"The Once and Future Thing Part Two" is the thirteenth episode of Justice League Unlimited. It first aired on January 29, 2005.
The Jokerz have been "upgraded" with cybernetic weapons that are advanced even for that time, and the combined Justice League and JLU have no choice but to retreat. Terry tries to open up a boom tube, but his mother box is destroyed. Static creates a blinding light, followed by John Stewart creating a maze to distract the Jokerz.
They explain that Clinton has decided to emulate Manning, and made himself a warlord in his own time, now calling himself "Lord Chronos". In his previous time travels, he had been careful about not disrupting history. Now he has abandoned that restraint, poaching technology from the future and historical monuments from the past, all to transform Gotham into his personal kingdom. Years ago, the Watchtower and the Batcave were destroyed, and most of the Justice League, including Lantern and Wonder Woman, were killed, in an attack by Chronos' cybernetically-enhanced army of Jokerz.
Static finds hope in the fact that the elderly Bruce is still alive; logically, that means that whatever the younger Batman is there to assist them with, they already know they'll win. Unfortunately, old Bruce has no memory of traveling through time, which means that history itself has become fluid, and their future is still far from certain.
Meanwhile, in the salon of the Titanic, Chronos wonders aloud how the future Leaguers were able to intercept the Jokerz. He fixes Chucko with a glare and then opens up a time window, showing Chucko accepting a bribe from Terry. He punishes Chucko by sending him back to the time of the dinosaurs, just before the cataclysmic event that killed them off.
Returning to the future, Chronos orders the remaining Jokerz to track down the League. Alone with Enid, Chronos crows that he's proven her wrong, and "amounted to something" after all—rich, powerful, and the undisputed master of space and time. Timorously, Enid reminds him of his earlier warnings about interfering with the time stream, and he irritably snaps at her that he can handle it. Then, Enid gingerly asks him to release her mother (his mother-in-law) from "the thing", like he promised earlier. Chronos' mood blackens, saying that it is no more than her mother deserves, for calling him a failure for so many years—and, he rants, Enid always said the same, when all he wanted was for her to love him. Now openly terrified, Enid begs him to forgive her, but he coldly turns his back on her.
As a result of Chronos' recklessness, serious disruptions in the space-time continuum have begun. To Batman and Bruce's horror, Diana fades away just as she is suggests that they could prevent everything from happening in the first place; now she never left Themyscira – or worse, was never even born. There are even signs that the universe itself is moving towards entropy.
Batman is able to write a program to shut down Chronos' time belt, but they need to find him first. He figures that the old ways are best, and heads out to track down a snitch. Terry warns him that Gotham has changed, but he simply asks his older self if criminals are still a superstitious, cowardly lot; the answer is yes.
The combined League captures Ghoul and Batman interrogates him. Ghoul is initially defiant, and the older Bruce, disgusted that he was ever "that green" shows his younger self how it's really done—and the scene fades to a short while later, as Ghoul is spilling everything he knows in a rapid voice. He says Chronos moves around each night, never staying in the same place – but Ghoul knows where his wife is.
In the middle of their search, John Stewart phases out and is replaced by Hal Jordan, who says calmly, "I'm up to speed. Carry on." A short while later, Hal fades away and John comes back.
The League confronts Enid, staying in a pyramid (poached either from ancient Egypt or Las Vegas). She is as contemptuous of her husband as before, though now she is also afraid of him. She says that his moving around is a myth, he always stays in the same place. That place is the Elkhorn town jail, which he has poached and planted in the middle of the Coliseum – apparently, it's the place where he feels safest.
Before they can grab his time-belt, however, Enid rousts him awake, spoiling their ambush. Chronos summons the Jokerz; in the ensuing battle, Static is sucked into a suddenly-appearing time portal, and Terry is killed by Dee Dee. As the universe itself starts to collapse, Chronos declares that it's time for "another approach." Then he gives Enid a farewell peck on the cheek, yells "you'll love me next time!" and disappears into another time portal.
Lantern and Batman follow, and see he is now heading to the beginning of time, which will enable him to re-write the history of the entire universe and become a god. As they hurtle towards the source, they catch up with Chronos and Batman uploads the debugging program into the belt. They are still heading towards the source... when Batman and Lantern open their eyes and find themselves in the Watchtower cafeteria.
Wonder Woman joins them, having no memory of what they've done. Lantern and Batman are the only ones who remember what happened. Lantern sees Shayera, and remembers what Warhawk said about his parentage.
Lantern asks, what about Chronos. Batman, smiling, says he re-programmed the belt to ensure that Chronos would never come to exist...
In the future, Enid delivers the same scolding she did before; as before, David angrily activates his belt to get away from her – and jumps back in time to a few seconds ago, at the beginning of Enid's scolding, over and over again.
- The Jokerz who appear in this episode first appeared in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. Early in that movie, Bonk is killed by The Joker as an example to the others. However, this has been prevented by Chronos or hasn't happened yet.
- This is Hal Jordan's only appearance in the DC Animated Universe. However, the animated version of Kyle Rayner that appeared in the episode "In Brightest Day..." of Superman: The Animated Series was modified to be similar to Jordan in several respects.
Home video releases
- Justice League Unlimited - Season One (DVD)
- Justice League - The Complete Series (DVD)
- Green Lantern: First Flight (2DVD, Blu-ray only)
- The end credits of Part One show Wonder Woman in the group that interrogates Ghoul. However, she was removed from the shot in this episode.
- The animators seem to have overlooked the fact that Terry needs to use his retractable wings to steer his flying.
- "Old Bruce" has black eyes in this episode, which is inconsistent with the Batman Beyond series and later on "Epilogue" where he is depicted as having blue eyes (though present day Bruce has blue eyes so it may have been a mix up).
- After the time-line is restored and Batman and John are back in the Watchtower, Diana arrives at the table before Shayera is seen leaving the cafeteria. In Part One, Shayera left first (though this may be a result of the time-line resetting).
- The title is a pun on The Once and Future King by T.H. White.
- Green Lantern stating that the Green Lantern Corps prohibit anyone from seeing the beginning of time is a reference to Krona, who looked into the beginning of time and created the multiverse. The image Krona sees is of a giant hand with cosmic energies swirling all over it like Batman and John saw at the end of the last time tunnel.
- Warhawk's name is revealed as Rex Stewart. This may be a reference to Metamorpho, who's a good friend of John's.
- The Jokerz's prosthetic enhancements resemble those of the April Moon Gang from the Batman Beyond episode "April Moon".
- This story has a strong similarity to the 1994 DC Comics miniseries called "Zero Hour". There are also slight similarities to the 1986 maxiseries Crisis On Infinite Earths.
- Both episodes are thematically very similar to "The Savage Time", the finale of Justice League Season One. In that episode, the League travels back in time to World War II, and finds history altered because of technology contributed from the future, and also finds itself assisted by a host of DC Comics heroes created for that era.
- Chucko's chief weapon is a double-bladed lightsaber identical to the one carried by Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode I.
- The conclusion of this episode is similar to the original Star Trek episode "I, Mudd" when scoundrel Harry Mudd is punished by being surrounded by 500 android copies of his nagging wife.
- It is also similar to All in the Timing, a collection of one-act plays by David Ives, several of which are based on the humorous premise of time being re-wound over and over again by only a few seconds or minutes.
- The graphics on the Bruce's computer screen resembles a reversed Matrix digital rain seen in The Matrix series.
- The phrase "Fire at will" said by the Redcoats gains a double meaning when referring to Terry, as both the redcoat and Terry are voiced by Will Friedle.
- The monuments stolen by Chronos seen during the episode are:
- One of Warhawk's comments seems to confirm that both Wonder Woman and J'onn J'onzz were still active members of the League in the Batman Beyond era. However, both were killed during the destruction of the Watchtower, along with Superman. After Chronos was stopped, this fate for them ceased to be and they are presumably still active in the restored timeline.
Chucko: You think I'm scared? I'll be running this dump in a few yea...!
Static: Wow. Batman playing good cop.
(Hal scans the jail with his ring.)
(in the Elkhorn town jail)
Redcoat 1: It happened again!
John: The Green Lanterns have a legend—no one can see the beginning of time. It's a universal law!