When the structure of a group is as fragile as that of the Titans, breaking it apart takes a few lies – nothing more. Deathstroke knew that, and the supersoldier planned the perfect punishment for Dick Grayson, the person he holds responsible for his son Jericho’s death. In the episode before last, Dick finally confessed the full detail of what happened. This week picks up right after he’s told the rest of Titans – both new and original. Spoilers follow for Titans Season 2, Episode 9, “Atonement.”
Let’s start from the official synopsis for the episode:
In the aftermath of Dick’s confession, the Titans’ world is rocked to the core – and Dick’s fear that his secret would break up the Titans comes true. Abandoning Titans Tower, the heroes all go their separate ways. Hank and Dawn return to Wyoming, Jason and Rose leave together, and Donna agrees to take Rachel with her. Kory, meanwhile, is surprised to hear from Faddei (guest star ROBBIE JONES), who’s returned with bad news from her home planet. Leaving Gar alone to tend to the still wounded Conner, Dick departs as well, in search of absolution for Jericho’s death.
If that sounds like it makes for a somber episode, you’re right. Even for a show like Titans. Titans is normally a visually-muted show, but this episode is bathed in gray, diffuse light and deep shadow. It’s a flat-looking episode with an air of hopelessness to it.
After Dick tells his truth, most of the Titans dip out. Hank punches Dick, because he’s a big strong man, and then everyone but Gar disappears into the back of rideshare cars. Dick, too, decides to make his exit.
A Gar episode?!
The upside is that this gives us a few minutes with Gar, who this season has wildly underserved. He’s mostly been there in the background, ready to do chores; watch this, wait for that. And the one time Gar did go out, Deathstroke kidnapped and nearly killed Jason Todd. Gar needs a win. As Dick leaves, he tells Gar that he’s in charge of the place.
For a minute, it seems like we’re going to get a Gar episode. Gar wakes up early and puts on his green shoes, makes his green drink, and gets to work. He wants to hold down the fort and get the Titans back together. He has a dope Toei Animation shirt to wear while doing it, too. Gar spends his time reading to the comatose Conor and playing games on his green laptop. Gar’s pep doesn’t last long, though, and soon he’s succumbing to frustration.
Nope, not a Gar episode.
Meanwhile, the other Titans are spread to the four winds. Hank and Dawn are in Wyoming trying to pick up where they left off before Dr. Light turned Ellis, the kid they were rehabilitating, into a light bomb. Kory is following up with Faddei, the royal guard from Tamaran who came to Earth to take her home. Rachel left with Donna but ditched her before they even made it out of San Francisco. Jason and Rose, we don’t see at all after they get into their rideshare.
Of these groups, we spend the most time with Hank and Dawn and Kory and Faddei. Hank and Dawn are trying to put the pieces of their old life back together, but it’s proving difficult. Both are frustrated for different reasons and try to blow off some steam by going into town to do karaoke. The fun night turns sour when Ellis’ sister appears and starts making threats. Her words shake the couple, and they’re soon fighting. Hank ends up in a bar on the edge of relapse.
Kory, meanwhile, has met up with Faddei, who expresses to her just how dire things are. Before they get very far, though, Starfire’s sister, Blackfire starts to interfere, possessing Faddei. Kory figures it out quickly but is forced to kill Faddei. Blackfire blows up her ship, stranding her on Earth. This moment, at the very least, gives Kory a reason to stay on earth and with the Titans. It makes sense for her character and the story, unlike some other moments.
Superboy in Supertrouble
Conner does wake up, and Gar is excited to have a buddy to hang with. Gar doesn’t realize, though, just how emotionally immature his half-Kryptonian friend is. After a successful gaming session, Gar takes Conner out into the world, but Conner’s childlike, un-nuanced view of right and wrong gets him into trouble quickly as he ends up beating up a pair of cops and fighting a dozen more for being forceful with someone.
While all this is happening, we find out that Dick Grayson is a big dumb idiot and very stupid. He’s told his secret to the Titans, but he wants to go on an apology tour. That leads him to the home of Jericho’s mother. We learned in last week’s flashback episode that she’s ruthless. She’s not obligated to accept his apology, of course. But she eviscerates him with scientific precision while the person who actually killed her son sits in the next room. It seems that she knows that her husband’s blade was the physical cause of Jericho’s death, but holds Dick himself wholly responsible.
Dick tells Slade that Jericho deserved better than either Slade or Dick, and Slade responds by warning Dick not to even think about rebuilding the Titans again. Dick heads to the airport and initially buys a ticket for somewhere where he can be alone and sulk in his guilt. But then he drops his bag in the middle of the airport, missing a frantic call from Gar, and… attacks a cop?
The episode ends with Dick being arrested. I have no idea what’s happening here. I like these characters, but nothing anyone did in this episode felt like it made sense.
What are they doing?
At the end of episode 7, as Dick told Jason his secret, the specter of Bruce Wayne that had been taunting him disappears. The whole thing is meant to look like an exorcism. So why is Dick still drowning in guilt and making bad decisions because of that guilt? Scattering the Titans to the four winds feels like a little much. I don’t know why half of them left. Donna is just as responsible for Jericho’s death as Dick. Hank and Dawn a little less so. Rose’s departure makes sense, but Jason and Rachel I’m not sure I agree with. Again, at least Kory has an excuse to stay on Earth now, and I hope that she’ll become a leader of sorts for the team.
But most of what’s happening has me at a loss. We spent the entirety of season 1 getting the Titans together. Why are we separating them again? After we spent all this time squeezing the truth out of Old Robin, why is everyone clamming up and turning away from each other with their arms crossed? Usually, serial shows like these leave us with an idea of where things are going. With Titans right now, though, I have no idea. I don’t know what episode 10 looks like.
I’ll say this: it’s wholly possible that this episode is laying the groundwork for some really cool stuff. But right now it feels like the showrunners are blowing what has been a pretty interesting (if slightly too Scottish) season of Titans.