Oh, Valerie, where have you been all season?! Before the series' Grand Finale movie, the (unpopular) third season of Danny Phantom comes to a close with an uncharacteristically good episode. It starts with our old friend Dani — last seen departing for parts unknown at the end of Season 2 — arriving in nearby Elmerton. She's relieved to be back and starts flying but gets tired quickly and has to stop. As soon as she lands, her feet start melting into a puddle of ectoplasm; she panics, at first, but manages to pull herself together. Evidently, conserving her energy and using her powers sparingly hasn't been enough to keep her out of danger, as she seems well on her way to meeting the same end as all the other clones. She hopes she can find Danny and get some help before she completely dissolves... and before Vlad finds her. But, of course, he lives all the way out in Colorado and has no way of knowing she's in Amity Park...
The weak ghost girl flies off, more slowly this time, unaware of the changes that have taken place over the past season. Through one of his trademark spy cams, the new mayor of Amity Park watches her from his mansion, intrigued that she's survived for so long. He'd like to examine this interesting new development more closely, but his "daughter" is clearly not in the mood for a family reunion. He needs some help, and who ya' gonna call when you need help hunting ghosts in Amity Park? His own young apprentice Valerie Gray.
Valerie instantly responds to his summons and is all the more eager to take the job when he promises her that success means she'll be able to move out of her rundown apartment. He tells her he needs her to capture "an incredibly evil, dangerous ghost" named Dani Phantom who has a grudge against him for his recent crackdown on ghosts and is coming after him. Valerie scoffs at her unoriginal name but doesn't question his claim about what a dangerous threat the girl in the video is and takes off to get her target, leaving Vlad to anticipate the return of his little girl with an Evil Laugh.
Valerie's flight through Elmerton takes her past her apartment, where she sees her exhausted father asleep in a chair. She promises him she'll be moving them out of this place soon. She's flying over a fruit stand when a monitor on her wrist alerts her that there's a ghost nearby, but since Dani's in her human form at the moment, she can't see what's setting it off. The starving girl walks away from the stand with two apples, and Valerie watches her with admiration that she didn't even see how she swiped them and sympathy for her plight. When even more of her equipment goes off, she flies down to protect the girl from the ghost.
Dani freaks out at the sight of the armor-clad figure and runs into a nearby abandoned building to hide. Valerie follows her, telling her not to be afraid, that she'll protect her, and begins searching the place with a beam in her helmet. Unfortunately, she chooses the wrong loose floorboard to step on, as it knocks a support beam down and triggers a chain reaction that's about to bring the ceiling crashing down right on top of her. Dani immediately goes ghost and comes out of hiding. She throws her arms around Valerie and turns them both intangible right before the roof gives way, then phases them outside to safety. Valerie's shocked to find that a human girl is not only also a ghost but the very ghost she's been hunting. Despite the fact that said ghost girl just saved her life, she doesn't hesitate for a second to break out her weapon and bind her hands in a force field.
And what has the original Danny been up to all this time? Trying to get away from his parents to join Sam and Tucker for their nightly patrol. Too bad his dad just can't stop blathering on about his latest invention: Ecto-Dejecto, a syringe full of a green serum that makes ghosts "shrivel up like a raisin in the sun"... theoretically, that is, but some calculations obviously weren't right again, as, so far, all the ghosts he's tried it on have only grown, not shrunk. At least the results of the latest test cause Maddie to agree that it's best if Danny leaves.
On the other side of town, Dani's having much worse luck getting away. Valerie takes her to some wet, underground area surrounded by pipes under her apartment building, either a basement or a sewer, her hands and feet trapped in some force field that she can't get out of, especially since any effort only causes her to start melting again. She asks Valerie what she wants with her and finds out she's planning to hand her over to Vlad, who told her all about how she's after him. Dani tries to tell Valerie he's lying, that he's the evil one, but, of course, Valerie doesn't believe that any more than Dani did when Danny told her the same thing. Valerie prepares to call her mentor and turns her back on the ghost, ignoring her as she desperately tries to make her see that she's in no condition to hurt anyone, that she's slowly dissolving away and only came here to get Danny Phantom to help her. Valerie instantly hangs up her phone and grins at the mention of her enemy's name. She's thrilled to find out Dani knows the Ghost Boy, the amazing hero she's always wanted to meet! Her act works perfectly, and Dani eagerly promises to take her to see him if she sets her free.
Dani finds her cousin while he's flying through town on patrol, with Tucker and Sam riding below on their scooters. The two sidekicks see her arrive, but Danny tells them he'll handle this plot on his own, and they obediently check out for the rest of the episode. While they head to Nasty Burger, Dani explains how weak she's been getting no matter much she tries to save her strength and that Vlad's after her again. Danny firmly assures her that he won't let Vlad touch her, but as soon as they start to fly away, he finds his ankle snared by a cable, shot by a very satisfied Valerie.
Danny at first thinks Dani led him into a trap. To Valerie's credit, she immediately sets him straight and takes full credit for the ruse — Dani had no idea she was being duped! Dani's furious when she finds out Valerie lied to her, but there's not much either of the ghosts can do about that now. The ghost hunter shocks Danny into unconsciousness before turning the weapon on his cousin and indulging in some evil laughter of her own. "Now that's two Danny Phantoms for the price of one!"
Danny wakes up in Valerie's underground lair, each of his hands and feet bound in an identical device at the end of a cable that hold him upright in the x-shaped variation of the Crucified Hero Shot. He struggles against his evidently ghost-proof bonds for a few seconds before sighing in defeat. That's when Valerie steps out of the shadows. Danny demands to know what she did with Danielle, only to have his worst fears that she handed her over to Vlad confirmed. He tries to tell Valerie not to take her grudge against him out on Dani, only for Valerie to tell him that she doesn't hate him anymore — after all, he's made her the most powerful ghost hunter in Amity Park. And now he's going to make her even more powerful by telling her everything he knows about the Ghost Zone and the portals that lead to Earth — everything she needs to know to rid her hometown of the constant threat of ghost attacks once and for all. Danny informs her he's not in a talking mood, but the hunter has some new toys she thinks will change his mind...
Meanwhile, Plasmius has Dani Strapped to an Operating Table in his lab. The girl struggles until she starts dissolving so much that she's forced to lie still. Vlad's scans reveal that she's "only mildly more sound than the other clones" and provide no clue as to why she's survived so much longer. He has absolutely no idea how to stabilize her... nor any interest in doing so. He gleefully decides his best chance of learning anything new is to melt her down and study the remains.
While the Mad Scientist prepares for that procedure, Valerie tortures Danny with a few agonizing electric shocks to the chest. He screams for her to stop and promises to tell her everything she wants to know about the portals and give her a map that will let her be "the hero ghost hunter of Amity Park"... if she'll just let him go so he can save Dani first! Valerie has no intention of helping him save another ghost, and Danny tries to make her see that Dani is not only a ghost but a human, one who's no threat to anyone in her current state, and if Valerie's really a hero, she can't, in good conscience, hurt her. Valerie at first refuses to let any of that bother her, and they get into an argument about What Measure Is a Non-Human?:
The anti-heroine can only stare blankly at him in response to that, but her answer becomes clear when Danny's next seen arriving — intangible — at Fenton Works, Valerie by his side. He phases them both down to the lab, where he maintains his grip on her wrist a few seconds longer than necessary. Valerie jerks her arm out of his hand and asks what they're doing looking for something to help a ghost in the workshop of ghost hunters. Danny explains that these particular ghost hunters tend to produce things that can be surprisingly useful to ghosts, which is why he keeps an eye on them to see what they're up to. He grabs the syringe of Ecto-Dejecto he needs and phases himself and Valerie back out through the ceiling. The two teens then fly to Vlad's mansion together.
Down in his lab, Plasmius has Dani strapped into place for the procedure when his security system detects an intruder. Both he and Danielle know it's Danny coming to save her. "What a nuisance." And he's brought Valerie with him. "Well, this is inconvenient at best." Thinking quickly, he splits in two. One of them powers down to human form and locks himself in a closet while the other flies upstairs to welcome his guests.
Danny and Valerie phase inside and land in the entrance hall. They hear Dani calling for help right before Plasmius shows up and blasts Danny across the room. He hits a book case that crashes down on him and pins him to the floor, where he reverts back to human form. Fortunately, Valerie's too busy fighting Plasmius to notice, eventually pinning him to the wall in a Knife Outline. When he effortlessly phases through the wall, Valerie reminds us we're in Season 3 by gasping "What the...?!" as if she's never seen a ghost do that before.
Plasmius returns to the lab and throws a switch that starts shooting Dani full of electricity, causing her to dissolve. Valerie crashes through the ceiling and stares in horror as the girl screams in pain. The sound brings the stunned Danny back to his senses several floors above. He goes ghost again and phases down through the floor. When he reaches the lab, he finds Valerie still floating on her board, unable to decide what to do or who to help. She doesn't make a move until they hear banging from inside a closet and Vlad desperately calling for help, saying the ghost who trapped him is trying to destroy the girl. Valerie flies down and lets him out. He collapses in her arms, begging her to stop him, but Danny doesn't have time to disillusion her.
At least the performance snaps Valerie out of her daze, as she aims her wrist blaster angrily at Plasmius. What he's doing to Dani is too cruel even for her: "What are you doing to her?! Stop it, now!" She shoots him away from the machine while Danny tries to free Danielle from her restraints, but they shock him when he grabs them, and his energy blasts can't break them, either. Plasmius mocks his attempts until a much bigger blast from Valerie silences him.
Almost all of Dani's legs have melted into a basin slowly filling with ectoplasmic goo. Out of options, Danny pulls out the syringe and injects his dad's serum into her arm. At first, they both think it's failed, and Dani says good-bye as she completely disintegrates until there's nothing left but green goo. Danny's given six seconds to grieve for her before she reforms and rises into the air, completely cured and overjoyed to be not only alive but whole and stable at last: "I'm me again!" She gives her cousin a grateful hug while, behind them, Valerie continues to deal with Plasmius.
Dani eagerly joins the fight, punching Vlad into the ceiling, tossing him through several pillars, and firing a barrage of energy blasts at him. He successfully dodges them all, until she darts forward and sends him flying with one final punch so strong that when he hits the ground this time, he remains where he falls. She's back, all right!
Danny tells Valerie to get Danielle out of there. He remains to have a few last words with his Arch-Enemy, now that the latter no longer needs to worry about putting on a show for Valerie. Danny's not the least bit surprised that Vlad was able to convince her he's a good guy and blame everything on Plasmius — they both know it's what he does best. The human Vlad absorbs the ghost duplicate and reminds Danny that, if he wants Valerie to know the truth, he could go ahead and tell her... if he doesn't mind Vlad telling her about his Secret Identity, as well. That's not high on Danny's list of priorities at the moment, however. He warns Vlad one more time to stay away from Dani before flying away.
Danny leaves his frustration behind when he joins the girls outside, thrilled that Dani's okay now and awestruck by her display back there. Dani thanks her two rescuers one more time for saving her before deciding it's time for her to go. Danny warns her to be safe, and she assures him that nothing can hurt her now. She gives him a kiss good-bye on the cheek and flies off into the night sky, free to have her own adventures again and ready to face whatever they may be, leaving Danny alone with his rival.
Valerie's confused when Danny hands out his wrists in surrender, ready to be her prisoner again, as they agreed. Danny's even more confused, though, when she tells him to forget about it. Scowling and looking away from him, she tells him, "Fly away, ghost boy... before I change my mind." Her thirst for revenge, her obsession with capturing a ghost she used to be sure was evil and had to be stopped, has apparently evolved to the next phase: enjoying the challenge of chasing him. Surprised but pleased, Danny begins to drift away; Valerie can't let him get away, however, without taking one last shot.
On that note, the two Worthy Opponents part until the next time their game of cat-and-mouse resumes. By all appearances satisfied with the night's conclusion, Valerie returns to the mansion to make sure Mr. Masters is all right. She lands in the lab and walks through the rubble, looking for him. She finds him talking to himself about how he was so close to melting "that little brat down" and gloating about how easy it was to fool Valerie. "For a smart girl, she's very easily led," he laughs as he goes ghost... unaware that Valerie was watching the entire time.
Shocked by what she just saw, Valerie flies away as fast as she can. All the implications quickly sink in, making her next course of action all too clear:
This episode provides examples of:
- Aborted Arc/They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Poor Valerie never gets to see her Story Arc resolve. Danielle's subplot is resolved extremely quickly and she's left Walking the Earth again.
- Agony Beam/Electric Torture: Valerie and Plasmius subject both Danny and Danielle to this.
- Armor-Piercing Question: "Can you really take part in destroying a human?"
- Badass Adorable: Dani in the final battle with Plasmius.
- Big Brother Instinct: In "Kindred Spirits", Danny only started developing this towards Danielle. Here, he goes full "big brother mode" and doesn't hesitate to help her, even to the point where he ignored the possibility Valerie saw him go ghost when he heard Danielle screaming for help.
- Break the Cutie: Poor Dani.
- Broken Pedestal: The pedestal Valerie's put Vlad on breaks hard in this episode.
- Cape Snag: At one point during their final battle, Dani grabs Vlad's cape and swings him around by it before tossing him into a row of pillars.
- Cassandra Truth: Valerie refuses to believe either Danielle's or Danny's claims that Vlad Masters is evil.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Vlad jokes about how "Breaking up is hard to do unless you have a button that does this!" as he starts torturing Dani to death.
- Disney Death
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: "I finally got you where I want you." Tied up in your basement...? The scenes between Valerie and the captive Danny are more than Head-Tiltingly Kinky enough to raise an eyebrow or two.
- Enemy Mine
- Evil Gloating: Nice job gloating out loud about how you fooled Valerie, Vlad! And transforming a minute after she left!
- Exact Eavesdropping: Valerie's eavesdropping could not have been more perfectly timed.
- Extremely Short Time Span: Takes place over one evening.
- The Farmer and the Viper: Valerie captures the ghost girl who just saved her life.
- Find the Cure!
- First-Name Basis: Interestingly, although Valerie still addresses Danny Phantom as "ghost boy," she also calls him "Danny" and (like her alternate future self) "Phantom."
- Foreshadowing: Danny wonders how Valerie would react if she knew Vlad was Plasmius; Vlad counters by warning him he can't tell her, or Vlad will tell her Danny's Secret Identity as well. Valerie learns Vlad's secret at the end of the episode and Danny's at the end of the series.
- Heel Realization: Valerie realizes she's been working for the villain all along.
- Heroic Wannabe: Valerie thinks Danny Phantom can give her the information she needs to be a truly great hero who can save Amity Park from the ghost invasions. She eventually learns she's been going about it the wrong way.
- I Gave My Word:Danny: Deal's a deal. You helped me save Dani — you can now have me back as your captive.
- I Lied: And Valerie couldn't be more proud of how well it worked!
- Ill Girl: Dani for this episode.
- Lack of Empathy: Vlad takes this to a whole new level with how callously he's able to torture a defenseless little girl who once saw him as her father.
- Manipulative Bastard: Valerie's developing hints of this in the way she tricks Dani; her mentor has definitely been rubbing off on her.
- Master of Illusion: Plasmius successfully uses his duplication ability to prevent Valerie from suspecting his true identity. (Too bad he picks up the Villain Ball in the aftermath...)
- Meaningful Echo: "Look at me — do I look like I could destroy anything?" Valerie doesn't take the time to consider Dani's question until later when Danny Phantom asks her, "Valerie, you saw her — did Dani really look like she could destroy anything?"Valerie: Funny... she asked the same thing...
- Never Say "Die": "Destroy" is the go-to verb of this episode. Justified, as it wouldn't make any sense if characters talked about "killing" ghosts.
- Not So Different: Valerie and Dani have both made the mistake of trusting Vlad, only to be crushed when they realized how he lied to and used them.
- Out of Focus:
- Danny doesn't even fight anyone this episode.
- Sam is not relevant at all in this episode, she and Tucker decide to pig out at Nasty Burger and put it on Danny's tab when he chooses to spend the night with Danielle.
- Please, I Will Do Anything!: Danny promises to tell and give Valerie anything she wants if she lets him save Danielle.
- Protectorate: Danielle for Danny.Danny: (to Vlad) Don't come near her again!
- Sequel Hook: That, tragically, never came to be.
- Terms of Endangerment: Plasmius continues to address the girl he's planning on killing as "my dear" and "my child."
- This Is Gonna Suck:Danny: Valerie... you don't want to do this!Valerie: No — you don't want me to do this!Danny: Well, yeah... zap
- Unwitting Pawn: Valerie learns this is what she's been ever since she started working with Vlad... and vows it ends now.
- Walking the Earth: Dani seems to prefer this lifestyle.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Valerie now learns how her zeal to destroy all ghosts blinded her to the truth about who set her down that path.
- Wham Episode: Valerie knows Vlad's secret, she knows he's a ghost! Although it's relatively too little too late (given it's the second to last episode of the series), what counts is that Vlad has one less ally in his pocket.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Discussed by Valerie and Danny.
- Where Does She Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Whether Valerie got her torture devices and tailor-made ghost restraints from Vlad, Technus, or somewhere else is never explained.
- Worthy Opponent: Judging by their last scene, Danny and Valerie have come to see each other this way.
- Would Hit a Girl/Would Hurt a Child: Vlad certainly has no problem with doing this.