Young Justice: Phantoms – “I Know Why the Caged Cat Sings” Review

Young Justice: Phantoms concluded its second story arc with the episode titled “I Know Why the Caged Cat Sings.” With this episode we do in fact get a resolution to this story that has been led by Artemis as she, Cheshire, Onyx, and Orphan deal with the League of Shadows and The Light. But in the process we get some unexpected but welcomed character developments. All those developments lead to “I Know Why the Caged Cat Sings” conclude in a way that further sets up the future of the series.

Right away the thing that stood out most from “I Know Why the Caged Cat Sings” was not the developments around Artemis story. Instead it was the Kent Family that stole the show with this episode of Young Justice: Phantoms. Given how this story arc has gone I did not expect to get several emotionally charged scenes with Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Jon Kent, and Ma and Pa Kent.

These scenes with the Kent Family were unexpected it was extremely welcomed. There are valid criticism towards Young Justice that a lot of character development takes place off screen. But as “I Know Why the Caged Cat Sings” the writers of this show staff understand how to integrate how this version of the DC Universe is a living and breathing world that you don’t feel lost. Everything about how Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Ma and Pa Kent talk to Jon Kent to help him accept the passing of Connor Kent emotionally resonated. Even without having seen the history all these characters have with Connor you can feel how much of an impact his death had on all of them.

This was particularly important for Young Justice’s version of Superman. Out of all the mentor and sidekick relationships the one that we haven’t really seen explored is the bond between Superman and Superboy. We only got brief hints at how over the course of all the time jumps that Clark and Connor did become brothers. But with this episode the writers of Young Justice were able to really get us to understand that the brother bond was something that was real to them. Seeing Clark shed a tear while talking to Lois about Connor came across as authentic. It spoke to how the Young Justice DC Universe is a world you believe continued to develop beyond what is shown on the show.

Continuing how character emotions carried “I Know Why the Caged Cat Sings” the scenes with Artemis team saving Cassandra Wu-San from her mother, Lady Shiva, and The Light was fantastic. You can tell that the animation team is working with a bigger budget as they provide us with an excellent fight scene that takes place in the dark between both sides of the conflict. Having all the characters fight in the dark made the way the night vision and gunfire lighted these scene make all the choreography stand out as some of the best we’ve seen in Young Justice. It all got across how Artemis, Orphan, Cheshire, Lady Shiva, Onyx, Cassandra Savage, and Black Spider are all trained assassins.

In the process we see how being on HBOMax has allowed the staff of Young Justice to tell much more mature stories. And it is not just with how deep they get into mental health or loss of life. As we see with Lady Shiva the staff used the fact Young Justice: Phantoms airs on HBOMax to get over how brutal of a character she is. I’m glad that they saved such a bloody display for Lady Shiva because a similar scene would not fit for any other character. It all helped to make the ending resolution with the family conflict these became between Lady Shiva trying to get her daughter back on her side much more satisfying.

I particularly liked how the choice Cassandra Wu-San/Cain makes helps to explain why her Orphan superhero codename has a greater meaning. The best codenames for superheroes in the DC Universe are the ones that are connected to the characters history and relationships they have. This is especially important with legacy characters. And with Cassandra’s choice of what she does when confronted by her mother we understand why Orphan is an important name that connects her to both her life as part of the Batman Family and being raised by Lady Shiva. Hopefully this isn’t the last time we see Orphan’s character in the show as the sister-like bond between Barbara Gordon and Cassandra deserves more of a spotlight.

This fight with Lady Shiva and The Light also helped to push things forward with how we see Artemis growth as a character. Artemis is arguably the most developed character on this series and we see that growth with how she is able to calmly deal with Lady Shiva. While she still has her moments of being rash overall Artemis is looking at things from a more mature perspective.

The growth with Artemis made the resolution with the current status of her relationship with her sister, Cheshire, work well. It is not made to be the end of exploring their family dynamic. It is more about each of them moving forward the way they believe is best. In the process we do see how what is like Nightwing’s big character arc in Young Justice: Phantoms could lead to Artemis being part of that story. The stage is certainly set for whenever we do circle back to the League of Shadows story it’ll be a big, meaningful one for many characters.

Overall, “I Know Why the Caged Cat Sings” is another strong episode of Young Justice: Phantoms. Everything that this episode did with all the characters involved was great. There was development around what has happened in the first eight episodes of the series while building on the foundation to make future Young Justice: Phantoms episodes stronger.

EPISODE RATING: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10

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