Recap of the Titans S2 Ep 11

Titans Season 2, Episode 11 “E.L._.O.”

I really didn’t like the last episode, Fallen, but this one wastes less time and appears to maybe have the show back on track. Or maybe I am an optimistic fool and the show is just preparing to disappoint me again.

Splitting the team up would have worked better if the show had done anything with those characters before splitting them up. This season had done little with any characters outside of Dick and Jason before the last couple of episodes. Those gave us some stuff for Gar and more fully brought Conner into the show. Then the show had Dick’s complete misfire of a trip to prison. Here, the show starts to pull everyone back, hopefully setting up a satisfying conclusion to the season.

Rachel is again having prophetic dreams, dreams about Dick being killed by Deathstroke. So she tries to follow those dreams to find help. Those dreams lead her to Elko, Nevada. Donna goes looking for help to find Rachel, and finds the mess CADMUS left in the tower. She apparently gets a call from Rachel that draws her to Elko. Kory, fully stranded on Earth and mourning the loss of her parents and friend, goes on a bender. Only to hear adds that draw her to Elko. Finally, Dawn, now separated from Hank, heads back to San Francisco, only for engine trouble to have her pull over in . . . Elko. With them drawn together, there is an airing of grievances and the team decides to be a team again. Donna and Dawn go to try to save Gar, leaving Rachel and Kory to try to save Dick.

Dick is being held in solitary, having a pity party and an argument with the imaginary Bruce Wayne in his head. He finally comes to some revelations, including the biggest one of the episode: Jericho is alive and his spirit is inside of Slade. Dick appears to be nearing the end of his journey.

The last, other than some interludes where Gar is being brainwashed by CADMUS, and best, storyline of the episode is Jason and Rose. They ran away to Gotham, and Rose is still working him. She is kind of transparent, even before the reveal that she has been working with Slade the whole time. I do wonder if she is actually Slade’s daughter; I still find it highly suspicious that she was completely absent in all the Jericho flashbacks. But she and Jason appear to forge a genuine connection. He is truly open and vulnerable with her, and they seem to bond. Jason remains one of the best characters on the show, and Rose is a great foil for him. He tries to be abrasive, mostly to be sure that he is not forgotten. He is still kind of a punk, but his actions are clearly defense mechanisms. He pushes people away as preemptive response to his assumed rejection. Rose acts similarly, but she is abrasive to keep anyone from getting close enough to learn her secret that she is working with Slade. The question is where her loyalties will lie when it all blows up. Did she really connect with Jason, or is she still playing him?

Stuff like the Jason and Rose stuff, as well as Kory stuff, is real good. It is why I keep watching the show. It isn’t anything revolutionary; it is just good superhero melodrama. The show spends a lot of time on characters and plotlines that don’t work as well, but the stuff that does work works so well. Hopefully this is the start of a much needed course correction and not a short lived quality bounce for the show.

Recap of the Titans S2 Ep8

Titans Season 2 Episode 8: “Jericho”

Jericho is an excellently executed episode that is unfortunately largely free of anything surprising or revelatory. That would not be a big deal, but the show has held back telling this portion of the story all season, alluding to the tragedy that happened with the Titans last tangled with Deathstroke, only to reveal to be exactly what one would expect.

Jericho takes place a few years in the past. After Deathstroke killed Aqualad, Dick forged a friendship with Deathstroke’s son, Jericho, to find him. The episode mostly focuses on its namesake, showing how is yearning for friendship brings him to the Titans. He tells his version of the story of who Deathstroke is while bonding with the team. Jericho has been through some stuff, including having his throat slit and being rendered mute. The Titans are uncomfortable using Jericho and are going to cut him loose. Then Dick learns of Jericho’s power. By making eye contact, he can possess another person, gaining complete physical control of them. This leads Dick to come clean with Jericho and invite him to join the Titans. At the same time, Deathstroke learns how the Titans are getting info on him and arranges to meet with his son to make peace. The other big revelation is who Deathstroke’s target was. It wasn’t Aqualad or Donna, but Donna’s Themyscrian protector. It all comes to a head in a rather predictable way that leaves the team completely shattered.

This is an episode where the characters’ motivations are as clear as they have been in some time. All of them want revenge for Aqualad, but their discomfort with deceiving Jericho is clear. As is Jericho’s devastation after learning that he has been lied to, both by the team and about his father.

For once, even Dove makes sense. Dove really has turned into the worst written character on this show. Most of the others have a clearly understandable position and arc. Hank/Hawk is a junkie, and his drug is being a superhero. He wants to do it so bad, but he knows keeping it up will kill him. His struggle is not jumping back into action as he so clearly desires to. Dick wants to save people, but he doesn’t want to be manipulative like Batman. However, acting like Batman is all he knows and he consistently falls short of his own standards. Dawn/Dove, though, is all over the map. Is she a junkie like Hank? Does she want to be a hero or leave that life behind? Who knows; it seems to change every episode. In the last flashback she told Dick to be Batman; in this one she says not to. Dick calls her out on this, but neither the character nor the show has a satisfying explanation. Dove, as originally conceived, was a superhero representing peace. Her arguing caution and peaceful solutions works. Her goading others into action or sneaking out to get some violence in does not. The character is just kind of a mess.

One odd touch is that Rose is not mentioned at all. She has made it clear that she knew her brother, but in none of the scenes featuring the Wilson family is she seen or even mentioned. It was only five years ago; she would have been ten years old. There are several possible explanations for this, from the pathetic, like is the show just decided not to show young Rose as a cost cutting measure because it would have required another actress, to the clever, like a reveal that Rose is not actually Rose Wilson, Deathstroke’s daughter. Maybe it was just a blind spot in the writing. Whatever the reason, it was notable.

I hope this is the end of the flashbacks and side stories. The show seems to have mostly dealt with the past and it has enough new stuff to deal with. It should be gearing up for the stretch run here. I have a feeling there is more to come though. Deathstroke is the big thread to resolve, but I am curious how deeply the show is going to delve into Conner or if it is going to go back to the Starfire thread it started the season with. What I really want to see is a deepening of relationships in the present; with as little time as the season has spent in the here and now, it feels like any sense of interpersonal dynamic on this team, as currently constituted has been lost.

Recap of the Titans S2 Ep 7

Titans Season 2 Episode 7: “Bruce Wayne”

Picking up where last episode, and the one before it, left off, “Bruce Wayne” starts with several problems. Deathstroke has escaped, the older team members are mad at Dick for changing the plan, the younger team members are upset at being left out, Jason is traumatized from almost being killed, and Conner is dying from being shot at the end of last episode.

This episode gives viewers the first good look at Titans’ Bruce Wayne. I’ve heard complaints about him, but I think he works. Iain Glenn does not present as imposing a Batman as we are used to, but that doesn’t mean he can’t make for a good one. In this episode, he comes off as something like an Adam West or Roger Moore as James Bond; a little jokey, jovial. It might not be the right fit for this show, which seems consistently mired in humorlessness, but it worked in this episode, especially as Bruce’s job was to be the voice in Dick’s head. Throughout the episode, Bruce follows Dick, visible only to him, and critiques him on how he is trying to get to Deathstroke. I am curious if we are going to see him for real, either as Bruce Wayne or Batman, but as Dick’s snarky imaginary version of Bruce I thought he was pretty good.

Dick spends most of the episode operating on his own, using his detective skills to try to track down Deathstroke. While he is gone, the team fractures. Jason has some sort of tunnel vision, constantly seeing himself falling. Meanwhile, everyone else is finding remnants of the last old problems left in places to upset them. For reasons I don’t understand, they blame these things on Jason. The only ones not taking part in the blame Jason game are Conner and Kory. Conner because he is dying, Kory because she is busy trying to prevent that.

I am a little confused about parts of the follow up to last episode. Not confused with what happened, but confused why the show decided to sequence things the way it did. In the last episode, Conner left Eve to escape from Mercy and CADMUS. The episode set it up to appear like that was the last we would see of her. She even gave Conner some last minute (terrible) advice. As the episode ended, with Conner shot with Kryptonite bullets, Mercy then managed to recapture Krypto. In this episode, Eve escapes from CADMUS again, with Krypto in tow. So the end of the last episode existed to set things up for one scene this episode in which we really learned nothing. Eve even contradicts her bead advice. She needs to be there to give Kory the information she needs to save Conner.

Judging by the end of this episode and the title of the upcoming one, next is another flashback episode. I hope we finally get fully to the bottom of the Titans/Deathstroke feud. I am not sure I picked a great season of a show to try to do these reviews. Mostly because the only characters that seem to have any sort of ongoing arc are Dick and Jason. And the jumping back and forth between timelines and stories has consistently stalled the development of a lot of the characters. I know that in the comics Deathstroke was something of an arch nemesis for Dick and it makes sense for him to be the focus, but it kind of feels like everyone else is getting lost in the shuffle.