As the title of this week’s Titans suggests, the team is finally “together.” But they’re still not quite the Titans. Considering we’re at the half-way point, the group will have to struggle a bit more before they can really claim that identity — probably with some key moment justifying their group name. Nonetheless, the episode went a long way in defining their rapport and giving them a plausible reason to team up: to fight the Nuclear Family.
And while their first training scene is fairly predictable — Gar (Ryan Potter) flashing everyone and Rachel (Teagan Croft) losing control of her dark powers are textbook moments — watching the characters react to each other’s powers was worth the fairly standard plotting. In fact, few comic book shows or movies feature the characters actively enjoying their abilities. Also setting it apart was Dick’s (Brenton Thwaites) refusal to share his skills or his secret in that scene.
Dick’s trust issues are an established part of the show, and while it would be nice to see him open a little, especially after sleeping with Kory, it is going to take much longer for him to feel comfortable with sharing. Consider they only know he’s Robin because of the Nuclear Family’s attack at the motel.
Nonetheless, there was a charming scene in which he and Rachel bond over the shared enjoyment of hurting people. This is a concept only Arrow has really confronted: superheroing offers people an opportunity to justify the call to violence. And even though Dick is trying to get beyond that aspect of his personality, working with the Titans will keep putting him in violent situations. In fact, every situation he’s faced so far on the show is specifically suited to his skills. Not that it does much for his disposition.
But at least Gar continues to be a ray of sunshine. His reaction to learning Dick’s secret was a highlight. Sometimes, you want to see these characters star-struck by one another. It used to be Wally’s job on the Justice League cartoon and Gar seems like the perfect person to hold up the tradition.
Additionally, it’s great to see Kory (Anna Diop) act more like Kori. The effervescence is finally on display thanks to her interest in getting to know Mister Grayson; which will hopefully continue to be an aspect of the character whether she gets her memory back or not. And while she continues to be the show’s biggest departure from the comics and the animated series, there is something appealing about her here as she’s not as flighty or as ill-informed as her counterparts in other mediums.
At the same time, it was disappointing to see her sit out the first team fight. Dick, Rachel and Gar already make a great trio, but it would’ve been decisive had Kory had her powers. Perhaps even too decisive; which would explain why her powers wane with the setting sun and why she needs long periods of rest to regenerate.
The end of the Nuclear Family was also a disappointment as they made for such great, weird antagonists. Based on Outsiders villains created Mike Barr and Jim Aparo, they had a Bob Haney energy to them on the television series thanks to re-framing them as brainwashed humans in lieu of androids and the collective performances of the actors. Their cheery-but-forced 1950s dispositions were a great contrast to the brooding of Dick and Rachel. But considering this Nuclear Family was part of a shadowy organization determined to capture Rachel, other Nuclear Families may eventually appear to tussle with the Titans.
In the meantime, we’ll look forward to Dick and Jason Todd (Curran Walters) sizing each other up. The meeting of the Robins is another marquee moment and it will be interesting to see how Titans tackles it.
Titans streams Fridays on DC Universe.
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