Episode 3 Review
Young Justice: Phantoms

One week after the surprise season premiere of Young Justice: Phantoms on October 16, 2021, the wedding preparations, murder mystery, and timeline intrusion continues on Mars in episode 3 "Volatile" but the mental and emotional traumas Beast Boy has taken on over the past couple years comes to a head, endangering those closest to him. The very character-driven start to the season is a revitalizing element for the series as a whole after a very story-driven third season centered on the meta-trafficking rings. It's a welcome back-to-basics approach that made us fall in love with the series in the first place.

Beast Boy has been through the wringer in this series and he's hid the PTSD well. It's no surprise that the Outsiders in part serve as his anchor and surrogate family. The opening flashback with the Outsiders foiling the Kobra Cult's latest plot reinforces this and paid off when the faux Miss Martian helps Beast Boy in the final moments of the episode. Almost as spiritual follow-up to last season's "Nightmare Monkeys," the deaths of his mother, surrogate family the Doom Patrol, Brion's betrayal, and whatever is going on with Perdita explodes as the mystery thickens on Mars. The use of several Martian brain blasts amid the xenophobic mania was a brilliant move to trigger it all. While we're no nearer to learning what's up with Perdita, it's forthcoming no doubt. Considering the season premiere revolves around marriages, like the impending one between Connor and M'gann and M'aatt and J'ann, I'm would hazard a guess that Perdita is feeling pressure to marry and Garfield isn't exactly someone the royal family approves of so she's stuck between a rock and a hard place so their relationship is tense to say the least. But now there's a new lingering question of why did Saturn Girl intervene in repairing Beast Boy and what ramifications will that have on the timeline? And, of course, the delusions set up what will be a nasty reckoning between Beast Boy and the real Brion at some point in the near future.

M'gann, her sister Em'ree, her mother J'ann, and the priestess S'yraa S'mitt head to the Crystal Caves to build a canopy for the wedding. However, things boil between M'gann and Em'ree and figurative of their plight, the canopy breaks apart due to the lack of everyone's harmony. The humanizing element of a familial disagreement and a void between siblings was a welcome surprise as these three episodes have made it abundantly clear that M'gann was underselling how terrible the xenophobia and racism was on Mars. The odd tension between M'gann and Em'ree explodes in "Volatile" and it becomes clear M'gann leaving Mars didn't just affect M'comm but also Em'ree. As S'yraa points out, talking is the first step which is ironic coming from her as we learn of her forbidden love of Prince J'emm.

Oh yeah, and there's that murder investigation! The clues are starting to build up. The murderer seems to be from the Legion's future, killed a Martian king, destroyed the Zeta Tube, destroyed the satellite, tried to out to Legion of Superheroes to the three heroes, left a familiar mark Connor had deja vu about, and left two scorch marks in the cave ceiling. Not going to lie that the twin scorch marks made me think of heat vision. Has Mon-El gone bonkers? Or gulp, Superboy Prime? A future version of Connor with powers. A future Jonathan? Whoever it was, definitely looked like he was in a Time Bubble when he attacked the satellite. Is it to fulfill something the Legion believes they had a part in or to meddle and prevent something catastrophic like perhaps a secret agenda Darkseid has for Mars. I don't think it's to stop the gene bomb but for what comes after it. Mars would be easy pickings and Darkseid could easily conquer it and use the planet to stage his forces for the inevitable finale against Vandal Savage. Just the fact of whoever the killer is and the Legion interfering in the timeline has me...concerned. And sure, the gene bomb sounds bad, too.

The theme of renewal seems abundant with the reveal Windfall did turn the corner and became a hero, Saturn Girl helping Beast Boy start his path to recovery and M'gann and Em'ree but it's abundantly punctuated with the birth of Bio-Ship's child and it taking up the torch while its parent retires. While the racism and xenophobia was at the forefront, the theme of appearances was also an important moment when J'ann realizes the form M'gann is in for these three episodes really is her true self and perhaps the showrunners' commentary on the transgender rights movement.

Lastly, another great addition to the series is expanding on the "bonus scene" that plays out during the end credits. Instead of the creepy lullaby version of the theme for Outsiders, there's some dialogue and extra insight into the guest cast. With "Volatile," we get a hilarious phone call between Superman and Lois about parenting which ends with Jonathan's heat vision activating! Hope Lois is all right and they have a good contractor. As far as easter eggs and callbacks, the "Kobraaaa!" G.I. Joe shout was hands down my favorite. And it appears clear that Beast Boy can talk normally in any animal form thanks to some device in his collar.

The "Phantoms" in "Young Justice: Phantoms" seems to connote we're in for a strong focus on the trauma and secrets still looming over our main cast of characters. "Volatile" addresses and expands on the tragic pasts of both Miss Martian and Beast Boy to their natural progression. However, the current events on Mars are far from over and it feels like Connor, M'gann, and Garfield are in for even more shocking reveals.

Rating: 4 out of 5