Titans: Jericho

Jericho

Wait, you guys are who now?

“Jericho” might be the most uneven episode of Titans so far. There were some brilliant scenes, and some things that made no sense. We get to see the end of the tragedy that broke the Titans, but we knew at least the broad strokes of this already. There was an amazing fight scene, and one I don’t think they did really well on. All in all, I have questions about this flashback in several different time periods. There will be a few spoilers below.

The episode opens unclearly. Jericho, carrying a lantern (no, not green), wanders the streets past various scenes before eventually waking up. I’m presuming this was a nightmare, but why, or what it meant, or what we were supposed to get from it I have no idea. Jericho tells his mother he’s going out to meet friends, and is typically teen evasive about who he’s going to see. This, if nothing else, helps drive home how young he is, although he was contemporary with the other Titans in the comics.

He is, of course, going to see the Titans, as they have a party on the beach involving tossing a football around and chatting. It’s a bit odd to me; in the comics, the Titans have always seemed like a family. This is the only time in the series it’s felt like that to me, and it’s in the process of a mission. Dick very unsubtly pumps Jericho for information on his father, using an interesting wrist cuff as a way in. Hank tells a tale of teenage heartbreak that led to his vow to never dance again, and humorous twist on his expulsion. Privately, Dawn expresses some reservations about what they’re doing, and Dick seems torn. For whatever reason, Dawn seems to be the only one that understands sign language, so she relates Jericho’s tale of his father as a war hero. This gives us a flashback of Slade Wilson going through the process that made him Deathstroke, and later escaping from captivity while casually eating an apple and showing truly horrible fire discipline. Later, Slade comes home with flowers for his wife, and gives Jericho the wrist cuff we saw. Wilson already has the eyepatch in this scene, so how that happened is different in this world. He does come across as loving his family in this scene, giving the character some depth.

As Dick continues to be as subtle as a wrecking ball in a minefield, Jericho tells them about the changes in his father after he went into the “insurance business,” and we see a scene that’s close to part of Jericho’s origin in the comics. We also see that Jericho doesn’t care for Wintergreen, which I don’t blame him for. There’s some stunned silence around the campfire, implying Jericho told them exactly what happened in this flashback, and Dick commiserates, saying he was raised by a “borderline psychopath.” Not a nice description of Bruce there, Dick. They all toast to “fucked up families.” Which is another odd bit about this scene, it’s really unclear if they’re giving an underage Jericho beer. It kind of looks like it, I’m hoping I’m wrong.

Later, the team researches Wintergreen, who, among other things, was the best man at Slade’s wedding. They find so much on him so quickly, it really makes me wonder why they had to go through this charade with Jericho. I expect better from the protégé of the World’s Greatest Detective. Oddly enough, with Hank being the voice of reason, the team goes after Wintergreen, only to miss him at his house, apparently by moments. How he knew they were coming, or why they once again went into a potential combat situation in civilian clothes is never explained. The team is collectively unsure about what to do next, and debates their situation with Jericho.

Oh, this is why they didn’t bother with costumes; so Wintergreen could show Slade the surveillance pictures from his place of all of them wandering around and failing to see the cameras. Slade is pissed, and he and Wintergreen debate options. Donna gets called to a meeting with her mentor Jillian, and gets a lot of surprising news at once.

Dick goes to the record store to lay his cards on the table, but sees Jericho use his powers. Impressed and surprised, Dick brings Jericho back to the Tower, which his team isn’t thrilled with. After a demonstration that surprises most of them and annoys Hank, Jericho mentions he told someone about his power once, and we see Slade learning about his son’s ability in a flashback. I guess the detective skills Dick is missing went to Slade, seeing as he figured out what was going on from virtually nothing. He gives Jericho a grim warning about keeping his powers hidden, much like Eve did with Superboy.

In the Tower, the team tries to digest what Jericho’s abilities could mean, with mixed reactions. Dawn and Dick agree it’s time for no more secrets, and show Jericho the costume room. This has always been one of the problem with how Dick runs the Titans. Knowing who Robin is leads anyone with half a brain to who Batman is, and that’s not Dick’s secret to share. Jericho is impressed and excited, which gets snuffed out when they go on to tell him why they started hanging out with him in the first place and the truth about his father. Returning home to pack, Jericho grabs up clothes and his box of records, has a fight with his mom over what he’s doing, and leaves in a huff. Desperate, Adeline reaches out to her ex and tells Slade about Jericho leaving and gives him the cuff Jericho tore off in anger. It’s a tense, nasty scene of two people who aren’t at all close anymore but share concern for their son.

Once again in the record store (they must really like that set, or paid a lot for the location), Wintergreen comes to see Jericho. Wintergreen doesn’t follow sign, so he just delivers the message he was instructed to and has an interesting take on the Titans name. Later, Dawn and Dick debate the merits of Jericho going to this meeting, Dick’s “being Batman,” and what the right call is here. Donna gets called in for another meeting, but we can see it’s not going to be good. Dick talks to Jericho, tells him to go and meet with his dad, and promises to stay out of it. The young man is thrilled and clearly Dick is not equipped for his reaction. Donna walks into a trap, and has an ugly fight with Deathstroke. On the one hand, he’s supposed to be an amazing fighter with incredible weapons and low-level powers. On the other, Donna is superhuman on many fronts. I’m not sure I like how relatively easily he bested her, or what his logic was in leaving her alive. Badly wounded, Donna manages to trigger her alarm and call back to the Tower for help.

Things are building to a climax as we see the church that Dick visited in the “Bruce Wayne” episode, where Jericho meets his father, unmasked but in full costume otherwise. They have an intense conversation while the rest of the team finds Donna and the other remnants of Deathstroke’s work. Making sure she’s ok, Robin charges off alone, because the best way to handle someone who has dropped your only two powered teammates is alone and full of rage, right? Jericho isn’t at all happy when Robin shows up, breaking his word about not interfering with the meeting with his father. Deathstroke claims to be able to hear Dick’s heartbeat before he actually can see him, which is new. There are some similarities, but Deathstroke isn’t Wolverine. The Deathstroke vs Robin fight might be the most impressive one of the series, and Robin even does the ninja smokebomb trick to get away at one point. Ultimately, Deathstroke is more than a match for Robin, especially fighting when mad Robin, but the fight ends on a tragic note that doesn’t match up with either what Dick’s been hinting at with his “big dark secret” routine or even with what was established in this episode. In the aftermath, the team leaves Dick in the shrouded Tower, Hank without a word just a glare, Dawn with “Don’t.” when he tries to talk to her, and Donna at least with something civil and caring. I’m not real clear on exactly why everyone blames Dick for what happened or why this means they all split up aside from script-ordered drama flakes.

What I liked: The episode both gave Slade some depth and showed what a dangerous man he is. The Deathstroke/Robin fight was remarkable. I do like that the team decided to tell Jericho the truth, and that he finally showed his powers, although using them the way he did after the big warning from his father didn’t make a lot of sense. The scene out of Jericho’s origin was close to his comic book one. Adeline’s rage at Slade made sense and was well acted. The scene with Jericho demonstrating his powers on Hank was entertaining.

What I didn’t: I mentioned the need for using Jericho at all if they found so much on Wintergreen so quickly. Donna was beaten too easily, especially with Dick giving such a good accounting of himself. I want to know how Wintergreen knew they were coming, and how no one spotted the cameras. A really big hole they left here: last episode, Rose was all upset about her brother’s records being at the Tower. She’s never mentioned, never shows up, doesn’t even get referred to. When did she form such a bond with her brother that she’s mad about the records and recognizes his handwriting? Robin going to fight this very dangerous foe on his own was just foolish. I don’t follow the reasoning behind the blame and breakup at the end.

As I said, it was an uneven episode. I’ll give it a low 3 out of 5, mostly for the end fight.

 

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