover bike and Grodd's mind-control helmet from "The Brave and the Bold;"
- The Weather Wizard's wand;
- Pieces of Luthor's giant robot from "Legends, Part I";
- Lex Luthor's battlesuit featured in "Injustice For All", "Legends", "Tabula Rasa, "Only A Dream", and "A Better World, Part I;"
- Pieces of Toyman's giant robot from "Hereafter, Part I;"
- Several Thanagarian melee weapons presumably impounded following the events of "Starcrossed;"
- Luthor's power disruptor from "A Better World".
Home video releases
- Justice League Unlimited - Season One (DVD)
- Justice League - The Complete Series (DVD)
- Justice League Unlimited - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
- Justice League: The New Frontier (2DVD special edition only)
- Batman: Assault on Arkham (Blu-ray only)
- The handcuffs on Deadshot are too loose.
- High-profile executions such as that of a super criminal usually have an audience. However, the viewing gallery for Deadshot's execution is empty.
- In DC Comics, Belle Reve Correctional is a fictional prison located in Louisiana, but Deadshot is being executed by means of a gas chamber. Louisiana executes by lethal injection, before which it used the electric chair. To be using a gas chamber, Belle Reve would have to be located in Arizona, California, Maryland, Missouri, or Wyoming. These states use the chamber as a secondary method of execution which prisoners who meet certain criteria (the date of their sentencing, for example) can elect to use.
- When Flagg inserts the security code before being interrupted, he types in "622". When he then goes back to finish it, the sequence reads "6-22".
- When Deadshot and Plastique are first shown running up the stairs during the evacuation, they approach a closing door. Beyond the door is another which is already closed. When they slide under the closing door, they end up in a corridor with a bend and no sign of the other door.
- Shining Knight's sword is knocked from his hand during the fight, but after he is locked in the other room, his sword is back in its sheath.
- Vigilante has one rope coiled around his left shoulder. However, when Captain Boomerang cuts off his lasso ensnaring Flagg, Plastique, and Deadshot, Vigilante still has a rope coiled around his left shoulder.
- When previously seen in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Time Out of Joint", Fugate had white hair, yet here he is portrayed with dark brown hair.
- With the exception of Rick Flagg, each member of Task Force X belongs to the rogues gallery of one of the members of the Justice League in the DC Comics:
|Batman||Deadshot & Clock King|
|Green Arrow||Clock King|
- This episode marked the final appearances of Clock King and Deadshot along with the final times that villains from Batman's rogues gallery are used in the DCAU. Copperhead, Blockbuster and KGBeast do appear in Season 3, but they escaped the Bat-embargo due to the fact that they are not as well known as other villains.
- This episode debuted on Canadian YTV on April 14, 2005.
- J'onn J'onzz is called "Martian Manhunter" by another character (the Clock King) for the first and only time on the DCAU, though the name had appeared in the credits of "A League of Their Own, Part I".
- Task Force X is another name for an organization most commonly referred to in DC Comics as the Suicide Squad. However, censorship rules prohibited the use of the word "suicide" on children's television, so the other name was used.
- In DC Comics, Belle Reve Penitentiary is a fictional prison used by the comics Waller as the headquarters and main recruiting grounds for the Suicide Squad. Similar to Arkham Asylum, it is a sanatorium specially equipped to house metahuman prisoners.
- Waller makes a reference to Rick's father, who in the comics is a World War II veteran and a member of the original Task Force X.
- First and only time Deadshot's face is seen.
- On special feature Cadmus Exposed, the producers stated that the episode began as a fairly conventional story, but it didn't click until they decided to tell it largely from the perspective of Task Force X, rather than the League.
|Phil LaMarr|| John Stewart|
Watchtower Personnel (uncredited)
|Carl Lumbly|| J'onn J'onzz|
Prison Guard (uncredited)
|Adam Baldwin||Rick Flagg|
|Michael Rosenbaum|| Floyd Lawton/Deadshot|
Watchtower Personnel (uncredited)
|CCH Pounder||Amanda Waller|
|Chris Cox|| Captain Atom|
Shining Knight (uncredited)
Watchtower Personnel (uncredited)
|Juliet Landau|| Bette Sans Souci/Plastique|
|Alan Rachins|| Temple Fugate/The Clock King|
|Donal Gibson||George Harkness/Captain Boomerang|
|Jamie Alcroft|| Vance|
Deadshot: What do you want, exactly?
Rick Flagg: Okay, Plastique, you're setting the charge, and Superman walks in the room.
Deadshot: I thought he was gonna wet himself when you mentioned the Martian. He couldn't let us through fast enough.
Deadshot: Uh, excuse me, Mr. Lantern? For six weeks now, my wife's been after me for Hawkgirl's autograph. You wouldn't know where she's at today, would you?
Deadshot: C'est la vie.
Waller: Rick, you're a good soldier. Your father would be proud.
Deadshot: Most fun I've had since my last root canal.
Deadshot: Tell me, Colonel, what's Waller got on you?
| Previous episode:|
"The Doomsday Sanction"
|Cadmus Story Arc|| Next episode:|