REVIEW: ‘Young Justice: Phantoms,’ Episode 23 – “Ego and Superego”

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Young Justice Episode 23

Young Justice: Phantoms Episode 23 is a bit of a surprise, as it turns one of the season’s underlying issues into a strength. “Ego and Superego” spends most of its runtime exploring dangling plot threads from Young Justice: Outsiders, as Geo-Force (Troy Baker) deals with anti-meta human sentiment in Markovia. Meanwhile, Violet Harper (Zehra Fazal) attempts to continue their attempts at a normal life but has to deal with the shock of Harper Row confessing a romantic interest in them and their unresolved issues with Geo-Force. Finally, following the events of “Rescue and Search,” Nightwing (Jesse McCartney) and the original Young Justice members track down the school bus that Klarion the Witch Boy possessed, attempting to use it as a gate to the Phantom Zone and rescue Superboy (Nolan North).

The only major issue I’ve had with Phantoms is that specific episodes have attempted to juggle a collection of plot points, which often takes the air out of the series’ various story arcs. This is an issue that plagued Rocket’s story arc, as episodes often felt more focused on the Green Lantern Corps and the Legion of Superheroes than Rocket’s time as a mother and superhero. In contrast, “Ego and Superego” actually manages to use its plot threads to explore how its characters have dealt with the changes in their lives. Yes, the Nightwing storyline more or less amounts to a magical auto repair session – complete with a pack of hyperactive gremlins — but the other storylines have enough emotional weight to keep viewers hooked.

It’s Violet’s storyline that stands out the most. Throughout Young Justice: Outsiders, Violet was the subject of horrific violence; even though they had a healing aura, it still didn’t sit right that a Middle Eastern teenager was more or less a way to show off Outsiders’ more adult themes. Phantoms has slowly been correcting this, featuring scenes of Violet reconnecting with their family and finding their identity. And part of that is coming to terms with Geo-Force’s actions; in a heated scene toward the end of the episode, Violet calls him out on his actions and how he’s alienated people who truly care for him. Writer Michael Vogel laces the scene with volcanic emotion, brought to life by Fazal and Baker’s voice acting.

Violet isn’t the only person who’s struggling with their emotions. Another scene features Black Canary (Vanessa Marshall) holding a therapy session with various teenagers, which Violet attends alongside Cyborg (Zeno Robinson) and Beast Boy (Greg Cipes). While other superhero shows, including Moon Knight and Doom Patrolhave dealt with themes of mental health, Young Justice was arguably the first in its genre to do so — and it’s managed to approach the subject with care. The heroes share their progress, from Cyborg reconnecting with his father to Beast Boy being in a better place following his bout with depression. It’s something I’d love to see more of, not just in future Young Justice episodes, but the genre as a whole since superheroes deal with heavy stuff.

Speaking of Geo-Force, the episode shows trouble in paradise,  even though Markovia’s supposedly a safe haven for metahumans. The opening clarifies this as a group of Markovian citizens attempts to run down and kill a metahuman boy named Lizard Johnny. And even though Geo-Force formed the fighting force Infinity Inc to protect metahumans, certain members are shown not to hold human life in high regard. If Young Justice is renewed for a fifth season, the situation in Markovia could make for a great story arc, especially since Geo-Force has unresolved issues with the Outsiders.

Young Justice: Phantoms Episode 23 serves as a breather episode,  exploring the emotional state of its various heroes. Even though Nightwing and Young Justice intend to rescue Superboy, he’s completely fallen under the thrall of General Zod — which doesn’t bode well for his friends. But that drama should hopefully make the final three episodes stand out.

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

 

 


Young Justice: Phantoms Episode 23
  • 8.5/10
    Rating - 8.5/10
8.5/10

TL;DR

Young Justice: Phantoms Episode 23 serves as a breather episode,  exploring the emotional state of its various heroes. Even though Nightwing and Young Justice intend to rescue Superboy, he’s completely fallen under the thrall of General Zod — which doesn’t bode well for his friends. But that drama should hopefully make the final three episodes stand out.