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Titans 1.8 Review – ‘Donna Troy’

November 30, 2018 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Titans - Donna Troy
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Titans 1.8 Review – ‘Donna Troy’  

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

Last week’s episode of Titans saw the conclusion of the second major arc of the season. With Rachel’s mother recovered and her captors taken down, the team has a chance to take a breath. But how do you recover from the sort of trauma that our heroes just went through in the asylum? When you’re already broken, where do you go to come back from even more pain?

“Donna Troy” has an answer for us. The recuperation episode is as standard an element in genre television as anything else. It’s a pacing tactic; a way for the creative team to dial things back from high-stakes moments or episodes. This week’s episode lets the tension defuse a little bit, so that it can be dialed back up in time for the season finale.

Titans Donna Troy

Recuperation episodes serve a vital purpose. However, they can also provide us with lackluster episodes. Fortunately, that’s not the case with “Donna Troy.” That’s due, in no small part, to the episode’s namesake. For the uninitiated, Donna Troy is better known by her moniker of Wonder Girl, the sidekick of Wonder Woman. When we first see her in this episode, it is when she and Dick are still teenagers.

And right from the start, Donna’s presence lightens this show. That’s important considering “Asylum” was perhaps the darkest episode we’ve had yet. We know by now that Robin is a person haunted by trauma that’s taken him to some nasty emotional places. In the flashback, Dick is troubled after a rough encounter with the Joker. Donna, played with grace by Andi Hubick, doesn’t minimize the importance of what Dick just went through. Instead, she reorients him and reminds him of his mission. She is a point of stability in his life that, as the young protégé of Batman, he desperately needs.

As such, it’s natural that after what he endured in the asylum, Dick needs to go see her. His experiences in that place are the rock bottom that he needs to seek out help. He has the rest of the Titans, sure. But as he tells Kory, they can’t help him with this. That isn’t just Dick being distant; he’s smart enough to know that Kory’s in a dark place herself and can’t pull him out of his own hole. Gar isn’t equipped to handle this kind of thing, and Rachel has a chance to be happy. For Dick, this is major progress from the guy we saw in the pilot.

Titans Donna Dick

Some old-school fans of the Teen Titans have been disappointed to see that Donna isn’t part of the main cast. She was, after all, a member of Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s original New Teen Titans lineup. But she’s been worth the wait. Conor Leslie, much like Hubick, gives Donna the tools to serve as a great source of support for Dick. Donna has already given up being Wonder Girl and has moved on to doing things her own way. She’s achieved what Dick’s currently struggling to find: her sense of self in the world. She’s figured out how to do good without living in the shadow of her famous mentor.

Donna’s attempt to bring Dick into the normal part of her world, even for a night, provides a nice bit of comedy. Dick is such a buttoned-up guy that his attempts to act normal amidst a group of high-society art appreciators gives us some funny moments. It’s hard not to smile when a guy who tries to hit on Dick gets a long, intense monologue about Donna’s photography skills and the capabilities of her camera. It’s also an efficient bit of storytelling, using Dick’s memories to give us an idea of how an Amazonian-raised superhero became a photographer.

The subplot involving Donna’s investigation of a smuggling ring isn’t the most thrilling thing out there, but it gets the job done. There’s never any sense that poacher Graham Norris is the slightest threat to Donna. But that’s not the point it. We had all the action we needed last week. Donna’s investigation is more about her and Dick than the plot itself. Her competence and his lack of trust in anyone else are well on display, and it leads to an important step on Dick’s road to becoming Nightwing.

Titans Team

Meanwhile, the rest of the team heads to Angela’s old house as a place to get some R&R. That means a train ride, which is an opportunity for some character interaction. Kory and Gar get a few moments together, which mostly services the former. Gar does talk a bit about his killing of the doctor at the asylum, and how it is affecting him.

But it’s Kory who gets the development. She ably steps in as a team leader of sorts, offering Gar some advice and navigating them out of trouble when U.S. Marshalls show up for her. Rachel and Angela also get a bit of time, which gives us a few more answers from her past. They may not be high on story value, but these moments bind the characters closer. That’s arguably more important than unloading more exposition about what’s to come.

Obviously, the relaxation can’t last. We’re in the final stretch of the season. That means it’s time to kick into final gear. That’s where Donna comes in, as her understanding of Kory’s writings allow her to realize that Kory’s here to kill Rachel. And what do you know…that’s right about when Rachel unwittingly restores her would-be killer’s memory to her. It’s a nice little move that brings the characters quickly back together in short order. It also gives us a strong cliffhanger for the episode. It’s safe to say that Kory will probably not be murdering our primary cast member, but the possibilities of inter-team conflict are back on the table. I can imagine several ways that will play into the return of Rachel’s father, so hold onto your butts from here.

Titans Donna

Some Final Thoughts:

• As pretty of a man as Brendan Thwaites is, Donna’s right about her mantra. “Older, smarter, prettier. You know the drill.”

• Extra credit to writers Richard Hatem and Marisha Mukerjee for giving the group an amicable parting, instead of an angst-ridden split. Teagen Croft’s running tackle-hug to Dick warmed my heart. They earned that moment.

• I absolutely get why they’ve kept the Trinity off-screen; we don’t want to overshadow the Titans, or trap Diana and Bruce into actors if they end up getting their own shows. That said, based on Donna’s discussion of Diana and Themiscyra, I want to see this Wonder Woman in action.

• Drunk Gar is delightful. “Am I supposed to feel numb?” “How many have you had?” “Just one.”

• While it was basically a way to shoehorn in some action for the episode, I was glad to see they didn’t just drop the “Kory beat the crap out of cops” story thread.

• Next week: We diverge from our main story to look back at the origin of Hawk and Dove. This includes a look at the original Dove, Don Hall. That should be interesting.

8
The final score: review Very Good
The 411
"Donna Troy" gives Titans a chance to slow things down from last week's mini-climax, while still moving things on toward the end game for the season. Conor Leslie makes an immediate impression as the titular former sidekick and Dick's evolution toward Nightwing continues at a good pace. I continue to be surprised by this show, which already feels like it should be in the conversation -- if not at the top of the list -- for the best live-action representation of the DC comics universe to date.
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Titans, Titans Review, Jeremy Thomas


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