Writer – Richard Hatem
Director – Glen Winter
After a spellbinding 10 episodes, Titans’ first season drew to a close this week with its 11th and final instalment, “Dick Grayson”. Hyped up beyond belief due to its teaser trailer, the DC Universe fan base were on red alert for this one, as the long awaited reveal of Batman was about to take place. And what’s more, this would be a Batman in opposition with Dick, driven to the brink of madness and willing to commit murder. Based on where last week’s episode ended, it was already apparent that this was going to be some kind of dark vision induced by Trigon, as the situations wouldn’t necessarily dovetail. But despite that, the events that unfurled during the episode delivered genuine suspense, fanboy service in extremis, feature film quality action, and, as the great Steve Ray rightly said, the best depiction of Gotham, Arkham Asylum and Wayne Manor ever rendered on our television screens. As if all of that were not enough, events ended with a post credit scene that introduced yet another major DC character that will undoubtedly play a major part in season 2…
Commencing five years in the future, Dick is living an idyllic life in California with Dawn and their son John, with another child due to be birthed in a month’s time. Seemingly living the perfect life, safe in the knowledge that Gar and Rachel are away enjoying college life, a visit from a paralysed Jason Todd persuades Dick to return to Gotham. Following the murder of Commissioner Gordon by The Joker, Batman has gone over the edge and is preparing to kill The Joker, breaking his own strict moral code. Thus begins Dick’s dark odyssey back to Gotham, and what a Gotham it is! This dark city has somehow got even darker, with violence and prostitution lining the streets, along with dead bodies aplenty. There was a real sense of danger in this depiction, with a tangible feeling that death lurks on every corner.
We also get a wonderful, full look at Wayne Manor, as Dick returns there for what is presumably the first time in several years. The scope and size of the Manor are fully realised here, with wide angle shots of multiple rooms, rather than just one or two, giving a great depiction of the house. Covered in dust sheets following the demise of Alfred, it appears to have been frozen in time. At this point, we get a heartbreaking speech from Dick, as, unable to gain access to the Batcave through the Grandfather Clock (great to see the source material honoured), he pleads with Bruce to call off his vendetta and see the light. To no avail, as he is ignored. We then are left with a striking shot of Bruce sat in the Batcave, watching Dick leave empty handed on a computer screen, too far gone to reconcile with his old friend and call off his imminent killing spree. Effectively done, with a lamenting score, this is truly heavy material that is quite often in short supply on comic book shows.
What is interesting to note is that Dick has chances to walk away from the imminent carnage, but each time decides not to take them. Part of Trigon’s masterplan to put him into a dark place, free will obviously plays a part. His Machiavellian scheme is revealed to the audience as he appears in this future scenario as a GCPD officer, liaising with Dick regarding Batman and his crimes. Operating on the fringes of the scenes, like an arch puppet master, putting the pieces of the puzzle into place while gaining Dick’s trust, this is a great shop window for Seamus Deaver to display his aptitude for being sinister.
It is at this point where all hell breaks loose, and the much hyped appearance of Batman occurs, to hellacious effect. Starting with The Joker, his killing spree knows no bounds, as the guilty and the innocent alike are slaughtered by The Dark Knight. Killing in cold blood, working his way through the incarcerated rogues gallery in Arkham Asylum. Numerous classic villains are slain, including Two Face and Ventriloquist, but also Arkham staff. Realising Batman is beyond reasoning with, Dick gives up his true identity to the Police (and now, presumably, Trigon), and agrees to front a SWAT raid of Wayne Manor. This is the precursor to an action sequence that has to be seen to be believed, set within the Batcave, that sees the entire SWAT team lethally dispatched by Batman at close quarters, armed with just a batarang. Armed to the teeth police vs Batman? Not even a close contest. Brilliantly lensed and edited, it is an action sequence that can stand alongside the warehouse fight in BvS, as it’s more lethal cousin.
Trigon’s masterplan is finally revealed at this point, as he is shown to have been pushing Dick towards the ultimate darkness throughout all this “Knightmare” scenario. As Dick confronts a trapped under rubble Batman in the remains of the Batcave, he gives in finally and succumbs to his inner rage, finishing his mentor off with a boot to the throat, snapping his neck. Immediately, the surroundings change as Dick is revealed to have been inside Angela’s house this whole time, picking up where he was left off in the penultimate episode. Fully now subservient to Trigon, in his thrall, much to Rachel’s distress, the season is brought to a close with a quite wonderful cliffhanger. How will Dick escape from this spell? Will Rachel immediately realise her Father’s evil intentions and strike against him? How will Kory and Donna be able to re-enter the picture? And also, how will Hank, Dawn and Jason Todd be able to save the day when they catch up with our erstwhile heroes? Roll on season two!……
But…that’s not all! Eager viewers that waited for the end of the credits were treated to a scene that cannot fail to get everybody hyped up for the future. Set “somewhere in Metropolis”, in Cadmus Labs to be precise. Featuring a boy and his dog. A Superboy and his dog……..