Titans: Bruce Wayne


Dick faces off with his mentor… kinda

The Titans’ second season is about at the halfway point, and there’s a lot left to do. They’ve done nothing effective against their big foe, Deathstroke, most of them haven’t even appeared in costume in the current era, and, even though they’re listed that way in the credits on IMDB this week, Raven and Beast Boy/Changeling (better name, always will be) haven’t taken their code names. I guess with the additional episodes, they’re going for a slow build. That’s fine, if it gets somewhere. Almost every episode this season has been a name, and they continue that with “Bruce Wayne.”

It’s not terribly surprising, considering what he went through last episode, but Jason is having some serious flashback issues that, to me, seem like PTSD. In the costume room, Dick is feeling the weight of both his mistakes and being in charge. This is when the title makes a lot more sense as a hallucination of Bruce Wayne pops up and starts mocking Dick. The Bruce we saw have a chat with Dick a little while ago was a mellow, wise mentor. This is a nasty, caustic, jerk, acting as badly as the worst portrayals of Batman over the years. After Dick is berated by his imaginary friend, Dawn comes in to give a not-great status report on Conner. Interestingly, in a detail I never noticed, as Dick leaves, we see two more costume niches that don’t have either costumes or names. There are still two of the original Titans from the comics that haven’t shown up in person yet. Maybe I’m hoping for too much, but I’d love to eventually learn those are for whatever versions of Speedy and Kid-Flash exist in this world.

Kory is keeping watch over Conner, which seems a bit out of character to me. Then again, she did bond with Rachel quickly. They debate whether to send him to a hospital or not, and Ghost Bruce keeps making nasty comments. Dawn raises a good point that “Bruce” seizes on and Dick ignores. Dawn’s role largely seems to be prodding Dick this episode, and she brings up checking on Jason, which he says is next for him. Jason is pushing himself in the training room, ignores Dick’s attempts to talk or offer advice, and pre-emptively blames himself for getting captured by Deathstroke. I grant it’s not the time to get into it, but it is his fault. Once again, Dick is hectored by imaginary Bruce.

Still accompanied by his nasty version of Jiminy Cricket, Dick joins the other older heroes in the kitchen for food and criticism. Bruce does get a few amusing lines off in between picking on Dick. Hank tears into Dick almost as badly as Bruce, and Dawn piles on. Dick tells them he’s going to get some information, and leaves amid concern from Donna and barbs from Bruce. Conner almost wakes up, startling everyone and grabbing Kory as he speaks in a foreign language. This is enough for Kory to establish he’s got ties to Superman, as he’s speaking Kryptonian, but no one makes the leap to contact the Man of Steel. Conner further confuses Kory and Dawn by muttering a name they don’t know: Eve.

Speaking of, Eve is back at LexCorp, and not at all happy about how Mercy handled things with Conner. Eve makes some demands that Mercy ignores, and then gets more bad news that Mercy relishes delivering. The two women have some very different attitudes about the Teen of Steel, and Eve starts making some plans to right the scales. Back in San Francisco, Dick goes to meet an old informant, who recognizes him, which is either bad writing or bad strategy on Dick’s part. If this is someone that recognizes him as Dick Grayson, he’s been going around working cases out of costume, which seems par for the course for the Titans, but not great for keeping his, and Batman’s, secret identity intact. After some threats and even petty theft from Dick, he gets his next clue, with Faux-Bruce even agreeing with him on a few points.

All is not well back at the Tower. Hank comes out of the shower to find an unpleasant surprise. Jason’s flashbacks lead him to let some music play too long, which brings Rose to the door wondering what’s going on. She pretty much pushes her way inside for some flirting/information gathering. It’s an odd scene. Eve makes a desperate move at LexCorp, and shows both she’s resourceful and brave, but that she doesn’t know some general terms for Superman’s powers, which is odd for her specialty. She and Krypto make a hasty exit that I’m sure she regrets as soon as it starts. There was a joke that every 80’s action movie had to have a scene in a strip club. They nudge the edge of this, with Dick being directed to a burlesque place, which just seems odd. Bruce does a familiar dance on stage with a nice nod to Batman’s past, and even interacts with the dancers, which is odd for a hallucination. In spite of all this, Dick manages to get his next clue and move on.

It’s Donna’s turn to find something strange in her room, while Rose continues her scene with Jason and makes an interesting statement about dancing. This scene goes off the rails when Rose makes a disturbing discovery in the record collection, which is either Rose playing a part well or shooting down one of my theories. She storms off, leaving a confused Jason behind. Dick keeps arguing with the Bruce that isn’t there, manages to find Wintergreen, and we see the first nudity of the series, which seems like an odd choice. Dick confronts Wintergreen, who proves unflappable, as Bruce keeps up his barrage of ugly comments. Bruce keeps urging Dick to get back to the Tower, but the former Robin gets a call that sends him off in another direction. The “How did this get here?” trend continues as Dawn finds her own odd memento, leading to her, Hank, and Donna comparing notes. Jason keeps having his flashbacks while Kory tries to reach the still-out-cold Conner with an amusing plea.

The writers finally remember Gar is around, as he answers the video-intercom and shares some mutual confusion with Eve, led here by Krypto. This is a weird scene, as it at least implies Krypto flew her from Metropolis, which has always been depicted on the East Coast (except possibly in the Smallville series), to San Francisco. If nothing else, that doesn’t sound comfortable, given how we saw them flying briefly. Desperate for a clue, Kory lets Eve up and they compare notes about Conner and what they have to do to save him. Eve makes an offhand comment that leads to the solution, and hey, look, Rachel’s still here too as she uses her power in a way we’ve never seen to help Kory get Conner healed. Conner, Eve, and Krypto get an amusing reunion.

The scavenger hunt brings Dick and his shadow to a church, which he’s apparently been to before, judging by Bruce’s comments. There are more hints about a secret that’s apparently part of the big feud between the Titans and Deathstroke. Bruce prods at him until Dick has a minor breakdown, then looks resolved. Bruce’s approval is short-lived as Dick finds out why he was brought here, and takes off for the Tower as fast as he can. After returning to her room, Rachel finds she’s been the latest victim of the anonymous redecorator, and, after her powers flare, storms off to Jason’s room, full of rage and blame which is partially wasted as he’s off in his own nightmare again at first. Finally pushed too far, Jason leaves, followed by the bellowing Rachel, which brings in everyone else, almost. The others all compare notes and also decide everything that’s been going on is Jason’s fault. Let me be really clear here- I am not a fan of Jason Todd in any of his incarnations: the original, his Red Hood guise, or this guy on the show. That said, I don’t get why everyone decided he was to blame, considering there’s a much better suspect that everyone seems to have forgotten about. Dick gets back in the midst of the chaos, worrying the others with what he’s carrying and he eventually ends up on the roof. Jason almost makes a permanent exit, but Dick talks him down and shares the big secret which, if true, is the most out of character thing I’ve heard about this Dick Grayson yet, which says something. Looking on approvingly, Ghost Bruce finally fades away, leaving his two “sons” to work out what to do next.

What I liked: Iain Glen did a great job with his turn as The Bruce who Wasn’t There. He was brutal and ugly but also got in some great lines. It’s not often you hear a hallucination complain about food choices. I think it was overdone, but Jason being freaked out by his near death last time makes a lot of sense, especially with his relative lack of experience. I’m glad Eve got the spine to free Krypto and help Conner, and the way Kory healed him made a lot of sense for the most part. If the Titans ever manage to turn into a real team, they could probably use a scientific advisor, Eve. Just sayin’. The scene with Jason and Rose was pretty good. Kory’s scenes with Conner were well done.

What I didn’t: I don’t get how Dick is acting for most of this episode, and if the big reveal is true, I’m even less interested in this twisted version of my favorite character. Everyone leaping the conclusion that Jason is to blame doesn’t make a lot of sense. He’s a jerk, but he’s not the best suspect here. It was weird the way the writers seemed to forget about Gar and Rachel for most of the episode, and then had Rachel do something very different with her powers. If the shirt and the powers weren’t enough of a clue, why did no one contact Superman after Conner spoke Kryptonese? If they’re going to list them on IMDB even with codenames, could we get those and costumes for Gar and Rachel? Trivia fact- until they rebooted her younger, Raven was her real, and only, name.

It was an uneven episode. I’ll give it a low 3 out of 5.