Director – David Frazee
Writers – Richard Hatem & Marisha Mukerjee
Episode 8 of Titans was an episode that offered a change of pace from recent weeks. Dialling down the action and brutality, instead this was an episode that focused more on character and relationships. In yet another first from the series, the hook for the episode was the first, fully-realised live action portrayal of Donna Troy. In a show which is literally a treasure trove of tantalising appearances from the DC Universe, this was another moment to savour. It is what is currently setting the show apart, as rather than just offering fresh interpretations of characters that have been done time and again, it is putting characters on the screen that haven’t previously had their chance to shine, giving long standing comic book fans plenty to enjoy and get excited about.
An example of the endless stream of treasure offered by the show was personified by the opening scene. A flashback to Dick’s childhood, it established the pseudo-sibling relationship between Dick and Donna. A refreshing change to have a female character on the show that hasn’t previously been bedded/about to be bedded by Dick, the dynamic between the two is very much that of an older sister/younger brother. Two highly trained young sidekicks (check out the reflexes), that are destined to become legends in their own right but at this time are in the shadow of their mentors. It is a wonderful scene that gives a further glimpse into the Batman/Robin relationship, the references come thick and fast in just two minutes of screen time. Batman, Wonder Woman, The Justice League, The Joker are all name checked here. Will we ever get to see them within the context of the show? The mere thought is extremely exciting, and the scene can be enjoyed below.
Jumping into the present day, Dick parts ways with the rest of the Titans in order to reconnect with Donna, leaving the remaining three members to travel with Rachel’s mother Angela to a house that has remained in her family’s name all these years, giving them a safe haven to lie low in. During their train journey to Ohio, we are given yet more little breadcrumbs of information regarding Rachel’s origins, as Angela starts to give her a description of her father, mentioning his charisma and powers that Rachel has inherited from him. Seemingly content that he is gone and won’t be coming back, with his followers gone too, Angela is comforting Rachel but it is very apparent that he will be back with a vengeance by the end of the season. This will be another legendary DC Comics character that makes their bow on Titans, and it will be something very special indeed. But that’s for another time……
As Dick manages to catch up with Donna, turning up at her home seemingly unannounced, that bond illustrated in the opening scene is evident again, as she is pleased to see him and is more than willing to help him figure out the direction he should take, yet at the same time is playfully teasing him. Played excellently by Conor Leslie, this Donna Troy is clearly in a lot better place than Dick, as she has given up the hero life and is now working as a successful photographer, with a gallery show of her work taking place that very evening. Offering Dick plenty of sage advice, she is clearly an experienced and worldly person, confident and happy with her lot in life. Showing the influence that an Amazonian upbringing has given her, as opposed to the dark and violent world that Bruce Wayne dragged Dick through, it is plain to see that she has been a positive influence on him since their childhood years, giving him a light in the dark. It will be great to see her hopefully display her power set later in the season, as we were just given a slight taster this time in the form of her leaping over a truck and trailer in a single bound.
The advice she give to Dick is another push along his road to becoming Nightwing, as he informs her that being Robin no longer works for him, but also not being Robin doesn’t work either. Realising that he isn’t ready to take that next step, her below pep talk gives him just the right advice he needs at this point.
You’ll never be a civilian, Dick. You lost that chance the day you became Robin. And you can’t be Robin anymore, because for all the good he did, ultimately he was an echo chamber for Bruce’s pain, and for yours. You wanna go out there and kick bad-guy ass? You want to make sure there’s not a chance, not a single chance even one of them gets away? Do it. . . . Don’t be Batman or Robin. Be something else. Someone else.
Will this mean we get the Nightwing costume by the end of the season? I think we have to!!
From there, it is the point where our two stories reconnect, as Donna recognises the ancient texts on the pictures Dick took inside Kory’s storage locker (the benefits of the Themiscyra education system in full force right there). Interpreting them to illustrate that Kory’s mission is to assassinate Raven, it is at this moment that Kory starts to regain her memories, as Rachel uses her healing touch to restore them. At this point we get a glimpse of what appears to be Kory’s ship bringing her to Earth (spoiler alert – Starfire is an alien) as the ship appears to be malfunctioning and crashing, which will likely explain her amnesia. Realising why she is here in the first place, it appears that Kory will be trying to fulfil her mission now, as Dick and Donna race to Ohio to try and stop it from happening. The potential now for where it all goes is limitless and we are all in for quite the wild ride over the remaining few episodes.
Beautifully paced, this episode really enhanced the story with dialogue rather than spectacle this week. It introduced a major new character, pushed the established characters’ narratives and left us with a major plot point that will be hanging until the next instalment. In a series that has consistently hit the heights, it showed that it can tell a great story without excessive violence. Well written and directed with aplomb, this is was a real feather in the cap for all involved.