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​ "Nightwing" - Titans S02E13 Review

Esai Morales, Titans S02E13And so Titans Season 2 ends with "Nightwing" and only seven Titans (or eight?) where we had ten. And the two major story arcs--Deathstroke and Cadmus--wrapped up, albeit in neat little packages. I'm reminded of Brainiac-5 on Supergirl talking about little boxes.

None of it is particularly satisfying. But then, Season 2 never seemed to be quite satisfying. It gives the viewers comic book goodness as we can probably expect a live-action series to have. Young Justice, and now Harley Quinn, have more, but there's no limit on special effects and dialogue-free heroes in the background in animation. Doom Patrol continues to inhabit its own little corner of the DC Universe. Swamp Thing had a few elements tossed in (Blue Devil! The Phantom Backwoodsman! Madame Not Quite Xanadu!), but that series has gone the way of the dodo.

What did Titans give us, and what did "Nightwing" take away? Well, we got a lot of Dick (Brenton Thwaites). Lots and lots of Dick. As much Dick as the eye could see. Despite the fact the main cast expanded from four too ten, there was still plenty of room for Dick.

Teagan Croft, Titans S02E13

Of the other Season 1 main cast members, Rachel (Teagan Croft) got bounced to the background. She had a forgettable subplot with some teenage squatters, and her powers were never defined. Rachel could exude black tendrils of darkness that could... grab people, establish mental merges, create solid images of Bruce Wayne, and animate a stone gargoyle. That's a mixed bag of a power set.

Kory (Anna Diop) faded in and out of the series. I like Diop, but she was never the focus of anything except for the on/off romance with her Tamaranian bodyguard. There were hints about her rivalry with her sister Blackfire, but it looks like Titans is going to go with alien slug possession rather than felinoid aliens from another planet launching mass attacks on Earth.

Gar (Ryan Potter) hasn't evolved much in powers: he still can only seemingly transform into a green tiger. The creative team does give the audience a lot of Gar in the back half of the season. Wisely, they never call him "Beast Boy", which is good since it's inaccurate: for two seasons he's "Tiger Boy."

The new Robin (Curran Walters) Donna (Conor Leslie), Hawk (Alan Ritchson), Dove (Minka Kelly), Conner (Joshua Orpin) and Rose (Chelsea T. Zhang) are all good but none of them really have much to do. Most of them get their brief subplots, they're whisked on the screen, and in one or two cases, whisked off the screen at the end of the season.

Iain Gen, Titans S02E13

The same goes for most of the recurring characters. Bruce Wayne (Iain Glen), Deathstroke (Esai Morales), Mercy Graves (Natalie Gumede), and Jericho (Chella Man) all show up and make an impression, but they all turn out to be wet squibs by the end of the season. But why is everyone other than Dick (Dick, Dick, Dick! Do it in in a "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia" tone to get the idea) so underdeveloped and get weak resolutions at the end of the season? Let's find out.

After an opener with Mercy showing off the programmable super-soldier Conner, the episode proper starts with the four female members Kory, Rachel, Donna, and Dawn getting back together at the Tower in San Francisco. They start to compare notes and come up with what sounds like a nicely-detailed plan to break into Cadmus. And... It all goes to hell when they find out Gar is attacking people at Golden Gate Park during some kind of street carnival.

On the way there, Deathstroke attacks the four women in their SUV. Why, I have no idea? Wouldn't it make more sense to go after the Titan who has city-wide alerts being issues against him? But the women are helpless against Deathstroke, because I guess Wonder Girl never learned bullets-and-bracelets from her sister/parent. And Kory is going through a bout of powerlessness.

Brenton Thwaites, Titans S02E13

Fortunately, big bad Dick is there to save them, wearing his new Nightwing costume. He's pretty much outclassed. Superb-but-human hand-to-hand fighter versus super-augmented Deathstroke. However, Ravager shows up to help Nightwing kick Deathstroke's butt and run a sword through his chest. This gives Jericho the chance to jump out of Deathstroke's brain where he's been trapped, and into Ravager's body. Which answers my question from last week of how do you "free" a bodiless consciousness? And Ms. Zhang does have fun briefly portraying Jericho in Ravager's body. However, this will quickly be overlooked and/or the repercussions dismissed until next season.

Meanwhile, Mercy and her Cadmus goon squad take Conner to the carnival to have Conner subdue Tiger-Gar (Ti-Gar?), and demonstrate how effective a weapon Conner is for the benefit of the international buyers watching and bidding. Conner makes short work of Ti-Gar, because... Superman-equivalent versus a tiger. The four female Titans show up and there's some amusing banter. Kory's strategy is to yell, "Hey, Conner!", Conner stares at Dove, and one of her teammates notes that it's probably because she's dressed like a giant bird. Wonder Girl and Dove have suited up, and Wonder Girl gets in a few punches against Conner.

Joshua Orpin, Titans S02E13

Hawk shows up, and I'm not sure why. Last week he was in a motel room facing his drug addiction. This week he's in San Francisco helping Dove. He's no more effective against Conner than anyone else. Nightwing shows up and saves the day--again--and Wonder Girl and Rachel hold Conner in place while Rachel mind-merges Nightwing into Conner's brain. Conner's consciousness is locked away in a lightless room in his own mind. So Dick punches a hole in the wall, letting the sunshine in. This frees Conner from Mercy's mind control. When Mercy tries to escape, Kory punches her unconscious. What they're going to do with her, I don't know. Mercy has already received an ominous call from (Lex) Luthor after Bruce Wayne shut down her bidding/demonstration.

Rachel has managed to touch Ti-Gar, restore his memories, break Mercy's brainwashing, and bring Gar back to normal human form and mind.

Conor Leslie, Titans S02E13

But wait, there's more! A pylon with electrical lines starts to fall on the crowd. Dove does nothing, and Wonder Girl catches it and gets electrocuted. She's dead, and the end of her story.

The next day, everyone is very sad. The Titans hand Donna's body over to a group of Amazons waiting at the airport to take the coffin. Jason shows up at the airfield to say his long-distance goodbye to Donna, and then drives off. Why he's there, or cares enough about her to want to be there, I don't know. Rachel decides to go with the Amazons saying she's the one with the best chance to bring Donna back to life. Which, wait a minute, she has the power to resurrect the dead? I was expecting Hawk to bring Donna back to life, but sure, Rachel will work, too.

Also, Dick calls Rachel "space witch" again, which I still don't get. Rachel is not from space. Trigon was from another dimension, not "space". Yes, the Tamaranians had heard about Trigon the Destroyer, but neither he nor Rachel are from outer space. I suppose it's easier to say than "other-dimensional witch".

Alan Ritchson, Minka Kelly, Titans S02E13

Back at the Tower, Dick thanks Gar for trying to hold the Titans together while he went AWOL, then Dick and Bruce have a conversation where Bruce gives vague apologies and some words of wisdom. Hank and Dawn have a heart-to-heart, and Hank admits he's been a lousy boyfriend, but they seem to both be okay with still partnering up as Hawk and Dove.

Then the remaining Titans all have dinner together. Bruce tells Kory he didn't meet them at the diner two episodes ago, and Kory and Dawn speculate the "Bruce" who met them there was a manifestation of Rachel's powers. Which would make sense, except the real Bruce doesn't act any more like "Bruce" than the Rachel-created Bruce.

Also, Rose looks in and eventually joins the dinner. And there's no mention of Jericho being inside her head. Which is what I meant earlier about how his presence is forgotten for the rest of the episode. Does he share the body with Rose? Does he only come out on special occasions? Where was Ravager during the fight with Conner? Next season, I guess.

Chelsea T. Zhang, Alan Ritchson, Krypto, Brenton Thwaites, Minka Kelly, Anna Diop, Titans S02E13

Some kind of trouble alert goes out, and the seven remaining Titans (minus Donna, Rachel, and New Robin) walk down the street to the mission district. Because they can't afford a Titanmobile? Krypto is with them, and I've no idea where he's been, either. Wasn't he locked up at Cadmus? If he was free, why wasn't he there in the fights against Deathstroke and Conner?

At the end, a housewife is putting her two daughters into their SUV and loading groceries. A purple parasite jumps in her ear, she backhands a guy across the parking lot, and walks off with a purple glow in her eyes and a smile on her face. The end.

Like I've said before and said again, I like Titans. All the characters are interesting, even Dick. It's just Season 2 hasn't been kind to most of them. After a brief "try to hold the Titans together" scene, Gar ended up being brainwashed and turned into Gar the Killing Tiger. Kory got a "losing her powers" subplot which doesn't seem to relate to anything. Why is she losing her powers?

It's still not clear what powers Hawk and Dove have, or what they bring to the Titans. Rachel's powers are all over the place. Donna doesn't get much of anything to do other than scowl and participate in other people's subplots. She dies rather ignominiously--electrocuted by a carnival pylon?--and her brief romance with Aqualad in the flashback was as much personality from her as we ever got. And the part that never made much sense: Deathstroke misses his intended target?

Chelsea T. Zhang, Titans S02E13

Jason and Rose had a little bit of a relationship, but it got shoveled into the back half of the season and died as quickly as it was brought up. Rose acted like it was some big deal she betrayed the Titans, but we never saw her betray them.

The conflict Dick had over getting Jericho "killed" never felt like much, mostly because Dick wasn't responsible for Jericho's death. I could buy Deathstroke not believing he was the guilty party instead of Dick, but why did everyone else think Dick was the one responsible? And as much as I like Jericho and Chella Man, we never saw enough of him to get the idea he was part of the Titan "family", or how his death broke them apart. The break-up seemed to be more because Dick lied to his teammates, then because Jericho got killed.

What happened to Wintergreen? What happened to Adeline? I'd think she'd be all over her newly-resurrected son, but apparently she knew Jericho was trapped in Slade's mind since Slade was hanging out at her house. Next season, I guess.

Overall, Titans Season 2 was better than Season 1. But it was overstuffed with plots. Either Deathstroke versus the Titans, or Cadmus versus the Titans would have been enough. By dividing the focus between the two plots, neither one was well-served. Both of them were dealt with way too easily, only taking up about a third of the season finale.

Dick, and his becoming Nightwing, and his issues with Bruce, made a decent thru line for the season. But we got way too much time spent on it. Dick was only one character in ten, but he sure got more than one-tenth of the screentime. So I look forward to a season three that hopefully gives a bit more time to the other characters. But I thought the same thing about Season 1: "Hopefully we'll get more of Donna, and Hawk and Dove, and Jason." But instead we didn't get much of them, and we got two new characters (Conner and Rose). And Deathstroke. And Bruce. And Jericho.

Titans S02E13

At the end of Season 2, we lost Donna, Jason, and Rachel. Any of them could return, because it's the comic books. I'm conflicted over losing them: the team could use some winnowing as ten team members was a bit much, but I like Rachel, and I like what we got of Jason and Donna.

If I had my druthers, I would have ditched Hawk & Dove, and Rose. I like the latter as well, but it's not clear what she brings to the Titans. She is a better fighter than Dick, but at the end of the day, that's all she is: another fighter. We've got Dick for that, and Hank and Dawn since they're sticking around. Rose's primary role is "The Daughter of Deathstroke", and Deathstroke is dead. Although he could come back as well, because comic book physics. With Deathstroke and Jason both out of the way, there doesn't seem much for her to do other than be another body in fight scenes. And maybe do something as Jericho. Having him as a backup mind-controlling weapon could be useful and fun.

Connor is also likable, but his presence leaves one big elephant in the room. Where is Superman, and why isn't he apparently interested in this Kryptonian hanging out in San Francisco? A power upgrade for Gar, if the show budget can handle the FX necessary, would also be nice. Read the comics to see what Gar can do when he shifts animal forms five times a minute.

But we'll see how Season 3 goes. Other than the Blackfire/Kory rivalry, there's no hint of anything else that might come. But they didn't hint at Deathstroke, Cadmus, or Blackfire at the end of Season 1, either. So there's lots of places they could go, and Titans has been renewed for Season 3. So we'll see.

But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?

Written by Gislef on Nov 30, 2019


Calero posted 7 days ago

I binged the entire series over the last 3 days and as a rule I don't watch shows which prominently feature teenagers. I'm just not into that whole angsty and mad at the world for no reason, my relationship status is the single most important thing in the multiverse, and adults exist solely for me to sneak behind their backs and make things worse, thing they do(on tv). But an acquaintance insisted that this show transcended all of that. Suffices to say I won't be taking his tv recommendations again. I feel like this show could have been amazing but instead we end up with a jumbled mess of extremely contrived conflicts and disproportionate reactions to them. Once I started I had to finish but I'm not inclined to return, I'll wait to see Gislef's reviews of the first 2 episodes of season 3.

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