Director – Alex Kalymnios
Writers – Bryan Edward Hill & Greg Walker
Following the universal wave of approval bestowed upon last weeks episode, “Jason Todd”, and the fanboy wish fulfilment of getting a double helping of Robin, it would have been understandable for this latest instalment of Titans to take the excitement and action levels down a notch, take a breather and build up for the last batch of upcoming episodes. However, viewers of this series know by now that this is not the done thing. Instead, with this weeks fantastic episode, “Asylum”, the masterful writing of Bryan Edward Hill and Greg Walker gave us an episode that gave us some great character driven scenes, tantalising elements of our leading characters’ backstories, plus the now obligatory action packed ultraviolence.
Picking up where last week left off, our titular heroes reluctantly allow Raven to face the captive Dr Adamson one on one. Learning more about her powers, we see her reluctantly heal the evil scientist after he willingly slits his own throat, forcing her to use her powers to seal his gaping neck wound. An extremely bloody and visceral scene, it shows the lengths that he was willing to go to gain her trust. In an extreme way, he was trying to show her that she is a power for good, and that she, along with her father, will “purify the world”. Of course, we know that her father, when he makes his eventual debut, will be anything but a power for good, and that the end will indeed be nigh…
Following some good, old-fashioned roughhouse tactics from Dick, the good doctor divulges the location of an abandoned asylum that his organisation is using to keep Raven’s real mother, Angela Azarath, a prisoner. This is the jumping off point for the adventure to begin, as Raven and Gar decide to take matters into their own hands, travelling in tandem to the asylum without Dick and Kory, who both favoured a more measure, tactical incursion. Needless to say, all 4 of our heroes all end up with the same fate as they are each captured and subjected to various methods of torture, both physical and mental.
To see each member of the team put into a vulnerable position is a new position for the series, as each of them is stretched to their absolute breaking point. Dick is subjected to the same form of drug-enhanced mental pummelling as the second “Dad” from the Nuclear Family, as he is forced to face the regrets of his past in the form of his younger self (another superb appearance from the talented Tomaso Sanelli), relentlessly beating him down with his own staff, forcing him to see where he had taken the wrong path as Robin. The setting for this mental mauling? The Batcave of course, giving us another glimpse of the Batmobile in situ, making for quite a striking scene, beautifully shot.
Gar is locked in a cage and relentlessly prodded with electric cattle prods, as the Beast Boy is literally treated like an animal. Kory is forced to expend her power supply, leaving her weak and laid out on a surgical table, cut open and tested. Does this mean the mysterious company, doing the bidding of Trigon, know of her alien origins and threat to their mission, or were they testing her to find out more?
Raven, meanwhile, is untouched and instead left to be manipulated again by Dr Adamson, who tells her that she can make the world a better place, and all she has to do is “call to her father”. I personally cannot wait to see her succumb and do just that, as we will see something very spectacular unfurl. This week, though, her resolve is strong and she escapes his clutches in yet another gruesome moment. Think back to their first exchange at the top of the show and you will get the drift of his ultimate (and deserved) fate. From there we see one of the series’ most tender moments, as Raven and her mother are reunited, as this broken, traumatised woman is presented with the one person she thought she would never see again. It will great television in the remaining episodes to come as Angela tells Raven the true nature of her past and how she came to be conceived. I cannot wait to see how the cast play out these exchanges.
As each member of the team is subsequently rescued, Ryan Potter gets a moment in the sun, which is something that has been scant to say the least thus far. Snapping at his torturers, his tiger form brutally and viciously takes them apart, leaving his human form to feel a mixture of regret and remorse but also with a sense of they had it coming and they deserved it.
It wouldn’t be an episode of Titans without Dick issuing a 5 star beatdown to a collection of hapless thugs, and this week was no exception, as the team made their escape through the tunnels beneath the asylum. As shown below, Dick’s fighting style is vicious, explosive and designed to cause maximum injury. His close quarter combat techniques are a result of his training from Batman, and the fight scene would not look out of place with a batcowl and cape thrown in for good measure.
Speaking of his training from Batman, the ending of this episode seemingly serves as the last time his Robin costume will be seen, save for any flashbacks, as he leaves it to burn in the flames of the asylum as he and the team take their leave. A very iconic moment, this is the final nail in the coffin of Dick as Robin, as he will finally now start his transition into Nightwing. Will we see him in full costume by the end of this season? I think it is somewhat inevitable that it’s going to happen, giving this show the honour of yet another live action first. It thoroughly serves that honour too, as it has more than delivered the goods every week, and given the legions of Nightwing fans around the world a character they can be proud of and a performance from Brenton Thwaites that ticks all the boxes.