Friday, August 13, 2021

REVIEW: 'Titans' - The Titans Work as a Cohesive Family Until Dick Must Return Home to Gotham in 'Barbara Gordon'

HBO Max's Titans - Episode 3.01 "Barbara Gordon"

Desperate to leave his mark, Jason Todd confronts the Joker once and for all. But when fatal consequences ensue, Dick Grayson is forced to step away from the Titans and return to Gotham City.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season premiere of HBO Max's Titans.

"Barbara Gordon" was written by Richard Hatem & Geoff Johns and directed by Carol Banker

The Titans are now seen as the guardian angels of San Francisco. They are celebrated by the local community. They work cohesively as a team of superheroes trying to protect their city against destructive criminals. They succeed at doing so as well. That is a refreshing take after all the devastation that built up to this moment. They were incapable of doing so in the second season because they were still traumatized by the past. Dick was reluctant to embrace true accountability and share himself fully with the team. He is seen in a much better place now as he operates under the name Nightwing. He is the person offering advice to people in the hopes that it can help ground them after tragedy strikes once more. He is the one who offers insight that seems to escape so many in this world who allow the cycles of violence to take hold over and over again. Barbara Gordon has that same quality. She serves Gotham City as its police commissioner now. She used to roam the streets as the masked vigilante Batgirl. She was severely injured by the Joker and confined to a wheelchair in the aftermath. That provided her with some perspective. She is still fighting for this city. She also attacks the perspective Bruce Wayne brings to everything he has done throughout his life. He has long had the influence to make anything possible. Being Batman has been his best hope to inspire change in this city. He has been the caped crusader for decades though. Not much has changed. Plenty of infamous villains have been stopped. And yet, more rise to take their place. Bruce has always stuck to a code. That too may just reinforce the ideas of violence that dictate life in this city. He has left his mark on Dick, Jason and Barbara. They have all felt traumatized at certain points because of that influence. They respect him though. Now, the moment has changed. Jason is killed because he goes up against the Joker by himself. It brings Dick back to Gotham City. It also breaks Bruce. Dick knows that his adoptive father is handling this differently than the other deaths he has experienced over the years. He didn't realize he would break to the point of killing the Joker. That is a huge move as well. It indicates that Bruce is ready for this violence to end. He sees the power in letting someone new step up and pursue a different tactic. He no longer has to be the one dictating the terms of what makes a worthy and moral society. He hopes Dick can be a better Batman. Dick just became Nightwing though. He fought for that idea. It took lots of time for him to reflect on who he was and the good he could still do as a hero. He questioned that power every step of the way. And now, the tables have been reversed. Bruce is the one doubting himself. He takes lethal action because he realizes just how blind he has long been. He repeats patterns hoping for a different outcome. He desperately doesn't want to be alone. And yet, he doesn't care to know about the internal agency of the people around him. They are simply tools for his agenda. Dick has his freedom and respect now. He worked hard to arrive at that place of peace and understanding with Bruce. Not everything was right in the past. That can't be changed now. Dick holds no animosity towards Bruce. He still wants him to do better. In the end, Bruce can only be condemned for what he has done. He continues to make those mistakes. Kory is angry with Jason for embracing his worst impulses every time in the field. It finally caught up to him and got him killed. She has her own uncertainty in life. She still wants to pass along the right lessons in the hopes of shaping the minds of the young heroes with the Titans. That clarity is more present this season. This is a solid start. The narrative no longer wishes to torture itself over the past. It wants to move boldly into the future. It starts with a striking declaration. Now, the future is in limbo because the fate of Gotham City as a whole is used as a stand-in for the stability of these characters and the morality they hold. It's teetering on a precarious ledge. Dick now carries that responsibility despite the progress he has made elsewhere. He is back home and must face this new reality.