REVIEW: ‘Young Justice: Phantoms,’ Episode 7-“The Lady, or the Tigress?”

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Young Justice Episode 7

Young Justice: Phantoms Episode 7 is an episode about choices. Or rather, what to do when presented with choices that have unknown outcomes. “The Lady, or the Tigress?” picks up in the aftermath of “Artemis Through The Looking-Glass,” as Tigress/Artemis Crock (Stephanie Lemelin) travels to Infinity Island with Cassandra Savage (Zehra Fazal) and Onyx Adams (Logan Browning) to rescue Orphan from the clutches of Lady Shiva (Gwendoline Yeo). Flashbacks reveal how Orphan came to work with the Bat-Family, along with her connection to Oracle (Alyson Stoner).

This arc of Phantoms has been a return to form for the series, balancing out the superheroics of the DC Universe with cloak-and-dagger operations usually found in spy films like Mission: Impossible. It helps that the action has shifted to characters suited to that type of work; Tigress was trained by her father, Sportsmaster, Cassandra is the daughter of immortal warlord Vandal Savage and Onyx is a member of the League of Shadows. I was on the edge of my seat watching them sneak around Infinity Island and incapacitating the Shadows one by one. Writer Nicole Dubuc and director Christopher Berkeley build up the suspense as the trio head deeper into the island’s bowels, leading to a double-cross and a surprise assist from another character.

The episode also continues the trend of using literature to underline the arc’s themes of family and choice. “A Tale of Two Sisters” used “A Tale of Two Cities” to explore Tigress’ grief at losing Superboy and her reconnection with her sister Cheshire (Kelly Hu); “Artemis Through The Looking-Glass” explored her childhood. Here, “The Lady, or The Tiger” by Frank Stockton informs the choices Tigress makes; she still doesn’t know if Cassandra or Onyx can be trusted, and Orphan’s life hangs in the balance. I’m thankful that executive producer Greg Weisman’s love for literature has bled into the series and is used in a way that makes sense story-wise.

The flashbacks centered on Orphan reveal that Shiva intended for her to kill the Joker (Brent Spiner), who intended to gas the United Nations as revenge for being used by the Light. Not only do these flashbacks explain Orphan’s distaste for her mother and Oracle’s desire to rescue her, but it also puts a welcome yet incredibly tragic spin on how Barbara Gordon transitions from Batgirl to Oracle. At the risk of incurring fanboy wrath, I’d say it’s done even better than The Killing Joke because Barbara is actually given agency here instead of being objectified and traumatized. After years of stories paying unnecessary homage to The Killing Joke, including the lackluster Batman: Three Jokers, I’m glad Dubuc has actually considered a way to update it that makes sense. Less effective is Spiner’s performance; while Spiner has delivered great work before, his Joker feels less unpredictable and menacing than other takes on the character.

The episode also features a subplot that focuses on Miss Martian (Danica McKellar) and her grief over losing Superboy (Nolan North). It’s terrifying to watch Miss Martian, usually a big-hearted character, psychically rip through White Martians and consider leaving Mars forever. In the same way that Beast Boy is dealing with a bout of depression, Miss Martian has lost a large piece of her life, and I appreciate that the creators are exploring how it affects her.

Young Justice: Phantoms Episode 7 returns to the series’ espionage roots while also underlining the themes of family and choice in its latest story arc. I was on the edge of my seat throughout the episode, and I look forward to next week’s conclusion, along with details on where the series will be headed after this.

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


Young Justice: Phantoms Episode 7
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

Young Justice: Phantoms Episode 7 returns to the series’ espionage roots while also underlining the themes of family and choice in its latest story arc. I was on the edge of my seat throughout the episode, and I look forward to next week’s conclusion, along with details on where the series will be headed after this.