Titans: Deathstroke

Deathstroke

Deathstroke, the Terminator. One of the best and most dangerous villains out there. 

Two episodes ago, Deathstroke captured Jason Todd, the second Robin. Last episode was almost entirely a flashback, telling about the Titans’ tragedy several years ago that led to the death of Aqualad (Garth, we barely knew ye) and the start of something very dark for the young heroes. Now, we’re back in the present. The world’s greatest mercenary/assassin still has the world’s most annoying sidekick held prisoner, and we see how things fall out in the appropriately titled “Deathstroke.”

The episode opens with the caption “22 MINUTES SINCE ABDUCTION,” which was an odd choice, since there’s no countdown and no further use of that kind of caption. Jason, still in his Robin costume, looks pretty bad as he’s driven off to an uncertain fate. Sometime later, he wakes up, suspended from his hands in the room we’ve seen ‘Stroke and Dr. Light in before. Doing what he does best, Jason annoys Dr. Light into making a mistake, frees himself and takes out the supervillain, and makes a decent break for freedom, interrupted by Deathstroke’s sword. A bit out of character, the villain even makes a quip. In Chicago, Kory calls Rachel as she rushes to the airport. Rachel misses the call since she’s asleep, but her floating darkness is undulating over her to keep her company. Creeping back to the Tower after the disastrous attempt at recon, Gar tries to talk to Rachel, does something amazingly dumb, and gets hurt, prompting her to sit bold upright with “I’m up!” which was one of the funniest moments of the episode. Gar starts to tell her about Jason, which is when Dick wanders in, echoing his mentor’s trick of popping up from nowhere.

Immediately going to the computer room (what did heroes do before big computers to sit in front of?), Dick grills Gar on what happened and all the details Gar can remember, brushing aside the younger hero’s attempts to explain why they went out. Dick tries the implanted Bat-tracer, but there’s no signal from Jason. Relegated to the kitchen, Gar fumes while Rachel makes coffee and a few smart ass comments to try and make Gar feel better. Their conversation covers Magic 8 Balls, the difference between dripping and brewing coffee, and finally, that they really don’t have a choice but to sit and wait. The older heroes debate what to do, whose fault it is (Jason’s), and how to try and search the vast tunnel network he disappeared in.

Engaging in some hypocrisy, the team goes looking in their civilian clothes, splitting up, after Dick gave Gar a lot of static for going alone and with no weapons. No one is happy, grousing about Jason’s bad decision, the water, or that he found Dr. Light which was more than they managed. Dick finds some evidence of the fight, and the team assembles to argue and snipe at each other. I think they’re more “People who happen to be in the same place” than a real team at this point. As they bicker, we see that Deathstroke left behind cameras and mics, and he and Dr. Light are listening in. Finally, Dick notices and starts disabling them, worrying Dr. Light. As he rants and fumes and powers up and stalks off, Deathstroke deals with the tracker in a painful way, the goes to deal with Dr. Light as he listens to some music to get pumped up. Deathstroke doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Or at all.

Back at the Tower, Gar paces in the kitchen (he spends a lot of time there this episode) while Rose sprawls on the counter and grouses about the cereal selection. Gar’s annoyed that she doesn’t really care, and she replies, ‘Sorry Robin 2.0 is missing or whatever, but he did it to himself.” Even with me being fairly sure I know what’s going on with this character, I like her anyway. Then again, that’s the point if I’m right. Frustrated, Gar stomps back to the computer room, where a bemused Rachel comments on the lack of coffee (do they have some kind of deal with coffee growers somewhere or something?). I guess they don’t need any, since tempers are high and the two end up arguing, only broken up by the arrival of Kory (from Chicago? Already?).

The rest of the team, after getting an alert from Gar, finds Jason’s tracker, which isn’t with Jason anymore. Among other things, they find a phone, which Deathstroke uses to call and taunt them, annoying Jason in the background. The team makes various threats (well, ok, mostly Hank), and Deathstroke makes his completely unsurprising demand. Kory and Rachel have a chat in the costume room (I still find all the empty costume pedestals a bit ominous). They cover Jason being missing, Rachel’s new powers, the non-stop training, and Rachel’s powers changing. Kory does her best to give some advice, telling Rachel a bit more about Kory’s homeworld. Kory suggests people aren’t destined to be something, they get to choose, which may be wishful thinking on her part with what we know is waiting for her at home.

The original Titans return, quiet and tense. Dick is surprised to see Kory, and moves them to the training room to talk, once again excluding the younger members, because that’s proven to be such a good plan so far. Gar uses the various monitors in the place to listen in after Rose goads him into it, making some good points on the way. The others are debating what to do about Deathstroke’s demand. There’s a lot of arguing, and Kory, oddly for her, is the voice of reason. All of this leads to Rose making a break for it. She actually gets past Hank, which is moderately impressive, then runs into Rachel, who does a great raised eyebrow look that should become her trademark. They fight, Rachel loses control, and things turn ugly. After some high drama, Kory turns to Dick and asks which problem he wants to fix first, which is a decent question at this point.

At the hideout Deathstroke is using, Jason continues using his best weapon, his mouth. Deathstroke is a lot harder to rattle than Dr. Light, and makes some ugly comments about Dick. Donna and Kory catch up over drinks (because right before facing a hell-on-wheels fighter is the perfect time to drink), and Kory tells Donna a few things about her home and her place there. Donna is surprised, but isn’t sure leaving Earth is such a bad idea. Hank and Dawn chat, and he reveals a very vulnerable side, comparing Jason’s current danger to his own dark past. Alan Ritchson does a great job with this scene, keeping Hank in character but clearly worried and afraid for Jason. After this conversation, Dawn goes to find Dick, and gives him a lecture and some threats. I’m actually liking her less as this show goes on, between her sneaking around as Dove behind Hank’s back and now this.

The team reassembles, all of them this time, and Dick starts to lay out the bare bones of a plan. Gar is going to keep watch over Rose, with Rachel standing by as backup if needed. The others go to what’s supposed to be the meeting spot, once again without costumes. What the hell, guys? Even if you don’t like your heroic pasts, those things have armor and some weapons. Don’t you want that if you’re facing someone that clearly still scares the hell out of you years later? On the way out, Dick and Kory have a chat about her staying or going, and his not being too good at asking for help. The rest of the team takes up positions to… pace around? Keep watch for Deathstroke? Set up an ambush? It’s unclear, and Donna walking around with the lasso but not the costume just looks odd.

Dick has once again kept secrets while trying to do the right thing. He either lied to his friends or figured out where Deathstroke really is, but he goes alone, and offers to surrender himself to get Jason back. Deathstroke lectures Dick that he’s not a martyr, he’s a conman, and he doesn’t get to dictate how this is going to go. As the rest of the team wonders what’s going on, Dick prepares to sacrifice himself, and then gets some unexpected back up in the form of an angry alien princess. I guess she followed Dick without him knowing, which either means Dick is slipping or she’s really, really good. At any rate, there’s a big Kory and Dick versus Deathstroke fight, which might be one of the best action sequences they’ve done in the series so far. These two come so close to winning, which makes me wonder what would have happened if they’d let the others come play, particularly Donna who seems to be the most powerful of them. It ends with a major cliffhanger, and even an online poll about it has popped up, harkening back to an event in the 80’s.

What I liked: The end fight was amazing. This was finally Dick and Kory as two competent fighters. Unfortunately, they were up against one of the best on the planet, and their teamwork, while good, needs work. Jason is annoying, but his motormouth was in character and amusing at times. Rose made some very good points with her snide observations throughout the episode. Rachel’s eyebrow at Rose was great.

What I didn’t: How’d Kory get from Chicago to San Francisco that fast? In the comics, she can fly, but we’ve seen no hint of that so far on the show. I really didn’t like the Gar/Rachel fight; it seemed like just drama flakes. I’m liking Dawn less as we go. Donna drinking before a fight was not a good idea. The team aversion to their costumes is just ridiculous at this point on many levels.

Some good, some bad here. I’ll give it a 3 out of 5. I hope the team gets its collective self together soon.

 

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