GUIDES – EPISODE REVIEWS – “ZENITH AND ABYSS”
#96 Zenith and Abyss
Original Airdate – May 26, 2022
Trauma on Trombus.
Written by Akira “Mark” Fujita
Directed by Christina Sotta
Review by Yojimbo
Media by Warner Bros. Animation
Please be advised our regular reviewer, “GregX,” is currently on sabbatical.
Written by Yojimbo, edited by James Harvey
In standard Young Justice fashion, everything that could goes wrong does, and yet somehow it’s still even worse than that. There’s very little to take solace in other than no one got killed. Though the way the cold open turned out, it tipped its hat about how this episode would land for our heroes. Lor-Zod turns out to be an even bigger bastard bringing up the late Tomar-Re to his son Tomar-Tu and Kilowog was right there but didn’t recognize him.
For the sake of pacing, I thought it was the right choice to skip from the rescue team entering the bus’ portal right to them spying on the Kryptonians at their fort rather than spend some time on them exploring the Phantom Zone. But as I suspected last week and how Nightwing jinxes it this week, they are no match for the Kryptonians in the Zone. Plus, Dru-Zod now knows Superman is alive and knows about Kryptonite. Good one, Dick. And to make matters worse, the Legion Flight Ring doesn’t really have a safeguard for telepathic shapeshifters which gives Lor-Zod and Ma’alefa’ak the opening to use the Trombus mission to their advantage, culminating in the arrival of Dru-Zod, Ursa Zod, and Faora Hu-Ul in the real world.
Despite the negatives going for our heroes, there was at least the fortuitous happenstance in the episode was Miss Martian being consulted for the Kaizer-Thrall just as Prince J’emm introduces Phantom Girl to the gang then along with Superman to verify Phantom Girl and Orion’s help, thanks the newly agreed upon treaty, they found an alternate way to the Phantom Zone though unfortunately unaware of what the rest of the original Team is up to and vice versa. It also also a nice bout of camaraderie to see Orion come to their aid, J’emm to quickly pledge his aid and state M’arzz was forever in the debt of Conner Kent, and for Green Lantern Forager to also quickly pledge to help. As bleak as things are at the end of the episode, things are lining up for a comeback.
The team in the Phantom Zone is poised to do some classic Team saboteur work with blocking up the Boom Tube. Conner, although hesitant to go to Miss Martian, happens to drop right near her. If love is all you need, the proximity hints things could come to a head with her making telepathic contact and helping him heal. We’ve seen Lor-Zod only dragging Kid Flash out. Saturn Girl, Chameleon Boy, and Bio-Ship might just get their shot like Lor-Zod proposed to make them cooperate. We’ve seen that Green Lantern Forager can fight through the Kaizer-Thrall’s attack. If she can do it again and if Miss Martian can reestablish Danny, he could in theory neutralize all the villains. And as for the villains, we know the only real threat is Ma’alefa’ak whom a restored Saturn Girl, Miss Martian, or Kaizer could take on. The Kryptonians have no power under the red sun and have just their hand to hand fighting skills.
And we likely will have a wild card in the Light. As I previously theorized, Vandal may not be so hot on a third party entering the conflict with Darkseid. And in “Rescue and Search,” Klarion learned about what was going on from Zatanna after the botched plan in the Tower of Fate. And this episode happens to end with Teekl II sleeping on the chair in Warworld. Warworld, where Vandal is and Klarion is never too far from Teekl. He could very well be informing Vandal. Perhaps we may well see Vandal decide to intervene and blow up Trombus, a bout of chaos Klarion would love to watch.
The recurring theme of phantoms in season four continues to rear its ugly head even as the finale draws near. In this case, the spectre of season three looms as those at the Watchtower discover the horrific fate of a trafficked meta-teen who wasn’t saved. Danny Chase was brutalized by Desaad, has his brain removed and implanted in an Apokoliptian weapon, the Kaizer-Thrall, and lastly every use of the multi-dimensional ability is like a ticking time bomb and brings him closer to death’s door. Another phantom is having to keep secrets despite it blowing up in past seasons. In this case, Superman has to keep what he knows about the Legion of Super-Heroes a secret from Black Lightning and everyone else to protect the time stream. And of course, how exactly will Miss Martian react to the others keeping her out of their mission?
The cold open also had some interesting blink and miss moments. A Green Lantern flies across the screen. This Lantern is seemingly Malet Dasim from the comics who the prosecutor Galet Dasim from Young Justice: Invasion was based on. And in the background, it appears Kilowog was talking to one of the Guardians of the Universe.
Conner’s various memory recalls continue to prove to be some great full circle moments and a testament to the sprawling continuity of the show. When Nightwing first approaches Conner, he remembers their conversation in season 3’s “Terminus” before everyone set out for the Orphanage. Then when Conner realizes everyone is real, he recalls the origin of the Team photo from “Usual Suspects” that was unknown to us, the audience, until this episode then contrasted with Dru’s statement that those in the Zone only had each other from the latter half of Kaldur’ahm’s arc. Speaking of, Kaldur’ahm makes a very brief but strong allusion to quell Conner’s doubt, he was in a similar situation to Conner but M’gaan fixed him. Well, she did brain blast him and cause the damage but she and Artemis fixed him up in season 2’s “Complications” so it plays. And likewise, Conner remembers the mind scape battle against Psimon in season 1’s “Bereft,” dancing in mid-air with M’gaan in “Needful” and hallucinating her and killing Superman in “Emergency Dive.” Then when Kaldur shouts at him to stop, a great callback to “Fireworks” when he first met Conner at Project Cadmus.
Another nice subtle season two nod was the Watchtower moving out of the range of the Zeta Shield. On a side note, it’s amazing to see the A-designations are up to a whopping 52 at this point with the inclusion of J’emm, Phantom Girl, and Orion. Trombus, what an amusing deep cut that was. Harking from the Superboy comics, Trombus was home to the Hyper-Family, a not-so-good family of beings who get Superman-like powers from the red sun. While the sun named in the episode, Gamma Crucis, is an actual red giant. It was also cute of Orion to play it cool when he suggested Rocket join the mission to Trombus. Arguably the coolest deep cut of the episode was the introduction of Danny Chase, a Teen Titans member who first showed up in the New Teen Titans Annual #3 in late 1987.
The final arc of Young Justice: Phantoms has reached its midpoint and in natural fashion gets darkest before dawn where the villains have gained the upper hand and the heroes have little going for them. But if anything is certain, our protagonists have lady luck on their side when it counts the most and them pulling off a comeback win should very much be in the cards. However, the end credits scene seems to connote the Light may well be a wild card in this season’s finale and clearing the board by destroying an uninhabited planet along with many irritants could very well drive up the stakes. Two episodes remain as we remain on the edge of our seats wondering how this will all end. Or even end well, that is…
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