Thursday, April 13, 2023

REVIEW: 'Titans' - Dick and Kory Ground Themselves in Trauma to Avoid Losing Their Memories in 'Dick & Carol & Ted & Kory'

HBO Max's Titans - Episode 4.08 "Dick & Carol & Ted & Kory"

Trapped under the spell of Caul's Folly, Dick and Kory face the risk of losing their memories for good. But with Rachel still captive and Sebastian inching closer to Trigon's horn, Tim and Bernard face pressure to crack the town's mystery before it's too late.

"Dick & Carol & Ted & Kory" was written by Tom Pabst and directed by Greg Walker

This show has always operated under the belief that trauma informs character better than love does. It's tried to evolve on that central theme. However, it still lays at the foundation for the majority of the stories. It's the way Dick was raised as a vigilante. He operated under Bruce Wayne's leadership. That's the mentality Batman always displayed. Dick chose to walk a different path. It was still one plagued by so much misery. And now, Dick suggests that the only way he and Kory can retain their memories is to ground themselves in those traumatic experiences. Those are the only emotions that can dig deep enough to reveal their true selves. May and Sebastian had the perfect opportunity to kill them if they wanted. Instead, they retrieve Trigon's horn and leave Caul's Folly. It's easy for them to do so. Sebastian acknowledges how Rachel is the one remaining weakness he has left. He has ascended as a god with a legion of followers at his service. That's empowered him in ways he has never experienced before. Rachel knows the sinister truth of what's happening. Trigon and May are manipulating the access Sebastian can provide. He is disposable once that inevitable fate occurs. That's the path they have for him. It's easy for him to be blinded because he is surrounded by adoration. Rachel offered family as well. He can't kill her. He would only be harming himself in the process. May knows that. She believes the citizens of Caul's Folly are more than capable of killing this heretic. It's all a convenient excuse for why the Titans survive this latest encounter. May is intrigued by the promise of Dick and Kory losing their memories. By the end of the day, they too will be worshiping Brother Blood. That's the fate set for them. They will forget who they are in order to fulfill these new domestic roles as Ted and Carol. That fate occurs for Kory. It's not the trauma that reminds her who she is. Instead, it's listening to the depth of love expressed in Dick's recording. Kory was reluctant to make these messages. She didn't have the training to know how to clearly express these traumas. It's sociopathic for anyone to access these emotions at ease. That's concerning because Dick does so. That's not all that he expressed on the recording. That shows the variety necessary to prevail. It's not enough for Kory to then become an active part of the conclusion. It does affirm how powerful their relationship truly is. It should no longer be something they deny. Those feelings have been repressed for far too long. They speak on it to themselves. Even that is scary. Death lingers. They may not escape those fates. They don't want to feel that pain again. The risk may be worth it because they thrive together instead of trying to fight their way out of any problem by themselves.

Caul's Folly resides in a different dimension that has parallels to the one Tim and Bernard occupy. As such, they find a way to deliver a message. They break through that space. It requires both of them to trust each other's skills and instincts. Tim knows when to pursue a hunch. Bernard trusts the technology that pinpoints precise data. Both are necessary to rescue Dick, Kory and Rachel. They reunite a family in the process as well. Some fought against the memory erasure. It was all designed around sound. Sure, the practical realities of hiding an inability to hear don't line up too well with the demands of the story. It's simply more important for the Titans to have allies while trapped in this dimension where they could ultimately lose everything. No messages can get out. They haven't heard from their friends. They simply must trust that the emotions that power them forward are enough to win. They are. Dick is strong in the face of corruption. He saves Rachel. They are each powered in different ways. However, they unite to create something much stronger. That too has overwhelmingly been the powerful message at the center of the show. It gets lost at various points due to the misery that must be inflicted on these characters all the time. The Titans still don't know what's happened to Conner or Gar. In fact, the final tease suggests Conner has a proposal for Sebastian. It's based on whatever message he received from his father. That was enough to convince him he was better off doing things on his own. He doesn't need to rely on the Titans. That may be futile. It's the path he pursues. It's what he believes is the smart and rational thing to do. Sebastian is still accessible in the outside world. He's not suddenly protected at all times by Trigon's followers. They need him to enact their ultimate mission. Sebastian is still informed by his own emotions and trauma. He wields power now. He is healed after retrieving his father's horn. He's not harmed by the wounds inflicted in the hopes of killing Rachel. These connections still linger. As such, they can never truly be lost. Kory loses who she is for awhile. The citizens of Caul's Folly are docile until it comes time for May to motivate them. They view her as their mother and savior. The story is just as much about her as it is Sebastian. They share this title. Rachel sees history repeating itself. She's powerless to stop it. This may all be destined to occur once more. She was changed by that first experience with her father. She is wiser now. Dick is more than capable of taking out the brainwashed citizens who seek to kill him and his friends. That's a crucial piece of the story. It doesn't comprise what truly matters. That must be love and friendship. When the show creates pointless obstacles to test the characters, it doesn't work. When everything feels more grounded and personal, then it's easier to get swept up in the big pronouncements. That's evidenced in the storytelling here as opposed to the previous episode.