Titans recap: Robin always saves the day
Well, it took five episodes, but now the Titans are all together. After being introduced to each of them (Robin, Raven, Starfire, and Beast Boy) in turn, we now get to see how they interact together. They’re all just as interested to see what each other can do as we are, so Dick takes charge and organizes a little training session to test their powers.
First up is Starfire. She’s still learning more and more about herself, but by now she’s learned that she has the power to shoot powerful energy from her hands. She quickly demonstrates its destructive capabilities by blowing up a tractor in an abandoned barn they found, but she also notes that it seems her power is connected to sunlight and is thus weaker at night. After her, it’s Gar’s turn. Since his animal transformations destroy his clothes, he’s a little nervous about doing it in front of people he’s just met. So he disappears for a few seconds, and then a green tiger appears, showing off its loud roar and animal instincts. Of course, Gar gets so excited to demonstrate his transformation back into human form that he now forgets it leaves him naked. Good icebreaker for the team, though!
Last up is Rachel, who is understandably nervous about even slightly unleashing her dark power. Indeed, once she does, black energy starts swimming around the room just as it did at Niles Caulder’s lab. When it becomes clear that Rachel can’t reign it in herself, Starfire blasts the dark energy with her own light energy, canceling it out and bringing Rachel back to herself. I love this dynamic between Starfire and Rachel: They’re both struggling with an internal power they don’t understand, but one’s power is made of light while the other’s is made of darkness.
That ends the training session, since Dick refuses to do a demonstration of his own. When Gar asks what he can do, Dick responds simply, “I keep you alive.” So with that done, they hunker down for the night in a cheap motel. It’s run by a single woman who was left it by her husband, and she talks to Dick for all of about two seconds before she starts flirting with him. I have to say, Titans is doing an excellent job of nailing the key aspects of Dick Grayson’s personality — one of which is the fact that pretty much every female character he interacts with immediately falls in love with him. My dude can’t even rent a motel room without the owner asking him to knock on her door later.
Unfortunately for motel lady, though, she gets beaten to the punch. Starfire isn’t satisfied to let Dick’s vague answers about his background slide (when she asks if his combat training was military, he responds “it was more of a…civilian contractor-type thing”). She wants to know his secrets, so she finds a liquor store nearby and buys some tequila. She then brings it to his room, hoping that a few drinks might inspire him to open up. Unsurprisingly, it only takes a few tequila shots before they’re having sex. Robin and Starfire are obviously a classic Titans couple, so this hookup was really only a matter of time, but it’s enhanced by the chemistry between Brenton Thwaites and Anna Diop. Always fun when the Team Mom and Team Dad take their responsibilities literally!
NEXT: Robin to the rescue
But even as the Titans are starting to cohere into their own weirdo family team of sorts, that other family is still out to get them. The Nuclear Family is missing a dad ever since Starfire burned him to a crisp, so their director just…kidnaps a random guy and feeds him a bunch of hallucinogenic drugs until he’s totally brainwashed? This is a pretty creepy revelation since you can extrapolate it outward to every member of the Nuclear Family: They all must be random people who were kidnapped and brainwashed into acting like a parody of a ‘50s archetype. Of course, they’re also highly skilled assassins, which they demonstrate by torturing and killing the car dealer who exchanged Dick’s Porsche for a family van.
Armed with information about their nemeses’ new car, it doesn’t take long for the Nuclear Family long to track down the motel. They arrive shortly after Robin and Starfire’s hookup, and their first act is to grab the motel owner from the hallway after she realizes her own proposition to Dick was coming just a few minutes too late. (I hope she’s okay, but given the Nuclear Family’s track record, it’s not likely.) What ensues is an all-out brawl throughout the motel hallways, as the Titans engage the various members of the Nuclear Family. This is an alright fight, though sometimes it’s hard to track the action and understand what’s happening.
Eventually the fight spills out to the parking lot outside, where it seems like the Nuclear Family might have gained the upper hand. Starfire’s powers don’t work at night, Rachel’s too nervous to use hers, and Dick is nowhere to be seen…until a smoke grenade suddenly emerges. Now fully outfitted in his costume, Robin proceeds to mop the floor with the Nuclear Family in a way he hasn’t been able to in their previous encounters. Gar, for one, is stunned; he asks if this means they’ll be able to meet Batman, but Robin responds with a firm “no.” This feels directed at the viewers as much as Beast Boy; while Batman’s shadow continues to linger over this show, we shouldn’t get our hopes up to see him in the flesh anytime soon.
Once they have the Nuclear Family beaten and tied up in a motel room, Robin quickly realizes they’ve all been brainwashed (he saw a lot of that in his Gotham days). So he takes their car and drives to their Chicago penthouse base, where their boss is waiting for him. Dick thinks he’s finally getting answers, but instead this Dr. Adamson says that because his location has been compromised, assassins will be along shortly to kill both of them. He’s not wrong; soon a whole team of SWAT soldiers shows up. Dick holds his own for a few seconds, but he’s really way less powerful without his suit and gear. Luckily, the day is once again saved by Robin — just not Dick Grayson. A different Robin shows up, beats up the SWAT guys, and introduces himself as “the new Robin.” DC fans watching at home will know, of course, that that’s Jason Todd, the second Robin. His arrival is probably the best cliffhanger the show has produced so far, and I can’t wait to learn more about him in next week’s episode. Maybe he’ll even set Dick on the path to becoming Nightwing…