With only two more episodes to go this season, the Titans need to get themselves together. They’re split off into small groups, scattered all over, and several of them aren’t in great shape. While we do get to see Hawk this episode, despite the name, it doesn’t focus on him, skipping around between the various groups. You can an idea of some of what’s going on from the title, “Faux Hawk.”
Continuing the trend of hopping around in time, we go back to five years ago, and the big fight between Deathstroke and Robin where Jericho was apparently killed. Except now it seems pretty likely he wasn’t. We get an unexpected father/son confrontation, and find out both where some loyalties are, and that someone’s been lying. It ends with an attempted heroic act that gets thwarted by villainous willpower. Elsewhere, Gar goes to a coffee shop where they’ve apparently gotten to know him, but it turns out not to be a casual visit. Mercy Graves is singularly lacking in her namesake quality.
The news covers an unusual event that we know relates to one of our characters, and Walter, the hapless Cadmus exec we’ve seen a few times now, starts to worry. His night gets worse when his food delivery is brought by two lovely young women- Donna and Dawn, who want some answers. Their determination and Donna’s lasso get them some information, although how they found him I’m not sure. There is a great exchange between the Titans about accessories. After some debate, and Dawn refusing Donna’s suggestion for getting help, they drive off on a motorcycle. What happened to the car they were in last we saw them is never touched on. I think the Titans have some kind of serious motor vehicle budget or something.
They finally get around to checking in on the titular character of the episode, and he’s not doing well. Hank is cage-fighting as Hawk, and has fallen in to some seriously bad and self-destructive habits. His fighting style veers from brutal to pro-wrestling, which is odd to watch. In a nod to the comics, at one point he’s in a three on one match, and two of them are dressed as minor comic villains Jinx and Mustang. I think the third one is someone we should know as well, but it’s a quick scene and badly lit, and the roles aren’t credited anywhere I’ve been able to find. Jinx has been part of the Fearsome Five, long-standing Titans foes, and Mustang was a Nightwing villain. Later, he makes another poor choice and can’t even pull that one off. Elsewhere and really not happy, Kory and Rachel continue their road trip. Kory is having some problems, and she and Rachel argue a lot. Rachel is sure Dick needs help and they’re close, Kory doesn’t seem to care as much. They finally agree to return to San Francisco and join in the search for the missing Gar and Conner.
We even get to the other group off on their own, Jason Todd and Rose Wilson. They clown around in the kitchen of yet another place they have apparently broken into, and then Rose turns serious, triggering another flashback. Three years ago we see an early display of Rose’s healing abilities, and a confrontation with her mother (just like in the comics, she and Jericho have the same father but different mothers). Rose goes home, argues with her mother, and pushes for information about her biological father. Three weeks after that, she’s managed to find Slade’s assistant/friend/manager Wintergreen, and finally gets to meet Slade himself. The reunion doesn’t go at all as she hoped, and she returns to her fairly normal suburban life.
Ten days later, Rose gets ready for a teen rite of passage and then gets a surprise visit that’s going to change her life. Banter with her mother turns into a more serious visit with her father, and a job offer. Slade offers a few explanations for some of her choices, proving he can be generous in his own odd way. Later, she gets some very rough training and her comic book costume and weapons. Slade is not a kind or patient teacher. Later, he tells her his version of what happened to Jericho and gives her a few more things. After a quick cut of Rose telling all this to Jason, it’s back to Rose and Slade. He critiques her work and reveals a bit more of his plan, along with his unkind but accurate assessment of Dick Grayson. Back in the present, Jason doesn’t take the news of what she’s been up to well, and, while she seems sincere, I understand his doubt. Alone and upset, she gets a phone call tempting her back to the dark side.
In San Francisco, Slade and Wintergreen meet up for some information updates and a special delivery. Anything that makes him smile that much isn’t likely to be good news for the Titans. Dick finally shows up, revisiting an earlier scene and talking with someone who has a lot invested in this coming confrontation. They talk and he agrees to try something that he admits he doesn’t really have a clue how to pull off. Back on his own, Hank has a nightmare reunion.
Dick pays a visit to someone we haven’t seen who seems to be the answer to Jack Nicholson’s classic Joker question in the first Batman movie back in the 80’s. There are a lot of hurt feelings to deal with before our hero prevails on the shop owner to come through with what he needs. All this hints at something that some of us have been looking forward to since the pilot episode. Continuing his string of poor life choices, Hank hits a new low and then starts making an effort to put things right. What’s a bit odd here is that several interactions he has make it sound like the Titans were a famous group, which isn’t the impression I’ve had from the series at all so far.
The wrap up scenes don’t look good for anyone, really. Hank’s new-found resolve gets tempted right off the bat, and it’s really not clear how that’s going to come out. Mercy, who is far too well-informed, follows up with Walter about his odd home invasion and figures out who it was ridiculously quickly. This leads to some odd comments about moving things up. The final scene is in a carnival, where a lot of people are going to have a very bad day.
What I liked: We got to check in with almost everyone (no Conner and no Bruce, either real or imaginary). The stage is set for some big developments for Dick, and we got an interesting peek behind the scenes for some of the superhero stuff. The sorta-villain cameos were interesting, but I wish they’d done more with them. I’m intrigued by what they seem to be doing with Jericho, and I really liked seeing Rose’s comic costume reproduced so well.
What I didn’t: They seem to have too much going on to wrap all this up in one episode. I don’t like what’s going on with Hawk. Donna and Dawn are generally the most level-headed members of any Titans incarnation, and they’re both being hard-headed here. The new wrinkle with Kory seems to come out of nowhere, and I can’t imagine it’s going to help anything. At this point, neither Dick nor Gar should have anything left of a normal life, and I’m really wondering how they’re going to manage to fix that. We’re almost to the end of season two, and Rachel and Gar are still lacking costumes and codenames.
It was an uneven episode on many fronts. I’ll give it a 3 out of 5, with some of the cool stuff overshadowing some of the things I didn’t care for. This should be an impressive finale.