We’ve gotten a lot of hints about a tragedy in the history of the first team of Titans in this universe. We got a lot more hints, but no real details, as the season goes on. I have an idea myself, but I’m going to wait and see if I end up being right. This episode gives us more about the various bad guys, Rose doing absolutely nothing to fit in, and some conflict among the old guard as they confront “Ghosts.”
Gar is apparently some kind of computer guy in this version of reality, as Jason had him do a search on Rose last time. Now, the current team are all looking at the screen, although only Jason (and the not pleased Dick in the background) know who Slade Wilson is and how bad this could be. We get the revamped version of Deathstroke’s history, a mention of another Titan (at least in the comics), and Dick deciding enough is enough and shutting the computer down. If he doesn’t like the whole keeping secrets thing or manipulating people, he’s got an odd way of showing it.
Fortunately, distraction is at hand as Donna, Dawn, and Hank arrive outside, and Donna comments that Dick must have changed the entry code. The two groups get caught up, and Donna tells them that she’s not quite sure what happened to Kory. The fact that no one seems worried about this aside from maybe Rachel is just bad writing. Donna’s a warm and caring person, and Dick’s a strategist, neither one of them should be, “Oh, I guess she just went off to Florida like she mentioned in passing once.” Shooing the kids out of the room, including a very reluctant Jason, the older heroes talk about the situation with Dr. Light. Hank makes the fair point that “Robin two point whatever” going on tv the way he did put a target on all their backs. To me, this says they really haven’t been careful with their secret identities, since all the enemies mentioned so far apparently know who the team is out of costume. Hank also makes it clear they are here to deal with Dr. Light and then leaving, which the others agree with. After all this, Dick finally gets around to telling them about Rose being there. Whatever has changed in Titans history in this world, Deathstroke is still regarded as dangerous, and the others are not at all happy with Dick’s decision. It causes even more of a split among the team, but Dick is sticking to his guns.
Back in Chicago, the not-in-Florida Kory wakes up cuffed and finds her powers have been neutralized. The guy we saw grab her is enthralled by cartoons, and takes her attempt to blast him in stride. Faddei (his name per IMDB, and a character I’m not familiar with) finishes watching his Warner Brothers cartoon (same company that owns DC, or at least was for quite a while) before changing roles to interstellar process server, giving Kory formal notice that she’s required to return home. After talking about family obligation and disappointments, he frees her at her demand and they share room service. In the Tower, Rose checks out her eye injury then hurriedly pulls the bandage back down as Dick knocks and comes in. He’s not happy about her not telling him who her father is (like he’s introduced himself and given a family background), and she counters that people who find about her father tend to die. They snark back and forth, and she mentions her big brother dying after falling in with the wrong crowd about four years ago, which tallies with at least one idea of mine about where they’re going with all this. They trade more barbs, and Dick gives her a small present on the way out.
The younger group is once again sparring with blindfolds and bokken, which seems like a really bad idea to me. Rachel and Gar are teamed against Jason, and he’s his usual cocky, obnoxious self. After he starts pushing things too far, Rachel’s self-control slips and her powers get out of control. Gar talks her down, but Jason is rattled, and throws a hissy fit at Dick, although Jason says he’s mad about being left out of the planning earlier. Knowing Jason, he’s probably mad about both the planning and the powers. After Dick leaves, Jason makes some unpleasant comments to Rachel and storms off, leaving her looking worried behind him. Kory and Faddei continue their dinner and he drops a few more hints about what’s required of her. She ducks out to call Donna, and they banter a bit about guys. Donna brings up Dr. Light, and Kory asks if they need her help. I suspect she’s looking for excuses, but Donna says they have it covered, and that Rachel misses Kory. The alien princess goes back inside for more conversation and dinner, and Faddei name-drops another Titans character in passing.
In the Tower kitchen, Rachel is making some complicated looking drink that is no doubt one of Dick’s healthy choices. Rose comes in and they talk about names and relationships with fathers. Rose tries to get a handle on what actually goes on in the Tower, and Rachel provides some vague answers. They actually bond a bit amid the banter, which is nice to see. Once again drawing on Gar’s computer skills (Did he learn this in his time with the Doom Patrol that’s not being mentioned on either show?), Dick has the young hero monitor the city power grid for places Dr. Light might be charging up. Dick asks about the tension in the training room earlier, but Gar covers for Rachel. In turn, Dick doesn’t really answer Gar’s question about what happened with the earlier team.
Giving the bad guys some screen time, we see that Deathstroke and Dr. Light are working together, which isn’t shocking. Deathstroke is cold and focused, much like Batman, and Dr. Light is annoying and boastful, much like the Jason Todd or Damian Wayne Robins. Deathstroke gives a very rough outline of his plan, and Dr. Light is just generally annoying. In the costume room, ominously showcasing empty pedestals with codenames on them, Hank is alone in the dark when Dawn comes to find him. They talk about his problems and her recent sneaking out at night. Dawn seems to be taking the odd stance that heroing is fine for her, just not him.
On the streets of Chicago, Faddei is struck by the differences here from their home, and how the people should be making way for Kory, since she’s royal. Kory likes the more egalitarian approach the people of Earth have, and talks wistfully about the freedom here. Faddei isn’t much on details, and takes in some of what she’s saying before deciding to “prove himself” in a way that leaves them both running away and demonstrates that either building codes are really lax in Chicago or that people from Faddei and Kory’s home have more going for them than just glowing eyes. Donna and Dick have their turn for a chat in the kitchen. The former Wonder Girl has some grave reservations about Dick starting the Titans up again, and doesn’t think it’s a great idea that he’s keeping things from the younger heroes and that he’s getting mixed up in all this without having an identity since he gave up being Robin. Remember that for irony points later on. They both make some good points, and Dick is clearly bearing a lot of guilt from whatever happened earlier. Gar interrupts with a lead on where Dr. Light might be.
The older heroes plan to go after Dr. Light, and presume they’ll have the advantage of surprise. Jason is already in costume and wants to come, which the others all shut down. They leave, Jason sulks, and Rose comes through, eyeing his Robin suit and asking about “Costume Friday?” The heroes go to confront the bad guy, and he’s ready for them, knowing it’s all four of them. He has some gadgets on him that look a lot more like his comic book costume. The show seems to treading the same weird ground that Arrow did first season, not really feeling comfortable with costumes and codenames. The four heroes are all in civilian clothes, which is stupid. If nothing else, the costumes all seemed to have some armor in them. One of the team gets hurt, Donna shows a new power and uses her lasso at least, and Dr. Light gets away when Dick goes to protect civilians instead of pressing an attack. No one is happy.
Faddei has gotten a car from somewhere or other, and he and Kory talk about old stories from home. They also talk about their destinies back home, and what will happen to him if he goes back without her. His serious talk isn’t doing a lot for her mood. The defeated team gets back to the Tower, and there’s a lot of blame going around. Never one to miss a chance to be a dick (no pun intended), Jason fires off some cutting comments about them being back without their bad guy. Jason gets pushy, Dick’s not in the mood, and the attempt at confrontation ends with Jason on the floor. Probably not the kind of mentor Dick really wants to be.
Trying to work off his bad mood, Dick is doing staff forms in the training room. The staff is a weapon connected with the third Robin, Tim Drake, not Dick or Jason. Rose comes in, pulls a sword, and joins him. They debate fighting philosophies, and in the course of the clash, Dick ends up with some weapons more like his later identity. Kory brings Faddei to her ship so they can go home. Kory gets a call from Rachel, who is very worried about her powers slipping. I don’t know how resolved she was before, but by the end of the call, Kory has a change of heart, pulls a fast one on Faddei, and explains why he shouldn’t do what he wants to. This scene also implies that everyone from Kory’s homeworld has the same powers she does, which isn’t the case in the comics.
Hank and Dick manage to talk like adults and patch up some of their earlier quarrel. Dick clearly has some deep feelings for the Tower and the Titans, and Hank seems to feel he needs to do what Dawn is hinting at, which isn’t necessarily what he wants. Despite their very different attitudes, they show the friendship between the two, which is a lot of what the Titans are about when they’re written well. That gave me some hope for the team dynamic down the road.
The episode ends with something you could see coming, but it works. Gar is still searching for Dr. Light when Jason comes in and starts playing serious bad influence. Jason does something clever, showing he’s not all bluster and bad attitude, but then talks Gar into doing something dumb. The two get into all kinds of serious trouble, and it’s going to make life a lot more difficult for the others in the near future.
What I liked: They are at least hinting at a lot of history for the team, so I’m enjoying that aspect. I don’t care for Jason, but he’s being written consistently. The contrast between Dr. Light and Deathstroke was interesting. It’s fun watching Rose trying to figure out what’s happening around her, and her scene with Dick in the weapons room was good, as well as her one with Rachel.
What I didn’t: The choice to go after Dr. Light in civilian clothes was just foolish, both from the secret ID aspect and from the protection issue. As far as I can tell, this version of Hawk and Dove don’t have powers, so they need every edge they can get, as Dick does. I’m not loving the Kory/Faddei storyline. Dick keeping secrets from the kids is not a good idea and it’s going to come back and bite him.
I’m liking season two a lot more than the first one so far. I’ll give this a 3 out of 5.