Titans season 2 episode 8 “Jericho” started streaming 25 October 2019 on DC Universe.
I don’t know what else to say. Titans keeps one-upping itself every week.
I think the reason this show isn’t appreciated as much as it deserves is because it doesn’t operate like other shows. It frees itself from the structures of serial television. It moves along at its own pace, looping back and diving into flashbacks as it wishes. Being on a niche streaming service, it can afford to do so.
It’s like when artists started moving away from classical painting ideas and started the era of Modernism, or when ballet similarly moved away from their Romantic stories and started being just dance. Titans is a different kind of show. It doesn’t need to be a typical superhero show. There are plenty of those already.
If Titans were like any other show, this episode would have gone something like this: Jericho is slowly becoming good friends with Dick and co. The Titans start actually caring about Jericho as a friend so they feel conflicted about their intentions, but they keep mum about it. Eventually, Jericho finds out they befriended him to get information about Deathstroke, has a “YOU BETRAYED ME!!!” moment, and ends up finding Deathstroke. But then Dick appears trying to convince Jericho “that was before I actually got to know you.” There’s a fight scene. Either Dick or Deathstroke kill Jericho.
Some of those elements appear in “Jericho”, but the order and context are different. Because Titans is different.
The Wilson family
5 years ago, Jericho has befriended the Titans. One night at Dick’s prompting, he tells them about his father.
Slade served in the military, during which he received genetic modification. We see that Slade did care about his wife and son but his missions kept him away. After he retired from the military, he became an “insurance consultant” with his former army mate Wintergreen and was home even less.
Obviously, Slade’s real work earned him some enemies, who threatened Adeline and Jericho to extort Slade. When SLade tried to fight them, one of the men slit Jericho’s throat. Slade left after that.
Jericho jumped out
The Titans – particularly Dawn and Hank – begin to sympathise with Jericho and genuinely like him. They decide to pursue Wintergreen to find Slade and cut ties with Jericho to protect him. However, Dick then witnesses Jericho using his power and invites him to be part of the Titans.
Dawn, the voice of sympathy and reason back then, convinces Dick to come clean about why he befriended Jericho. Upon learning his father killed Garth, Jericho asks to know “everything” about Slade. This prompts him to leave his mother and move into Titans tower.
By now, Slade and Wintergreen have figured the Titans are onto them and have associated with Jericho. Wintergreen approaches Jericho and asks him to meet Slade at the church so Slade can explain himself. Jericho seeks Dick’s approval first. Dick ruminates, but eventually tells Jericho to go and promises not to get involved himself. The hug Jericho gives Dick before leaving just makes what transpires even more heart-wrenching.
Where everything went wrong
Before heading to the church, Deathstroke kills Jillian (who was his original target) to lure Donna out and severely injure her as a warning for the Titans to leave Jericho alone. A provoked Robin chases Slade to the church, interrupting a surprised and confused Jericho’s meeting and looking like a liar in the process. Maybe that was what Slade wanted.
Robin and Deathstroke begin fighting with Jericho caught in the middle. It’s as brutal as it gets. Deathstroke of course gets the better of Robin, hitting and stabbing him. As he deals the fatal blow, Jericho jumps in the way.
A show of great character
The fantastic thing about this episode was how every character was complex. No one was clearly a hero or villain. The Titans, despite their sympathy and attempts to come clean, still used Jericho. Slade, as ruthless a killer as he is, still cares about his family from afar and recognises his shortcomings as a parent. He only wanted the best for his son.
Even Adeline, Jericho’s mother, very much a peripheral figure, had a lot of depth. She resents Slade for breaking their family but still wanted Jericho to have a good impression of his father. She resents the Titans for telling Jericho the truth, which drove a wedge between her and her son. I felt as if she almost wished the Titans and Slade would eliminate each other so she and Jericho could have some semblance of normalcy.
And Jericho, the one person clearly not in the wrong here, being wonderfully layered as well. As a boy, he just wanted his father’s approval and presence. He lost that, then thought he found some real friends, then realised all he knew was a lie. It would be perfectly reasonable if he simply detested everyone at that point and went off the grid. But in spite of everything, he still tried to meet with Slade, and in the end, he still saved Dick’s life.
Chella Man fully shone is his episode after the promising sneak peek in “Aqualad”. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. I really hope Titans has a way of incorporating Jericho in the future because the character and actor are too good to let go.
Striking a balance
This episode was particularly intense. If last week was stunning for its emotional content, this week had all that and suspense and action. I remember pausing the video at one point, both to take notes for this article and to catch my breath. I saw that there was still 20-ish minutes to go, and thought “oh god, I can’t do this.”
But even this hard episode had occasional moments of humour. Hank dancing. Jericho flipping Wintergreen two birds.
Also: “The Titans…got their asses handed to them by Zeus. Who names themselves after losers?” As someone who’s had mythology phases, I’ve definitely wondered this about my favourite superhero team.
Find all our Titans recap at our Titans Tower.