REVIEW: ‘Young Justice: Phantoms,’ Episode 6 – “Artemis Through The Looking-Glass”

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Young Justice: Phantoms Episode 6

Young Justice: Phantoms Episode 6 is a story of broken families and the scars a cult can leave on your soul. “Artemis Through The Looking Glass” finds Tigress/Artemis Crock (Stephanie Lemelin) reaching out to her sister Cheshire (Kelly Hu) for help in dealing with the League of Shadows’ newest defectors, Cassandra Savage (Zehra Fazal) and Onyx Adams (Logan Browning). However, trouble rears its head when the Shadows send Black Spider (Josh Keaton), Rictus, and Lady Shiva (Gwendoline Yeo) to assassinate Onyx and Cassandra, and Shiva turns out to be the mother of Batman’s ally Orphan!

Continuing a trend from “A Tale of Two Sisters,” the episode is split between flashbacks of Tigress and Cheshire’s childhood and their reunion in the present. Co-showrunner Brandon Vietti, who penned the episode, draws a line between the sisters’ fractured bond and their reconnection in the present. Though Cheshire wanted nothing to do with their father, Sportsmaster, she still would visit Artemis and bring her books in exchange for food. Another sequence in the present shows that the two still have some semblance of a family bond as Chesire meets Artemis’ new boyfriend, Jason Bard, and expresses her approval. It also leads to one of the funniest lines in the episode, which reminds us that Young Justice moving to a streaming service means it can tackle subject matter that would usually be off-limits on a standard network.

The horrors of the League of Shadows are also on display, as both Cassandra and Onyx reveal what led to them defecting from the assassins. Hearing Cassandra’s tale about how her father Vandal Savage killed her sister and cut off her arm is utterly chilling, matched only by Onyx’s revelation that the Shadows took her in when she was 11. And that’s not even getting into what Shiva did to Orphan from the day she was born. A cult will take any number of measures to ensure its members never leave, cutting you off from your family, subtly gaslighting you into thinking it’s the only place your welcome, etc. The Shadows are no different from any cult—they just use more lethal measures to ensure their members never leave and hunt down those who do with extreme prejudice.

Speaking of which, the fight between Shadows and heroes is one of the most exciting moments in the episode, thanks to director Christina Sotta. Rictus is a massive mechanical being with detachable arms who overpowers the heroes in sheer strength. However, Cassandra proves that she is still a skilled fighter even with one arm and holds the metal monstrosity off. Tigress, Orphan, and Chesire have to deal with Black Spider; he keeps webbing up their weapons, forcing them to resort to whatever they can get their hands on. Followers of co-showrunner Greg Weisman’s work will remember that Keaton voiced Peter Parker in The Spectacular Spider-Man. With Black Spider’s constant quips and arachnid abilities, it’s not hard to look at him as a version of Peter Parker who uses his great power irresponsibly.

The episode also features a pair of scenes centered on Beast Boy (Greg Cipes), who is still reeling from Superboy’s death in “Involuntary.” The events of Young Justice: Outsiders, combined with losing Superboy, have weighed heavily on the young superhero; he skips out on superhero missions with the Outsiders and can barely get out of bed. I mentioned before that shifting to HBO Max allows the show to tackle more mature themes, including grief. If future episodes continue to explore how grief can affect even superheroes, it will only continue to cement this show as one of the best the genre offers.

Young Justice: Phantoms Episode 6 delves into the fractured family bonds between Tigress and her sister Cheshire and features an intense battle with the League of Shadows. I’ve enjoyed how the creators have separated the show into different arcs, allowing its stories to have more impact. This arc is definitely hitting hard emotionally and visually.

New episodes of Young Justice: Phantoms are available to stream on HBO Max on Thursdays.


Young Justice: Phantoms Episode 6 - "Artemis Through The Looking-Glass"
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    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

Young Justice: Phantoms Episode 6 delves into the fractured family bonds between Tigress and her sister Cheshire and features an intense battle with the League of Shadows. I’ve enjoyed how the creators have separated the show into different arcs, allowing its stories to have more impact. This arc is definitely hitting hard emotionally and visually.