Thursday, October 14, 2021

REVIEW: 'Titans' - Dick Faces His Own Crisis in the Afterlife While Gar Endures Transformative Pain in 'Prodigal'

HBO Max's Titans - Episode 3.12 "Prodigal"

After Nightwing and Red Hood's battle, Rachel and Gar try to save their friend. Meanwhile, Jason questions his allegiance. With Barbara behind bars, Donna leads her own resistance operation, and Conner helps Blackfire recover her ship.

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.

"Prodigal" was written by Jamie Gorenberg & Bryan Edward Hill and directed by Carol Banker

Death no longer holds the same shocking power it once did in this universe. Dick was killed during his latest encounter with Red Hood. That was the climatic moment in the previous episode. However, the audience never had to worry about it being a permanent twist. Gar and Rachel had already discovered the Lazarus Pit. Rachel cried out in pain when Dick was dying. As such, the show was setting the stage immediately to bring Dick back to life. He can be revived in a much easier way than the odyssey Tim and Donna went on in order to come back. The pit would do all the work for him just like it did for Jason. The show wants to depict it differently though. It wasn't an agonizing choice presented to Jason when he was dropped in the Lazarus Pit. It was simply a useful tool to bring him back reborn as a new villain. It was thematically satisfying in that way because it marked a significant transition for the character. With Dick, it wants to symbolize a change within him as well. He goes on his own journey in the afterlife. The outcome is still inevitable. Its power comes from the lesson he learns along the way. It takes being resurrected for Dick to believe in redemption for Jason and clarity for the Titans overall. He still embarks on a journey by himself. He's fortunate that Jason is still eager for redemption. He too has grown weary over Crane's plan for the city. He sees the destruction that has been laid out. He doesn't understand all the clues. Dick does though. He can provide the path back. Jason may never be a Titan again. Dick operates with that certainty. That can't be seen as the full depth of their connection though. Jason can still make things right. He can save Gotham before it falls. Of course, Crane has armed himself with the weapon he once tried to unleash on the city. Batman and Robin stopped him before. And now, it's up to a new set of heroes to stop him. They do so in a city that has been abandoned or targeted with vicious cruelty. The police have turned against anyone who refuses to fall in line. Crane operates as the power at top. Barbara is confined to a jail cell while the Titans are scattered. They are disillusioned and believe the worst in each other. That scorn has merits in some ways. Conner feels betrayed by Dick because he poisoned him with Kryptonite. He believes all the comforts in his life are choosing to abandon him. They find him useful at times. And yet, that's not worthy of full acceptance as part of their lives and on the team. Dick always chooses to go at it alone. He struggles in leading a team. That's his own problem to bear. It has a significant impact on Conner though. When Kory emerges to tell Blackfire the truth about their lineage, it immediately clarifies everything for her. Blackfire knew she was destined to be Queen of Tamaran. That path was denied to her by their parents. Kory was always suppose to find peace and family elsewhere. Those impulses couldn't be denied despite the swapping of their powers. And now, Conner feels betrayed because his great love wants to abandon the pledge she just made to fight alongside him as a team. Her destiny carries her elsewhere. He can't understand that. And so, he sabotages the mission. He wishes to condemn her into remaining here with him instead of leaving. That's horrifying and paints him as the next hero capable of making a heel turn in this story. It's all a result of poor leadership. These people have incredible powers that can change the world. They hope to save Gotham before it's too late. They are still terrified. They can easily spiral out of control and turn against one another. Rachel can offer Gar some peace in explaining how his new transformation into a bat actually happened. That helped save Dick's life. He is grateful for that while still in pain for what it took to happen. The world is a mystery. The Titans family wants to rely on each other. They are constantly pushed away. Tim feels the call to serve as the next Robin. Donna wants to protect. The battle has arrived no matter what they do though. The many disparate pieces are capable of rising up against Crane. That will likely happen in the finale. That action will reveal new qualities in each of them. The Titans means something to each of them. That has been transformed immensely because of what has happened in Gotham. That should carry longterm consequences that they each will have to accept moving forward.