The live action sorta interpretation of the Titans continues in their third episode, “Origins.” There are a lot of flashbacks to fill in background, mostly on Dick Grayson and a tiny bit on Kory/Starfire and Rachel. Another perfectly acceptable title would have been “Driving,” since there are so many shots of various characters in cars. Maybe travelogues are coming back in the DC Universe?
The episode opens with a rerun of the end of the fight from last time, with the same tragic ending. The Nuclear Family gets away with Rachel in their station wagon (really?), but their hasty exit is watched by Kory, sitting in an alley in a different car. This leads to a flashback from two days ago, as Kory searches the Roth home after Rachel’s mother’s murder. She runs into some cops, does a really stupid bluff, and beats the hell out of them. Why three cops were at a closed down murder scene, I have no idea, and it sure looks like she kills at least one of them. I’m also very curious how she got from Europe to Michigan, since we’ve seen no indication of her flight power so far, and how she knew where to go.
The Family takes Rachel to Coolsville, Ohio (seriously, who is coming up with these names?), where they make a pit stop for gas, snacks, and the restroom. Rachel tries to escape this way, but can’t get the window open. Apparently Kory has been following them this whole way, which would mean they’re bad at picking up a tail, since Kory’s car isn’t exactly subtle. Kory takes advantage of the distractions of the gas station to free Rachel by very unsubtle means, but it does let us see she’s more powerful than it looked when she killed all the gangsters last time. “Mother’s” reaction shows how far out of whack the Family is, while Kory points out to Rachel she’d be better off with Kory than the Family. The two flee in Kory’s presumably stolen car.
Dick drops in at the hospital where Dawn is in critical condition while a grieving Hank sits at her bedside. Why they left either of them alive I have no idea. Watching this kicks off another flashback, this time 15 years ago in Gotham. Dick’s in an office with a woman who I don’t think we ever get a name for, and he’s told about Bruce Wayne offering to foster him. This is also when Dick finds out his parents’ death was probably not an accident, which finally provokes him into talking. At the famed Wayne Manor, Dick has a huge room and a closet bigger than my dorm room in college, filled with clothes. He looks out the window, seeing the Gotham skyline (Wayne Manor must be a lot closer to Gotham in this world) and leaps out the window, using his impressive acrobatic skills to get down a nearby tree. A shadowy figure watches from a window, likely Bruce, possibly Alfred, never really identified.
Back in the now, Hank sees Dick lurking in the hallway, and leaves Dawn’s bedside to talk to him. Hank has questions, Dick has no answers, but vows to get some. As he gets ready to go, he gets a call from the police department he notionally works for, and gets a lot of news. Some of it pertains to Rachel’s case, and some to his most recent partner. He also hears about the incident with Kory at the gas station, and takes off to investigate.
On the road, Kory and Rachel exchange exactly how much it is that they don’t know about each other or themselves. Rachel gets a bonus point for her, “You know that’s a weird question, right?” Rachel’s power to read other people doesn’t work on Kory, whether that’s because of the amnesia or her being an alien (at least she has been in every past incarnation) I’m not sure. They also contrast what it feels like is inside them before stopping for food, although Kory doesn’t order. Their stay in the diner gets cut short by stereotypical interaction with local bullies, which lets us see Kory can maim people even without her powers. They do get free food out of it at least.
As the women drive off, there are more scenes of Dick driving. As I said, there is much driving in this episode. In another flashback to early Gotham days, we see Dick learn a bit more about Bruce Wayne, go back to the manor and then… steal a car and go driving. Seriously. It does seem to be the same one he has now, so I guess Bruce has a bit of a sense of irony, if not humor. I do sort of wonder where a boy from a traveling circus learned to drive stick and outrun cops with actual driving training.
In the present, Dick gets to the gas station and badges his way in to the investigation. For some strange and unexplained reason, no one is in the room with the video equipment, so Dick copies the surveillance footage and goes back to his car to replay it, looking around guiltily the whole time. No, that’s not suspicious at all right next to a bunch of cops, Dick. He sees some of the incident, gets Kory’s car and tag, and then traces them to St. Paul’s Convent in Covington, Ohio. The tracing was kind of cool at least.
At said convent, Kory rings the doorbell (they have doorbells?) and the nun that answers recognizes both of them. The nun hugs Rachel and says, “You’re back,” to Kory, bringing them inside. Apparently Kory was there a year ago looking for Rachel, worried she was in danger. The nun tells them a little about Rachel and her mother’s arriving, and Kory’s visit. She also engages in some kind of creepy art appreciation with Rachel. The nun doesn’t have a lot of answers, but shows Rachel to her old room where picks up an old doll and smiles. Kory shows the nun the old key she found a few episodes ago. The nun, a bit unlikely if you ask me, recognizes it as from Scooter’s roller rink down the street, a “lively place the young people seem to like.” Kory also says she can’t let Rachel out of her sight and is sure she’s in danger.
Speaking of that danger, what’s left of the Family go to a high rise in Chicago and meet up with a very strange older man. He rhapsodizes about Rachel’s father coming to Earth, and threatens to end the Family for their failure. Sis speaks up a few times which both annoys Mom and impresses the older man, Dr. Adamson. He finally decides to not kill them, make them breakfast, and get them a new Dad. Nope, not creepy at all, any of that.
Down at Scooter’s Roller Rink, Rachel eats, and Kory once again doesn’t. I wonder if this version doesn’t need to eat at all as she keeps declining food. Kory goes to the locker, opens it, and finds… another key. This one goes to a storage place. Kory glares at it and mutters, “Really?” She stops by Rachel’s table to complain about the music and give Rachel money for the arcade. I think this place made it to the 1980’s and froze there. Rachel meets Gar while playing pinball, and Gar actually gets some lines this time. Dick finds Kory at the jukebox, and they have an exchange or two. Gar and Rachel like each other, Dick and Kory don’t seem to trust each other at all. Dick and Kory join the others at the arcade, and for a few moments, the major characters are actually all on screen together. That doesn’t last as Dick tells both of the women what charges they have against them, they take their argument outside, and Rachel’s power runs amok again. She wants to go back to the sisters, and for unclear reasons, they all pile in Dick’s car which was spared during Rachel’s outburst. Gar watches them drive off. Bonus points to anyone who saw what was a vaguely hinted at Harley Quinn cameo in the rink.
In the past, Dick gets lectured about his car related crimes, and gets told how lucky he is that Wayne isn’t pressing charges. The social worker or whoever this is tells Dick he needs to stop running away, and Dick tells her exactly what he’s doing and why, surprising the woman. Back once again at the very gothic looking Wayne Manor, Dick gets a note saying, “I can show you another way to deal with the pain.” As he reads this, there’s a shadowy figure behind him. Obviously, this is the lead in to him becoming Robin, but in this context, it really comes across kind of creepy.
In the chapel, Rachel reads the Bible as Dick joins her. He asks her a few questions and then gives her a dark, anti-morale speech that is about the furthest I can think of from something the Dick Grayson of the comics, my favorite character, would say. Dick asks the nun we keep seeing a few vague questions about Rachel as a younger girl. The sound of a revving engine adds another Grand Larceny charge to Kory’s rap sheet as she takes off in Dick’s car.
The nun brings Rachel a drink in the chapel, which Rachel and I both find a bit odd, but we see why a moment or two later when things get weird. Kory goes to the storage place and finds her bay. It’s full of weird stuff and, of course, a conspiracy wall, as well as what appear to be pages of something in some kind of alien tongue, which she can read, but not translate. As in, she makes the alien sounds of the words fluently, but clearly has no idea what they mean. Rachel gets shown to her new, much less nice room, while Dick confronts Kory and proclaims his use of apps and love for his car. Something about this episode and cars, I swear… He studies the room, taking lots of pictures of the weird walls.
There’s a lot of cutting back and forth from Rachel being tormented by her reflection again, and Dick and Kory trying to make sense of the storage bay. Eventually, Rachel gives in to her reflection’s urgings and temptations, which proves to be a very bad thing for the convent. Rachel’s hasty exit gets the attention of Kory and Dick, not to mention Gar and everyone down at Scooter’s. Kory and Rachel are definitely being hard on property values about everywhere they’ve been.
What I liked: For a brief moment, we get the main cast together. To complete the New Teen Titans lineup, we need Donna Troy, coming in a later episode, Cyborg, who might be in the next one, and Kid Flash, who as far as I know won’t be showing up. Things feel like they are starting to come together, if very slowly. Dick’s various gadgets were cool. Kory’s reaction to finding the second key was amusing, and I’m glad she dealt with “Dad” although it sounds like he might be back.
What I didn’t: Several scenes were so predictable, I knew what was coming as soon as the scene started, and I was right. Sooo much driving. I find it tedious in real life, and not much better watching other people do it. Everything at Scooter’s felt very out of date.
I keep hearing the season gets better as it goes. That’s both a low bar and not something I’m convinced of yet. I’ll give this a low 3 out of 5.