Titans season 1 episode 11, “Dick Grayson”, started streaming on 21 December 2018.
HO. LY. SMOKES.
I literally waved my arms around mouthing “Holy sh*t, holy sh*t, oh my god, OH MY GOD” for a good ten to fifteen minutes after watching the season 1 finale of Titans.
It might not be the finale people were expecting, but it still left me floored. And, there’s a good promise of what’s to come.
This episode came full circle back to Dig Grayson. Now, Titans doesn’t make things easy for its characters, so it would have been too simple to have Dick get over himself and transform into Nightwing to wrap up the season. Instead, we had a dive into his psyche and see him embrace the darkness he’s been struggling with for so long.
Too good to be true
I didn’t know I needed an image of Dick lounging in a pool with sunglasses with the song “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” playing, but damn if Titans isn’t good at using oldies to maximum effect.
We find Dick living a happy suburban life in California five years into the future. He and Dawn have a son, and #2 on the way. Rachel and Gar are in college and keep in close contact.
We as viewers soon see that this is a illusion fabricated by Trigon when Dick ran through the veil around the house. Question is, what does Trigon want with Dick, and why this dreamscape?
A wheelchair-bound Jason Todd visits to inform Dick that Commissioner Gordon has been tortured to death by the Joker. Batman wants to kill the Joker in retaliation.
Jason believes Gordon’s death was the final straw for Bruce in a long series of events (including Alfred’s passing) that started with Dick leaving. He pleads with Dick to talk to Bruce before Gotham loses its last semblance of justice.
Return to Gotham City
With some nudging from Dawn and dreamscape manipulation from Trigon via a stuffed toy, Dick begrudgingly returns to Gotham. Upon arrival, he is appalled by the state of the city. Soon, he hears of a crime scene and finds the Joker thrown from a building. Dick also meets Gotham PD’s new “chief”, which is really Trigon.
With the Joker still alive – but only just – Dick heads to Wayne Manor to talk to Bruce before the man actually becomes a murderer. He can’t get into the Batcave (did the keycode really use to be as simple as do-mi-so??!!) so he speaks into a hidden camera. He cites his experience facing Tony Zucco, and how meeting Rachel helped him keep the darkness at bay. “I met a kid. Sound familiar?”
Dick checks on the Joker at the hospital, where he runs into now-FBI Kory. Kory tells Dick that since he doesn’t believe Batman ever had a conscience, he should return to his happy life and stop pinning it on himself to save Bruce. However, Batman breaks into the hospital right then to murder the Joker – for good.
Later, Kory calls Dick to Arkham Asylum, where Batman has murdered all the inmates (notably Two Face, Riddler, and Ventriloquist) and most of the staff.
The Dark Knight falls…
His son is ill, Dawn is stressed, and Hank is apparently helping paint the nursery, which riles Dick. But he lets his anger rule and remains in Gotham. He goes to Chief Trigon with Batman’s identity, demanding to lead an op to apprehend Bruce.
Special agents storm Wayne Manor and follow Dick’s instructions to the Batcave. Batman expectedly puts up a fight (the choreography of which mirrors Robin’s first action scene in the show) and kills all the agents. Kory attempts to hit him with a starbolt, but Batman fires the cold gun at her. Shocked and outraged, Dick orders the remaining agents outside to detonate the explosives planted within the manor.
Dick later wanders through the ruins of the manor, finding Kory dead and Batman trapped under rubble. He says Bruce always wanted him to embrace the darkness. “Well f–k you Bruce, you’ve won,” he spits, before crushing Batman’s chest underfoot.
…the darkness rises
Upon killing Batman, the illusion fades and Dick’s eyes turn black, like Rachel’s do in her demon form. We see this possessed Dick standing before Rachel as she pleads with him to come through.
Trigon explains he gave Dick many opportunities to leave Gotham – symbolically, his darkness – behind in the dreamscape, but Dick ultimately embraced it. Now, per Arella, Dick has Trigon’s “blessing”, aka he’s under Trigon’s control now, which Demon Dick confirms when he finally speaks. “Oh Rachel, it feels so good to be home,” he tells a horrified Rachel. “You’ll see. They’ll all see.”
Brenton Thwaites carried this episode. I relish the way he delivered that last line, with just the slightest bit of snarl. His performance in this episode, and the whole season, has been stunning. He embodied a Dick Grayson that viewers can enjoy without being blind to his flaws.
Teagan Croft was great to watch too in those closing scenes. One could see the concern and fear flickering across Rachel’s face as Dick succumbs to the very thing she feared for herself. Her acting skills are undeniable, and this is only her third project.
I have to shout out to the rest of the main cast as well. Anna Diop has silenced the naysayers. She’s been properly confused, fierce, and wise altogether as Kory. Although mostly sidelined, Ryan Potter proved his acting chops beyond Gar’s surface lightheartedness in “Asylum” and “Koriand’r”.
So what for next season?
On one hand, it felt fitting to re-examine Dick’s psyche for the finale. However, it also left the main plot line hanging. It could be a mid-season finale in a sense, which just as well, it is that time of the year. Obviously, the powers that be decided to save stuff for season 2. By stuff, I mean the meat of the Trigon the Terrible storyline.
Also note, the show had been ordered for 13 episodes then cut down to 12 then 11. Cast interviews also suggest that they filmed a lot, offering many possible paths the show could take. Perhaps Titans thought too big for its storyline?
Either way, there is a lot to look forward to in season 2. They even played a spookier and more ominous remix of the theme song for the credits, a hint of what’s to come. And then there’s the post-credits scene (I guess these are a thing now for any comic book superhero screen media.) It takes place “somewhere in Metropolis”, where a muscled figure breaks out of a lab and releases a hound with laser-red eyes. It is Connor Kent/Superboy and his dog, Krypto!
Season 2 is reportedly starting production next February for a late 2019 release. In the meantime, Doom Patrol drops on February 15! If the “Doom Patrol” episode was anything to go by, that show will be a treat.
Well gang, it’s been a thrilling 11 weeks, and I can’t wait to be back at this for season 2!
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(featured image: DC Universe)