Gotham City has not been good for the Titans. Jason Todd returned here after his time on the team, got killed, came back, and is now the villainous Red Hood. The team came in the aftermath, and Hawk was killed, Dove leaving the team in grief. Rachel (still not known as Raven) and Wonder Girl remain off screen. Whatever Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon’s relationship was in this world, it didn’t go well, and that’s haunting both of them and hurting the team. We also get to see a different version of one of Nightwing’s own foes this episode, as we’re introduced to “Lady Vic.”
Seemingly unrelated to everything we’ve seen so far, the show starts in a diner. Two state troopers are clearly in love and willing to take the next big steps in their relationship. Apparently, one of their fellow patrons isn’t a big fan of true love, but is damn good with knives, and we’ll just say the troopers don’t get a happy ending. As knife girl leaves, we see she’s heading for Gotham. Where else would she be going? At Wayne Manor (which is going to need a new name at this rate), Kory and Gar get back, bringing Blackfire along for the ride. There are some very amusing misunderstandings when Blackfire sees Conner. We’ll just say Earth is very different from Tamaran. Kory, clearly already regretting rescuing her sister, gives some bleak advice to her teammates.
Jumping back six years, we see the Bat-signal in the sky as a very skilled thief does a nice break-in. They have an audience, and it turns into a pretty impressive fight as Robin attacks and the thief proves to be incredibly skilled at fighting. It’s a bit of a spoiler, but early enough in that I feel it’s justifiable, as we learn the thief is Barbara, not only before her being disabled by the Joker but before she’s even Batgirl. Among other things, this means her costumed career was pretty damn short. Her motivation for grand larceny is an interesting one, and the two go to a bar. We hear the Batgirl idea first brought up, and an interesting take on the Batman/Robin/Commissioner Gordon relationship. Later, they enjoy themselves and have a fair amount of disregard for other people’s property rights.
Apparently all this was a memory, which turns to a nightmare that Dick wakes from, injured from his encounter with the Hood and the GCPD in the woods last episode. Down in the cave, he gets treatment from Kory, and a lecture from both her and Gar about going off alone. Kory tries to tell him about the new housemate, but Dick isn’t in the mood to listen. In the kitchen, Conner is cooking and taking advantage of his powers while he does it. Blackfire wanders in and there’s some amusing interplay between them. Jason and Crane’s partnership isn’t going well as Jason’s impatience clashes with whatever bigger plan Crane has going. It was strongly implied several times before, but this scene really shows without doubt that Crane is in charge, and Jason might not even really know it. They go to observe a surgical procedure, but things don’t go as most of the people involved had planned. The knife woman from the opening shows up and makes short work of the surgical team. Jason seems stunned while Crane is amused.
There have been a lot of unpleasant scenes in the Manor’s kitchen, and apparently there’s no end in sight. First Kory and Blackfire argue about their place on Earth and what they should be doing. They get interrupted by Dick coming in and being taken aback by Blackfire being there. After a bit of discussion about that, Dick says he wants to go check out the hospital attack. Considering he’s only human and recently shot, Kory isn’t pleased, but he overrules her. After some back and forth about Batman, the two leave. At the hospital, Dick gets an unpleasant surprise, and Kory tells him he needs to get some things straightened out. Swallowing some pride, Dick goes to see Barbara and tries to, if not really patch things up, at least re-establish some kind of working relationship. There’s a very interesting line referring to a major part of Barbara’s history in the comics. The visit doesn’t go well and ends with a cold line from Barbara. Kory and Conner are doing their own research, and make some progress, along with some snide commentary from Blackfire.
Continuing one of the worst team-ups I’ve ever seen, Kory, Conner, and Blackfire go to follow up their lead. Blackfire keeps tossing in caustic comments as they get to their new location, and Kory does a decent explanation about why she’s dragging her sister along. Going inside, Kory finds the Red Hood has already been here, and left behind something they’ve seen before. Blackfire gives us some of her history as she and Conner wait in the car, until his super-hearing catches Kory calling for him. Conner has learned from what happened before, and manages to come to the rescue. Kory and Conner get back to the car and find something unsurprising but aggravating, and possibly dangerous. Piling several cliches on top of each other, Dick crawls through the air vents at the GCPD while Gar guides him via computer. Dick steals evidence so they can go over it themselves. Whose side are the Titans on again?
At her desk, Barbara gets a very unexpected phone call, they work in a nod to the old Batman show from the 60’s, and takes off for her own secret meeting. Red Hood decides he’s had enough of Crane’s plan, and does not quite a hostile takeover, but certainly a different direction in managing. In the cave, Dick shows Gar one of the training techniques Bruce used, and they recreate the hospital attack. It seems a little ridiculous to me, but they get some good clues out of all this. Moving back to six years ago again, we see some of Dick and Barbara’s adventures. Bruce would not have approved. Whatever they thought they were doing at first turns deadly serious when they end up in a fight that goes very badly.
Back in the present, Dick has somehow worked out who the attacker is, but Barbara is ignoring his calls. She ends up in a nasty situation, but the writers have done some research, and we see that, just like in the comics, Barbara being in a wheelchair doesn’t mean she’s helpless. It’s a great fight scene and really well done. Dick gets there, but after Barbara has done just fine on her own, even if the bad guy got away. Kory and Gar get home and find Blackfire is already there. She’s been off on her own and has some information for them, although Kory doesn’t trust her at all. The two argue some more and Blackfire makes some interesting points. Dick and Barbara compare notes, and there’s several different types of tension between them.
The blonde knife woman is presumably the titular Lady Vic, although she’s never called that or seen in anything approaching her comic book look. She brings something to Crane he needed, although I’m not clear for what. Out in the streets, Jason is doing his own version of business, which becomes part of what seems like an origin story that’s been changed a lot for another character. I suspect things are going to get ugly there.
What I liked: The Barbara/Lady Vic fight was damn impressive, and another bit of comic book lore brought to life well. I’m intrigued by the mention in Barbara’s office. The first scene with Blackfire and Conner was entertaining.
What I didn’t: Dick and Barbara are possibly my favorite comic book couple. I really don’t like the distance between them here. The odd change to Barbara’s history makes very little sense to me. They also completely changed Lady Vic and what I believe was the other character origin at the end. I’ve been reviewing, talking, and thinking about hero shows and movies for a long time now, and one rule has emerged: the more random changes you make from the source material for no apparent reason, the worse the final product usually ends up. They are piling on changes fast and furious, and I’m really kind of worried about where all this is going.
It was a decent, but not great, episode. I’ll give it a 3 out of 5. It’ll be interesting to see what Gotham manages to do to the rest of the team.