Titans: Rose


Titans on a budget: Dick goes dumpster diving for new recruits

The season started with the defeat of Trigon and the team both splitting and relocating. Now we see what everyone has been up to, do a three month time jump, and starting setting up for new story. We get one of the Titans’ old foes back, or at least some of them, a new character, and what I think is the start of a new twist on one of the best New Teen Titans stories ever done. If you know your Titans history, you have an idea of at least some of what to expect with “Rose.”

I’m guessing that, between seasons, the production team heard some of the complaints about at least some of the characters. We start off in San Francisco, and Dick Grayson is acting a lot more like himself as he and Rachel go out for coffee and debate a name for their team. Dick muses on the ready supply of bad guys in the world while the scene shifts to what the captions tell us is Titans’ Tower. Jason is doing a specialized kind of training with Gar. While he starts off well, he eventually makes a mistake, and Gar does as he was told to. It’s also worth noting that, while Jason is unquestionably good at fighting, Gar has picked up a lot in these three months. Dick and Rachel get back in time for Jason to complain about how the training turned out, and the training in general, and Dick illustrates why he’s telling them to do some of the things he is. After the others leave, Jason complains about wanting to go back to Gotham, and Dick does a great job of flattering and manipulating him, but in a friendly way. That’s more the Dick Grayson who is one of my favorite characters. The scene ends with Jason asking Dick a question that the older hero doesn’t seem to have an answer to.

Jumping to San Quentin, we see a very ugly, super-powered jailbreak. I admit, the way they were showing this character, I had no idea who it was supposed to be until much later. The escapee is very powerful and utterly homicidal. That’s not a great combination. Hank and Dawn have relocated to Wyoming, where they appear to run/own (it’s unclear) a small ranch and work with troubled kids. How they got this set up is never explained, but Hank has a surprisingly good touch with both the kid and the horse. The pair later discuss visiting Dick, cooking duties, a lack of boredom, and generally seem to be doing quite well. In Chicago, Kory and Donna are working together, running some kind of stakeout from a high-tech van. We don’t know where this came from, either. Someone (Bruce Wayne?) is funding a lot of things for the team, or they all have found someone to bankroll their individual endeavors. The two debate background, emotions, and donuts. Donna comments that she’s half-human, which is a new version of things. Whoever they’re looking for, what I found very interesting is that they’re there off intel from, according to Donna, Roy Harper. Roy in the comics started as Green Arrow’s sidekick, has been Speedy, Arsenal, and Red Arrow, and a long-time Titan, even leading one version of the team. A version of the character has been on the Teen Titans cartoon, Young Justice, and in live action over on Arrow. Kory makes a comment about moving to Florida (where her current comic title is set) and Donna seems both surprised and pleased that Dick hasn’t called about helping with “the kids.”

We see a beat-up kid with silver hair and an eyepatch going down the street, and if you know the comics, you know who she has to be. Back in the Tower, Rachel tries to study the Art of War and masters the trick of unintended napping. She has some kind of nightmare that we don’t see, which has a few consequences in the real world. As she recovers from that, Gar comes in, bringing food. They talk about Dick’s obsessive training, not liking his food, and briefly discuss a road trip to see friends they miss. Rachel shares some worries she has about Dick. Out in the streets, our mysterious stranger has managed to steal a car and get into a high speed car chase with the cops. The team sees this on the news, and the young woman shows what she can do when she gets cornered. She makes an amazing escape that leaves her battered and bleeding, but free. Jason admires what he’s seen.

Returning to Wyoming, Hank and Dawn continue to be having a good time. She offers Hank encouragement in his work with Ellis, the kid he’s been helping. Dawn praises him and Hank’s uncharacteristically modest. They’re clearly very close and enjoying each other as a couple. Dick finds the kid from the news, tracking her down effortlessly when the cops managed to lose her, coming across her out cold in an alley. Hank wakes up alone, but we don’t have to wonder for long. Dove attacks a local meth-lab, and she’s a lot more vicious than I remember her being either here or in the comics. She bests the drug dealers easily, but has more trouble when she gets home. Hank isn’t happy she’s sneaking out, acting as Dove again, or going into battle alone. Their argument over this ends when they get an unexpected visitor who does something even more unexpected, but similar to something we saw earlier.

Our mystery guest wakes up, confused about her new surroundings. We also see her earlier injuries are gone. Dick is watching her over monitors, his observation interrupted when Hank calls to warn him about what just happened. Their foe who attacked the ranch is named, and I’m glad they did, because I never would have guessed who this was. It’s a very different spin on the character. Dick urges Hank and Dawn to come to the Tower, and Hank agrees. New girl tries to leave, and finds the elevator has some good security. The entire team intercepts her, but they at least avoid the cliché of fighting each other. Dick talks to her about some options and what he’s deduced so far about her. He’s giving her space and not forcing things on her, but she’s clearly not happy about being here.  He offers help, she insists that’s a bad idea, and no one is making progress with the other. Back in Chicago, we learn what Kory’s favorite music is, and that Donna doesn’t really like it. Donna decides they’re done for the night, and it’s time to break for tacos.

Gar, Rachel, and Jason are impatient as Dick talks to their guest. Jason is his usual obnoxious self, and Rachel isn’t thrilled about some of what he says. The younger heroes are clearly of different minds about whoever this is. Rachel goes to talk with Dick, and makes some keen insights into his character. They share a joke about Jason, and Dick wonders if he’s doing the right thing with the new girl. Kory and Donna talk about their quarry, and we get this name, too, which makes sense given who the other one was. Kory asks what Donna’s history is with this villain, and Donna looks surprised. The bad guy in question shows up, Donna does try and talk first (very in character) and then she and Kory drop her with some good teamwork. What we see of her roughly fits the villain’s comic book version.

Unsure of what to do, Dick phones home. Apparently he never gave Bruce his new number, since it comes in as Caller Unknown, but that to one side, they have a good conversation, Dick seeking some advice from his mentor. Their relationship is also much more in tune with the later day comics, which was nice to see. They talk tactics, making informed decisions, and the need for information. It’s a nice chat. Donna and Kory get their bad guy in custody with the FBI (I guess this world doesn’t have an ARGUS for supers?), and Kory goes on the much-delayed taco run while Donna takes a call from Roy. Kory runs into someone she has a connection with, is foolishly overconfident, and things don’t go her way, leaving a worried and puzzled Donna behind a bit later. We did hear Kory called something that fits with her comic book history. Dawn calls about that time, warning Donna about their earlier problem on the ranch.

Dick returns to his car, and smiles, surprised to see the girl still there. She responds that he said he was getting coffee, which she likes. They argue a bit more, and he once again appeals to her to stay, which she refuses, citing whoever is after her, as well as throwing attitude. After driving a bit, Dick brings her to the bus station, where she wanted to go, and gives her a cell to stay in touch. She’s not impressed or interested. She does finally give her name, Rose, and just as they part, the bad guy that’s been causing problems shows up and Dick’s car insurance premiums go up a lot. Back in the Tower, Gar and Jason are doing their own project and learn some things about Rose.

What I liked: Most of the characters seemed a lot more like themselves. I like this version of Dick a lot better than “Fuck Batman” guy from season one. Donna was well done, but she was pretty good season one, as well. I really liked the mention of Roy Harper, and hope we get to see him eventually. The two bad guys we saw are part of the same team, and I suspect will be joined by more as the season goes on. It was a nice touch that Gar picked up some good fighting tricks. The talk with Bruce went very well. The Donna/Kory team up was good.

What I didn’t: I understand the need for drama in a story, I don’t see why they need to cause problems for Hank and Dawn. There are other ways to tell a story. It seems like the bad guys, or at least one of them, knows who all the Titans are. Once again, I’ll repeat the importance of a secret identity. If they’re doing the storyline I think they are, I hope they’re very, very careful. It was a great story and I don’t want to see it screwed up.

All in all, this was one of their better episodes. I’ll give it a high 3.5 out of 5.