Now that’s Titans! After we limped through a flashback centered on the utterly charmless Aqualad last week, we’re running full speed in Titans episode 5. Powers are developing, secrets are coming out, and the past is back with a vengeance. I have to admit, I was a little worried. That episode was a hard stop to the momentum of the show the same way that the Batman Nightmare episode was in the first season did. I did not like either of those episodes.
But the Titans are back, bitches!
Titans Season 2, Episode 5
The kidnapping of Robin capped off episode 3, and that’s right where episode 5 kicks off. Deathstroke and Dr. Light have Robin tied up in their makeshift lair, and Robin is doing what he does best: annoying the ever-living hell out of Dr. Light. But unlike when he talks to Dick or any of the other Titans, he’s not doing it just to be a dingus; we see in short order that Batman’s training has had an effect as he chokes Dr. Light out with his legs and then dislocates his thumbs to get out of his bindings. Dr. Light kind of deserved what he got for making fun of Robin’s costume when he basically looks like a frat-party gladiator.
This episode does a good job of setting up what will come without slowing down what’s actually happening in the now. Deathstroke is one of the most dangerous villains in the DC universe, and he has the upper hand on the Titans right now. He has one of their own in his grasp and knows the history of the elder Titans enough to know just how much power that gives him.
I have to give Dr. Light this: his particular power makes for great mood lighting in some of these scenes. The underground subway tunnel where Dr. Light and Deathstroke are keeping Robin is lit with all kinds of shadeless lamps, giving it this cool old-timey look. I have to say, though, if absorbing light is how he gets his power, he could do a lot better than incandescent bulbs. LED bulbs and halogen lights can put out a ton more in terms of lumens.
That doesn’t matter for long, though. Get ready for spoilers.
Dr. Light goes off on his own, climbing into his pick-up which is playing some hard rock that he’s very jazzed about. Of course the frat-party gladiator owns a pickup that plays hard rock. Only before he can get past amping himself up, Deathstroke shoots him in the head.
Well, there goes my theory about how Raven would battle Dr. Light by absorbing his light power with her darkness power, thereby demonstrating that it’s not light and dark that are good and evil, but what you do with them that matters. Dang. I was so sure.
Back at Titans Tower, the Titans are searching for Robin. Rose is having a ridiculously huge bowl of cereal that befits her extraordinary healing (gotta feed that somehow) while the Titans try to figure out what to do.
I don’t think this counts as banter
Almost half this episode is the Titans arguing, which sounds less compelling than it is. That’s thanks in big part to the work the show is doing to rehabilitate Dick Grayson into a more compassionate person than Bruce Wayne taught him to be. The balance between Rachel’s big heart and dark power helps, too. These people are talking like heroes who are afraid for their lives. The young Titans are kept out of the loop while the elder Titans try to figure out how to solve it on their own.
Finally, though, the episode ends in a faceoff between Dick and Deathstroke. It goes badly for Dick, but then Kory drops in and reminds us what Starfire can do. Deathstroke is dangerous, but the Titans as they exist now are different from the ones that the assassin fought before. He’s still resourceful and ends up getting away from the Titans, and we’re left on a literal cliffhanger as, again, spoilers, Robin loses his grip and then falls down the side of the skyscraper.
There’s a lot happening in this episode that has me excited. The fight scene at the end is a blast. Watching Dick work through his fear and grow in confidence is great. Rachel faces off against Rose, who just beat the snot out of Hawk/Hank. We see again how powerful she is and how little control she has over it; a common theme for her place in the Titans. The special effects for her darkness are as good as the gem on her head is bad. There are hints of past decisions by the Titans that likely earned Deathstroke’s ire. We met his mute son Jericho in the previous episode, and some of the team’s remorse points to the Titans having used Jericho to get to Deathstroke.
And with Jason Todd caught in mid-fall for a week, we have to wonder how his tragic history in the comics might come into play. There won’t be a call-in campaign, but could the show use him as a martyr to push the Titans closer together or further apart? I hope not; I like the little shithead.