Titans: Prodigal

Ok, I’m a bad guy, but I look cool.

The third season of Titans is almost over, and it’s been a rough ride. The team came to Gotham, Jason Todd died, Hank died, Jonathan Crane has done a fantastic job of bringing the city to ruin, and the team has been shattered and a few steps behind almost from the start. Jason came back as Red Hood, and turned on his former team, and things got remarkably ugly. Now, with this and one episode to go, it’s hard to see how they’re going to bring the team, the city, and themselves back from the brink of destruction. “Prodigal” is a very eventful episode, and there will be a few minor spoilers below.

Last episode had, among other things, the apparent death of Dick Grayson in a truly foolish manner, and that’s about where we pick up. Rachel, with her very unclear powers (and still no costume or codename) somehow senses what’s happening with Dick, and she and Gar sort of slowly saunter off to check it out. I’d like to think if my friends knew I was dying, there might be some urgency in their response. They find him where he fell on the street, and do actually run the last few steps to his side. Rachel tries, but can’t do anything to save him, and then there’s a really weird manifestation of something that’s been happening off-and-on this season, and Gar manages to turn into something that’s not a tiger. In a really unlikely way, Dick is carried off to the Lazarus Pit and submerged. Back in the cave, Crane seems to be losing what little is left of his sanity and Jason is finally beginning to realize who and what he’s thrown in with. Jason brings some news, and Crane seems utterly indifferent.

At the Drake restaurant, Donna is doing her best to get people ready to fight back against the Crane-contolled GCPD. A general arming up scene gets interrupted when Tim comes into the main room and brings some bad news. Donna doesn’t believe it, and it’s hard to tell if she’s being cynical about faked images or if she’s deep in denial. The news has an unexpected effect on the parents, and there’s some rising tension between Tim and his folks. As Donna goes to look into things, Barbara is taunted in her captivity, first by one of her former officers and then by Crane over a coms link. Crane brings all sorts of bad news and gets in a reference to the old 60’s era Batman tv show. Babs is lucky there aren’t visuals, as Crane is really losing it faster and faster. Within the bubbling Lazarus Pit (and really, why is this here in Gotham without Bruce apparently knowing about it?), Dick has a lot of disturbing visions. The first round includes a meeting with a major enemy, the death of a friend, and a very unexpected wardrobe change.

Blackfire has been a major villain in the comics, and even on the show, she’s done some pretty bad things. She adds an unexpected crime to her list, which turns faintly comedic, but gets interrupted by Krypto, channeling Lassie, and bringing her back to his incapacitated master. Blackfire is able to help Superboy, and the two start making plans that don’t exactly involve the rest of the team. The Drakes get ready for action and prepare to stand up to an attack, although they do it in a very stupid way, but things turn out all right as it turns out to be something rare in Gotham:  a good surprise. Sitting by the pit, waiting and looking worried, Gar and Rachel talk about some recent events, major changes in their lives, and Rachel does something that might help Gar with the limits on his powers. Then again, if that works, it’s going to make things a lot more expensive for the production team.

In whatever weird after- or between-life Dick is in, he has a very nightmarish experience that he finally manages to fight free of. He immediately finds himself in a better place, and has meetings with family past and future. Finally, he is tormented again before managing to free himself from visions and Pit both, although his near (or past) death experience had one really odd change no one seems to notice or comment on. Blackfire and Superboy, along with Krypto, revisit someplace Blackfire has some less-than-pleasant associations with to reclaim something of hers. A man we’ve seen before is just as pleased and geeky and socially inept as the last time we saw him. There are a series of surprises in this scene, as Blackfire at first says she doesn’t need what the man offers, then they are joined by an unexpected arrival, and then Blackfire gets an offer of help she never expected.

Dick, never one to take it easy, shrugs off Rachel and Gar’s attempts to help him, makes some cryptic comments, and asks them to go do a few things for him before taking off. Donna and Tim continue to argue about what he’s going to do next, and while I understand Donna’s concern, it’s not really her choice to make. Blackfire has a long, in-depth conversation with a former rival, and is surprised and even touched by what comes out as they talk. She makes a new decision, displeasing one of her companions, and then Blackfire goes on to ask for help anyway. To her credit, she’s honest about what she’s asking and doesn’t try to lie or manipulate her way to what she wants.

Gar and Rachel try and complete their appointed tasks, but someone’s been there ahead of them, which we already knew. While Donna and Tim argue more, Superboy does something he really doesn’t want to, and does his best to ignore some advice from someone trying to “help.” With a new lease on life, pretty much literally, Dick goes to find Jason, although how he knew where to find the younger man is unclear. They have a long, emotional discussion, Dick lays out some ugly truths, and they finally agree to an uneasy alliance. Dick offers a startling answer to one of Jason’s questions, and while it’s a good point on one hand, it clearly isn’t universal on the other.

Things began to gain momentum as the end of the episode approaches. Donna and Tim find an unexpected complication and Donna has to improvise some tactics to keep her charges safe. Barbara, no damsel in distress, takes matters into her own hands, frees herself, and tries to rouse an ally they were manipulated into getting rid of. Superboy’s task goes awry, but there’s some question about what happened and why. Dick manages to get enough clues out of Jason to figure out what Crane is up to, and we see the archvillain putting some final details together down in the cave. With the way he does some of that, I don’t see how Bruce’s, and by extension Dick’s, secrets remain unknown by the end of this.

What I liked: Using the Pit on Dick was clever, and the visions he went through were well done. I understand both Tim’s drive and Donna’s reluctance to let him do what he feels like he needs to. Superboy feeling less than charitable to his team makes a lot of sense given last episode. I’m glad Barbara took care of things herself. I’m glad that both Rachel and Gar’s powers are expanding finally.

What I didn’t: One of the changes from the Pit made no sense. I don’t see how they are going to maintain Bruce’s secret. I’m not really sure why Dick is trusting Jason at all, and I don’t see that going well with the others. Gar and Rachel’s initial slow pace during something important didn’t work.

There were some interesting developments throughout the episode. I’ll give this one a 3 out of 5, and I’m really hoping the changes that seem to be coming in Dick mean he’ll be at least something like his comic book persona for the already confirmed next season.

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