Young Justice: Phantoms Returns With a Fantastic Triple Premiere

Written by Ariel Horn, Connor Davenport and Neal Powell

After a short, yet everlasting hiatus (yes, YJ hiatuses simultaneously feel like both at once), Young Justice: Phantoms is finally back with three episodes from its fourth arc. While a multi-episode drop isn’t our favorite way to watch new episodes of Young Justice, we have to admit that getting such a strong burst of content was a very pleasant start to the second half of the season. This highly anticipated arc features Kaldur in addition to a myriad of other characters related to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, including King Orin, Queen Mera, the alleged Arion, Wyynde, Delphis, and more. In addition to the underwater stories, we also (finally!) check back in with Superboy, get an update on Violet’s journey in rediscovering Islam, get a preview of the Legion’s plans, and watch Garfield deteriorate further. These are some jam-packed episodes, so we’ll get right to it. 

We kick off the second half of Season 4 with “Nautical Twilight”, picking up with Kaldur continuing to work through his grief over the loss of Conner. However, surprising no one, Kaldur chooses not to take time and properly process his emotions and instead chooses to focus on the work at hand, keeping busy. The current variation of work brings him to the conference of all of the delegates from the city-states of Atlantis. Tensions are running high for some, but others are enjoying the time together. Before anything can properly fester, a surprise attack from Ocean-Master sets everyone on high alert, and mystery brews when a hooded stranger defeats him and disappears. Intermingled with this mystery, we spend some time with Conner, who wakes up next to Phantom Girl in what we have to assume is the Phantom Zone. Unsurprisingly, there are many more questions than answers here.

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Also in this episode, we check back in with Violet as they reaches out to Madia Daou in an attempt to learn more about Islam and discover if the religion fits into their life. Notice the pronoun change? In a very sweet credits-scene, while talking with Harper Row, Violet decides that they are nonbinary and would like to use they/them pronouns. We love to see that progression and discovery of one’s self.

We continue with “Ebb Tide”, where we get a quick glimpse into what the Legion of Super-Heroes have been up to. Meeting up with the Man of Steel himself, Saturn Girl and Chameleon Boy explain that they were present at the supposed “death” of Superboy. However, they also reveal that Phantom Girl was a part of the explosion and believe said incident took the life of their friend and teammate as well. Lucky for us, we know that both of them are not deceased, and are rather trapped in the Phantom Zone, where Conner continues to struggle with finding a way out. 

Meanwhile, underneath the seven seas, Kaldur and his associates like King Orin and Queen Mera are baffled by the return of the diabolical Ocean-Master and the identity of the hooded stranger. If that wasn’t enough, the monarchs of Atlantis are rattled by the potential of a prophecy being fulfilled with the rise of the “one true king”, to the skepticism and chagrin of King Orin. While the search for both Ocean-Master and the hooded stranger falls flat, the drama continues with the chaos of Child’s terror from the previous arc. Most surprising, Ocean-Master lends a hand to help calm the attack on Atlantis, and most unsurprising, once the attack is over, he uses the opportunity to attack the weakened Mera. Lucky for everyone, the hooded stranger returns and defeats Ocean-Master before revealing his identity as Arion.

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“Emergency Dive” revs up the tension, because with Arion back, all of Atlantis is thrown for a loop. Rebellion brews in Xebel, with citizens supporting the founder amid the truth of the prophecy. However, not everyone buys into it so easily. Even though Arion’s magic passes the test, the true result for his identity will only be revealed if his long-lost crown is found with his hair follicles. King Orin is especially apprehensive of the situation, finding the timing all too convenient when DNA reveals that this Ocean-Master is not his brother Orm, but a cleverly placed clone. It isn’t Young Justice without the clones, right? To get to the bottom of the situation, Orin sends Kaldur and a small team on a mission to locate Arion’s crown. Wyynde isn’t happy with the arrangement, insisting that Kaldur is taking on too much. Kaldur disagrees, but ultimately we’ll have to see if the hero reaches his breaking point in future episodes.

Meanwhile, M’gann has returned to Earth and learns of Garfield’s struggles. She goes to confront him and attempts to help, but is easily brushed off. She tries again by staging an intervention with Wonder Girl, Static, Blue Beetle and a surprise guest: Robotman! The intervention is heartbreaking and unsuccessful, so M’gann pulls out her ace: because Black Lightning has instilled mandatory mental health check-ins with Black Canary, Garfield must attend a session with her or else lose membership of all hero-groups altogether. Over in the Phantom Zone, Conner has begun to hallucinate M’gann and Superman cheering him on and continuing to hop from boulder to boulder, even though it seems pointless. We even get a Wally hallucination, which is quite interesting. It all seems well and good until Conner hallucinates Match arriving and murdering Superman, and in the blink of an eye, blood is on his hands and he’s wearing Match’s suit before he falls unconscious. Freaky.

While the fandom has speculated for months about the content of this fourth arc, we have to say that these episodes completely surpassed all expectations. There was so much going on, but all of it was well paced, intriguing and left us eagerly smashing the ‘next episode’ button. One of the standouts in this cluster of episodes was the eloquent worldbuilding weaved in, building on the Atlantis lore we learned about from the previous arc. Coupled with the political intrigue and engaging characters, we find ourselves wanting at least six or seven episodes for this arc alone. 

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Note: If you found yourself a little overwhelmed by the number of characters and you haven’t already read the Young Justice tie-in comics, we strongly recommend reading both “Under the Surface…” and “...Here There Be Monsters” as a supplement to this arc, as several of these characters previously appeared in these issues. 

We can’t go over these three episodes and not mention how gorgeous the animation looks from a visual perspective. The colors utilized are incredibly vivid and expressive to the audience whereas the animation itself was very fluid and didn’t feel rigid nor monotonous. The character’s designs and facial expressions were all quite expressive as well, leading to some of the best animation we’ve seen this season.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t touch upon Violet’s character and the two personal breakthroughs they make in “Nautical Twilight”. After receiving criticism in Outsiders for both Violet’s religious and gender depiction, it’s clear that Young Justice used this episode makes amends on both. Violet’s education on Islam is nothing short of respectful and informative while staying true to her character, and we’re sure that many Muslim fans will greatly enjoy and relate to Violet after seeing this subplot on screen. Time will tell as to whether Violet will choose whether Islam holds any personal meaning for them, but we’re confident that whatever choice Violet makes, it will be done with the utmost of nuance and care. We also saw Violet decide to officially identify as nonbinary and choose to go by they/them pronouns in this episode, which is a fantastic step in including more non-cisgender characters on modern television. 

Some of our personal standouts this episode included La'gaan, who has in one episode transformed from one of the fandom's least favorite characters to a new fan-favorite, Forager, who delivered an excellent and quite hilarious graduation speech, Wyynde, who is an incredibly boyfriend to Kaldur and only wants the best for him, and Delphis, who is a queen and lets no one tell her what to do. There was plenty of fan service in these episodes, and they paired fabulously with the more intense moments. 

Lastly, we wanted to touch upon the continued depiction of the importance of mental health this season, as the struggles are quite evident with several characters. This arc pushes Kaldur’s needs to the forefront and mirrors Garfield’s struggles. Both characters continued to push grief and their own challenges to the side while burying themselves deeper, and while Garfield has hit his breaking point and is now choosing to shut off from the world, Kaldur continues to barrel down this dangerous path, much to the protest of many of his loved ones. We love this focus on more interpersonal issues, especially since mental health is an often stigmatized and overlooked factor today, when it should be the opposite. 

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“Nautical Twilight, “Ebb Tide”, and “Emergency Dive” were all incredibly well-done and a variety of factors helped make the first three episodes to Kaldur’s arc so special. The way that the story progressed and how each respective character was focused on intricately was, frankly, Young Justice at its best. From a sensory standpoint, the way Atlantis was portrayed was visually picturesque and the music that accompanied it was both appropriate and imaginative. This ever-expanding world felt even bigger with the inclusion of these episodes that put Kaldur’ahm at center stage, alongside his closest companions and allies. Overall though, Young Justice: Phantoms has returned with three phenomenal episodes that sets the tone for what’s to come for future episodes this season.

Ariel Horn
Author: Ariel HornWebsite: https://youngjustice.tvEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Lead Writer
About the Author
Ariel is's lead writer. She has been obsessed with the show since its early days, and looks forward to cover this exciting new season with everyone. May hope burn bright!

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