Titans: Blackfire

It’s getting really hot in the kitchen

The Titans have moved to Gotham, the Red Hood is on the loose, and Hawk is dead. The team has a lot of problems facing them, and for some reason or other, they split up to deal with them. That seems like a poor choice to me, but what do I know? While Dick tries to handle one big issue, Kory goes on a side quest about her visions, and we deal with “Blackfire.”

The episode starts with Dr. Crane in Arkham, going to get his morning meds. This turns into a surprising attack, as both he and we learn just how far Red Hood’s influence reaches. Considering how recently and quickly Jason became Red Hood, this seems a little hard to believe, but it made for a surprising beginning for the show. At Wayne Manor, in the aftermath of the explosion and death, Superboy is attending to grim clean up details. Gar urges him to take a break, but Conner’s guilt and anger go from self-blame to attack and Gar is ready to walk away and let his friend wallow alone. That’s when Dawn comes in, offering compassion and words of wisdom, calming the situation and offering some comfort. That works, as it’s both fitting for her personality, and Dawn and Conner are probably the two that blame themselves most for Hank’s death, although one certainly has more reason than the other. Dick comes in at the end of this, but makes no move to join in the commiseration.

Later, Dick brings the grief-stricken Dawn to the airport, and what must be one of Bruce’s private jets. They talk, and she says she’s bound for Paris. I wouldn’t think what many call one of the most romantic cities on Earth would be a good choice after contributing to the death of your long-time partner, but what do I know? Dawn even asks Dick to come with her, which he of course declines. They do exchange I love yous and hugs before she leaves. As Dawn leaves, Dick gets a call from Barbara, who offers her sympathies and relays the news of the attack on Crane. Dick asks a few questions, a transfer is brought up, and Barbara gives some advice everyone knows Dick won’t follow. Or should know, anyway.

Continuing to show he can’t catch a break, Gar is happily cooking in the kitchen when Kory comes in. He jokes about housework and crisis counseling and then the alien woman suddenly attacks, blasting away at him. Whatever else he’s been up to, Gar has clearly been taking his fight training seriously, and after some dodges and a minor injury, he manages to knock her down, which somehow snaps her out of whatever this is. Confused, she flings questions at Gar, who backs away from her and leaves with some choice words for his apparently unstable teammate. Barbara gets a briefing from a Bureau of Prisons official about Crane’s upcoming move, and she and the man talk about her late father[CB1] . A shaken Kory calls her friend Justin, the very convenient psychiatrist. She outlines what’s happening and he gives the best advice he can. The stumbling block is a common phrase he uses without thinking, maybe not knowing any better, and she hangs up after correcting him.

Realizing she needs to rely more on people like herself, Kory goes to find Gar and apologize. He is, at first, not happy to see her, She apologizes profusely and explains what’s happening as best she can. Gar’s good nature wins out over suspicion and fear, and after an amusing minor miscommunication, brings her to the Cave. I’d question how he knew about this, but Gar is such a big fanboy of the Batman I’m sure he’s been both exploring and asking questions. At any rate, he brings Kory to a sensory deprivation tank Batman used for meditation, and suggests she use it to try and figure out her visions. He offers a bit of advice from things he’s learned from Rachel’s issues. Kory gives it a shot and is immediately plunged back into the strange things she’s been seeing. As mentioned earlier, Dr. Crane is being moved to Blackgate following the attack from one of Red Hood’s thugs. In another bit of cluelessness that makes me wonder in character about Dick and out of character about the writers, Dick attacks to take Crane with him, out of costume, no mask, and no attempt at hiding his identity. This is remarkably stupid, and causes problems down the road. As they leave, Dick and Crane are watched by a displeased Red Hood. The two have a strange talk about cars, violence, and guns.

It rapidly becomes clear that Gar’s plan to help Kory didn’t work. She wakes up slumped in the front seat of a car in the middle of nowhere. After a lot of confusion and yet another apology to poor Gar, the two of them eventually figure out there’s more to where they are than it seems, and begin finally unraveling what’s behind Kory’s visions. Barbara is left answering some very uncomfortable questions about Dick based on his most recent stupidity, and ends up putting a lot on the line to cover for him. Barbara reaches out to Dick, who blows her off, and she does what she should have done the moment she saw the camera footage. Somehow, it seems like his phone is working, but not traceable. Must be more Bat-Tech. While Dick gives Crane some directions, Kory and Gar explore their new find. Whatever they were expecting, a mildly mad scientist who is a fanboy and knows their names wasn’t it, and they have a very odd conversation.

Arriving at their remote destination, Dick starts making some preparations. Crane makes a break for it, and we learn a bit more about their surroundings. Finally getting inside, Dick reveals his theory about what’s going on, and Crane tries to spin it. We also learn a bit more about the Batman’s training methods for his young partners. Crane makes some astute observations, which also gel with a few questions I had about this season, and Dick gives him some basic comforts as they settle in. Gar and Kory keep talking to their new friend. There are a lot of organizations he could be from throughout DC Comics, but we never get a precise affiliation for the man. We do learn why he’s there, and finally see Blackfire. Kory voices some reasonable suspicions that shock the scientist, and he gives some not helpful answers. Finally, Kory confronts her sister, and it quickly goes from a war of words to a brutal fight. Gar has some concerns, and our mystery man alleviates some of them. Blackfire makes a chilling request of Kory, who walks away, and Blackfire hurls accusations at her back.

Out in the sticks, Dick and Crane get to know each other. Crane makes some more observations and seems to be doing his best to build a bond with Dick, although it’s clearly an attempt at manipulation. After a few moments of this, Dick says something surprising and we get a much clearer look at the trauma Batman visited on him during the process of training him. Dick did something fairly brutal way back when, and Crane’s attempt to take control of the situation gets interrupted when some alarms tell them company is coming. Kory asks their new acquaintance some questions, and gets some disturbing answers. Gar and Kory are surprised at what they learn and exchange serious looks. Barbara’s assistant, who is apparently called Vee, makes some progress in tracking down the current fugitives in question. And I’ll once again ask how we ended season two with Dick escaping from prison, but now there are no warrants out for him until this bit of stupidity.

Gar and Kory try to get a handle on what’s going on, and Kory comes to a decision. The scientist objects and gives some warnings, but the alien princess isn’t in the mood to listen. The man makes an attempt to stand up to them, but quickly folds under pressure, which I don’t really blame him for. There’s a very dramatic exit and some impressive property damage, and I suspect the Titans have made a new enemy which potentially has a very long reach. At the other remote location, Dick’s plan turns into another pitched battle between Nightwing and Red Hood. The two are fairly evenly matched, and it’s a really ugly fight. They get interrupted when the GCPD show up with air support. Nightwing barely gets away, and discovers he’s lost a few things.

What I liked: Crane/Scarecrow has never been a favorite villain of mine, but this is a good interpretation of the character. We don’t know the truth of his interactions with Jason yet, or I don’t think we do, but it’s an interesting slow burn of a mystery. Gar and Kory’s side quest was interesting and left me wondering a lot of things. Barbara is trying to help an old friend, and it’s admirable, especially given the position she’s been put in.

What I didn’t: Gar is trying really hard to help the team, and the poor guy isn’t getting much by way of credit or thanks. Dick’s multiple felonies are mounting up, and his decision to do this out of costume and unmasked is just baffling at best. For a supposedly great detective, he’s making a lot of assumptions and trying to twist the facts to suit what he wants to be true instead of what might be the case. I feel really bad for Superboy, who is suffering badly and mostly ignored this episode, except by Dawn, who then left him behind. I get why Kory did what she did near the end, but it’s a horrible idea. Then again, it’s one of many.

I really can’t fathom some of the choices being made here. The writing is bad and the characterizations inconsistent. I’m giving this one a 2.5 out of 5. I really hope some things get explained, because the suspension of disbelief is fading rapidly on a lot of issues.