Thursday, August 19, 2021

REVIEW: 'Titans' - Kory's Exploration of Her Blackouts Leads Her Back to Her Sister in a Surprising Way in 'Blackfire'

HBO Max's Titans - Episode 3.04 "Blackfire"

Devastated by loss, the Titans find themselves in disarray. While Dick throws himself into drawing out Red Hood with Jonathan Crane, Kory and Gar work to understand Starfire's escalating visions, leading them to a surprising source.

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 next episode of HBO Max's Titans.

"Blackfire" was written by Stephanie Coggins and directed by Millicent Shelton

The season so far has shown Kory not being in complete control of herself. It's a mystery that certainly threatened those around her. However, her actions never compromised the team when they were out in the field. This isn't something new for her either. The end of the second season also featured glitches with her powers. That obstacle presents in a new context this season though. It's one where she seeks outside help in the hopes of understanding what's happening to her. Gar applies the lessons he learned from helping Rachel also deal with the random but destructive visions she had. She had to find a way to gain control over them. Meanwhile, Justin explained how it could be a mechanism used by her subconscious to force her to address something significant in her life. Of course, he doesn't know that she is an alien. He hopes to treat her just like any of his other patients. He certainly can provide some insight that can help her. She is overwhelmed because if she loses control she will hurt the people who trust her to protect them. That's a scary prospect. In reality, this was always going to tie back to Blackfire somehow. It's even explained how there is a psychic link between the sisters. Blackfire has been imprisoned. The government has enough resources to keep her caged and without her powers. She can still reach out to the only other person from her planet. Kory has been confused by all of this. The moment she knows what's going on it suddenly makes sense that her sister has been messing with her mind. It's a little too convenient that Kory has forgotten about this given that she is still motivated by her former culture. She has found a new home for herself on Earth. She has escaped the responsibilities that awaited her on Tamaran. Blackfire took over. She has come to punish Kory for deserting her people. This is the way justice must be extended. And yet, no developments have been allowed to flourish in that plot against the Titans. It was shocking when Blackfire landed on Earth. She has essentially been left in stasis from that moment. She has been unable to do anything that could compromise her sister. Now, she is set free. Kory makes that choice. She cannot allow her sister to be imprisoned for the rest of her life. She does need to be punished. They are reunited once more. The bond remains incredibly tense. That's exciting for the future. Meanwhile, this episode just confirms the basics and sets up a new path for this story to pursue. It's basic in its ambitions. That applies to the subplot with Dick as well. He makes the huge leap in assuming that Jonathan Crane has corrupted Jason and that's resulted in his rise as Black Hood. The Titans are grieving the loss of Hank. Dawn has flown off to Paris to try to figure out what comes next in life. The older members of the Titans yearn for clarity after a life issuing vigilante justice. The debate still rages on how much good they accomplish. Consequences have come for the team. They don't spend much time sitting in that though. Even when Crane tries to manipulate Dick, it doesn't really make much of an impact. Of course, Dick still makes some crucial mistakes. He once again goes rogue. In doing so, he gets confirmation that Crane is truly the mastermind behind everything. The audience probably picked up on that. It's simply baffling how Dick could have solved this mystery already. It's only explanation is the show needing to let this secret out in the open now because it has a lot it wants to accomplish and not enough time to let it all happen as naturally as it seemingly should. All of this comes with the certainty that two villains are now on the loose. Dick can't stop Jason. Plus, Crane vanishes. It's because Dick didn't trust Barbara with the plan. As such, she intervenes and Dick is annoyed. It's a pattern repeating. Dick wants to say that he has evolved and learned from his mistakes. He can't be provoked by villains comparing him to the sins of the past. That's clearly what the show is still comfortable producing in his overall character arc. That's not encouraging in the slightest. It makes everything read as forced. An attempt is made at having the hero and villain size each other up to see who is more vulnerable. Both Dick and Crane flex control in the wilderness. They seek to boast of their skills. Neither of them come across as impressive though. The effort is apparent too. That basically confirms a story that sees itself as smart without the execution to back it up fully. A busy overall episode hopes to cover up some of these issues as best it can. It's still rather clear and lacking though.