Can we all just admit Kori (Anna Diop) is the leader the Titans need?
Titans, as a program, has been pretty committed to a fractured take on Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites). In its first year, he was absolutely brutal in his methods and just about as likely to cause groin trauma as defuse a situation. At the time, it seemed to be thematically consistent with a show about young people rebelling against their elders. Indeed, Titans seemed to be rebelling from the established format of Greg Berlanti productions based on superheroes. The show came to life with Dick saying “f*ck Batman,” and kept that ethos going even when it forced Dick to take care of Rachel (Teagan Croft) and accept a leadership role he did not want.
Last year, he appeared to be running from leadership because of unresolved issues with the Batman, but this season has made it clear Dick doesn’t want to lead for a very different reason: he knows he’s bad at it.
As revealed this week, his interactions with Jericho (Chella Man) five years ago led to his death. Or, rather, it put Deathstroke (Esai Morales) in the position to kill his own child. Well, that’s presuming Rose (Chelsea Zhang) can be trusted, but more on that later. Throughout the episode, we watched Dick face a phantom version of Bruce (Iain Glen) as he tried to keep his secret safe — even if it meant betraying his morality to kill Slade himself. The phantom correctly surmised the secret will continue to poison Dick unless he can come clean to the others. And thanks to Glen’s performance, Bruce has a panache he rarely gets to display. Hopefully, the show will let the real Bruce have some of that swagger and humor. It would be a nice change from the self-serious Batmen of the 21st century.
But the phantom also revealed a very interesting core fear for young Master Grayson — he’s terrified of being alone. Yeah, it might conflict with where we found him in the pilot, but the worry he will be abandoned feels more true to this character than any other reasons for his outbursts and inconsistencies. In fact, it is something we would believe motivates the comic book Dick Grayson as well.
Granted, the Nightwing of comics is a natural leader where Titans‘s Dick Grayson is not. When we last spoke with Thwaites, he said Dick was on a journey to become “the best leader he can be.” But it is possible Titans may have another role for him down the line because Kori consistently shows off tremendous leadership potential. Consider the way she took charge of the Conner (Joshua Orpin) situation, surmised Eve (Genevieve Angelson, who we’re glad to see back) was being truthful on the vidphone, and sussed out a way to heal Superboy in a few short hours. Also, look at the confidence she gave Rachel during the attempt to save Connor’s life. While this episode finally revealed she can learn anyone’s language by touching them, the bigger deal here is that she gets along with everyone. She is able to hear and inspire the others in a way this version of Dick never will. Of course, it is possible her experiences with the Titans will convince her it’s selfish to lead here and not rule Tamaran. Maybe her departure will give Dick the push he needs to understand some of the subtitles of leadership.
Then again, we haven’t seen Kori get through to Jason (Curran Walters). Yes, it was important for Dick to be the one to reach him while sharing his secret, but turning that kid around would be the greatest test of Kori’s abilities.
And while we’re ragging on Jason Todd, we’re inclined to believe Rose is working for her father — and planting all of those important objects — because she came on to Jason. It’s truly suspicious because A.) it reminded us of Terra initiating a relationship with Gar back in “The Judas Contract” and B.) no one likes Jason Todd; physically or otherwise.
All that said, we’d praise this show immensely if it can make Jason a truly dimensional and interesting character. Walters plays a great asshole, but we’d love to see what happens if he’s asked to play someone with a soul.
Titans streams Fridays on DC Universe.
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