Read our review of Titans Episode One!
Sigh… I am still trying to hold on to hope. This review is going to discuss some events, especially in the final moments of the episode, which are very spoilerific. There will be an indicator where that starts.
Episode two of Titans, Hawk and Dove spend time bringing the feathered few to the flesh, devoting the first ten minutes to their life and relationship. Alan Ritchson brings us a nuanced Hank Hall, quick to anger, quick to quip, interacting with the world with his heart on his sleeve, and raises the rating of the show by his words alone. Minka Kelly remains undisturbed and reserved as Dawn Granger, practically flying as she moves. Their skills as superheroes are decent as they plan the superhero version of the last big score, dreaming of leaving the caped life behind them for Wisconsin. They don’t have a perfect relationship, and superheroing has taken a toll, but there’s still plenty of love between them and they’re still doing good.
Enter Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites) trying to find a place to put Rachel Roth (Teagan Croft). Despite making a promise to Rachel to stay with her, Dick hopes that Hank and Dawn can take her in. It’s a big ask, especially as it’s revealed that Dick and Dawn had a relationship before she and Hank got together. Details aren’t given, but Dick hurt Dawn in the past, and Hank is protective and mistrusting of Dick.
Dick Grayson is constantly on trial during this episode, serving as his own prosecutor. Dawn tries to offer him advice and sees him taking on Rachel as an echo of Bruce; an orphan caring for another orphan. The reason for the split between Batman and the Boy Wonder is illustrated when Robin tails Hawk and Dove on their mission. Dick fears what the Dark Knight has become, what lengths Bruce will go to protect his city, and how ruthless Robin became. You can see it in his fighting, as Robin takes down six bad guys, Arkham Asylum style, in thirty seconds. In how he interacts with Dawn and how he interacts with Rachel, Dick Grayson shows that he believes himself to be damaged goods.
Not to ignore the overarching plot, in a house in St. Louis, Missouri, straight out of the 50’s, a mysterious man (Reed Birney) hands the Nuclear Dad (Jeff Clark) a photo of Rachel, activating the Nuclear Family, Dad, Mom (Melody Johnson), Biff (Logan Thompson), and Sis (Jeni Ross). They quickly move from playing Monopoly to planning mayhem.
After the conclusion of the episode, they’re still not the Titans still, and while there’s clearly machinations going on, we’re going to have to wait to see if it actually pays off or ties together. Hawk and Dove were part of the Teen Titans in comics and their introduction works to address Dick’s hesitation on what to do with Rachel… but Starfire and Beast Boy aren’t present at all, despite being introduced in the pilot.
The show clearly has a just-turned-eighteen edgy adult tone which works when it’s being driven by characters, such as Hanks’ frequent F-bombs, but at times it comes across as juvenile, like with the pair of shears. Hopefully, these are just growing pains as the show finds its voice.
SPOILER WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!
|Hi! I’m the Evil Plot!|
Assuming you’ve seen the episode, you might have noticed I did not mention Dick’s new partner on the Detroit PD, Amy Rohrbach (Lindsey Gort). In her first scene, she is completely upstaged by Charlie the Coroner (Farid Yazdani), as they examine what happened to the Acolyte Rachel killed. Charlie shows character, emotion and life, but her purpose in the scene is to have Charlie illustrate to the audience how scary Rachel’s abilities are. Contrasted with her scene in the pilot where she finally breaks through to Dick, the scene stuck out as half-developed. There’s no reason she shouldn’t have been swapping banter with Charlie.
In her other scene, she comes home to find the Nuclear family waiting, demanding to know where Dick Grayson is. The Nuclear siblings stab and beat her; her fate is uncertain. The injuries dealt looked severe, if not potentially fatal.
Then there’s the final fight of the episode when the Nuclear Family shows up. Nuclear Dad throws Dawn off a building, she falls several floors down, and by the time Dick, who conveniently grabbed the ledge when he was thrown off the building, reaches her, she’s dying.
Look, this may be resolved next episode. We might find out that Dawn is fine, just has severe injuries, but hey, not dead. Maybe the Nuclear Family is in the habit of taking prisoners and treating their wounds.
Or maybe ending your second episode with a cliffhanger and two supporting female characters having been majorly injured, potentially dead, seems like a cheap trick for drama, rather than part of an organic story. Especially in a genre that has come under fire repeatedly for killing off its supporting female characters for plot motivation, it undermines the serious, realistic adult storytelling that Titans wants to have. Instead, we give people another reason to write off superhero stories as childish fantasies.
Titans has the ingredients. There’s still the chance it could evolve into something worth your time. However, two episodes in, I’m not sure people will give it the chance to get there. Hopefully, the next episode will start that process.