I’ve had a lot of problems with this Titans series. I disagree with the way they are handling just about all the characters, especially my personal favorite, Dick Grayson. So with this episode named after another favorite, “Donna Troy,” I was a bit worried. Turns out, in my view, Donna is the most accurately cast, written, and acted Titan so far. I was very impressed.
The opening scene is back in the past, with young Dick and Donna having a chat at Wayne Manor. It set the tone for their friendship and just plain sounded right, as she gave him some good advice. When he asks why she’s always right, she smiles and answers that she’s, “older, prettier, and smarter” than he is. The conversation also confirms the existence of several other DC icons in this world: Wonder Woman, Joker, and the Justice League. I liked those nods to a wider world. There was also a mention of “us sidekicks gotta stick together,” which is how the original Teen Titans was actually formed, so that was a nice little recognition.
In the present in Chicago, Rachel is up early making breakfast for everyone. Gar wanders in, offers to make the coffee, and they talk about Dick and Kory hooking up. Angela comes in, she and Rachel have some nice family moments, and, when Gar offers to leave, she generously includes him. She seems like a great person, which, with this show, is making me suspicious. I also wonder what happened to the food Rachel was cooking when everyone went to commune with the sunrise.
Kory wakes up from a nightmare/flashback, and we see she’s sharing a bed with Dick. They talk about not having a past, and she notes he’s all packed up. Dick says that Rachel is safe, so mission accomplished, more or less. Kory comments that if she ever figures out who she is, and he figures out who he’s going to be, they should try things again, and Dick agrees. Over breakfast, Angela enthuses about the food, much better than what she had in captivity. Rachel gives credit to Gar, and Angela asks about the group’s situation. Dick confirms that they don’t exactly have the owner’s permission to be where they are, and Angela offers her house to everyone. There’s also a nice nod to some of the reality of being unexpectedly held captive for five years.
Out on the street, Dick prepares to leave and Gar asks if this is the end of the team. Dick responds that technically, they were never really a team (I agree), and Kory disagrees. Rachel hugs Dick, Dick and Kory part ways, and he heads out on his own, Kory promising to get the others safely to Angela’s house. Dick finds Donna’s place, and gets a sort of casual greeting as she walks off, saying she’s late, then makes sure he’s coming. It was very much the right vibe of old friends meeting up again, and it was written/directed/played very well. Aside from one bit of minor superhero gymnastics, they have a talk about where they are. He tells her about quitting, and she has some very practical reactions to his story. She does get in a “Boy Wonder” crack, and invites him to a showing of her work later.
The others are now on a train (I wonder how they paid for the tickets), and Gar and Kory disagree about the menu options. She encourages Gar to give Rachel and Angela some time alone, and goes to get a trio of shots from the bar. Kory leans back, concerned about a man at the bar, and Gar, typical child of his time, starts playing games on his phone.
Donna and Dick get to her showing. Just like in the comics, Donna is a very talented photographer, and Dick is impressed with her work and the show. Donna has some details to see to, and tells him to mingle and make small talk. In another massive departure from the character in the comics, this Dick is apparently very bad at socializing, which Donna teases him about. This really isn’t the Grayson who became my favorite comic book character.
Back on the train, Rachel and her mother talk over their past. Angela drops some vague hints about Rachel’s father and his followers, but is very short on detail. I’m not sure if she’s hiding things from Rachel or unsure herself, but I think it’s the first. Gar wonders if Rachel is mad at him for his loss of control back at the asylum, and Kory tells him to never worry about defending himself. Kory slips away to confront the man from the bar, who says he was staring because she’s hot and he has no idea what she’s talking about when she accuses him of being part of the group from the asylum.
Dick proves that Donna is, once again, right, and he can’t socialize worth anything. After he scares someone off, he wonders what the Penguin is doing, so we get another name drop at least. Donna gets a text, checks in with Dick, and tells him she needs to go for a bit but he should stick around and keep trying. We also learn that, bizarrely, Dick gets seasick. While there’s an unpleasant development on the train, Donna goes off to a very odd clandestine meeting, and, naturally, Dick follows. Gar isn’t handling what appears to be his first drink very well, and the conductor announces the train has to stop for an obstruction on the track ahead, which makes Kory edgy. Well, edgier.
Donna’s meeting proves to not at all be what I was expecting. There was a great chance here to work in any of several DC names, but they didn’t take that chance, which was disappointing. Several characters have various degrees of connection to the seedy enterprise Donna is apparently investigating. Her meeting gets interrupted when Dick shows up and attacks the group she’s with, while Donna more or less stands there and shakes her head. Donna comes up with a really weird way to try and explain away what happened that I don’t think will work, and she gets in another nickname, bird boy.
Back at Donna’s place, they have a talk. Donna gently takes him to task for jumping in on her meeting. Dick is clearly still thinking like a crimefighter, and Donna contrasts her being raised by Diana in the Amazon way versus Dick’s upbringing with Bruce. She lays the foundation for what sounds like his eventual transition to Nightwing. They echo their earlier routine about her always being right. When she asks for his phone to follow up on her earlier request, she sees his pictures from Kory’s storage unit, and manages to identify the language, which is another minor point that made no sense to me. He asks if she can translate, and she agrees to look at some of her books.
On the train, Kory gets her group off and has a run-in with some federal agents. They all meet up later after committing another felony. Eventually, after Kory deciding she likes AC/DC, they get to Angela’s place, which looks a bit rundown in the very rural area of Killdeer, Ohio. Kory mentions the problems she’s having when another flashback hits, and Rachel offers to try and help, like she healed Adamson last episode. Kory is skeptical, but agrees to let her try. As Dick and Donna drive, with Donna relaying some disturbing news about her translation, Rachel goes to work on Kory. There’s a definite effect, and it’s a very surprising one, which ends the episode.
What I liked: I was very impressed with Donna Troy. She was written well, and she’s the most accurately depicted character on the series so far. Conor Leslie, who played her, did a great job. So did Andi Hubick, the younger version. Her scenes with Dick were really well done, and it seemed like the right vibe for the characters. I also liked the acknowledgement of various other elements of the DC Universe. Angela is either a really good person or she’s setting them up. I’m interested in seeing what happens with Dick’s possible evolution into Nightwing.
What I didn’t: Gar once again had a minimal role. He’s the only one who did nothing special/powered this episode. As happens a lot with such plots, I’m wondering how Kory’s group is paying for everything. I know I keep saying it, but I don’t like the changes to Dick. I don’t buy either Donna’s way of fixing her problem that Dick caused or being able to identify Kory’s language, unless Kory is no longer an alien? Which isn’t what the flashbacks seem to be saying.
I continue to have some issues with the series, but this was, to my mind, the best episode yet. I’ll give it a high 3.5 out of 5.