Episode 25 Review
Young Justice: Phantoms
The penultimate episode of Young Justice: Phantoms has fans on the edge of their collective seats. A worse case scenario carrying over from the previous episode multiplies exponentially and everything seems to be going the House of Zod's way. Can the remaining heroes regroup and push back? Will the Light make a move? Can Superboy be saved?
Lor-Zod explains to his parents that he came from the distant future to free them from the Phantom Zone but makes a point to reveal Rao exploded and took Krypton with it 40 years ago. He proclaims Krypton lives on in his father, General Zod, and he is destined to unite the galaxy under his rule. Dru-Zod deduces he was one who tried to liberate him with the Phantom Zone Projector. Lor-Zod presents the neutralized heroes as those who sought to keep him trapped in the Zone, including Superman. Dru-Zod decides to test his apparent son and asks him to recite the House of Zod's secret maxim. Lor-Zod complies then urges them to follow him so the can ascend to unimaginable power under a yellow sun. Dru instructs Faora to go back to the Phantom Zone and gather everyone from every fort then come through the Boom Tube. Forager's willpower once again overpowers the Kaizer-Thrall and she blasts the Zods but is brain blasted by Ma'alefa'ak. He warns Lor-Zod that Kaizer cannot hold her for long. Lor-Zod orders him to open a tube to Earth. Ma'alefa'ak points out only one Boom Tube can be created at a time. Lor exclaims he has his orders. Ma'alefa'ak stares then makes the Thrall close the Boom Tube.
Faora finished briefing everyone at the fort and witnesses the tube close. Tigress, Aquaman, Zatanna, Rocket, and Nightwing are relieved to see they don't have to intervene and Nightwing signals Zatanna to open the portal back to the school bus in Metropolis. Back on Trombus, Dru-Zod is hesitant to leave without his army. Lor promises they will be freed once he is secured. Dru picks up Conner and heads through the tube followed by Ma'alefa'ak and the Thrall. They arrive in the Fortress of Solitude on Earth. Lor admits he thought it appropriate to steal the base of their enemy Superman then notices Superboy's wounds are closing up. He moves to kill him but Dru stops him. Lor explains Superboy is the enemy but Dru states he turned Superboy to his side. Lor is not convinced but Ursa doesn't like him challenging Dru's word. Ursa asks Dru to calm himself. They take solace in being "real" again. Dru notes he's stronger than ever. Lor explains that is the yellow sun. He demonstrates by blowing up the Fortress's Zeta Tube with heat vision then implores them to step into the Solar Pods to hasten their ascendancy. Dru first asks a Boom Tube be opened to the Phantom Zone.
Tigress, Aquaman, Zatanna, Rocket, and Nightwing are about to leave but another Boom Tube opens. They gripe. The heroes on Trombus begin to recover their faculties. Superman checks on Kid Flash. Kid Flash jokes he is feeling a little inhibited. Superman catches on and manages to break the collar. With his powers restored, he zooms off to Black Lightning's dismay. Miss Martian is distraught at how much physical and emotional pain she felt in Conner. She informs everyone that Superboy has regressed to his base Cadmus programming. Lightning asserts he's a loose cannon under enemy control. Kid Flash returns in Bio-Ship. Back in the Phantom Zone, the Boom Tube warps Zatanna's glamour and they are revealed. Nightwing can't help but quote a certain wizard as they prepare to hold their ground in front of the tube.
Forager tows the Bio-Ship in her warp field through subspace while Kid Flash runs the Cosmic Treadmill to get Bio-Ship back to Earth as soon as possible. Miss Martian thanks Bio-Ship for un-retiring to help Conner. Saturn Girl is happy that Phantom Girl was able to save Superboy but she isn't so ecstatic. Chameleon Boy is concerned about putting the time stream at risk. Saturn Girl counters that is the least of their worries not that Zod is free. Lightning asks Superman how he's holding up after learning many Kryptonians are still alive. Superman admits he always wished they were out there but not at the expense of endangering the galaxy. He states the focus now is to save Superboy. He asks Kid Flash if he heard from Zatanna or Nightwing. Kid Flash confirms they never found him and has no clue where they are.
In the Phantom Zone, the squad is holding their own against the House of Zod. Zatanna saves Nightwing from Non's bear hug. Nightwing decides to head through the tube to scout where it leads. He finds himself in the Fortress of Solitude and throws exploding wingdings at the Solar Pods. Lor-Zod charges and throws him into the statues of Jor-El and Lara-El. The debris deals Nightwing a fatal blow. Dru-Zod and Ursa Zod are unharmed. Lor-Zod listens and hears Nightwing's heartbeat fade and confirms he is dead. Ursa is enraged at being interrupted and goes into a rant about true power being hers by right. The Emerald Eye of Ekron is stirred and leaves Lor-Zod's sleeve. It bonds to Ursa and she finds herself in the guise of the Emerald Empress.
Faora instructs everyone to build their rage then still their heart. A Devourer shows up. The squad backs into the tube where the creature can't reach them. Faora makes a dash through but turns solid. Aquaman follows and uses one of his Water-Bearers to lasso her. She resists and counters him but is restrained by Tigress and Rocket. Despite that, Aquaman still makes the parole offer. She runs back towards the Zone and turns phantom. The Devourer grabs an arm and flies off with her. In the Fortress, Lor-Zod explains the Eye of Ekron is one of the most powerful mystical weapons of the 31st century and was wielded by a woman named Emerald Empress. Dru-Zod is pleased but already deduces that Nightwing's comrades are holding up his army. Lor-Zod elects to rectify that. Ma'alefa'ak warns that Boom Tubes weren't designed to remain open forever due to physics.
Bio-Ship arrives at Earth. They search for the biggest Boom Tube spikes. They zero in on one. Superman recognizes it as his Fortress. He informs everyone the Fortress has external sensors that will give away their approach. Miss Martian states Bio-Ship already interfaced with the Fortress's Kryptonian systems and they won't be detected. Meanwhile, Rocket puts up a bubble to block the House of Zod on one side and Lor on the other. They don't listen to Lor and pound on the bubble, inadvertently giving it power. He uses heat vision on it. Rocket alerts everyone the bubble won't hold for long. In the Fortress, Dru zeroes in on a Daily Planet article on display. Ma'alefa'ak warns the tube is close to collapse. Dru yells to Lor to return. The House of Zod retreats back to the Phantom Zone. Zatanna opens her portal. Zatanna, Tigress, and Aquaman are horrified when the portal closes and Rocket is not back with them.
The Eye of Ekron nails Bio Ship with a direct hit and it crashes on the tundra. Conner is horrified that he got Miss Martian killed. Superman stands. Dru-Zod makes him an offer to join him. Superman passes and the Kryptonite confiscated from Nightwing is used against him. Superman tries to plead with Conner to help him but he refuses as he is already dead. Lor is eager to kill both Superman and Superboy but Dru has an idea. The villains boom to Metropolis and commandeer the camera system in the circle to broadcast the execution of Superman at the hands of Superboy. Dru declares he lays claim to Earth in the name of Krypton and the House of Zod and all will kneel to him after the deed is done.
Okay, that left things in even worse shape than last episode. Dru-Zod and Ursa Zod have escaped the Phantom Zone. Ursa is now an Emerald Empress. Nightwing is dead. Rocket is presumably dead. Superman is about to be killed. Sounds like a penultimate episode to me. And definitely a devilish script written by none other than Greg Weisman designed to throw the fans into an upheaval for a week straight until the season four finale streams.
So what gives? Rocket backed up into that portal. She should have returned to Metropolis. The closure of the Boom Tube messed with Zatanna's portal like it did with her glamour? Perhaps Rocket ended up transported to someplace else other than Metropolis. Or is stuck in the Phantom Zone. Would two original members of the Team get killed off in the same episode? As for Nightwing, that was stunning and horrifying. It's improbable. But they killed off Nightwing. We saw his head bleeding. Lor-Zod heard his heart stop beating. Please tell me there's something in that Fortress that's going to restore him back to life like the Regeneration Chamber from the comics... or that Cosmic Treadmill didn't get destroyed in the crash and they undo Nightwing's death. I suppose in retrospect, we'll end it was telegraphed at the start of the arc or even boldly stated when Nightwing quoted Lord of the Rings but that was of a wizard who seemingly perished only to come back even stronger that ever to help save the world... is the Fortress going to turn Nightwing into the Eradicator? Nah. Hmm.
Not even Superman could jilt Superboy. Stood his ground against Zod, good on him. But now, he's facing certain death and certain death on a cliffhanger to boot. Can he utter one last phrase that can get through to Superboy? Will someone intervene at the last second? And Zod's giving it a public display to assert himself and assert his claim on Earth. That's like ringing the bell for the Light and the Justice League... and everyone else to show up in full force. Methinks we'll see a ton of heroes duke it out in Metropolis next episode. But three powered Kryptonians with no qualm about killing, one of them enhanced greatly with the Eye of Ekron, a Martian telepath, a brainwashed Superboy, and the Kaizer-Thrall. Seems a new and very formidable Fatal Five has assembled. Er, Fatal Six.
So did anything good happen in this episode? Well, okay. Everyone's just about back on Earth. Phantom Girl was reunited with Saturn Girl and Chameleon Boy. Only Dru-Zod and Ursa-Zod escaped the Phantom Zone. It's still night. Ma'alefa'ak seems to be getting annoyed with being ordered around. Hoo boy. Talk about being moded. I guess we just might see the Light come to the aid of Justice League, Team, and Outsiders. I still adamant that Vandal Savage won't roll over to Dru-Zod and let him alter his plans for Earth and Lex Luthor has got have a bunch of anti-Kryptonian weapons laying around that would prove very useful in this situation.
Naturally, the same recurring callbacks are present in this episode like Conner's flash of Phantom Zone memories from "Forbidden Secrets of Civilization's Past," "Ebb Tide," "Beyond the Grip of the Gods!," and "Emergency Dive" at the end in Planet Circle, mentions of Rao, Krypton, and Tigress mentioning Conner's refusal in "Zenith and Abyss" but also some dot connecting like Dru and Lor alluding to the New Genesis incident in "Odyssey of Death!," Superman referring to seeing Zatanna and Dick in "Rescue and Search," and Miss Martian thanking Bio-Ship for coming out of retirement that it started in "Involuntary." Lor-Zod naturally alludes to the original Emerald Empress when explaining the Eye of Ekron. Tigress and Aquaman mention the Spartans and the Battle of Thermopylae. Orion says a very Star Trek thing. Planet Circle at the end has a lot of great blink and miss easter eggs on the various signs: "The Great Khan" from last season, GBS, Goode World Studios, G. Gordon Godfrey, Tod Donner, Stargirl/Courtney Whitmore (guess she's public about her identity), Classic Comedy Network, Wayne Foundation, The Mysteries of Udolpho, Space Trek 3016, 1K Wordsworth, and Flitter-International.
The second to last episode of Young Justice: Phantoms doesn't fail to leave us shocked, speechless, and aghast. The stakes are at its highest for the fates of our heroes, of Earth, and perhaps the soul of Conner Kent. "Over and Out" horrified us with the deaths of two original members of the Team, Nightwing and Rocket, and leaves us with Superman's life hanging precariously in the balance. It just seems like nothing short of a miracle will be required prevent utter devastation and defeat.
Rating: 4 out of 5