Episode 17 Review
Young Justice: Phantoms
The shocking end to the fourth story arc of Young Justice: Phantoms puts to all the civil unrest and mysteries plaguing the kingdom of Atlantis to bed. The machinations of the Light are unveiled. The Prophecy of the One True King is truly fulfilled. Vandal Savage and The Light are dealt a stinging defeat. The future looks brighter for the ranks of the Justice League. And Kaldur'ahm takes a much needed break. "Leviathan Wakes" heralds some big changes for Atlantis and its denizens and gives the Light a much needed defeat. However, things take a turn for the worst elsewhere...
Orin attempts to break the truth to the Orm clone but he refuses to accept it. A month, give or take, Orm finally sees the light and asks Miss Martian to show him the truth. She immediately senses Psimon's handiwork. Then all is revealed. Ultra-Humanite was tasked with making two force-grown clones, one of Orm with edited memories of his incarceration and programmed to lose to the other, a clone of Arion programmed with Ocean-Master's unaltered memories. Ocean-Master accepts this chance at redemption before the Light and is told Arion's history by Vandal Savage and tutored in magic by Wotan while the Orm clone has a false history of his incarceration and escape implanted by Psimon. He is nothing more than a puppet and tool and Vandal could care less if he's arrested or killed along the way.
A month later, on July 3rd, things haven't gotten better in Xebel and the rest of Atlantis. Everyone is still calling for Arion and the majority of the city-state leadership wants to vote him the new high king just to stay in power and prevent a rebellion. Tensions rise between and father-in-law and son-in-law, King Nereus and High King Orin but Mera is the voice of reason. Refusing to obstruct the vote, everyone except he and Nereus vote for Arion. Arion is voted high king.
Meanwhile, Kaldur'ahm and his covert squad are still traversing the Undersea in search of Arion's lost crown. If being exhausted and constantly dealing with thermal vents wasn't enough of them, they run into a giant crab. La'gaan uses some quick thinking and uses a piece of column to chase it away. They go further down and locate the crown. However, they also find a leviathan. Kaldur'ahm comes through with his skills and steers the leviathan through the various levels of the Undersea and creates an exit back to Xebel but they arrive just as Arion gives his speech to all of Atlantis. Miss Martian conveys her findings to Orin but it's too late. Arion takes the crown from Kaldur'ahm. Ignoring Orin's word of caution, he puts on the crown. The Lords of Order refuse to go along with Vandal's scheme and takes back the power they imbued in the crown, frying the Arion clone to dust in horrifying fashion for all to see. Rather than accept the crown, Orin concludes the Mera was the one predestined in the Prophecy to become the one true king. Everyone accepts Orin's declaration and she promises all of Atlantis will be reunited as one.
Orin reveals he plans to rejoin the Justice League as Aquaman and asserts if the Justice League has four Green Lanterns and two Flashes, they can have two or even three Aquamen. La'gaan is shocked by Orin's endorsement. Kaldur'ahm supports the move and announces he is taking a leave of absence. Dr. Fate pays a visit to Vandal Savage on Warworld to point out the chaos he opened up onto Atlantis millennia ago has come to a close and a new chapter without him has begun. The Orm clone is cleared of programming and freed from prison with a clean slate. Conner mind continues to fracture and he is overcome with negativity and remorse. Then he sees the Klarion-possessed school bus fly by and a hallucination of Lex Luthor manifests, issuing his "red son" command. On the anniversary of the formation of the Team, Kaldur'ahm speaks to Black Canary at the Watchtower where he vows to come to terms with the untimely deaths of his comrades, who paid the price for his hubris.
"Leviathan Wakes" sheds some of the pitfalls of the past three episodes and finishes very strong. Rightfully so, the episode focuses the majority of its run time on Atlantis save for a scant minute or so with Conner Kent. The pacing was also welcoming sight as it shifted into high gear and reall help heighten the tension in the scenes of the high king vote for Arion while intercutting with the truth about the clone caper and culminating in the shocking revelation that was Orm, well the memory ingrams of the original, in the Arion clone all along and it seems the Light has scored another big win but then the Lords of Order throws a curve ball and deep fries the fake in a stunning show of might. The Lords of Order made a very clear distinction they aren't BFFs with Vandal and they ain't gonna roll over when it comes to their stuff. As Dr. Fate declares, Atlantis enters into a new era cleansed of Vandal Savage's grubby mitts. Some of the fandom was left scratching their heads as to why Vandal and Atlantis's history had a big part in Zatanna's arc, the previous set of episodes, but with all the interlinking with this arc, it's now clear why that history lesson came when it did.
La'gaan was used rather efficiently in this episode. From the small moments of finally having a moment to acknowledge regret for a past grudge against Conner or dealing with the first big threat and dispensing with the giant crab. But the big moments for La'gaan was getting to meet his child with Coral and Rodunn as well as seemingly becoming the third Aquaman and a member of the Justice League. Neptune's beard indeed.
The only real knock I have against the episode is Conner Kent's sub-plot. It is almost similar in fashion as Beast Boy's downward spiral season-long arc except Connor is running in a cosmic hamster wheel. I think it's a matter of volume and we've seen too much of Conner in the limbo zone so as a result, the lack of his progress in returning home and him going Looney Tunes is aggravating. Conner's current sub-plot is best seen sparingly and is one of those things where less is more. For the amount of time and spotlight Conner got in this story arc, it feels like it was stealing time from the main story with not much resolution or progress. The award ceremony speech band music is going off in my head by the time the Lex Luthor hallucination popped up. Let's wrap this up. But not by mistakenly releasing Zod.
The first arc of the second half of Young Justice: Phantoms comes to a highly entertaining end. The civil unrest comes to a thrilling end laden with well placed revelations and curve balls. Orm was playing a wolf in sheep's clothing, the sheep's clothing being an Arion clone. The Lords of Order makes a divine intervention. The queen becomes the king. In what feels like a very Weisman thing, the clone of a villain gets a fresh start. Kaldur'ahm finally takes a vacation and acknowledges he needs to process all the grief he's accumulated for the past 10 years, grief that can be traced back to the shenanigans of three teenage sidekicks aiming to prove their worth. And who's the fourth Green Lantern?! Oooh, Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti!!! Always leave us with more questions.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5