The formation of the Titans isn’t just about putting together a superhero group, that’s only what it represents on a superficial level. Of course, we want to see these guys in costume punching bad guys in the face. We’ve read the comics. We’ve watched the animated series. This is what we want, and what we’re getting, but we can’t overlook the fact that this is not enough. After a while, that kind of novelty wears off and the team becomes just a bunch of superheroes saving the world. No heart. No soul. The formation of any super team has to be more than putting a bunch of heroes together to kick some ass. It has to mean something, the team needs to represent more than just superheroes.
This first season of Titans has made it a point to showcase four characters who are searching for themselves as much as they are searching for each other. These internal struggles are bookended by Dick Grayson’s need to step out of the shadow of Batman and Robin and become his own man while Starfire is searching for her identity as a whole. These struggles and need for identity between the group is what makes the team function. These are four people who need each other. Who happen to form a small little family that promotes self-identity. But what if that discovery of self-identity is detrimental to the team? Can a group of broken individuals survive something like that?
Both Dick and Starfire took different paths this episode, and each brought the other closer to finding that identity that they have been longing for. With the expensive, Robin suit now a pile of burnt rubber at the Asylum, Dick can finally start to put that part of his life behind him. The only problem is, he doesn’t know how. He can’t be Robin anymore but he can’t quit either, Dick needs to find himself and he can’t do that while with the group. With Raven having her mother, Beast Boy having Raven, and Starfire getting closer to remembering who she was, Dick feels the gang is in a good enough place for him to leave. Grayson needs a face that can understand his plight and searches out an old friend…Donna Troy. Comic book fans will know her as Wonder Woman’s sidekick Wonder Girl. Donna seemingly escaped the superhero life and is the one person who has always been able to give the pep talks Dick Grayson needs to push on.
Immediately the chemistry between Grayson and Donna Troy jumps off the screen. I suspect the fan base could be divided by those who ship Dick and Starfire and those who ship Dick and Donna Troy. Conor Leslie is a tremendous addition to this cast as her portrayal of Troy is ridiculously charming and hopeful. For the first time, we see a superhero who doesn’t appear to be… broken. Granted that is almost a superhero staple, but by all appearances, it seems that Donna Troy has her act together. Having given up the title of Wonder Girl and now using her profession as a photographer to take down scum, like hunters of endangered animals, Donna Troy represents something Dick Grayson desperately needs to see and understand. That there is life outside of being a sidekick/symbol and it’s obtainable. If you want it.
Starfire has a much tougher journey as her memories are gone. She doesn’t have the ability to reflect on who she was because there’s nothing to call back. Titans hasn’t focused a lot on Starfire’s actual memories but this week doubles up with a number of visions of Starfire seemingly in some sort of ship about to crash. Neither us or Starfire are able to make heads or tails of this memory, and it’s not like there’s a lot of time to focus on them with some of Starfire’s previous actions catching up with her and the rest of the group. What should have been a lovely train ride to Raven’s mother’s abandoned house in Ohio quickly turns into a full-on SWAT team invasion, that sees Starfire and the rest of the group barely escape but not before burning down a whole train car.
What makes this episode so compelling is that pull of positive and negative. We as an audience want Dick Grayson to move on from Robin, and not just because we want Nightwing, but because we know it’ll be best for him. Donna Troy is the light that is pulling Dick out of the darkness, and it instantly makes me want this character to hang around for a while. If you know your comic books then you should have a good idea what to expect, that’s all I’m saying, but it’s interesting how Troy also pulls on the negative aspects of Starfire finding out who she is.
Starfire’s storage unit of Raven obsession showed us that the two were linked together even if the details were cloudy. There was a whole bunch of ancient language that didn’t mean anything to either Dick or Starfire, but it was obvious that for whatever reason Raven was being pursued by our purple dress wearing fire starter. Fast-forward to episode eight where Donna Troy is looking at pictures on Grayson’s phone (must refrain from D-pic joke… must. Refrain.) and she stumbles upon pictures of the text. Having been raised in Themyscira, Donna is able to translate the script, and it’s not good. Turns out that Starfire is hunting Raven… to kill her. You know, all that end of the world stuff. It’s a good thing that Starfire doesn’t have her memories back.
Raven, unbeknownst to any translating that’s going on, decides that now would be a swell time to try and use her healing powers on Starfire’s mind. Cause if it can heal sliced throats broken minds should be cake. Crap. As soon as Raven’s powers kick in, Starfire remembers the ship crashing… and her mission. With eyes flaring she grabs Raven by the throat as we’re left wondering if Dick and Donna can arrive in time to prevent this mission from being achieved.
Some other quick thoughts before I leave you-
- Titans has done such a wonderful job of subtly building a larger DC Universe. Donna Troy comes up and we have casual mentions of Wonder Woman and Themyscira, and these are easter eggs that feel natural and not like name-dropping for the sake of name dropping. Same goes with Dick Grayson talking about a battle with the Joker he wasn’t supposed to be a part of. Titans want you to know these characters are out there even if we can’t see them.
- Starfire asking Beast Boy if he wants to make out with Raven… that was weird, right? Anyone else kind of cringe? Also, is he old enough to be drinking?
- “I miss the Penguin” another great world builder that is the icing on the social anxiety cake that is Dick Grayson in a social setting.
- I can’t be the only one who isn’t buying the fact that this woman isn’t really Raven’s mother, right? I just don’t see The Organization being defeated that easily and a fake mom seems like the perfect move to get Raven to lower her defenses. It’s all just too happy and homey for me to buy. I’m surprised Dick isn’t a little more questioning.
- Dick Grayson… master of the minivan.
There you have it Geeklings, what did you think of this week’s episode of Titans? Do you think the Titans will be able to stop Starfire from killing Raven? Do you want to see Donna Troy join the team? Is Dick on the cusp of becoming Nightwing? Sound off in the comments. If you’d like to talk more Titans with yours truly you can find me on Twitter @iamgeek32. Be sure to tune in next Friday for another brand new episode review. This season is flying by!