We were all excited when, after five years of flashbacks, Arrow finally synced up with the show and we could finally stop dwelling on the past. Titans Season 2 apparently didn’t get the memo, because we’re on our third flashback episode; the show is seemingly determined to put a hard stop to any momentum it picks up in the modern-day episodes. Spoilers follow for Titans season 2, episode 8, “Jericho”
I get it. To understand why the elder Titans are both so scared of Deathstroke and they bear so much resentment for Dick Grayson, we have to go back and find out what happened. Last time we were in the past, Robin met a young mute man and the two swapped records. The elder Titans have developed a friendship with the young man, whose name is Jericho and have invited him to hang out by a campfire. The group talks about their screwed up parents and Dick prods Jericho to talk about his. It’s pretty transparent, and I can’t tell if that’s poor writing or if it’s intentionally as brazen as it looks.
And if a flashback episode wasn’t enough, Jericho talks about his family and things go into a second, deeper flashback. We see Jericho younger, still able to speak. He misses his absent father, who has put his military career ahead of his family. When we meet Slade, he’s been captured. His powers kick in, though, and he effortlessly slaughters a base full of soldiers as he escapes.
At home, Slade struggles to connect with his family, making empty gestures at fatherhood while still remaining mostly absent even after shifting from his military life to “risk management.” His job soon boils over into his real-life when masked thugs invade his home. He kills them, but not before one can permanently damage Jericho’s vocal cords. As an aside, I can’t help but wonder where Rose is during all of this.
Play stupid games…
The other Titans are increasingly uncomfortable with the games they’re playing with Jericho to milk him of any information, save Donna, who currently supports Dick’s idea wholeheartedly. Soon after the campfire, Donna meets with her Themysciran handler, Jillian. It turns out that Deathstroke was aiming for Jillian herself, not Aqualad. He jumped in front of the shot like a true hero. Oh, yeah. Titans is still trying to sell us on Aqualad.
We also find out that Jericho himself has inherited some abilities from his father when a jerk of a businessman gives him a hard time at the record shop. Jericho, it seems, can possess other people for brief periods, taking control of their bodies and words. We see him do it again at Titans Tower, where he puts Hank through his own personal episode of So You Think You Can Dance, and then again when his father almost has a road rage incident.
The Titans are trying to do good here. Donna says that their deception will ultimately benefit Jericho by separating him from his murderous father. As they pull Jericho into the fold, they tell him the truth about how their relationship with him began, and even take him to the gallery of mannequins to show him their suits.
But this is a story we already know the ending for, and it doesn’t end with Jericho joining the Titans. Jericho’s mom tells Slade to get his son back from the Titans at any cost, despite it being entirely Jericho’s decision, so he suits up and does what Deathstroke does: lays a trap.
…win stupid prizes.
It’s hard to tell exactly what order things happen in here. Deathstroke has killed Jillian and her guards, and he lures Donna into a fight. I actually love the CG here for her lasso and I love that she gets a few solid hits in on Deathstroke before he gains the advantage.
While this is going on, Jericho is talking to Dick about the note from his father, and Dick tries to do the right thing by encouraging Jericho to talk to his dad with the promise that he’ll stay out. At this moment, it seems like he means it. But then he gets Donna’s distress call and goes to rescue her. He’s Dick, though, so he can’t just focus on healing. He heads to the church where Jericho was to meet his father – without any of the other Titans.
The battle that ensues is the centerpiece of the episode. It’s bloody, exciting, and brutal. It seems like both of the fighters wanted it. Before Dick can even enter, Deathstroke says he can hear his heartbeat and says that he knew Dick would show up before Dick had even thought of the idea. In other words, he planned the showdown. He wanted to kill Dick in front of Jericho after a grandiose monologue about how murder is more honorable than betrayal.
The battle ends when the man who heard a heartbeat from around a corner doesn’t hear his own son, from just feet away, get up and move between him and his target. From here, it looks like Deathstroke wanted all of this; he wanted a reason to kill Dick and the other Titans, to separate himself from his son and his old life. It’s true, though, that Robin could’ve just sat down for a second and talked to someone about his feelings instead of going off alone to have a fistfight with someone that he knows is a supersoldier.
Let’s Move Forward
The biggest revelation of this episode for me isn’t how Jericho died or Dick’s role in it. It’s more that Donna supported it right up until the end, and that the show hasn’t capitalized on that in any way that I can tell. I’m not suggesting that she and Dick should hook up and have revenge-fueled sex or anything; I’m just wondering why she isn’t any more sympathetic to where he was at toward the end of last week’s episode.
With five episodes left, I hope we’re done with flashbacks. We have background on every character alive and dead. We’re all set, you guys. Now we want to see how the team comes together following Dick’s reveal last week. How will Jason deal with his trauma? How will Dick become Nightwing? How will Conner integrate into the team? Will the Elder Titans actually join the team, or are they really done? I’m anxious to find the answers to all these questions. Now let’s go get them answered.