The Titans end their second season with a lot of death, chaos, and destruction. Long-time fans will probably not care for this, which brings an end to their sub-par adaptation of the classic Judas Contract storyline. This episode had some serious flaws. Season one ended with an episode titled “Dick Grayson.” I guess they’re continuing that after a fashion, with season two coming to a close with “Nightwing.” This is a season finale, and there will be spoilers below.
The episode starts with what’s essentially a commercial, as Mercy Graves makes a sales pitch to various potential buyers. Cadmus has some recently (re)acquired assets and she has no problem at all using them to enhance the bottom line. After the presentation, one of Cadmus’ weak links is eliminated, and we see how far under Mercy’s sway one of our heroes is. This scene is followed by a quick visit to a local carnival, where you just know things are about to go badly.
At Titans Tower, Dawn, Donna, Rachel, and Kory argue about the cryptic message Dick left behind in his prison cell. While Dick’s former friends argue and say some fairly unkind things showing no faith at all in him, Rachel tells them all about troubling dreams she’s having. Again. Donna comes up with a rough plan to help some of the team, which doesn’t even survive the next sentence as Kory and Rachel report very different problems with their powers. The debate of what to do gets interrupted by a news report, which, as usual, just happens to relay some vital information. Mystery Science Theater 3000 calls this trope “Plot Point Radio,” and the idea works even with television.
Later, the reduced and all-female team of Titans plans their next step. They have no clear leader, and they’re clearly not operating as a unified group. None of that matters because, before they can get to the carnival, their car (they really need the old T-Jet from the comics) gets strafed by an armed, armored, and annoyed Deathstroke. How he knew where they were isn’t clear, but he’s more than happy to burn through a lot of ammo. I guess he’s more mad at the car than the team, because somehow one of the world’s best fighters manages to damn near destroy the vehicle without hitting anyone inside it. Impressive, sort of. The heroes cower in the car because that’s what the writers told them to do, so they could set up for the dramatic first appearance of Nightwing, swooping in to save the day (from where, I’ve no idea, he’s just suddenly on top of the car).
Deathstroke and Nightwing go at it while the others went out for popcorn or something. Kory tried to make a run for it, got hurt in the process, and Rachel spends some time healing her, so I get why they’re not part of the fight, but Dawn and Donna are just sitting there. That’s especially bad with Donna being one of the few powered heroes on the team now, and probably the most powerful. Nightwing gets in some great fight moves, probably the best we’ve seen from this version of Dick Grayson so far. He’s also playing a head game, trying to rescue an old friend. Slade rages and fights, then gets a surprise (for once) when Ravager shows up but sides with Nightwing. Despite both being allegedly highly skilled fighters and tacticians, Ravager and Nightwing take turns fighting Deathstroke. Donna and Dawn must have gone back for extra butter. The fight comes to an abrupt ending with a defeat, and alleged death I don’t buy for a minute, and a rescue of sorts. But the night’s not over yet.
At the carnival, the police are helpless before a possessed Gar who can still only manage one animal form. Because guns don’t work on tigers? The blood flows and things are looking bad until the cavalry arrives: Cadmus, giving a proof of concept demonstration as Mercy sends a very mind-controlled Superboy after Gar. This would be a very short fight, but then the Titans finally manage to show up, which Mercy calls an opportunity. The team is suddenly in costume, which I guess were all being stored in the trunk of the car? There is a funny moment when Dove asks why Gar is looking at her that way, and Wonder Girl points out she’s dressed like a giant bird. While Rachel tries to talk down Gar, Nightwing sends Wonder Girl in to talk to Superboy. It’s a flimsy reason to send her in, and it goes badly. Fortunately, Wonder Girl is probably the one character there that can take a punch from Superboy.
The fight goes about as you’d expect, even after the sudden appearance of Hawk from wherever he’s been. Ravager and her new passenger I guess got worn out by the earlier fight, and called in for this one. Wonder Girl immediately jumps to “We might need to kill him,” which is radically out of character, although Kory agreeing isn’t. Mercy and company suddenly develop some technical difficulties, and we see someone helping the team from afar (sadly, it’s not Oracle).
With a dramatic smoke-bomb appearance, Nightwing shows up for some light banter and the beginnings of a much better plan than “Get him!” Rachel finally manages to reach Gar, and he snaps out of it in time to get hit with a crippling wave of guilt and horror at what Mercy has had him doing. ‘Wing’s plan involves Donna’s lasso and Rachel’s poorly-defined powers, which combine to get Dick into Connor’s head and help him break free of the Mercy conditioning.
Now we get to what I vote for as Stupidest Moment of the Episode, Season, and Series. The earlier fighting has weakened some of the structures in the carnival, and the civilians are too dumb to flee from the superpowered fight. A tower falls, Dove goes to save a kid and then falls into the “Big Thing Falling, I Must Run Along the Length Of It Instead Of Off To The Side Which Is So Much Shorter And Smarter.” Wonder Girl catches the tower so Dove and kid don’t get squished, and then is killed by some stray power cables. Seriously. The Amazon powerhouse dies from the power outflow from a generator, not even the city power grid. There is much wailing and slow motion and sad music. The team mourns back at the tower in various sad scenes as Bruce Wayne provides a grim voiceover about the role and cost of being a warrior.
The team takes Donna’s body to a waiting plane so the Amazons can take her home. After some chatting with Dick, Rachel invites herself along to go back to Themyscira. For unknown reasons, the rest of the Amazons seem fine with this. Some of Dick’s banter is a bit odd, as it uses a nickname/insult that came up in a scene where no one was around but Rachel and Kory. They stand there and watch the plane fly off. Jason Todd, cool brooding rebel, watches from the edge of the airfield and then takes off on his motorcycle because he’s too cool for this crowd. At the Tower, Bruce and Dick talk about family, mentoring, and loss. Dick makes the rounds of the remnants of his traumatized team, and everyone shares a mourning dinner. Hank and Dawn discuss their future, which sounds like it’s going to be strained at best. Kory thanks a guest for something, and he blankly says he has no idea what she’s talking about. This leads Kory and Dawn to leap to a questionable conclusion about the earlier meet up at the diner, which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. The last few scenes are the team going into action after hearing about an attack on the radio, a woman having a bad day that bodes ill for the team’s future, or at least one member, and ending on the Hammer The Point Home song of “We Are Family.”
Let’s review here:
Dick’s a fugitive.
Conner at least should be a fugitive.
Gar should be a fugitive.
Kory’s having issues.
Ravager has a new development they really need to do something about.
Robin/Jason is the holdout that won’t come back to the team.
This isn’t looking great for the forthcoming season three, and I really wonder how many of these plot points are going to get dropped.
What I liked: Despite the many issues, it was great seeing a decent live action Nightwing. The Nightwing/Deathstroke fight was really good. They managed to get at least most of the team back together, however briefly.
What I didn’t: Soooo many things. Ravager and Nightwing taking turns fighting Deathstroke was ridiculous, and I don’t buy he’s dead. Wonder Girl’s death was both pointless and written badly. The Amazons essentially saying, “Sure, girl we’ve never met, you can come with us to our secret island,” made no sense. Donna and Dawn staying out of the fight with ‘Stroke was poor writing. We’re two seasons in now and Rachel and Gar both lack costumes and codenames. So many of the team have legal issues now I’m amazed we’re supposed to believe they can operate in public and/or have lives, even with the Wayne influence on their side.
I hate to give a low rating to a show that debuts my favorite incarnation of my favorite character, but they earned it. I’m giving this a 2 out of 5, and the season a rocky 2.5 out of 5. C’mon guys, you can do better than this. If you really can’t, there’s a legion of Titans’ fans that can, myself included.