REVIEW: ‘Young Justice: Phantoms,’ Episode 8-“I Know Why The Caged Cat Sings”

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Young Justice Episode 8

Young Justice: Phantoms Episode 8 wraps up its latest arc by emphasizing the bonds of family and how their presence and/or absence affects you— and how you deal with it. “I Know Why The Caged Cat Sings” picks up immediately after “The Lady And The Tigress,” as Tigress (Stephanie Lemelin), Onyx Adams (Logan Browning), and Cheshire (Kelly Hu) fight off the League of Shadows to save Orphan. Meanwhile, Superman (Nolan North) struggles with the death of Superboy, especially when his son Jonny asks about his “Uncle Conner.”

Co-showrunner Greg Weisman’s script toggles between Santa Prisca and Smallville, balancing out the action sequences with quiet moments where characters are given the space to reflect on their emotions. Tigress and Cheshire reflect on their broken family and if it’s too late to piece things back together. Orphan, when freed, is faced with a choice to be the killer Lady Shiva (Gwendoline Yeo) raised her to be or stick to the principles she learned from Oracle (Alyson Stoner). And Onyx expresses regret at her choice to join the League of Shadows, as it cost her a relationship with her grandfather. The title of this episode is a play on the poem “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou; Tigress even recites one of Angelou’s quotes, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Given the regrets placed on display, it’s a rather fitting quote to end things on.

The most heartwrenching moments involve Superman. The Man of Steel expresses his regrets to his wife Lois Lane (Grey Griffin), saying that he wished he’d spent more time with Superboy over the course of ten years. It’s a beautiful, heartbreaking moment that serves as a reminder of Clark Kent’s greatest superpower: his humanity. It also continues the trend of characters processing Superboy’s death; he had connections to so many people, and his absence weighs on them heavily. I also appreciate that the episode doesn’t shy away from Clark and Lois explaining death to Jonny; this is a series that’s always dealt with mature themes and done so in a way that viewers of all ages can enjoy, and its shift to HBO Max hasn’t changed that.

On the action side of things, director Vinton Heuck crafts the most impressive sequence of Phantoms to date, as a blackout leads to heroes and Shadows fighting each other. Sparks literally fly as Orphan and Shiva swing blades at each other; the mechanical menace Rictus glows a faint and ominous purple as she attempts to kill Artemis; Cheshire dispatches Shadows using strategically placed bombs. Not only is this sequence visually stunning, but it also highlights the various skills each character brings to the table. It’s also immensely bloody —especially where Shiva is concerned. She stabs Tigress through the leg and even cuts two of her own Shadows in half, hellbent on getting her daughter back. Shiva is considered one of the deadliest fighters in the DC Universe, and that’s on full display here.

If I have one issue with the episode, it’s the beginning where Tigress tricks Cassandra Savage (Zehra Fazal) into revealing her master plan. While admittedly this is a subversion of the usual “The Bad Guy tells the Good Guy their plan” so that Orphan can escape, it highlights that sometimes the twists and reveals in Young Justice can be a bit too convoluted. Kudos go to Weisman for attempting to lampshade this, but I feel that one ongoing mystery is enough.

Young Justice: Phantoms Episode 8 closes off another story arc, focusing on family & grief, resulting in a wealth of emotionally rich scenes. With Phantoms exploring the lives of its original cast, I can’t wait to see which one of them is the focus of the next arc.

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


Young Justice: Phantoms Episode 8
  • 8.5/10
    Rating - 8.5/10
8.5/10

TL;DR

Young Justice: Phantoms Episode 8 closes off another story arc, focusing on family & grief, resulting in a wealth of emotionally rich scenes. With Phantoms exploring the lives of its original cast, I can’t wait to see which one of them is the focus of the next arc.