I can’t help but feel like Titans seasons are cut up all wrong. Last season, the show ended with a weird nightmare episode, and then the first episode this year felt like last season’s finale. Season 2 started strong but had a rough dip in the middle. Now, just as the show is getting good, we’re on the penultimate episode. With everything going on, it feels like a mid-season episode. It’s good – don’t get me wrong. But why are we just getting to this point now, right before the show ends? Spoilers follow for Titans, Season 2, Episode 12, “Faux-Hawk.”
Just about every possible character is moving right now, and they’re going to crash before too long. Last week, Bruce Wayne encouraged Dawn, Donna, Kory, and Rachel to work as a team to bring the Titans back together. Meanwhile, Dick got his head on straight and broke out of prison while Rose was intentionally disconnecting herself from her father so that she could help out the Titans. The only problem: Cadmus has Gar and Conner, and Hank is on drugs again.
Things start out on a very dark but interesting note. We learned last week that Jericho isn’t dead, but rather that he used his power to transfer into his father’s body. This week we learned that he’s trapped inside Deathstroke’s head and that Deathstroke has him trapped there. This recasts even the scenes we’ve seen the murderous Deathstroke in and turns him into a much more twisted person. That he killed his own son doesn’t seem to bother him; he’s much more interested in revenge than he is in any kind of happiness.
Even if Deathstroke completed his revenge against the Titans, he would find another quest to devote himself to. Jericho bears no ill will toward the Titans, of course, and wants to find his way out of mental cell Deathstroke has him in. For the last five years, Deathstroke has imprisoned Jericho in what looks like the white room from the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey, where Deathstroke visits him as he pleases. This whole sequence is truly creepy.
Back in San Fran
On the Titans side, Gar was broken by Cadmus last week, and now, we see him in the coffee shop the Titans used to frequent. The sequence is short, but we get to see how truly twisted Mercy Graves is, too. The villains on Titans are living up to the term. While waiting for his coffee, Gar goes blank and then turns into a tiger, attacking at least one person before making his way back to the van where Mercy waits.
Most of the other Titans are doing better. Dawn and Donna show up at a Cadmus agent’s house with his food delivery order. The man very happily welcomes the two women into his house with only the slightest provocation and quickly finds himself hanging from the ceiling, tied at the waist by Themysciran rope while they interrogate him. After watching the heroes get beat up, pushed down, and pushed apart for so long, it’s a blast to watch them do superhero stuff, even if that’s just interrogating a hapless bad guy.
That didn’t go how he’d hoped
Donna’s lasso did exactly what it was meant to. Kory and Rachel are struggling, though, both with their powers and their inability to find Dick. Both characters have had difficulty harnessing their abilities throughout the series, from Kory charring a room at the beginning of the series to Rachel’s powers animating a gargoyle just last week. It seems like their powers are linked to their confidence and clarity, and both are in rough spots until they do something that Titans almost never do: talk about their feelings and apologize.
Rose gets a chance to shine, too. All we’ve known about her so far is that she can fight like a wild animal, that she heals very quickly, and that she’s a plant placed by Deathstroke. We learn all about Rose, including seeing her in her Ravager gear as she trains with Deathstroke. The show has done little to develop Rose thus far, so I enjoyed seeing her get some back story and some agency outside being Jason’s girlfriend. It’s unclear when we separate from here where exactly she sits. She’s scared of her father, but is she too scared to disobey him?
Rock Bottom Brawlery
We get a good amount of time spent on Hank, too. His drug habit led him first to a cage fighting ring, where he absolutely wrecks everyone. But he’s a drug addict, so not only is he not recovering from his fights, he’s missing chunks of time. A woman stops him outside the fight club and talks him into taking her back to his place. When we next catch up with him, his suit is gone and someone else is using it. It’s a low point for the vigilante, and he tracks the suit to a schlubby kid in a Nirvana t-shirt who wanted nothing more than to be a Titan. The kid has it because Hank sold it to him for $200 to get another high.
It’s fun to see Hank kicking ass, and it’s even more fun to see Dawn kicking his ass in his nightmare. But this moment puts him at a crossroads, and I’m curious to see what the show will do with it. Between this episode and the time spent on him in season 1, we’ve had a fair amount of time learning about Hank’s history. We know more about how Hank became Hawk than about just about any other Titan got to where they are. Hank could see the folly of being on his own or could decide to give up costumes altogether, and I genuinely don’t know which route they’ll go.
While Hank is hitting rock bottom again, though, Dick is crawling out. After visiting Jericho’s mother and finding a very different woman, a much more sad and remorseful one, Dick stops by Stu’s Handmade Shoes.
This is some real Super Hero stuff. After a very weird conversation about fruitcake (they’re not actually talking about fruitcake), Stu takes Master Grayson downstairs from his old-timey shoe cobblery to his ultra high-tech superhero costume lab, complete with bright-white floor lighting. There, Stu and his assistant tell Dick about the Triple Kevlar Polyweave or whatever, and we get our first glimpse of the thing we’ve been waiting all season for: the Nightwing costume.
This is the kind of stuff I tune into Titans for:
- Twisted villains
- Ass-kicking superhero fights
- Cool outfits
- People working together
- People looking out for each other
Instead, most of this season has been about:
- Sad people
- Who are in different places
- Not talking
- Gar being a chill dude
Only the last one of those really tickles me. I enjoyed last week’s episode and this week’s quite a bit. But with the current pacing, it’s hard to imagine next week’s finale being satisfying enough, even if it’s a total barnburner of an episode, to make up for the mid-season slog. I get what the writers were going for, but it just hasn’t worked for me. We’ll see next week.
For now, I’m excited to see the team coming together and to see Dick finally suiting up as Nightwing.