Episode 22 Review
Young Justice: Phantoms
The final arc of Young Justice: Phantoms is upon us at long last. Zatanna and Nightwing embark on an investigation to confirm Conner Kent really is still alive and what they discover is a time traveling conspiracy. Old friends join their quest but the rescue doesn't go as planned. Meanwhile, Lor-Zod hatches a contingency plan and Conner informs Dru-Zod and Faora a bit too much about his origins and of Earth. Episode 22 "Rescue and Search" connects events from the past year and with the band back together, the original Team, they make a gamble to get Conner back...
In the finale of the battle on New Genesis, on August 29, Lor-Zod and Ma'alefa'ak forcefully board the cloaked Bio-Ship. Lor-Zod takes the unconscious Saturn Girl hostage. Kid Flash uses his super speed to head to a room holding the supplies. He grabs proprietary collars but even Lor-Zod can keep up and he blows up the collars with his heat vision. Chameleon Boy morphs into a monstrous beast. Ma'alefa'ak copies the form and they tussle. Chameleon Boy is knocked out. Bio-Ship aims two cannons at the villains. Lor-Zod has Ma'alefa'ak send a telepathic warning to stand down or all three of its friends dies. The Bio-Ship complies and leaves. On September 6, Ma'alefa'ak gathers intel as Lightray and informs Lor-Zod the Kaizer Thrall was taken to Oa. Lor warns Kid Flash to cooperate or his friends die. He gets on the Cosmic Treadmill and they disembark for Oa.
Fast forward to September 9, Haly's International Traveling Circus performs in El Paso. The featured act of the night is the return of Daring Dan Danger. After the entertaining trapeze act, Dan, none other than Dick Grayson, gets a visit from Zee Zatara. She needs a detective, to his surprise. They retire to the Warehouse in Bludhaven. Dick voices his skepticism that Conner is still alive. She asks him to just pretend for 24 hours. Dick doesn't think that's enough time. She's confident that's plenty for him. She encants and shows him the image of Conner in the Zone that she saw in the aftermath of the Child incident. Dick gets why she thinks what she thinks but is still skeptical. She shows him the gathering at the Tower of Fate. Dick concedes and agrees to 24 hours. They're surprised to learn Bart Allen is missing. Dick admits he's rusty with hacking and Barbara is better than him at this point. After looking up Bart's credit card statements, he hacks the security feed of the store he was last seen in. To his surprise, facial recognition doesn't have any match for the two teenagers with Bart. He starts a face match against collected footage. One match comes up.
Clark Kent is drinking coffee in Bibbo's Diner when he is approached by Zatanna and Dick in the same manner Chameleon Boy and Saturn Girl approached him. Zatanna refers to him as Superman. He sighs and reckons he needs to find a new place. Zee assures Clark she has an oral glamour up so no one will hear what they're really talking about. Dick pulls up the diner's security camera footage, and shows him talking to the mystery teenagers. Clark only confirms he knows them with an "Uh huh." Zee informs in they were seen with Bart Allen before he disappeared. Clark warns them their identities are on a strictly need to know basis. Zee adds they might be responsible for Bart's disappearance. Clark vouches for them and tells them to leave it at that. Back at the Warehouse, Zee is fuming. Dick focuses on the trio shopping and speculates they were gearing up for a mission and ponders what else they would need. They meet with Tigress on the Watchtower. To Tigress's surprise, they know some items are missing. She informs them a pack of five inhibitor collars, a space-belt, and a Zeta Tube power core are all unaccounted for. While they go over security footage, Nightwing spot's Kid Flash's boot briefly.
Artemis joins them back at the Warehouse but she is skeptical. Zee asks her to keep an open mind. Another facial match comes up from the Team's private party at Bibbo's on February 28 last year then one at the United Nations on February 17 earlier that month. Zee points out they now have a direct connection to Conner. Dick deduces the mission wasn't on Earth. Artemis remembers a League squad just returned from a mission offworld that involved a time traveling Kryptonian. Dick notes Bart was a time traveler, too, and asks who led the mission. Artemis, Zee, and Dick visit Raquel Erin at her apartment in Dakota City. Dick asks for clarification on what destroyed the Phantom Zone Projector. Raquel thinks it was a beam fired by a camouflaged Bio-Ship. Artemis and Zee see the connection to Mars and Conner. Dick asks Zee to show them Raquel's memory of the Projector's destruction. The glimpse of the portal matches up to what Zee initially saw in May. Raquel is confused. Zee shows her. Raquel gets they think Conner is trapped in the Phantom Zone. Zee notices Dick now believes her. Dick thinks Bart and his friends were on the Bio-Ship that destroyed the Projector. Artemis thinks that's a stretch. Dick even deduces Superman's vague answers could mean the time stream is at stake and realizes the mystery teens were time travelers, too, then speculates they know about Lor-Zod, the Phantom Zone, and Conner. Raquel stops him and points out he is reaching. Zee trusts him. Raquel points out the Projector was destroyed. Zee has an idea but knows it isn't a good one.
Rocket and Nightwing arrive in Poseidonis in a bubble and are greeted by Kaldur'ahm. She digs the new look. Kaldur muses Wyynde likes it, too, then confirms he has returned to active duty after a mone month sabbatical. He states he has come to terms with Conner's death. Back at the Warehouse, Kaldur looks over everything Dick has complied. He asks them what they need. Zee replies they need a fifth anchor. The five set up inside the Tower of Fate and prepare to summon Klarion. Zatanna wants to force him to get them access to the Phantom Zone in exchange for his freedom. Kaldur and Tigress are already sure he won't cooperate. Zatanna assures them he won't risk stepping into the Tower, Dr. Fate's place of power. Klarion is naturally annoyed to be summoned by Zatanna. She calls in the debt he owes her for helping restore him to the mortal plane. Klarion isn't interested in helping, makes duplicates of himself, and attacks. Klarion easily defeats them but Zatanna invokes the name of the Holy Balance, and charges him to honor the debt. Klarion is bummed and decides to honor the debt by not killing them. He muses being trapped in the Tower is worse then being trapped in the big yellow pogo stick. Teekl corrects him. Klarion stammers Teekl knew he meant "bus." Zatanna realizes something. Nightwing admits there's no Plan B but Zatanna has one. She tells Nightwing he has to track down a 10 year old school bus.
In the Phantom Zone, Dru-Zod decides to have a long coming conversation to Conner. He starts by asking Conner if he was convicted of a crime. Conner recalls the hallucination of killing Superman as Match when the Zone Sickness got to him. He starts there was no conviction. Dru questions why he was sent to the Zone. Conner doesn't understand. Dru asks him what he does remember. Conner recalls trying to stop the gene bomb but got burned, then there was a flash of light, and he woke up in the Zone with Phantom Girl. Dru finds out Conner didn't sent the bomb and muses he was a hero. He sees the connection with why Conner tried to save him, because he thought the Phantom Zone Projector was attacking. Faora finds it impossible he is a soldier since no soldier would not know of General Zod. Dru asks Conner about his parentage. Conner states he is the son of Luthor. Dru doesn't recognize the name and asks him what his family crest is. Conner concentrates and draws the El crest in the ground. Dru and Faora are surprised. Conner recalls the hallucination of Superman called him Kon-El and he tells Dru and Faora that's his name. Telepathically, Dru speculates he is Jor-El or Zor-El's son. Faora points out Zor-El only had a daughter and Jor-El had an infant son. She wonders how long they were in the Zone despite only being sentenced to 10 years. Conner explains he is a Genomorph clone made from the DNA of Superman created to replace him should he perish or destroy him should he turn from the light. Dru asks who Superman is. Conner confirms Superman is the son of Lara-El and Jor-El, Kal-El. Dru asks how many years passed on Krypton since their imprisonment. Conner tells them Krypton exploded over 40 years ago and Kal-El was the only survivor until he killed him.
Faora is enraged and grabs Conner by the neck. Dru tells her to stand down and asks how Krypton was destroyed. He suspects the New Gods, the Daxamites, or the Green Lantern Corps. Conner explains the sun exploded and took Krypton with it. Dru asks how Kal-El survived. Conner tells him how he was placed in a rocket and sent to Earth after Jor-El failed to convince everyone else the planet was in danger. Dru recognizes the irony compared to his history. Faora asks why Earth in particular. Conner tells him how the yellow sun grants a Kryptonian tremendous power and lists the abilities that come with it. Dru congratulates Conner for killing Kal-El because the House of El were the true traitors to Krypton. After Dru and Faora step outside. Phantom Girl stops playing comatose and tells Superboy to listen to her because they are in terrible danger.
Green Lantern Soranik Natu has the Kaizer-Thrall analyzed while Probationary Green Lantern Forager observes. Natu confirms it is sentient. She is intrigued and horrified to learn the remnants of an 11 year old human boy are inside the machine. To her further surprise, it is trying to communicate with them. The episode ends on a dedication to the late Ed Asner.
While on one hand, Dick Grayson has had a big role in the past three seasons and it was nice for him to finally have a break from the show... on the other hand, it was so fun seeing him get back on the metaphorical bicycle and do what he does best. The structure of the episode was really entertaining and engaging as well with Dick and Zatanna carrying out their investigation step by step, gathering more and more clues and evidence, making more theories, convincing the skeptics, gathering up the old gang again, and there was even some laughs for us along away. As the start of the final arc of the season, the episode was stealthily done to recap things without feeling like a standard and didactic clip show as well as progress things far along for the protagonists connecting just about everything that has happened this season and doing the heavy lifting of setting up the final trajectories of all the players this season to inevitably criss cross into one big finale. There was also a lot of neat callbacks sprinkled throughout from the return of Dan Danger and Haly's Cirus from season one, Clark once again being approached in Bibbo's and even commenting on it, and the cameos of Tye Longshadow, Asami Koizumi, Holling Longshadow, Shelly Longshadow along with Jaime and Traci in the Haly's audience.
I didn't really get why Tigress was needed on the Watchtower for Zatanna and Nightwing to go over the security footage but I suppose she happened to be on duty there and naturally, there had to be an organic way for her to join the investigation and then she's the one that helps link events to the League mission to New Genesis. Logically, Rocket's memory of the finale of the fight on New Genesis is the final piece of the puzzle and Nightwing pretty much figures it all out. I guess that's why he's the Boy Wonder--er is it Man Wonder now? Number five on the list turns to be Kaldur'ahm in Poseidonis. Fresh off his one month sabbatical, he's that guy in the heist movie you take the least amount of time to convince. Kaldur looks at Nightwing's board and the rest of history. While it makes sense that Will Harper was not approached because he's mostly retired, a dad, and runs a company (and didn't have his own story arc this season), the noticeable omission was M'gaan. Maybe she was off on a Team mission. Maybe they wanted to spare her from the possibility that they can't save Conner. I suspect she'll still find out about their little op in due time. Who better to home in on Conner in the Phantom Zone and to get to work repairing the mental damage?
Plan A never works, especially on Young Justice. But if it's Klarion, at least it'll be a little scary then a little hilarious. From the "Who dares summon--hey" to the typical banter with his feline familiar, he does not disappoint. I get it makes sense because Klarion was the one that teleported to the Phantom Zone during the Zatanna arc but still. I don't know if it was an eye roll moment or subtly hilarious that Zatanna didn't think of finding the school bus that Klarion possessed first rather than risk certain death by summoning the Chaos Lord. In any case, Nightwing tracking down Metropolis school bus should be a piece of cake, right? Hopefully it hasn't been retired and crushed at a garbage dump. Granted they do find the bus, connect to the Phantom Zone with magic, and the OG Team rides the bus in that prison dimension in search of Conner, what about Phantom Girl whom they have no clue about or the Kryptonians who will try to hitch a ride. Even then, lacking the technology of the Phantom Zone Projector, what's going to happen to Conner and Phantom Girl when they cross over into the real world. Do they revert to their physical bodies? If their physical bodies or what's left of them are still on Mars, it's gonna get gross. Okay, it magically feels like the former but given this is Young Justice and nothing ever really wraps up nicely, I can see them unwittingly bringing an extra passenger back home with them, Dru-Zod.
Speaking of Dru-Zod. Boy did one of the worst possible things happen. He and Faora ask the right questions and learn a lot that spells trouble with a capital "TROUB." Not so much the fate of Krypton or Superman's origin story. They learn about the benefits of a yellow sun to a Kryptonian. I guess the only glimmer of hope here is they think Superman is dead. And yay, Phantom Girl was playing possum the whole time. But will Conner hear her out and take her side or simply out her to the Kryptonians? He did pledge himself to Zod prior. For that matter, it'll be interesting to see if Phantom Girl is stranded there, too, or if she can simply use her powers to leave and return to the real world. Another interesting tidbit is Faora mentioning Zor-El had a daughter. Which most DC fans know is Kara Zor-El or Supergirl. First, Zor-El comes up during the Rocket arc. Now, his daughter is mentioned. Really does feel like Supergirl is on the horizon.
So let me get this straight, it took Lor-Zod and Ma'alefa'ak about a week hiding in the cloaked Bio-Ship to find the intel about the Kaizer-Thrall? Alright. I just to love to hate how petulant Lor-Zod is. He disrupts the timeline. He tries to steal from a New God. And now he's going to try and steal from the Green Lantern Corps. This could prove to be one for the Lantern fans, a look at Oa that's been mentioned off and on since season two and probably the introduction of even more Green Lanterns on this show at long last and the Guardians even. I don't feel too bad about the beat down Lor-Zod is in for. I'm sure Kilowog has his hammers ready.
And speaking of Oa, we get our first look at the planet in the end credits and a partial introduction to another new character, Green Lantern Soranik Natu. That alone is intriguing enough, the daughter of Sinestro. With the reveal that the other Lantern Corps are already in existence, it seems like a given that the Sinestro Corps might be around instilling fear in the galaxy. But that aside, we get a final reveal in the last moments of the episode. Not only is Kaizer-Thrall sentient but it contains the remnants of an 11 year old human boy... WHAT?! Could the boy be Sonny Sumo? And lastly, rest in peace, Mr. Ed Asner. Mr. Asner passed away on August 29, 2021 and was the voice of Kent Nelson in season one of Young Justice amid a long and prolific career.
The final arc of Young Justice: Phantoms has just begun. Writer and director respectively, Charlotte Fullerton and Christopher Berkeley crafts a strong opening for the season's closing curtain with the personal and galactic stakes at their tipping points. Everyone in the original Team minus Will and M'gaan have come together to Conner back but Plan A was a bust. Soon enough, Zatanna has Plan B up and ready for Nightwing but will this one work? We shall see. And will M'gaan be brought into the fold? But even if they succeed can they restore their friend back to normal? Will Superboy heed Phantom Girl's plea or betray her to the Kryptonians? Lor-Zod and Ma'alefa'ak plot to liberate the Kaizer-Thrall from Oa, the stronghold of the fabled Green Lantern Corps but to what end? To go back in time again and steal the Phantom Zone Projector from themselves for a do-over? All three parties appear to be heading to a definitive collision course on Oa that will decide the fate of the galaxy and the life of a dear friend as the final four episodes of the season draws near. Stay whelmed. Get traught.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5