REVIEW: Titans, S1E9 – Hank and Dawn

This week’s Titans episode, appropriately titled “Hank and Dawn,” was an intriguing character study for two characters who have been offscreen for over a month – although in all honestly it focused far more on Hank (Alan Ritchson) than on his better half, Dawn (Minka Kelly). The only problem is that it stopped the exciting forward momentum from the previous week in its tracks, making the unfolding backstories feel like a nuisance that had to be endured before returning to the present action.

Brotherly bonding.

The majority of “Hank and Dawn” focused on Hank’s relationship with his younger brother Don (played by Elliot Knight in the teenage and young adult years), and how their experiences together shaped Hank’s heroism and scarred him emotionally. Not only was his name surprisingly similar to Dawn’s, he was also the original Dove to Hank’s Hawk before she came around. But their penchant for fighting crime together stemmed from a trauma in early childhood, when Hank blocked Don from suffering sexual abuse at the hands of their coach by offering himself up instead. That scene in particular was both painful to witness and incredibly illuminating when it comes to understand Hank’s previous behavior in “Hawk and Dove.”

However, the rest of “Hank and Dawn” wasn’t nearly as gut-wrenching or even as necessary. Their college years proved that Hank was always too willing to go the extra mile and injury himself in the name of the game, in that case football, but that was something that could be easily deduced by the audience. We did learn that the brothers started fighting crime together, but it wasn’t a revelation that required thirty minutes of screentime – especially when Dawn was not afforded nearly the same space.

Equal screen time, please!

After all, both characters were introduced in this episode as victims of abuse, yet Dawn never got to confront her abuser at all. She spoke to her mother about finally leaving her husband, but that man was never seen onscreen and her mother is killed in the same car crash that took Don merely moments later. This was the fated meeting between Hawk and Dove, but it leaned much more heavily on the former’s loss than the latter’s. Not only that, but there was no real connection to the rest of the Titans. Not even their first meeting with Dick made it into the sequence of memories, which actually muddied the waters on the supposed love triangle even more.

The only thread linking “Hank and Dove” to the ongoing Titans plot was the instances of Rachel (Teagan Croft) telepathically calling out to each of them. Presumably she needed their help fighting Kory, but when she finally got through to Dawn she didn’t tell her anything other than to find Jason. Hopefully that means that next week’s episode will give us a look at all four Titans and their extended families in the battle for Kory’s soul, but there was no reason that Dawn couldn’t have started the episode awake and received he distress call immediately. Only two or three flashbacks were needed to understand the pain that both characters have gone through, as well as the reason they were drawn to one another.

That being said, there was no fault to be found in the performances. Both actors handled themselves admirably, creating a much more romantic chemistry than their previous outing given that they were at the blossoming of their love rather than at its lowest point. If the goal was to set up a spin-off series for the lovebirds, then it just might work. If only they hadn’t done it at such a crucial juncture for the show they’re currently on.

Titans drops every Friday morning on the DC Universe streaming service.