Episode 23 Review
Young Justice: Phantoms
The final arc of Young Justice: Phantoms continues. While Zatanna, Nightwing, Tigress, Rocket, and Aquaman hit a temporary snag to get to the Phantom Zone, Phantom Girl hits a snag of her own when Superboy declines leaving with her. Elsewhere, King Brion and Infinitor Fury begin to suspect something is rotten in the state of Markovia. Episode 23 "Ego and Superego" begins the rescue mission to the Phantom Zone in earnest but the chess pieces distractedly continue to move into place as the season finale draws nearer and nearer.
On September 9 in the early morning hours, a meta-teen is chased by a truck filled with an anti-meta mob led by Wilhelm Vittings. Vittings declares true Markovians don't want metas infecting their homeland. The meta-teen doesn't want any trouble. One steps forward with a crowbar. The meta-teen sprays blood on him then paralyzes him. Infinitors come to the meta-teen's rescue: Geo-Force, Fury, Trajectory, and Kobold. Vittings runs into the nearby forest but was really teammate Everyman. Geo-Force and Fury are unaware of the subterfuge. Meanwhile, across the ocean in Ivy Town, Harper Row "helps" Violet Harper finish moving into her dorm room. Harper gets her to use her levitation to move her heavy case up the stairwell. She seems down about Violet's "new life" and feels they'll lose touch. Violet tries to assert they will always be friends. Harper admits she always wanted to be more than just friends. Violet is surprised and speechless. Harper tells them to think about it. Back in Markovburg, Geo-Force is annoyed with Everyman's incompetence. Zviad Baazovi intervenes and sways Geo-Force into thinking about the bigger picture, that Markovia welcomes meta-humans. He vows to the meta-teen he will protect him.
Brion talks to the teen in the royal palace and remembers he was one of the ones saved by the Outsiders in Cuba. He reveals his name is Lizard Johnny. Brion reiterates he won't allow anyone to hurt him. Johnny asks him if he means he'll do anti-metas like he did his uncle. He apologizes and states he just wants to be left alone. Brion understands. Zviad arrives with Minister Josef Mueller. Mueller has a question about the meta-transport policy. Zviad uses his sway on Johnny to make him agree Brion had to do what he had to in self-defense. Fury observes. Brion confirms the policy entails an instant visa and transport to Markovia for any meta-positive human. Mueller inquires about the implications of setting up a mission in Taos because it would look like they are trying to recruit children away from the Justice League. Brion doesn't want to do that but Zviad interferes. Zviad points out if the League were taking care of these children, they wouldn't need them. Both agree. Zviad walks Mueller out. Brion looks around and asks where Johnny went.
At the Taos Meta-Human Youth Center, Dinah Lance presides over the monthly group meeting, consisting of Garfield Logan, Victor Stone, Andi Murphy, Leslie Willis, Tara Markov, Violet Harper, and Lia Briggs. Violet goes first and shares she is moved in at Ivy Town, ready to start classes, and signed up for an orientation with the Muslim Student Association but as Lia predicts, they are unsure of a friend's romantic interest that Tara implies was very obvious when things with Brion are unresolved. Tara and Victor try to console her but Dinah reminds them to share, not make suggestions. Victor talks about how his dad felt reaching out was important to him that he tried. Dinah points out there are no wrong answers and only they can decide what makes sense for them.
Lizard Johnny watches a promotional video inside the Markov Family Meta-Human Youth Center and is totally enamored with it. A cartoon version of Helga Jace states the center is a safe compassionate environment where those aren't meta-activated can volunteer to undergo a T.R. 2.0 injection which has a 95 percent success rate then have the option of joining the Infinity Cadets and those who train hard enough can become an Infinitor, heroes who will remake Markovia into one loving meta-family and a nation of heroes. Brion and Fury happen upon Johnny. He is surprised Johnny wants to become an Infinitor. Jace cites it is Brion's influence as king that is inspiring meta-teens to be heroes like he is. Brion recalls Johnny has at the Taos center where he could have easily chosen to be on the Team or on the Outsiders. He doesn't like the implications. Zviad interrupts and orders Fury to report to Trajectory for a mission and muses he and the king have much to discuss. Fury asks Brion if that's what he wishes. Brion is swayed and agrees there is much to discuss.
To her surprise, Fury meets up with Trajectory and Everyman in front of a house. Trajectory advises her to just follow their lead. Mueller answers the door and is surprised to see the Infinitors. Trajectory stresses the urgency of their visit and states Markovia must remain a safe haven for meta-humans. Mueller reiterates he always supported the king's policy but asks if the visit is because of him questioning meta-human recruitment away from the League. Trajectory poses a larger question of where his loyalty lies when he and his family don't have any meta-genes. He becomes alarmed. Everyman recalls he has a wife and two children. He turns into a scary behemoth and muses he would love to meet him. Concerned, Fury pulls him back while Trajectory suggests to Mueller to relocate to Vlatava. He closes his door. Everyone compliments Fury on her improvisation. He and Trajectory laugh over what they just did. Fury isn't so jovial.
Dinah thanks Andi for sharing. Everyone agrees. Violet checks her phone. A text she sent 30 minutes ago to Brion remains unanswered. Dinah asks Garfield if he has anything to share. Garfield introduces his emotional support dog, Wingman who is named after Crimson Avenger's sidekick, the very first superhero sidekick. Garfield changes into a corgi, too, and shares they take care of each other. He feeds Wingman, Wingman gives unconditional love, they take walks together, he's on a consistent schedule, is sleeping better, the prescribed antidepressants are working, he has fewer nightmares, he's doing the work to get better but has decided he's not ready to rejoin Space Trek 3016 or the Outsiders or talk to Perdita.
Brion sits on his throne in the royal palace staring at Violet's text for the past 59 minutes. Halo suddenly booms into the room, clad in a new supersuit. Brion's spirits are lifted. Halo asserts she's not supposed to be in the country and felt the need to try one last time. Brion tells her he's glad and realized how much he really missed Violet. Halo questions if that were true then why did he choose to cut himself off from everyone. He claims he needed to prove he made the right choice so he was busy building something real and important. Halo adds it was built on the foundation of an execution and coup. Brion admits he has regrets and stresses that was all the more reason for something good to come of it. He questions if they came just to fix him. Halo states she is no longer fixated on fixing everything and am more than that. They state they came to see if there was still anything between them. Brion claims they always were more. Halo counters he helped them discover that and was hurt he wasn't part of the rest of that journey. Brion contends things aren't so simple. Halo quips nothing is ever simple for a human. Zviad butts in and purposefully dredges up the past wounds, asking if she is the one he proposed to. Halo sternly corrects his pronoun usage and assumption. Brion questions why Halo really came and accuses her of trying to make him leave. Halo gets upset and concludes he hasn't changed at all since they left him. Brion states he kicked them out. Halo saves him the trouble of doing it again and booms away. Zviad attempts to console Brion but Brion cuts him off and orders him to leave.
Fury finds Brion staring at a statue in the royal courtyard. She jokes he'll be there a long time if he's waiting for an answer. Brion jokes heavy is the head that wears the crown. Fury muses it must feel bad to know everyone wants a piece of him. He asks what she wants. Fury tells him to call her "Rosa" and retorts she was going to ask him the same thing. She muses he could use a confidant. He agrees. She admits she did some bad things for both Lex Luthor and for Zviad Baazovi but she's no longer sure about some of the things she's been told. Brion agrees. Back in Ivy Town, Violet calls up Harper and asks if they can see her.
Phantom Girl introduces herself to Conner and explains her phasing powers then reveals she tried to save him back on Mars but thinks the pain from her reaching for Conner in the magma and his dense skin led them to end up in the Phantom Zone instead of her home dimension of Bgztl. She speculates the Zone is a transdimensional buffer between Earth's dimension and Bgztl's. She takes his hands and tries to phase away but something is wrong. Conner's willpower is keeping him anchored to the Zone. Conner states he can't leave because he pledged his loyalty to Dru-Zod. She is taken aback.
Phantom Girl tells Conner that Zod is a tyrant who attempted a coup just because he didn't approve of how the Kryptonian government interacted with New Genesis and warns if he escapes the Phantom Zone, he'll stage a coup and try to conquer the entire galaxy. She stresses Zod is a bad guy and one of the worst kind. Ursa calls out to Conner. She goes back to her sleeping position and asks Conner not to say anything. Dru and Ursa return. She commends his loyalty to Phantom Girl if though she'll never wake. Conner states she is awake now. Phantom Girl is frightened. Conner tells Dru-Zod and Ursa that she wanted him to leave the Phantom Zone with her. Ursa orders him to seize her. Phantom Girl makes one last plea but it falls on deaf ears. She phases back to the physical plane alone. Phantom Girl is back in the cave on Mars and is overcome by the extreme burn her right hand suffered while trying to save Conner.
Nightwing, Rocket, Aquaman, Zatanna, and Tigress pull into a junkyard in Metropolis. They spread out and search. To Zatanna's relief, Tigress quickly finds the school bus. However, it's already been compacted into a cube. Kaldur sends the cube down to the ground on frozen water from his pack. Zatanna summons eight Trogowogs. They try to run but are quickly rounded up. Zatanna offers them a deal: rebuild that bus and they can have any vehicle on the lot. All the Trogowogs, except one, huddle together. They point at Nightwing's SUV. He protests, citing he isn't Bruce Wayne. The lone dissenter is convinced with an offer of a bag of freeze dried Chicken Whizees. Nightwing protests that was for the trip. The Trogowogs get to work on the bus. Kaldur asks if this is really going to work. He is amazed at their ability. Zatanna reveals the Trogowogs had many names over the centuries and were known as Gremlins during World War II. She contends they prefer to tear new things apart over putting old things back together yet their skills for both are equal. The Trogowogs present the finished restoration. Zatanna gives them permission to proceed to their prize. Tigress hands the eighth his bag of Whizees. They try to drive off but Zatanna sends them back to their home dimension to enjoy their spoils. Tigress asks if they're really going to do it without Miss Martian. Nightwing admits he doesn't want to keep a secret but claims he didn't want to get her hopes up and believes if they were wrong or things don't work out, it would kill her. Everyone nods in agreement. Everyone piles on to the bus and puts on a Space-Belt. Kaldur lends his magic to Zatanna as she casts a spell that opens a portal to the Phantom Zone. They all leap in.
Black Lightning, Catherine Cobert, and Secretary-General Troia speak at a ceremony to commemorate the future site of the new Hall of Justice on "Justice Island," neighbor to the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. Construction is set to start next spring. They stress it will represent a new era of partnership between the United Nations and the Justice League. Plastic Man acts as the ribbon cutting giant pair of scissors. The crowd, seemingly consisting of members of the League, the Outsiders, and Team cheer on the proceedings.
After that great episode last week, with the entertaining detective story structure and brisk pacing, it for the most part comes to a screeching halt this week and only a frustrating bit of housekeeping gets done while four or five different plots are going on. The magic school bus gets found but in a very Young Justice way, there's another setback. It's been crushed into a cube at a local dump. But like last week, Zatanna quickly has a solve - bringing back the Trogowogs she helped banish during her story arc and making a bargain. Very humorously, Nightwing's SUV and Chicken Whizees for them restoring the bus to working order. And in a very ironic Young Justice kind of way, they still decide to keep it a secret from Miss Martian. Y'know, four seasons in and they still keep a friend in the dark? But that's not it. If you look at it from another angle, they froze out the most important member of the original Team out of the rescue mission. The one with telepathy and the strongest link to Conner. The same Conner that needs some serious telepathic intervention to deal with the Zone Sickness that has done a number on him and will very likely attack them in defense of Dru-Zod when they cross paths. Plus, it feels like they're going in so blind and are completely unprepared for the dangers that await them: the rules of the Zone like willpower makes real, the Devourers, whatever is worse that Zod alluded to, the Zone Sickness, the evil Kryptonians who are adept at fighting in the Zone, and Conner opposing them. And of course, the danger that not all of them will make it back to the real world and/or any of the evil Kryptonians making back with them.
Things went down in the Phantom Zone just as I thought and feared. Conner was too far gone for Phantom Girl to reason with and to make matters worse, his willpower and pledge to Dru-Zod prevented her from forcefully taking Superboy back to the physical realm. On one hand, she got away before she could be exploited by Zod. On the other hand, she's stuck on Mars and in excruciating pain from the injury she sustained trying to save Superboy. On the other, other hand, if she took Superboy with her, he'd be in a bad spot as well. On the other, other, other hand, he's still with Zod and company. So... yeah, not much happened here except to clear Phantom Girl off the board in anticipation of the original Team sans Miss Martian and Red Arrow showing up. Again, after that great episode, structure, and pacing last week, it for the most part comes to a screeching halt this week and a bit of housekeeping gets done so things aren't as clunky in the next episode presumably.
Violet Harper's subtle recurring season arc seemingly comes to a head in this episode. Last time we say them, they graduated from high school and now Violet is about to start freshman year at Ivy Town. I don't think "Uncle" Will or "Aunty" Artemis are footing the bill so I guess Violet magically won a Wayne Foundation scholarship? And that courtesy wasn't extended to Harper I guess... In any case, it was interesting to see this arc continue to revisit issues set up last season. Violet still has unresolved issues with Brion and Harper decides to make her feelings crystal clear, something that's been in the ether since the drunk kiss at Mount Justice pre-arrest. Violet finally removes herself from Brion and moves forward with Harper. All truncated by the start of their new life so to speak with the start of college. It was an interesting move that while at the figurative crossroads of their life, Violet's arc literally intersects with the arcs of others this episode, namely Beast Boy and Brion. First off, after finally having a break through, Beast Boy finally seems to be in a good place and on the mend. The reveal of Wingman was a little bit spoiled if you were observing the watch party on May 12 when some preview pages of the upcoming Targets tie-in comic were revealed. One of those panels depicted Beast Boy with Wingman. Regardless, it's a relief to finally see Beast Boy doing good. But not magically all better, just making progress at long last which I suspect will continue into the comic and season five, knock wood.
Markovia. Sure, it's been in the background of this season being referenced off and on. A lot of intriguing things are revealed since we last saw it in Outsiders' season finale "Nevermore" and most importantly Brion is starting to suspect something sketchy is going on behind his back. And, yes, I have no clue what's going to happen in the last three episodes this season. But for that same reason, there's three episodes left and a lot left to see and do: the rescue op in the Phantom Zone, what will happen with Conner, will Dru-Zod and/or his followers escape, will Lor-Zod and Ma'alefa'ak steal the Kaizer-Thrall from Oa and do whatever they plan to do, can Kid Flash, Saturn Girl, and Chameleon Boy escape with Bio-Ship without revealing themselves and further screwing up the timeline? The list goes on. To suddenly revisit Markovia and Brion's arc so late into the season just kills the pacing of the main arcs that last week's episode brilliantly streamlined. Even worse if this was a one-in-done. If that turns out to be the case, it seems this was better left for the opening of a hypothetical season five than the fourth to last episode of this season. Still, it does segue into Violet's season long arc about establishing her identity as her high school life ends and college life begins. It's a mixed bag.
Irregardless of whether this Markovia focus should have happened or not. Some very intriguing food for thought. The Light is quietly building their meta-human army in Markovia unchecked after Lex Luthor's original plan hit a snag last season. Brion is being kept pacified by both the mental powers of Zviad Baazovi and kept busy by his supposed nation rebuilding and trying to undo meta tensions but thankfully is suspicious things are not what they seem then he's validated when Fury reveals she feels the same way after she sees her team is also being used as jack booted thugs to intimidate dissenting opinions. Likewise, Brion, even if it's on a subconscious level, sees Helga Jace manipulating meta-teens on an even larger scale than seen last season with Baron Bedlam's operation and her infiltrating the Outsiders as the den mother. She seemingly has the full run of her own meta-human youth center, which is really just a feeder program into Infinity Inc. and thus she's a crucial linchpin to rapidly expand the ranks of what's really going to be the Light's youth army brigade, a counterpart to the Justice League's Team and to the Outsiders. Worse off, it seems like the Justice League and the world at large has no clue this is going on. In total, it's a very scary allegory about the rise of the Nazi Party in post-Word War I Germany whether that's intentional or not on the part of Weisman and Vietti.
"Ego and Superego" doesn't spare us of a lot of DC references and in fact doesn't waste much time, getting into it right from the start. Markovian youth Wilhem Vittings, voiced by Josh Keaton last season, is now voiced by Zeno Robinson. One of the meta-teens rescued in last season's "Early Warning," is revealed to be Lizard Johnny, probably one of the most obscure name characters adapted into the show. Lizard Johnny was from a team seen in 1st Issue Special #10 in 1976. Infinity Inc. has been expanding its ranks since taking asylum in Markovia in the season 3 finale. Fury and Everyman are formally named and have their speaking debuts voiced by Quei Tann and Nolan North respectively. Interestingly though, this show's version of Fury has a new civilian name of "Rosa" rather than the Erik Storm version in the comics. One of the new Infinitors this episode is one of the meta-teens rescued from the Orphanage and was seen in "Influence." The blue skin, white haired youth turns out to have the power to shrink like the Atom and Bumblebee and has taken the codename of Kobold. However, it still remains to be seen if he's from the comics or is an original character. Josef Mueller, a Markovian minister, is also introduced in the episode but the closest match in the comics appears to be a Gotham cop named Josef Muller with no ties to Markovia. Phantom Girl states her whole name "Tinya Wazzo" and mentions her home dimension Bgztl. Beast Boy reveals he named his emotional support dog after Wing, the sidekick of Crimson Avenger, the first superhero, both mentioned for the first time on the show but not the first time mentioned to fans if you've been a long time watcher of Greg Weisman's Ask Greg website. Dru-Zod's coup is also delved into, revealed to have been sparked by his dislike of Kryptonian-New Genosian relations. The Trogowogs from "Odnu!" are revealed to be one in the same as infamous mythical creatures Gremlins (no relation to the show coming soon to HBO Max). And on a minor note, we also can look forward to who Violet's dorm roommate will turn to be. Interestingly, Harper Row has a job at the HHDWP (Happy Harbor Department of Water and Power) instead of starting college, perhaps a nod to her background in the comics? Could Bluebird be that far behind in Earth-16? Hmm. Last but not least, the long awaited reconstruction of the Hall of Justice is set to start in the spring on "Justice Island" near the UN headquarters, perhaps a nod to the Metrotower in the classic Justice League Unlimited and Batman Beyond series?
The final arc of Young Justice: Phantoms continues on. In a very Young Justice way, the magic school bus is found pretty quickly but needs a quick detailing job then our heroes begin a perilous trek into the Phantom Zone unaware of the true dangers that await them. Business as usual? Black Canary's monthly group therapy chat goes as planned. Violet Harper makes some choices as the next chapter of her life begins and makes one last effort with repairing things with King Brion but things don't go as well amid his own concerns about the changes he's bringing to his nation. To his surprise, he's not the only one getting suspicious. While it's moot at this point if this Markovia side-trip has any relevance this season or plays into a hypothetical season 5, it does burn up the sound pacing of the rescue op, not to say anything of the Oa heist being completely absent this week. With three episodes left, let's hope there's enough room left for the pertinent storylines to be resolved... well, resolved in the Young Justice sense.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5