As the second part of Young Justice: Phantoms continues you get a better sense of how the pacing has changed from part one. This second arc that has focused on Rocket, the New Gods, and Conner Kent is proof of that. After the previous episode placed a focus on the surprise return of Razer from the Green Lantern: The Animated Series “Forbidden Secrets of Civilizations Past!” heavily focused on the overall plot of Young Justice: Phantoms. And if it wasn’t clear to you before this season is all building towards a big finale involving General Zod and the Kryptonians.
“Forbidden Secrets of Civilizations Past!” was all about getting that greater story arc forward as we see a full appearance by General Zod and the House of Zod that are imprisoned in the Phantom Zone. Every time this episode cut back to the Phantom Zone the more we delved into how the House of Zod has really become a cult-like group. Which was emphasized by the song that General Zod had his people sing that is basically repeating his name.
Conner Kent’s reaction to all this is what really put over how General Zod was built up as a powerful, manipulative figure. Everything Zod did in this episode was to get Conner to his side. The way Conner watched the House of Zod spliced together with flashes of his life back on Earth really hit on how this was all impacting him. With the state of mind Zod found Conner it was easy for him to manipulate Superboy to get to join his side. Which goes to further the likelihood that when Young Justice: Phantoms concludes all the first letters of this seasons episodes will spell out “Invitation To Kneel Before Zod.”
General Zod’s son, Lor-Zod, got a big focus on the regular realm side of things as he was searching for the Phantom Zone gun throughout this episode. As the episode progressed we saw more of Lor-Zod’s inexperience get the best of him as he allowed his own overconfidence to be his biggest hinderance. That is first seen with how he was unprepared to face the Sun-Eater and then later his lack of respect for Metron was almost his downfall. Its an interesting character study as a lot of the ways Lor-Zod is acting is how Conner acted during the early parts of first season as he is full confidence no one is better than him.
Though Lor-Zod’s own overconfidence did help show why Metron is someone not to be messed with. Metron’s vault was a cool thing to add to the character as we see the whole history of the universe locked inside. This setting also allowed Lor-Zod’s minions in Mantis and Ma’alefa’ak to show more competence than just pure lackeys. If it wasn’t for these two Lor-Zod wouldn’t have gotten far and Metron would’ve killed him using the Sun-Eater.
Now it’ll be interesting to see how after Lor-Zod using Metron if this will come back to haunt him. As we see that Metron immediately goes to the New Gods for help. This could be the thing that finally brings together the story being built around Rocket and the other original Team members with the main villain plot. Which is something that honestly needs to happen as having such a disconnect with our heroes not at all knowing what is going on from the shadows feels like it has run its course.
As all that has gone on the biggest thing “Forbidden Secrets of Civilizations Past!” will be remembered for is the therapy session between Black Canary and Beast Boy. Starting out with Beast Boy doing his best to get Black Canary to sign off on him being able to return to the field as the Outsiders leader worked well for his overall character arc. Beast Boy entered thinking he would outsmart Black Canary and didn’t realize that he was actually the one being outsmarted by the experienced Black Canary.
It was a nice touch to have Dinah play into Beast Boy’s act by making it seem like she was checking off the boxes that he is passing. That lulled Gar into a sense of false confidence that he was getting one over on everyone. Which gave Dinah the opportunity to really delve into how much the trauma of all the people Gar has lost in his life has really impacted him. Conner’s death was the final straw that sent Gar over the edge. In the process of diving into this Dinah was able to finally be the person to get across to Gar and make him finally deal with his sense of being powerless. It’s the best use of superhero character study we’ve had in this type of story as it does highlight how for all our favorite superheroes powers even they can’t stop everything.
Overall, “Forbidden Secrets of Civilizations Past!” continues the trend of how much Young Justice: Phantoms continues to improve as a season. The show is finding a balance between juggling multiple storylines for different characters that builds greater investment in what the endgame will be. This episode definitely is up there for best episode of the season.
EPISODE RATING: 9 Night Girls out of 10