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Titans 1.11 Review – ‘Dick Grayson’

December 21, 2018 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Titans -- Ep. 111 -- "Dick Grayson" -- Photo Credit: Christos Ka
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Titans 1.11 Review – ‘Dick Grayson’  

[Warning: spoilers abound for those who have not seen Friday’s episode of Titans.]

It’s fair to say that DC Universe had a hell of a lot invested in the success of Titans. It is the service’s first original content, and thus a big reason why people would sign up. And despite some initial trepidation by many ahead of its premiere, the show has hit the high bar that the service set for it thus far. The cast have settled into their roles nicely, while Greg Walker, Geoff Johns and Akiva Goldman’s creative team have found a balance between staying true to the comic source and finding a unique tone for the series.

Rachel’s story — and thus, Trigon as the big bad — is the clearest example of that balance. With demonic Daddy and his cult serving as the team’s main threat, most people figured season one would end with a big confrontation. And to be fair, we do get a confrontation. But it’s not between Trigon and the Titans; that storyline is far from over as credits roll on the season. “Dick Grayson,” appropriately, takes us inside Robin’s mind for an Easter egg-filled trip into Dick’s worst nightmare. And oh, what a nightmare it is.

Titans Dick Dawn

The Nightmare Scenario is not an uncommon trope in genre storytelling. Everything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Lost Girl to Stargate Atlantis and Star Trek have had dream scenario episodes. And that’s not even getting into novels, comics, films and such. They’re a time-tested way to peel back the layers of our hero’s psyche. To see what’s under the hood, so to speak. In Dick’s case, we find out a lot. His idyllic future involves domestic life with Dawn, and Rachel and Gar excelling in college. These scenes play out quite nicely and help justify the “Hank and Dawn” episode a couple of episodes ago.

The Dick we see here is a read that feels authentic to the show’s take on him. Dick has portrayed two primary and divergent driving goals in Titans. On one hand, he desperately wants to step away from being Robin and find some semblance of normalcy. On the other, he wants to look out for and protect kids. Being a father, a husband to a very pregnant Dawn and an older brother figure to Rachel and Gar is certainly one way those coincide.

Titans Trigon

And yet, it’s also very Dick to not be able to accept the perfection of such a vision. He’s a smart guy after all, and also someone who’s been hurt to the point he’d be skeptical of anything. This makes his head the perfect breeding ground for Trigon to lure him away from his paradise. Trigon uses the idea of an enraged Batman to pull Dick away, back to his darkest place: Gotham City.

And once he gets there, things start going down a predictable manner for a nightmare. Gotham has gotten even worse without Batman’s protection, with crime truly rampant in the streets. And Batman himself is completely off the deep end. This lets writer Richard Hatem and director Glen Winter litter the episode with Batman references. And I’m not going to lie; as a comics fan, I am okay with this. They’re fun little teases and they make perfect logical sense within Trigon’s narrative. Sure, it means we have a distinct lack of seeing any faces, so there’s no need to worry about recasting down the line. But it’s never too awkward, so I can appreciate the references without reservation.

Titans Dick Kory

More importantly than the Easter eggs, Gotham’s problems are there to guide Dick through the scenario as Trigon wants. To his credit, Dick doesn’t just jump through every hoop. Trigon later tells Rachel that Dick made all the choices, but that’s not entirely true. He rigs the game, right down to casting himself as a Gotham detective. And every time Dick tries to walk away, his adversary changes things up to make the choice clear. Like any malevolent godlike entity, he makes free will an illusion. Everything is set up to lead Dick to kill “Bruce,” the rules changing as they go. As strong as Dick is, the outcome was never in doubt.

Said surefire outcome ends the episode with the darkness awakening within Dick, much to Rachel’s consternation. Undoubtedly, there will be Titans fans out there who are less than satisfied with this. Ending seasons on cliffhangers has become a tiresome thing, thanks in part to “Who did Negan kill?” It will be difficult for some fans to swallow the fact that we have to wait until next season to see this finish out, and I get that.

That said, if you’re going to end a show on a cliffhanger, this is the right way to do it. It ends on a natural stop, with Trigon free and his first victim claimed. This sets up what will likely be an epic season two start. Dick, Rachel and Gar are fairly under Trigon’s control, with Kory and Donna opposing them. Considering Hank and Dawn are looking for Jason Todd, they’re likely to have help. To me, this finale feels less like The Walking Dead season six, and more like Game of Thrones season one. It’s a closer that sets the stage for next season, and I’m on board with that.

Titans Dick Ventriloquist

Some Final Thoughts:

• It’s also probably worth noting in terms of other help that Cyborg will debut in Doom Patrol season one. So it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could jump shows to help the Titans out.

• Speaking of other core members…what about that post-credits scene? For those who aren’t up on their lore, that’s Superboy (aka Kon-El/Conner Kent). And Krypto! Not gonna lie, I geeked out pretty hard there.

• For those who weren’t keeping track, the villains Batman killed were Joker, Riddler, Ventriloquist, and Two-Face. Those were the ones I saw, anyway.

• I’m not the only one who thought Growly was going to come alive at some point and do something awful, right?

• Thanks for coming along with me on the wild ride that was Titans season one! Next stop: Young Justice: Outsiders in a couple of weeks.

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Titans' season finale may not satisfy fans who were hoping to see season one's storyline get wrapped up in any capacity. Instead, "Dick Grayson" goes for the long game, closing out what appears to be the first act on an ominous -- but natural -- break point. There's no word on when Titans will return for season two, but hopefully it won't be too long because after this first season, I'm ready for more as soon as we can get it.