And with "Dick Grayson" we come to the season finale of Titans. Sort of. In case you missed the news, there was supposed to be a 12th episode. "Dick Grayson" was supposed to be the penultimate season 1 episode, not the finale. And it shows. As I noted in my last review, the episode boils down to yet another exploration of the darkness in Dick Grayson.
The problem is, I've never found Dick that interesting a character. Sorry, legions of Dick Grayson comic book fans. But let's say that he is interesting and worth viewing. Great. That doesn't mean he deserves more attention than Starfire. And Raven. And Beast Boy. Combined. If the show was called Nightwing-to-Be rather than Titans, it wouldn't risk a truth-in-advertising lawsuit.
Another reason is that it's awfully one-note. The season started with Dick's rage issues. It "ended" with Dick's rage issues. Not only that, but practically everyone else has rage issues, too. Kory is an alien warrior but her amnesia (however that happened) means she has conflicts over her rage. Except when she's breaking the necks of helpless prisoners in European hotel rooms.
Gar is torn between being a nice normal teenager who can turn into a tiger, and as a tiger, ripping a guy's throat out. Rachel also seems to be a normal teenager, except when the darkness takes her and she uses her soul-self to kill a guy by liquefying his organs. Or reversing the healing she did on someone to let him bleed out. Hawk is a walking bundle of rage thanks to childhood sexual abuse.
Dawn (Minka Kelly) and Donna are only two people who don't seem to be consumed with rage. And for the penultimate episode/season 1 finale, they're either reduced to a fantasy in Trigon's mental scenario or disappear entirely. Way to go, anti-rage contingent.
So what does that mean for "Dick Grayson"? Another episode where Kory, Rachel, and Gar are bit players in the ongoing story of Dick and his anger-management issues. Also, if you're a Batman fan, this is the episode for you. We get no-clear-face glimpses of Joker. And Two-Face. And Ventriloquist. And Batman himself. And mentions of Commissioner Gordon (dead) and his daughter Barbara (MIA), and Riddler (using a gun now and cripples Jason Todd (Curran Walters). It's like the creative team is trying to one-up Gotham. "See? We're an official DC channel and Fox isn't, so we can "do" Batman and his rogues' gallery and they can't. You see? You see?!?"
We start with Dick floating on a pool float in California, enjoying the good life with his wife Dawn and his son Johnny (James Scallion). Jason shows up in a wheelchair and explains he was crippled by a gun-wielding Riddler and Batman has gone on a bloody rampage without Dick to keep him in check. Dick and Dawn check in with Rachel and Gar briefly via Skype, and we find out that they're in college and are involved somehow.
Dick flies to Gotham and sees that the city is in worse shape than usual. The new police commissioner has declared vigilantes illegal, further pressuring Batman. Dick mostly functions as a viewer eyewitness to the chaos that has enveloped the city. A drunk is beating up his girlfriend in the hotel room next door, corpses lie in the street, cats and dogs living together, the whole nine yards.
Batman tosses Joker off of a rooftop but doesn't quite kill him. Dick goes to the hospital to check on Joker and runs into Kory. Who now works for the government, and was sent to track down Gordon's killer. Batman shows up and kills Joker with a batarang to the chest, and Dick just misses Batman as he jumps out a window. So if you have a cape fetish, this scene is for you. Then Batman goes on a rampage at Arkham Asylum, killing patients and staff alike.
Dick goes to the police chief, Finney, who looks just like our pal Trigon (Seamus Dever) from the last episode. He tells Finney/Trigon Bruce is Batman, and then insists on leading the SWAT assault on Wayne Manor. The SWAT officers get down to the Batcave, but Batman kills them. When Kory shows up and prepares to starbolt him, Batman shoots her with (presumably Mr. Freeze's) cold gun and kills her. Dick gives the order to blow the manor up, and then comes down. He finds Kory's frozen corpse, and Batman in the rubble but still alive. Dick breaks Batman's neck and...
... we cut to Angela Azrael's house. The whole thing is a mind game Trigon has been playing on Dick after Dick goes into the house last episode. Dick is now consumed by Trigon's darkness, much to Rachel's chagrin. Trigon says he gave Dick a choice to embrace his darkness or turn from it, and Dick embraced his darkness. Angela says Dick is part of the family, and a dark-veined Dick says it feels good to be home and they'll all see. The end.
Like I said, the pacing is kind of goofy since this episode wasn't supposed to be the finale but it ended up that way. The finale will play out as the first episode of Season 2. But that means the season 1 "finale" is a dream sequence, and it's Dick's dream sequence. The season ends with Trigon "winning", which is kind of a downer.
Like I said, I've long since tired of hearing about Dick's rage issues. You also wonder why Trigon is so big on getting his hands on Dick. Is it just coincidence, or is Dick really that important to Trigon's plans? Dick is presumably supposed to have great deductive powers and mental fortitude, but he displays none of those here. He readily accepts Trigon's dream sequence, which means he doesn't question the flaws in it or resist it in any way, shape, or form. There's occasional "jumps" which cue the audience in that something funny is going on. But that just means the audience is ahead of Dick in figuring out that what's going on isn't real. It's never easy to be impressed by a main character who is supposed to be a deductive genius but is two steps behind the viewer.
There are also some absurd details that make you wonder if Trigon included them, or the creative team included them to convince us viewers what we're seeing is real even when we know that it isn't. For instance, not only does Trigon presumably have Hank move in on Dawn when Dick is away, he has "Hank" complain in the background about Dick's failing to stock beer. It's not that Trigon couldn't find this out, or that Dick is mentally filling in the details on his own. Like with Two-Face and Ventriloquist, whose corpses show up briefly in the Arkham massacre. You just wonder why writer Richard Hatem bothered to toss those details in. While leaving out stuff like... why did Rachel call for Hank and Dawn to bring Jason? If Dick can't resist Trigon's mental games, how the heck will those three?
Anna Diop is good in her brief bit as a more "human"-looking Kory posing as an Earthling. Ryan Potter and Teagan Croft in their brief bit on Skype when they're doing "normal". But again, they're bit players in Act Whatever-it-is of Dick's dark journey of the soul.
But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?
Written by Gislef on Dec 22, 2018