Thursday, September 2, 2021

REVIEW: 'Titans' - The Threat From Crane Grows as He Partners with a Villain From Dick and Barbara's Past in 'Lady Vic'

HBO Max's Titans - Episode 3.06 "Lady Vic"

Dick and Barbara work to unmask the latest killer unleashed by Crane. When Kory and Gar bring her to the Tower, Blackfire forms an unexpected connection with a Titan.

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.

"Lady Vic" was written by Joshua Leavy & Prathi Srinivasan and directed by Nick Gomez

The tortured and traumatic past informs the tortured and traumatic present. That's basically how the show has always operated. In the past, the series labored over flashbacks that revealed the scope of the damage done to and by these characters. Those actions have prevented them from moving on to embracing something more hopeful and endearing in the present. At this point in its run, the show can use its own history to inform its stories. It can only reveal new details about the past for these characters for so long. Otherwise, it feels like their lives are nothing but trauma. Every single story is connected back to something that has already happened. As such, their lives are destined to repeat. That is inescapable. That means there is no hope for redemption or to break those patterns. This season has tried to break free of these storytelling tendencies. Jason's discontent with the Titans was already established in the second season. As such, that could be built upon in order to define his transformation into Red Hood. Of course, it now seems like a mind-altering drug is being used to explain every dark, homicidal impulse he has done this season. That presents things as incredibly simple. This episode suggests an escalation. One where Jason strives for his own autonomy after once again being disregarded by the people he thought he was partnered with. Crane wants Jason to know that he is expendable in this mission. Jason isn't his partner. He was simply a means to an end. He isn't even the only assassin he employs. Lady Vic is also aligned with him. Now, her story has to be quickly established through Dick and Barbara's past. In doing so, it's a return to the comfort zone for the overall story. It's Dick once again having a complicated romantic past with a woman he must now navigate a tricky and tense situation with. Dick was just shot. Barbara gave that order. Jason and Crane escaped as a result. Dick is still heading straight into this firestorm by himself. He continues to carry that burden solo. He wants to chalk his behavior up to the darkness of Gotham City. This place inspires such twisted and impulsive things within him. That too is a simple explanation. It does nothing to offer true complexity. The show is hoping that the audience inherently believes in the sinister nature of this location based on the lore established across the comics. That's hopefully enough to explain why certain characters believe this darkness is all that they are capable of doing in this city. Plus, Dick and Barbara's past isn't completely told here either. They also have to rely on each other in the present. This episode does allow Barbara to be a badass in her own right. That's on perfect display in her fight with Lady Vic. Everyone underestimates her abilities in the field because of her disability. She proves them all wrong. She is just as capable as all the other fighters in this universe - perhaps even more so. She isn't limited in any way. She too can be a fighter conquering this city and defeating its bad guys. That's not the only way she can make a difference. Plus, lingering romantic tension still radiates in her connection with Dick. Again, that's the go-to impulse this show has whenever introducing someone new to his world. It's a story that's been told mainly times already. Hopefully, that doesn't end tragically for Barbara. Even Blackfire reduces her sister's choices down to pining after Dick. That's the only explanation that makes sense to her about Kory abandoning her people and responsibilities. This episode tries to provide more clarity to Blackfire as well. Those details are still too small and inconsequential. She exists just to get a rise out of Kory. That's still a fascinating dynamic. It's one that may produce a meaningful lead worth pursuing. The Titans don't actually know anything about the streets of Gotham City. They are meant to protect this place from the most sinister threats. That can only come from understanding the people and being clear eyed about what this mission can accomplish. They don't know what's driving Jason. They don't know if he can be saved. They know this threat extends far beyond him. It's personal. That can easily cloud their judgment. It has done so many times in the past. Barbara goes off on her own believing that she knows better than the team that's suppose to protect and work alongside her. Patterns may be broken eventually this season. The audience is still waiting for that to actual occur though.