After the surprise appearance of Robin II, Jason Todd, at the end of last episode, he and Dick spend some time together in the episode appropriately enough called, “Jason Todd.” It’s a great illustration that it’s the person wearing the costume that makes all the difference. For a show called “Titans,” it seems a lot of the time like it’s “Dick Grayson who doesn’t want to be Robin and some other guys.”
The episode opens fifteen years ago in Gotham, at the graves of John and Mary Grayson. Dick is there, along with the folks from Haly’s Circus, one by one laying white roses on the graves. The actor playing young Dick, Tomaso Sanelli, did a great job in this scene, crushed by loss and not knowing what to do. Dick and Atlas, the Strongman, end up sitting on a bench, when Dick learns he’ll be staying with Bruce Wayne, not the circus. Dick is not pleased, but Atlas talks him around, uttering the very prophetic words, “Living with Bruce Wayne will change your life forever.”
Back in the present, Dick and Jason drag the out-cold Dr. Adamson out to their car. Jason, still in costume, keeps enthusing about how thrilled he is to meet Dick. They drive off, with Jason now in civilian clothes, hoping to pick Dick’s brain and get some pointers. His enthusiastic babbling at one point discloses a secret that Dick didn’t know about something Batman did, which ticks Dick off even more.
They end up at a fairly luxurious safehouse, one of many Batman keeps around the country. Dick gets a bit of a jolt when he learns his retina scan no longer opens the door. They haul Adamson inside (he gets dragged around a lot this episode) and chain him up in the bathroom. This is one of two things that didn’t work for me: the Batman maintains the place, but doesn’t have anywhere to keep prisoners? The other was that it’s stocked with beer, which Jason appreciates and Dick is surprised about. We know Batman doesn’t drink particularly, and beer does go bad. Does each safehouse have an Alfred rotating supplies in and out just in case? That seems wasteful.
There’s a portrait of Machiavelli, which does make sense, and Dick quotes him. Jason is impressed. Dick ducks out to call Kory and tell her what’s going on, and take care of something Jason told him about. Dick is surprised to hear about the Family being dead, and sort of teasingly blames Kory, who protests her innocence. He tells her to bring the others to the safehouse. I sort of wonder about this, too, since Dick took the only car they had. Did he just tacitly encourage Kory to steal another car?
Dick tries to politely get Jason to go away, which isn’t going to happen. Not only is Jason too much of a fanboy, but Bruce sent him on a mission. He shows Dick some disturbing photos of the people he used to travel with in the Circus. They are horribly disfigured, and Jason happily relates the name of the serial killer, the Melting Man. Dick has an idea about who it might be, but is sure that man is dead. This touches on Dick’s origin, and Tony Zucco killing the Graysons for the Maroni mob. Dick asks if they’ve checked with the police, and gets an answer that begins to set the stage for what kind of person Jason is.
In the computer room, Dick’s passwords are also no longer any good. With Jason’s help, he logs on to search for the sole survivor, Atlas the Strongman, AKA Clayton Williams. I’m sure it’s coincidence, but I find it interesting that Oliver Queen’s son on Arrow is William Clayton. Just one of those things, I guess. At any rate, they locate Williams in nearby Milwaukee. Just about when Dick is in mid-argument about Jason coming with him, the others arrive, leading to some awkward introductions that Dick tries to prevent from happening at all. Gar is star struck at there being a second Robin, and wonders if he can be one, too. Kory calms Gar down, then goes with Dick to see the still out-cold Adamson. Kory and Dick talk about him being replaced, his feelings about Jason, and his having to go for a while. He tells her to try and not kill this one, and she indignantly reminds him she didn’t kill the Family as he leaves.
Clay, it turns out, works as a bouncer in a bar. Jason dislikes bouncers and talks about being raised by an alcoholic uncle when he wasn’t on the streets. They get to the bar and Jason’s really bad fake ID doesn’t get him in. Maybe he shouldn’t have used the name Robert Plissken, AKA Snake Plissken of the Escape from New York/Los Angeles movies. Then again, that seems to fit Jason’s maturity level. Dick goes in while Jason has to wait outside, clearly annoyed. Dick finds Clay and they have a happy reunion, until Dick has to tell him about the deaths. Clay is impressed Dick is a cop, and Dick corrects that he’s a detective. Considering how long he’s been gone from the job, I doubt he’s either at this point. Jason slips inside when a careless employee takes out some trash. As Dick and Clay talk, Jason steals a drink, hits on a girl, and tries to start a fight with her boyfriend. Dick breaks it up, and just as they start to argue, a car explodes outside. This, of course, was a distraction, and the killer captures Clay, taunting Dick over the phone, and dropping a hint as to who he is.
This triggers another flashback, this time two years ago in Gotham. Zucco is arrested while Dick/Robin watches on the news (this means Batman replaced him with Jason within a year by the given timeline).We also get a glimpse of the Batmobile here. Dick visits the cops and is sickened to hear that they are cutting a deal with Zucco to bring down the Maroni Family. Dick rages about this, in the office and in the hall, where he runs into Tony’s son Nick.
Later, Dick continues to act horribly out of character, ambushing the transport, beating down the guards, and then giving a savage beating to Zucco. What he might have ended up doing we’ll never know, as this is when a Maroni hit team shows up, firing acid bullets, which are apparently a trademark of this version of the gangsters. Zucco begs for Robin’s help, and he steps back into the shadows, refusing. Zucco is killed moments later. I’ve said it before, and I will again, this is not any version of Dick Grayson I’m familiar with.
Back in the present, Dick blames himself (rightly) for Zucco’s death, saying he killed Melting Man’s father. Jason thinks that’s great; that there’s one less scumbag in the world, and that it must have felt awesome. Dick wryly agrees it did and that was the problem. Presumably, this is the incident that led to Dick quitting being Robin. Nick, since there’s no doubt it’s him at this point, sets up a meeting with Dick to get his revenge. Once again, Dick tells Jason he’s going to handle this himself.
They meet at an atmospherically moody industrial building, with Clay suspended by chains under an acid drip. When Dick shows up, in costume, Nick launches into the required Villain Monologue (TM), about what happened to his family after Tony died and the Federal protection was withdrawn. He also tells Dick that his outburst in the police station made it easy enough to figure out Dick was Robin after the attack that night. Nick’s version is Robin gave Tony to the Maronis, which isn’t quite true but might as well be.
To no surprise, Jason shows up and jumps Nick, while Dick goes to save Clay. Jason manages to get shot with the acid gun, but his cool new costume saves him from harm. Dick defeats Nick, and sirens approach. Jason says he’ll take care of it while Dick tends to Clay. Let’s just say that Jason’s idea of how to handle it isn’t anything hero approved, and he even admits to Dick Batman wouldn’t like it, but then, Batman isn’t there. It’s a scene that shows Jason as a violent psycho, which isn’t that far off from where his character ended up in the comics before his death (and inevitable resurrection). There was an entertaining scene with Clayton that shows how effective Bruce’s cover is.
I don’t think Jason and Dick will be working together again, especially not after the argument where Jason says some harsh things to Dick although some of them are true enough. The episode ends with Dick calling Kory to say he’s coming back. When she asks how many Robins to expect, he says, “None.”
Kory goes back to the bathroom, where Adamson finally wakes up. He asks about Rachel, and she says he won’t be getting anywhere near her. Adamson counters, fairly vehemently, that they can do whatever they like to him, but he won’t talk to anyone but Rachel. That should be an interesting standoff when Dick gets back.
What I liked: They did follow some parts of the Bat-mythos. Jason succeeded Dick, and they left much of Dick’s origin intact. Even Jason’s, from the story he told Dick. Jason has many flaws, but he is a hell of a fighter. It was kind of cool seeing both Robins working together. Gar’s hero-worship of the Robins was amusing. I liked Kory and Dick’s banter back and forth.
What I didn’t: They make Dick seem like the dark Robin through most of this series, so they paint Jason even worse to compensate. I’m amazed he ever managed to hide enough of his issues from Bruce, and Alfred, to wear the costume. I didn’t like Jason, and, back in the day when there was an actual phone poll to decide his fate, I voted to kill him. I don’t care for this version of Dick Grayson, my favorite hero, and it was even a bad version of Jason, who I don’t like at all. The Titans keep getting shoved to the side for an allegedly team show. Arrow splits time among Oliver’s team better than the Titans do here.
I’ll give this a low 2.5 out of 5. Dick, and the Titans, are favorites of mine. This is hard for me to watch, like seeing an old friend make a lot of bad, self-destructive choices.