Titans recap: Us sidekicks have got to stick together
Look, I’ll admit that I was worried about DC Comics making its own shows without the help of a network. Specifically, after watching the Titans pilot, I was concerned that it would go fanboy crazy with the references because it would have no constraints, and as we’ve seen on the Arrowverse shows, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and the Marvel-Netflix series, not being able include or even reference the big hitters can lead to great results. But, eight episodes in, I’m proud to say that Titans has proved me wrong and the freedom it has to introduce and name-drop all of these crazy things from the DC Comics universe is paying off. The Doom Patrol episode is one of my favorite things I’ve seen this year, Jason Todd’s introduction was pretty cool, and now in this week’s episode we meet Donna Troy, a.k.a. Wonder Girl, played Conor Leslie, who has automatically become my favorite thing about the show.
It’s clear from the moment “Donna Troy” begins that this episode is very much about the wonder-sidekick’s relationship with the Boy Wonder. We first meet her in a flashback scene that name-drops several iconic DC characters. Donna and Wonder Woman visit Wayne Manor after Batman and Robin’s latest fight with the Joker, and while Diana and Bruce hash things out downstairs, Young Dick heads to Donna’s room because he’s having a crisis of confidence after watching the Joker kill several people. Because she’s “older, smarter, and prettier,” Diana knows exactly what to say to help young Master Grayson out of his latest funk.
Given where we left things with Dick in last week’s episode — in the midst of an identity crisis because he finally decided to give up being Robin — it makes sense that he would turn to his older sister again. When the episode opens, he bids the rest of the Titans adieu, much to Rachel’s disappointment, and pays Donna a visit. She’s the perfect person he can talk to at this time because she has managed to do what he failed to do: move past being a sidekick and create a life for herself outside of being a superhero. Instead of suiting up as Wonder Girl, she helps the world as a photojournalist.
Leslie is perfect as Donna. She’s confident, smart, funny, charming, and exudes wisdom. Furthermore, she has effortless chemistry with Brenton Thwaites; however, it’s not the kind of chemistry you think. As my colleague Christian Holub has pointed out, Titans has faithful to the fact that every woman that meets Dick in the comics immediately falls for him. But that’s not the case with Donna, who has more of a younger brother-older sister dynamic with Dick. I’m glad the show went in that direction because it makes their relationship within the show’s world. One of my favorite moments in the entire episode was them playfully going back and forth about whether or not Dick was good at small talk.
When Dick shows up at her door, she wryly tackles his identity crisis and assigns him the task of trying his hand at small talk at a showing of her work that evening. Spoiler alert: Dick is terrible at it, and there’s a great moment when he just says “I wonder what the Penguin is doing right now” after a failed interaction with another human being. Not only is that aside funny, but it’s also another moment where you realize how far the show has come from its humorless pilot. Plus, the Penguin reference doesn’t feel forced at all.
NEXT: Something else, someone else
Midway through the showing, Donna Troy dips out for a mysterious meeting and leaves Dick by himself. Or at least, she tries to. Forgetting that she’s Wonder Girl and can take care of herself, Dick decides to follow her to her meeting with some South African poachers who are giving her an exclusive look into their operation. Donna gets all of the photos she needs and is ready to leave when Dick decides to drop in and knock her contact out because he can’t resist a fight no matter how much he says he wants to. Of course, Donna is very annoyed at this, but finds a way to salvage the deal.
From there, they had to her apartment where she points out the obvious: Dick can’t — and shouldn’t — be Robin anymore, but he clearly can’t and doesn’t want to leave the superhero game, so he needs to become something else, someone else, which is very Arrow-like advice. In other words, she’s the one who puts him on the path to becoming Nightwing. However, that’s not the only help she gives him. Donna comes across the pictures Dick took of Kory’s storage unit and is actually able to translate the mysterious scribblings. It turns out that Kory, a.k.a. Starfire, was sent here to kill Rachel the Raven. Actually, Rachel and the rest of the Titans make this discovery in the other side episode, too.
While Dick was hanging with Donna, the rest of the Titans leave Chicago to setup shop inside of Angela’s old home in middle-of-nowhere Ohio. During their train ride, Angela tells Rachel about her demonic father, who essentially created a cult of personality to find his similarly powered daughter, and Kory gives Gar some ribbing about his infatuation with Rachel. Their journey is interrupted when a U.S. Marshall recognizes Kory and notifies the FBI, which gives Kory no other option but to blast her way out of there.
When they arrive at Angela’s home, Rachel offers to use her healing powers and help Kory get her memories back. Of course, it works, and when Kory comes out of it, she immediately grabs Rachel by the neck because she clearly remembers what she was sent to Earth to do. Thankfully, Dick and Donna are on their way to the house and should be able to stop her before she follows through with her mission.