In life, we must move on or destroy ourselves. It seems harsh, but it’s an important lesson that we saw play out all throughout Young Justice: Phantoms. HBO Max’s critically acclaimed animated series just wrapped its fourth phenomenal season, and there is so much to unpack. “Death and Rebirth” was an intense season finale, and if you haven’t watched it yet, be warned, because this article will be discussing spoilers.
The funny thing about crying is that it’s not exclusive to any single feeling on the emotional spectrum. We cry from laughter, happiness, grief and frustration. I’m not ashamed to say this, but “Death and Rebirth” made me cry more than once. I was emotionally overwhelmed when Conner and Megan finally reunited. I cried when Lois and Clark told their son Jon that his Uncle Conner was still alive. I cried for Gar Logan when Perdita told him that their romance was over. And I cried heavy tears of joy when Conner and Megan got married. There were so many emotions running through my head during the ceremony, seeing all these characters together happily celebrating the love between two of their friends.
I was happy for Conner and Megan, but there was a part of me that still felt heartbreak for Gar Logan and Perdita. I couldn’t shake that sadness. It stayed with me as I sat down to write this article, and it helped me realize what one of the themes for the season was: moving on.
When I write about comics, movies or TV shows, I like to find different themes and parallels to explore. I knew I wanted to say something about the finale to Young Justice: Phantoms, but initially I hadn’t been sure where to start. There is so much to discuss, especially with the cliffhangers. But what was the theme? As I thought about Beast Boy and Perdita, I realized it had been in front of me the whole time.
throughout Young Justice: Phantoms, we are shown the importance of moving on and the dangers of letting the past consume you. This is evident from the start of the season when the heroes visit Mars. Old rivalries and unresolved grudges fill every corner of the planet, making the entire trip rife with conflict. M’gann’s relationships with her siblings can serve as a cautionary tale. She’s able to talk through her conflict with Em’ree and they’re both able to leave the past behind them. As a result, their relationship is now better than ever before. In contrast, M’gann’s brother M’comm is unwilling to repair the damaged relationship with his sister. This accelerates his path to evil, which doesn’t end well for him.
General Zod is another great example. Things would’ve gone differently for him if he had been able to drop his plans for domination and let go of his irrational hatred for the House of El. His sentence in the Phantom Zone had passed, and the heroes of Earth would have been willing to let him and his army go free. He could have lived a great life of freedom, enjoying the powers given to him by the Earth’s yellow sun. Instead, he chose violence and chaos, all because he couldn’t move on.
This was also a key part of Halo’s story. When the season began, Violet Harper was glued to their phone, watching for any news about their ex-boyfriend Brion. When Violet learned about Harper Row’s feelings for them, they realized they needed a closure so they could move on. Violet visited Brion, hoping he would resolve their relationship once and for all. The encounter didn’t go the way Violet wanted, but it allowed them to put their failed love affair behind them and finally move on.
This was one of the most emotional parts of the season for me. When Brion and Violet reunited, I could feel the pain in their hearts. If it wasn’t for Zviad Baazovi things would’ve gone differently. It was frustrating, because they came so close, and things were going so well, but Zviad had to show up and ruin it all. Still, things turned out alright for Halo. They were able to move on, allowing themselves to pursue a relationship with Harper Row. Halo and Harper were seen sitting together at Conner and Megan’s wedding, and they looked happy. I know Halo is a fictional character, but seeing that smile on their face made me feel happy for them. This never would’ve happened if they hadn’t been able to move on.
Of course, moving on isn’t as easy as it sounds. In fact, moving on after a traumatic event can be one of the hardest things you’ll ever face. We saw Gar Logan struggle with that throughout the season and it was brutal. Unable to cope with all the death and loss he’s experienced, Beast Boy turned to substance abuse and shut his friends out. His relationship with Perdita was shattered as a result.
Thankfully, we saw Gar come to terms with his grief and begin the process of healing. He still has a long way to go, but he’s working on himself and making amends. Unfortunately, as the wedding scene demonstrated, it’s too late for him and Perdita. She told him that she’s happy for his recovery, but she’s moved on. This is where I start to tear up again. It’s not easy to know that you’ve broken something that can’t be repaired.
The question is, when should we move on and when should we hold on? I’ll be honest, there is no easy way to tell. If the Team had given up on Conner, he would still be a prisoner of General Zod. Heck, Young Justice itself can be considered an example of the power never giving up. The series was canceled after season two, but fans mobilized and as a result, their voices were heard. Young Justice: Outsiders and Young Justice: Phantoms would not exist if fans hadn’t held on.
I can’t give you mental health advice, I’m not a therapist (but my mother is!). If you’re not sure if it’s time to hold on or move on, then I suggest seeking help from a mental health professional. That’s one of the things that helped Gar. Young Justice has always had important conversations about mental health, and this season ended with Black Canary suggesting that the League open a Sanctuary to help the heroes process their complex emotions. This seems to be based on a concept seen in Tom King’s Heroes in Crisis limited series. (Let’s just hope it doesn’t end the same way.)
It’s been an incredible season for Young Justice. We journeyed to Mars, New Genesis, Atlantis, the Phantom Zone and more. We saw old friends depart, and new friends arrive. There were heartbreaking conversations about addiction, grief and forgiveness. And it all culminated with a wedding we’ve been waiting for since season one. Young Justice: Phantoms teaches us the importance of moving on, but this is a season I will always hold onto.
Young Justice: Phantoms can now be streamed in full on HBO Max. Want all the latest news, videos and features from Earth-16? Check out our official Young Justice series page!
Joshua Lapin-Bertone writes about TV, movies and comics for DCComics.com and writes our monthly Batman column, “Gotham Gazette.” Follow him on Twitter at @TBUJosh.