The pilot episode is tough for any television show. It’s the episode that is supposed to pull you in while also setting up the plot and intrigue for the upcoming season. This gets even more tricky when your television show is based on characters who have existed for decades. Fans want their characters done correctly and are quick with backlash if there is even a whiff of change. It’s not an easy task at all, and the pilot episode of Titans wasn’t awful but was uneven. Using the platform to introduce us to the majority of the main characters while also trying to establish the dark, gritty, mysterious nature of the world they live in, the episode had a great deal to juggle. With episode two, “Hawk and Dove”, Titans decides to pull back on the reigns a little bit and slow things down focusing more on expanding character with some solid backstory and the introduction of two new and intriguing characters. The results are an episode that is a much-improved product that builds off the potential of the premiere episode.
Instead of trying to give every character a moment, “Hawk and Dove” primarily focuses on the relationship between Dick Grayson and Raven who seem to be the foundation that all characters will run off of. It’s clear that Starfire is heading on a collision course with both Grayson and Raven, and while we still don’t know how Beast Boy will play into things, knowing that the show is called Titans we can assume that they’ll meet up at some point. What we do know is that Raven seems to be the lynchpin for every character thus far. Her photo has turned up in the mob office Starfire turned to ash, she’s had dreams of the Flying Grayson’s, and most recently became the target of a creepy sleeper cell family of assassins. All roads lead to Raven and right now she’s on the run.
While we don’t know a lot about why Dick chose to leave Gotham, we do know that a part of it was because he was afraid he was becoming too much like his mentor. What “Hawk and Dove” does so well is put Grayson in the Bruce Wayne type role. Taking in a child and having to be their support system. The irony isn’t lost on Dick though, and while he wants to be there for Raven, he doesn’t think he’s capable. He’s kind of going through some stuff right now which can be seen in his dark, super violent Robin behavior. While the show has yet to reveal just what has caused Robin to tap into his inner uber-violent vigilante side, we do know that it’s causing him a lot of issues. Dick is completely aware that he’s not the same person he was and seems powerless to stop himself from throwing Robin symbols into the eyes of bad guys. Or, in the case of one unfortunate torturer… scissors to the groin. Ugh.
As Dick wrestles with what to do with Raven he does what most logical people do, he takes her to the apartment of an ex-lover and her boyfriend… who just so happen to be the heroes Dove and Hawk. What could possibly go wrong there? Especially when you factor in that Hawk and Dove are planning one last big mob boss shakedown before disappearing from the public eye. Hawk’s body is falling apart after years and years of being a vigilante, a nice touch from the show to display the downsides of being a hero, and Dove looks to be ready to move on to the next phase of life. One where she doesn’t have to wear a costume and beat up so many thugs. Hawk though seems to have a bit of an anger issue and while we see that Dick, Hawk, and Dove have worked together in the past there is clearly some tension there. Most of which is between Dove and Dick as whatever happened in their past doesn’t seem to be fully over. You don’t need Raven’s powers to pick up on the fact that these two have a romantic history.
What follows is what you would expect. Long glances between Grayson and Dove, Hawk blowing every little thing out of proportion, recruiting Robin to help pull off this final job, Robin turning down the offer, and Raven becoming a huge Game of Thrones fan despite watching the show out of sequence. Come on Raven, you watched the season four finale and the next episode you watched you just learned about the dragons?! You’re better than that!
The reason this episode works so well is that Titans allows the characters to breathe. Instead of trying to do too much with such a short time frame, the show allows these characters to act organically and establish connections not only with themselves but with the audience. When Dick plans on leaving Raven with Hawk and Dove with just a letter and some cash (that he got from Alfred) it stings because we’re invested in their journey together now. When Dove’s hand hangs just a little too long on Dick’s arm we raise an eyebrow because there’s no way this season ends without these two hooking up. When Hawk loses his cool we can understand while also thinking he’s got some anger issues. One of my chief complaints from any DC movie property is their inability to focus on character and in “Hawk and Dove” they finally do and the results are excellent. Titans does more with its second episode by relaxing and minimizing the number of characters presented on screen. There’s no doubt that these characters will come together but it’s okay to let the story dictate opposed to putting them on screen together because they’re supposed to be.
I’m curious about where we go from here. The sleeper cell assassin family, having shown up at the absolute worst time, now has Raven and possibly killed Dove. This is a comic book show so the term dead is pretty relative but the moment resonates. Hawk isn’t in the greatest of shape either now that I think of it. This leaves Dick Grayson on his own. His friends are out of commission. The child he was trying to avoid looking after is gone. And he’s off the grid when it comes to the Bat. We’ve already seen that Dick is not in the right mental space. Not just with his violent outbursts but also the fact that he would leave a child who needs him behind. If anyone should know better it’s Dick Grayson. Here’s hoping that this event wakes him up. Batman saw promise in the last surviving Grayson, and for whatever reason, Dick chooses to ignore that promise to be something he’s not. Now he has to make amends for his actions and woe is this family of assassins if they have to catch the wrath of a Robin scorned. This should be the first step for Robin becoming the leader we need him to be.
Geeklings, what did you think of episode two of Titans? Were you happy to see the show focus on a smaller group of characters? What did you think of Hawk and Dove? Is Dove dead?! What does this agency want with Raven? Sound off in the comments. If you’d like to talk more Titans with yours truly you can find me on Twitter @iamgeek32. See you all back here next week with another review.