Beast Boy is in danger. He hasn’t been captured by a super-villain, but he’s been held captive by something far deadlier—his own depression. Young Justice: Phantoms is back with a new batch of episodes dropping today on HBO Max, and if you’ve been keeping up, then you know that things haven’t been going so well for Garfield Logan. Everything comes to a head in the episode “Emergency Dive” as Gar’s closest friends try to stage an intervention.
Let’s go over how we got to this point. At first glance, it might seem like Garfield Logan is living the life millions of people dream of. He’s a superhero with the power to change into animals, he’s leading a team known as the Outsiders, he’s the star of his own science fiction show, and he’s dating a princess. Of course, all these things have come with a price. Gar has experienced more loss in a few years than most people face in a lifetime.
His mother was murdered, then his adopted mother was killed along with his new surrogate family. People like Steve Dayton and Gretchen Goode took advantage of Gar and manipulated him for their own ends. Beast Boy thought he found a new beginning when he formed the Outsiders, but Brion’s turn to darkness was a moral defeat. When you follow this with the death of Superboy, it’s no surprise that Garfield is having a hard time. It’s easy to forget that he’s only a teenager.
This hasn’t come out of nowhere. Last season there was an episode called “Nightmare Monkeys” which took us deep into Garfield’s subconscious. The sequence was a fun tribute to Teen Titans Go!, but it also revealed that all the death Gar’s experienced has never been far from his mind. Imagine what it would feel like if you’ve had two mothers die within a few years. Plus, consider the survivor’s guilt Garfield must have felt after the Doom Patrol were killed.
I hadn’t thought about this before, but the death of the Doom Patrol was probably on Gar’s mind every time he took the Outsiders into battle. It must affect how he runs the team. Is it any wonder he took Brion’s dark turn so personally? He’s not only seeing his team fall apart, but he’s reliving one of the deepest traumas of his life. After seeing Conner die, the pain became that much worse and Gar checked out.
I love that Young Justice has explored Gar’s reaction to the Doom Patrol’s destruction. In the comics, it was ignored for years. When the team is killed in 1968’s Doom Patrol #121, Gar’s reaction isn’t shown. When it was revealed that Robotman had survived the explosion and he joins up with a new version of the team, Garfield is never mentioned. Readers didn’t catch up to Gar until 1977’s Teen Titans #50, nine years after his previous appearance.
Even then, Beast Boy doesn’t mention his deceased teammates, which is just wild. It wasn’t until the Wolfman/Perez’s New Teen Titans run that Gar’s feelings on the death of the Doom Patrol were explored and he was given an extended arc where he confronted their killers. But this is one of the reasons I love Young Justice. Their format allows them to do a nuanced character arc on a story point that was overlooked decades earlier.
Throughout this season, we’ve seen Gar become dependent on pills and push his loved ones away, leading to the intervention we saw in this week’s episode. If this were a more typical show, the intervention would have been the wakeup call Gar needed, but Young Justice has always been a different type of superhero series. A scene like this would have been unheard of during the Golden Age of comics, or on an early season of Super Friends. Its inclusion here is a testament to how far the superhero medium has come.
To be clear, the scene wasn’t an easy one to watch. We all love Gar Logan, so we’re empathetic to his friends and the pain they feel watching him destroy himself. When Cassandra Sandsmark gave a desperate plea for Gar to get help, we felt her desperation. Robotman (who we learn survived the explosion much like his comic counterpart) is also there and shares a story about how Gar helped him get back on his feet after the death of their teammates. Cliff Steele has been through the same thing, and it was Gar who helped pull him out.
Why didn’t any of this register for Gar? Where did it go wrong, and where does he go from here? There are no easy answers when it comes to fighting depression. Maybe Beast Boy needs to hit rock bottom, but I hope it doesn’t come to that. By the way, let’s all take a moment to recognize how voice actor Greg Cipes is knocking this out of the park. If he wasn’t giving such an emotional performance, this wouldn’t be hitting us as hard. Who would’ve thought that the same actor who plays the goofball Beast Boy on Teen Titans! Go would also be so capable of playing the same character heartbreakingly straight.
When I look at the heroes participating in Beast Boy’s intervention, I see a room full of people who save lives on a daily basis. Yet they are powerless to save their friend as he destroys himself before their eyes. Who saves the heroes when they’re in trouble? On a show like Young Justice, nothing is guaranteed, but I hope Garfield makes it through the season in one piece.
Look for new episodes of Young Justice: Phantoms every Thursday 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.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Joshua Lapin-Bertone and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.