Young Justice Phantoms just dropped its latest installment this past Thursday and I have to say they are really crushing it so far. If you want to catch up on the first three episodes, you can check out my thorough review here. The show continues to deliver some fantastic content as we make our way into the season’s fourth episode: “Involuntary.” Just as before, there will be spoilers ahead so read at your own risk.
S4E04 kicks off with M’gann (Danica McKellar), Gar (Greg Cipes), and Conner (Nolan North) saying goodbye to their beloved Bio-ship. They’ve spent the last decade together saving the universe, but now its time for her to take a break. It’s a heartfelt moment where old friends can say goodbye and pay their respects. Bio-ship will be missed our new friend Baby is here to take care of our heroes. I’m interested to see her develop over the season.
“Crashest. Ride. Ever.”
After a heartfelt goodbye we see M’comm (Ben Diskin), using some kind of invisibility cloak, sneaking into the capital and planting his racial virus bomb in a store room. While the M’hontrrs (Manhunters/police) see nothing we are made aware of a new player that is very much in the know. They sit in wait inside some kind of ship; for what we don’t know yet.
Having planted his bomb, M’comm returns to his lair where he is confronted by his sister M’gann. Rather than argue or physically fight with her brother, she chooses to apologize. She recognizes that running away without him was wrong and offers him a sincere apology. He rejects her sentiment before hinting at his plan and sending her away.
We arrive at the wedding ceremony location where M’gann’s family have assembled the altar and canopy. The visual really is something special. Priestess S’yraa (Zehra Fazal) blesses the completed structure with a marvelous display of Martian magic. Em’ree (Hynden Walch), still reeling from her argument with M’gann, asks her for help in repairing their relationship. We see that Em’ree really understands now and that she wants to make amends.
From here, Conner and Gar meet up with J’emm (Phil LaMarr) before his birthday celebration where we see that they are being watched by the Legion of Superheroes. They seem to be struggling with their mission because they can’t get too close without M’gann sensing their presence, but they have to find a way.
M’gann arrives at the arena and the team sets to work putting together the clues from their investigation of the king’s murder. Conner mentions the strange residue he found at the scene and Gar was able to detect the presence of multiple Martians at the scene. They then set to psychically interviewing anyone and everyone they can that would have been there that day.
While they psychically investigate, R’ess E’dda (Troy Baker) tries to sway the queen away from cooperation with Earth. He seems like he’s making a breakthrough at first by using the memory of the king. J’emm steps in and angrily puts him in his place, refusing to let the noble sully his father’s memory.
Back with the team, one of the M’hontrrs reveals that an A’ashenn servant entered with a woman who did not leave with him the day of the king’s death. They contact the A’ashenn servant and discover from him that this woman was actually a G’arrunn disguised as an A’ashenn to avoid detection. No one would even consider that a G’arrunn would pretend to be A’ashenn so no one noticed. The shanty town where the A’ashenn live is shown in stark contrast to the opulent royal arena in the capital. Seeing these two settings so quickly back to back was almost jarring, and it really shows how badly the A’ashenn are seen in the caste system.
The team returns to the arena where J’emm’s birthday festivities are underway. J’emm himself is preoccupied despite an incredible display of Martian magic happening in the arena for him. When the team reveals what they’ve found he quickly excuses himself. Conner sees the magic display in the arena and makes a connection as well. The substance he found is magical residue… from Martian magic!
The team quickly follows J’emm as he finds S’yraa in the halls of the arena. M’gann and the others come to the same conclusion. S’yraa killed the king. At first she tries to deny it, but as the evidence is mounted she quickly crumbles. She starts to lose control of her powers as lightning arcs around the halls. Everyone begins to understand. J’emm is able to calm her and S’yraa explains.
She went to the king to beg him to reconsider and let her marry J’emm. Despite all of his efforts to remove the barriers between G’arrunn and A’ashenn, the king still saw the B’lahdenn as superior and dismissively refused her requests. Having only just started her magical training, she was ill-equipped to handle this. S’yraa’s magic struck the king and killed him instantly. She escaped, but knew that she could never be with her beloved without his knowing what had happened so she took her vows with the Order and became a Y’ellonn.
This revelation hits J’emm and the others particularly hard. They know it was only an accident. J’emm laments his inability to confront his father sooner saying if he had, “He would still be alive, and the M’hontrrs would not be taking the woman I love off to prison.” This scene is powerful. You can really feel the weight of everything as it hits all of them.
S’yraa’s confession is made public to everyone in the arena and R’ess E’dda tries to take the opportunity to reinforce the racist caste system. J’emm steps up and delivers the best rebuttal possible, and it is MAGNIFICENT to see R’ess get put in his place.
“Indeed. This has been the Martian way, but that does not make it the right way; does not mean it is the way things ought to be.”
He goes on to really stick it to R’ess, but I’ll let you watch episode and enjoy that moment for yourself. *chef’s kiss
Em’ree watches the events unfold from the wedding ceremony location as her uncle J’onn/Martian Manhunter (Kevin Michael Richardson) and Superman (Nolan North) arrive on the Javelin. They quickly make their way to the arena as the hidden figure we saw before springs into action. The figure moves to intercept M’comm’s racial virus bomb and triggers a detector with the Legion. They immediately move to intercept as Conner hears commotion coming from the room below. He sees that something is going on and quickly moves to neutralize with Gar and M’gann close behind.
They discover the bomb, surprisingly untampered with. Gar confirms M’comm’s involvement while Conner confirms the device is from Apokolips and is carrying some kind of virus. Conner sends M’gann and Gar to evacuate the arena as fast as possible while he tries to punch through the floor to get to a lava flow in a cave beneath them.
Conner beats his fists bloody before falling, with bomb in hand, through the floor into the lava below. He crushes the chamber holding the virus sample in time, but the bomb itself survives and detonates before Conner can get away!
Superman and Martian Manhunter enter the cave only to discover the bomb was also laced with kryptonite. In what might be the darkest moment of the series so far, all we see that remains of our beloved Superboy is a scorch mark on the rocky wall.
The team mourns the loss of their fallen friend, brother, and husband-to-be.
The credits for this episode are extremely somber. We see M’gann weeping on her wedding altar for her lost love. No other characters are seen and no words are spoken. It was quietly beautiful in the most heartbreaking way. I freely admit I shed a few tears with M’gann.
9.5/10: An emotionally grounded and heartbreaking story of love and loss that just happens to have aliens and superheroes in it
S4E04 is an emotionally intense ride from start to finish. There are moments of joy and triumph juxtaposed perfectly with absolute sadness. These people, despite being aliens and super-beings, feel real and grounded. Their feelings are taken seriously, and they have weight to them.
I can’t wait for next Thursday to get here so I can see what’s going to happen next. Check out the entire series now streaming on HBOMax, and check back here each week as I review the new season in all its glory!
I’ve worked my whole life to become a comic book illustrator, writer, and stand-up comedian. Batman and Captain Benjamin Sisko helped put a good head on my shoulders. I spent most of my childhood saving Hyrule and the Mushroom Kingdom and seeing the Justice League save all of creation time and time again. I live in Johnson City, TN with my wife Kary and daughter Laila enjoying the beautiful mountain scenery and occasional show. Three puppies round out the family and take up the rest of the time that isn’t spent debating which Wes Anderson or Studio Ghibli movie to watch. I spend an inordinate amount of time binge watching SVU, Futurama, and Letterkenny, and when I’m not watching I’m listening to “My Brother, My Brother, and Me” or playing the occasional game of D&D. If there’s a nerdy endeavor out there, I’ve probably at least tried it.