Vlad Masters: I sent those ghosts and others to test your father’s skills. Imagine my surprise when I find you, the second ghost hybrid his foolishness created.
Beware: Spoilers may follow.
Danny Phantom’s 7th episode introduced the titular hero’s greatest archrival. And it established his character in a great way setting the precedent for him in all of his future appearances throughout the series.
The story is that Danny’s parents take him and his sister Jazz to their college reunion being hosted by their longtime friend now famous billionare Vlad Masters. Years ago the three were trying to launch a portal to the ghost zone and it went horribly wrong. The energy from the portal hit Vlad in the face giving him a horrible case of ecto-acne and ruined his social life. Vlad has seemingly invited them to make amends but of course is secretly looking for revenge.
The episode does not offer much in the way of twists or turns. From Vlad’s accident to his demeanor anyone can easily tell he is the villain and became a ghost hybrid himself. Vlad’s ghost form however has an amazing vampire-like design. Martin Mull’s voice acting also gives the character a sense of sophisticated evil. And the show in a very detailed manner showcases how he is in many ways opposite from Danny: From their hair color in their respective forms, their clothes, their social status (Danny having his friends and family and Vlad only having his wealth), their ghost rays, and in later episodes the way the two grew in power. Whereas Vlad had his powers for 20 years he obtains no new powers throughout the series but has refined the ones he has to the peak. Danny on the other hand, while he grows in strength as the series goes on, never fully reached the peak with his powers but obtained new ones that even Vlad himself did not have.
Another strong point of the episode is that the episode makes it clear that Danny cannot defeat Vlad by himself. When the two meet for the first time in this episode in a surprising turn of events Danny suffers one heck of a beat down at Vlad’s hands as Vlad showcases powers that even Danny cannot pull off. In this episode and others he always has some handicap in fighting his foe. With that said even though Danny’s is not powerful enough to defeat Vlad yet he brilliantly blackmails him into calling a truce. This is something that even takes aback and impresses Vlad.
The way Danny puts two and two together upon finding Vlad’s old college photo of him and his parents is very clever and it’s capped off with a nice call-back of seeing a fair few of the ghosts Danny has already fought thus giving the show its first real sense of continuity (capped off with Skulker’s suit still being synced up with Tucker’s PDA from his last appearance).
Danny also finds out that there are good ghosts other than him as seen when the Dairy King who haunts Vlad’s mansion saves him from Vlad’s spectral energy neutralizer. However given his rather small role in this episode it’s something that falls flat but one that was done entirely better in future episodes.
Bitter Reunions gave a great introduction to a great new enemy. And while the episode (and by further extension the show) didn’t give any twists or turns that one cannot see coming from a mile away it did define the villain and show just how much of a measure he is to our hero.