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Titans “The Asylum” Review- Facing Fears

All too often with new television series, we are given a show that gives far too much story. There is this compulsive need to build up the mythology as quickly as possible because they believe that’s what people want. Deep mythology that hasn’t been earned and comes across as exposition opposed to an actual mystery. More often than not these types of shows, that don’t have the patience to build, fail. They don’t make it because they’re forgetting that a story doesn’t mean anything unless you’re given characters to drive it. What has made this first season of Titans so successful is the fact that they’re allowing the characters to do the driving as the story unfolds around them.

Seven episodes in and it is pretty clear that the major storyline concerns Raven and where she came from. It’s The Organization’s pursuit of Raven and her powers that showed us who these characters are and allowed them to organically come together. For Dick Grayson, it’s the need to not commit the same mistakes as Bruce Wayne. To teach and guide but not use. Allow a person to find their own identity and not just be a weapon. With Beast Boy, you have a young man who is looking for a sense of purpose and a family. With the Titans, he finds a group that accepts him for who he is while also allowing him to find his true potential. Starfire is rebuilding herself from scratch and finding that with the Titans that she can possibly be something better. As for Raven, this is a young girl who has been on the outside and learns that her whole life is a lie. She needs a family as much as she needs to know her true identity. As The Organization intensifies its hunt of the Titans we learn more about them and they learn more about each other and it’s this character exploration that has made the show so great.

DC Universe Titans

This week we learned that maybe Raven isn’t the ender of worlds we thought she was. The Organization views her as a savior, someone who can heal the world not destroy it, and to prove that point Doctor Adamson cuts his own throat forcing Raven to heal him and save his life. This is a power we’ve seen from Raven before, with Doom Patrol and the car accident victim, but her motives here are a bit different. For starters, Raven isn’t sure she’s capable of saving someone with such a life-ending wound, but she’s also driven by the fact that Adamson knows where her birth mother is. Raven is able to heal his wounds and is given the whereabouts and location of her birth mother. Someone she’s thought has been long dead. This season has done an excellent job of turning Raven’s world upside down.

Getting the reunion she so desperately needs isn’t that simple though. Raven pleads her case to the others and Dick, who has stepped into the leadership role quite effortlessly, shuts the idea down. Not without sympathy though as I’m sure Dick Grayson understands the need to see one’s parents again, and to further that point think of him shouting “I want my parents back” last week as he assaulted their killer. The Titans have zero cause to trust Doctor Adamson and it is not out of the realm of possibility that he could be sending them directly into a trap. They will find Raven’s mother but they need to scope out The Asylum first to make sure its safe.

Beast Boy, who also has lost parents (#theme), finds a very upset Raven and says he was only saying what he thought Dick and Starfire wanted to hear. Raven and Beast Boy sneak out to find Raven’s mother on their own. A terrible idea that only enhances the lack of experience from the teams youngest heroes. Both Raven and Beast Boy act impulsively and on emotions, and it’s that behavior that leads to the group going into The Asylum unprepared and outmatched. Dick perfectly mapped out how to handle this. He hung out with Batman, he knows stuff!

As soon as Raven and Beast Boy went off on their own it seemed inevitable that the group would be captured. It enforces what Dick was saying at the start of the episode about being prepared, and it’s used as a perfect tool to bring the group closer together. Writers Bryan Edward Hill and Greg Walker also use their capture as a way to dive deeply into the psyche of the characters. The Asylum attacks each member of the team individually making them face some sort of individual fear by themselves. For Dick, it’s the fact that becoming Robin did nothing to fill the void of losing his parents. If anything, it’s only made that void deeper. Dick Grayson wrestles with the fact that he’s failed his younger self constantly and he doesn’t know how to change that. Beast Boy is treated like an animal being shocked over and over again as The Organization wants to see him transform into anything like it’s a parlor trick. Starfire, despite knowing her limits, still uses up all her power to try and escape only to have that lead to her being tortured so The Organization can learn about her healing factor. This brings to the forefront that Starfire isn’t just a stranger to herself but to the people around her.

If Raven is responsible for bringing everyone together then its appropriate that it’s Raven who leads the charge in saving them. Doctor Adamson, who somehow escaped a Batman safe house (?!), only wants to reunite Raven with her birth father. All she has to do is call out to him and he’ll be there, and if you know the comics then you might have a bigger idea of who Raven’s father is. Pretty creepy stuff. Raven isn’t buying it though, she wants her mother and she wants her friends leading her to tap into that dark side we’ve seen throughout the season. Raven undoes the throat wound healing from earlier and Doctor Adamson bleeds out in front of her. A shocking reversal of power that emphasizes the balance between the two personalities of Raven.

DC Universe Titans

From there, Raven rescues her mother and the rest of the gang, even if they are a little changed. Beast Boy, in an act of protection, transforms into a tiger and kills one of his captures which will be a moment that surely has huge ramifications for the character going forward. Before he met the Titans, Beast Boy had never bitten anyone and now not understanding the strength of his powers has now killed a man. Something tells me that’s going to mess him up. Granted, he did it to protect his family but Beast Boy is the team’s innocence and this act will certainly taint that.

Raven taps into Dick’s promise to protect her to bring him out of his drugged out hallucinating state as Dick wakes up continue to avenge the young boy he feels like he betrayed. The group works together to free Starfire who blows up The Asylum landing a massive blow to The Organization. As the building burns around them Dick Grayson watches his Robin costume melt away further implying his future transformation to Nightwing.

Another excellent episode of Titans opens the doors to even more questions. While the group is able to escape it seems that their time in The Asylum will have some long-lasting ramifications on their psyche. Can Beast Boy overcome his actions? Who is Raven’s father and how can he just arrive places? Is Dick finally moving on from Robin and becoming his own person? What do you think Geeklings? Were you happy with this week’s episode of Titans? Where does the group go from here and how will The Organization respond? Sound off in the comments. If you’d like to talk more Titans with yours truly then you can find me on Twitter @iamgeek32. Until then, I’ll see everyone next week with a brand new episode review! Have a safe and happy holiday!

 

Images from Warner Bros and DC Universe 

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Kevin Carey is an unapologetic geek who strongly believes his mind works much like an episode of Community. Has a strong love for pop culture that focuses on TV, comics, movies, and books. Kevin also enjoys writing fiction and has self published a short story to Amazon. While awaiting his Hogwarts acceptance letter, Kevin lives on Long Island with his cat and extensive Pop Vinyl collection. You can find him here on Fan Fest, at his blog I Am Geek, or the I Am Geek Podcast spreading geekiness to all.