To say that Titans struggled in season 2 would be an understatement. With three flashback episodes, it stopped and started and felt confused. But the final arc has felt like a return to form. The finale is the show we hoped Titans could be, and it’s awesome to see it off and running at full speed. Spoilers follow for Titans, season 2, episode 13, “Nightwing.”
This week’s episode is as straight-forward as it is action-packed. Which is to say “very” on both counts. Things are off and running immediately. First, the brainwashed Gar is unleashed on an amusement park where he starts wreaking havoc. The Titans as they are – Donna, Rachel, Dawn, and Kory – decide to go after Gar. On the way, they’re interrupted by machine-gun fire from Deathstroke. Here’s where things start to come together.
Dick shows up in his Nightwing outfit, finally allowing me to call him Nightwing instead of Dick. Nightwing and Deathstroke go at it. Nightwing looks more confident than ever, even as Deathstroke has him on the ropes. But then Rose shows up. Deathstroke thinks she’s come to offer backup, but she makes good on what she told Jason. She’s seen the Titans up close and knows for certain that Deathstroke’s version of the truth is all twisted up.
The three fight it out, with Nightwing talking to Jericho directly now that he knows his friend is stuck inside Deathstroke’s mind. It’s an awesome, well-choreographed fight between two heroes and a villain all in great-looking costumes. After all the time spent with Dick Grayson moping around, it feels not so much rewarding to see Nightwing as it does deserved. Owed, even.
Deathstroke goes down, allowing Jericho to push his consciousness into Rose’s body (Note: we workshopped that sentence for about 10 minutes before we found a version that didn’t sound like some Game of Thrones whiteboard ideas).
We don’t get much time to celebrate, though, because the mostly-reunited Titans have to head to that amusement park, where Gar is now battling Conner as Cadmus auctions them off. I can’t decide if Mercy is more messed up than Deathstroke or not.
Here, both Nightwing and Rachel step up. Rachel talks Gar out of his darkness while Kory, Donna, and Dawn – joined by Hawk – occupy Conner. Donna goes toe to toe with Conner, showing off how strong she really is for what I’m pretty sure is the first time.
Then, Nightwing and Rachel decide to use an old trick Trigon taught them. This is a great throwback to last season. Dick steps into Conner’s locked-up brain and pulls him out of the nightmare that Mercy Graves forced upon him. In just a few minutes, the Titans talk not one but two mind-controlled characters back down to earth, where last season they spent a whole weird episode on it.
Now, the Titans are nearly assembled: Nightwing, Wondergirl, Hawk, Dove, Gar, Rachel, Kory, Rose the Ravager, and Superboy. Only Robin is missing. They defeat Mercy quickly with a little remote help from Bruce Wayne, though their victory is short-lived.
Donna catches a falling structure and is electrocuted, dying in the process.
One shall fall
Titans spends a lot of time on the aftermath of her death. The Titans of five or six episodes ago would’ve crumbled with the death of a teammate. It’s devastating, but it brings this incarnation of the team closer together. They talk to each other and try to work through the feelings they’re all dealing with. Hank and Dawn consider the idea of working together without being a couple. The team brings Donna to be interred by her Amazonian kin, and Rachel decides to go with. We catch a glimpse of Jason Todd at the funeral as well, before he rides off on his cool motorcycle because he’s edgy and mad.
And here’s where we mention that it seems unlikely that either Slade/Deathstroke or Donna/Wondergirl are actually dead. If Rachel is going to Themyscira with the Amazons, it seems like we’re going to get more Donna. And we didn’t see Slade die, but we have seen both him and his daughter recover from some truly grave injuries. Both of these characters could be back.
The whole finale is satisfying, and I hope this tone is more like what will come to Titans in the announced third season. Titans can be a fun and satisfying comic-book show when it wants to be, when it’s not mired in one flashback after another, sandwiched by characters wallowing in guilt. This is what Titans is capable of. I want this show. I want the last three episodes of this season. Now that the Titans are assembled, they can team up to help Kory with her familial troubles, bring Jason back into the fold, and see a more mature and more powerful Raven return from her Amazonian sabbatical.