If you’re following along with Titans season 2 in real-time, you know things have been moving quickly. The first villain is dead and replaced with a second. Two generations of Titans are living together, MTV’s Real World-style, in Titans Tower in San Francisco. Dick Grayson continues to make very bad decisions to protect himself from his past mistakes, and those mistakes put him and Jason Todd – the new Robin – in mortal danger. Todd is saved only thanks to the intervention of Connor, the cloned combination of Superman and Lex Luthor, recently escaped from his holding cell at Cadmus. Spoilers for Titans, Season 2, Episode 7 follow.
Titans, Season 2, Episode 7: “Bruce Wayne”
The team is still in shock after Robins new and old nearly died at the hands of Deathstroke. Most of the team is wondering what the hell just happened. Dick and Jason, meanwhile, are locked in their own worlds.
About those mannequins
Jason stares blankly at his window, reliving the feeling of falling on repeat. Dick stands in the Titans suit-up room, an industrial sci-fi looking room where all the heroes’ costumes wait, suited up on mannequins so neatly that our own editor-in-chief Sean Aune couldn’t help but rant. In a show full of aliens and superheroes, the team re-suiting their mannequins is the least plausible thing.
No, Sean told me. It really is the least plausible thing. Next time you watch Titans or any of the Arrowverse shows, imagine Dick Grayson, Barry Allen, and Oliver Queen grunting and groaning as they try to get their armored super suits onto the rigid mannequins. That really grounds these heroes. (I stand by my argument. Aliens I buy. Suiting up mannequins? Nope. – Sean)
Anyway. In the suit-up room, Dick is talking to his mentor, Bruce Wayne. Iain Glen once again plays the billionaire, and we find quickly that Bruce isn’t in the room. Instead, Dick’s conscience – devil and angel alike – has taken the form of his father figure.
Dick is drowning in guilt from not just Jason’s near-death experience, but from another mistake that he’d made years ago. And so Dick does what Dick has done since the beginning of Titans. He runs off and tries to deal with it on its own, telling himself that it’s his responsibility, and for a while it seems like he’s going off the rails as he interrogates people, slamming a bartender against his bar, firing bullets into another man’s bathtub.
When he talks to the other Titans, he’s evasive. He tries to pacify the team with weak apologies to keep them at arm’s length. Only now, the other Titans are taking notice.
While Dick is out being a… butthead, things are getting weird in Titans Tower. Rose pushes her way into Jason’s room, trying to convince him that he didn’t mess up. The conversation is pretty corny, but these people are supposed to be teenagers, so it feels just about right when she tells him that he’s “the only person worth talking to in this place.” It’s hard to tell at this point if she’s playing him or not.
At the same time, Hank finds a bottle of alcohol in his stuff. The other Titans find plants meant to taunt them, too. Rachel finds crosses painted all over her room, a symbol she connects to the abuse she suffered as a child. Donna finds a bottle of the orange soda that Aqualad loved so much. Someone is taking measures to agitate and separate the Titans.
Here comes the sun (spoiler: it’s Kory)
Conner is still unconscious and fighting for his life. Eve has escaped Cadmus in the best and most comic-book way possible: after freeing Krypto the Super Dog from his kryptonite collar, she hugs him and tells him to fly – and find Conner. Eve ends up at the doors of Titans Tower with surprising ease and opens the door for us to get a true picture of just how powerful Kory is when she lets her Starfire out.
Here’s how it works: Kryptonians need solar energy to fuel their powers, and Conner’s blood is laced with Kryptonite. He’s fading fast. Eve says that she would need to fly him into the sun to heal him.
Cut to Kory hugging Conner while Rachel creates a dark barrier around them, seemingly using her powers intentionally and without a stressor triggering them for the first time. We’ve seen hints of this; Kory can create some awesome pyrotechnics displays, and the shot of her waking up in the charred room at the beginning was telling. But this confirms that she’s basically a walking nuclear reactor.
I actually love this whole scene; Kory is starting to develop some real character. Conner is still a very likeable cardboard cutout, but that’s because he’s supposed to be. There’s a great conversation between him and Eve as he tries to listen to the advice she gave him and she admits that hiding and not being a hero is terrible advice for someone with Kryptonian blood in their veins.
Given another episode or two, Conner could become a moral compass for the team; light to balance out the darkness that so many of them have. I don’t think Eve will stick around, but actress Genevieve Angelson has put a surprising amount of life into the short time she’s been able to play the doctor and accidental mother of Conner.
Interlaced throughout these scenes is Dick Grayson’s rampage as he tries to track down Deathstroke. At that bar, he talks back to the Bruce illusion, and the bartender looks at him like he’s lost it. Then, at the strip club, Bruce appears between two strippers and definitely does the Batusi. He tracks down Deathstroke’s handler, who is relaxing in a hotel room with some nude women (which is how you know this is a show for grown-up adults, as Game of Thrones established. Nerdy things can be for adults if there’s nudity and death.).
Iain Glen is firing on all cylinders as InvisiBruce taunts Dick at every turn, forcing Dick to respond in front of people. If Dick isn’t legitimately brain damaged, then this guilt must be incredibly traumatic for him to be talking to something he knows is a hallucination in front of other people. I actually started to believe Glen as Bruce Wayne throughout this episode.
Pushing Robin out of the nest
Things come to a head as Dick discovers the “trap” laid for him, presumably by Deathstroke. A collage of sorts lets Dick know that the killer is taking surreptitious (but surprisingly well-composed) photos from inside the house. Things are falling apart back at Titans tower. Rose found her brother Jericho’s David Bowie album among Dick’s vinyl. The Titans have seemingly decided that the surly Jason Todd is responsible for all the “pranks” around the compound.
Todd, in shock from his experience and alienated from the very people that should be checking in on him, finds himself up on the roof, looking over a precarious ledge.
I said a couple of weeks ago that we’ve been watching Dick slowly turn from Robin into Nightwing. Burning his Robin suit was the beginning. Seeing his bo staff split in two was another key moment. Upon the roof, he takes the biggest step of all: telling someone about his secret.
What that all means is left up to next week.
I’ve talked about Iain Glen a few times throughout this review. I still don’t really like him as Bruce Wayne, even if this episode was better. His Scottish accent is just barely disguised. And while he looks believable as a wealthy philanthropist, he doesn’t look believable as Batman. He doesn’t carry himself like a man in the peak of human fitness and who is active as a vigilante on a daily basis. He just looks like someone’s handsome and well-dressed dad.
Titans is good, y’all
That’s honestly my only complaint about the episode, though. There are a ton of moving pieces here, but they all work. When Dick dons the Nightwing costume, it’ll be because he went through some serious healing to get there. When the Titans face off against Deathstroke again, they’ll have two incredibly powerful aliens on their team. Meanwhile, Deathstroke is working off-screen, in secret, and the way it makes the team bubble and boil feels believable. It feels orchestrated. I still don’t know for sure that Rose isn’t a plant, but I think the show can make that believable either way.
The characters don’t spend any time in costume during this episode, but Krypto the Super Dog more than makes up for that. All of this has me looking forward to next week, where it feels like things will really push into overdrive as the show enters the last third of its second season. I struggled with Titans’ first season, but I’m digging this one more and more with each episode.