REVIEW: Titans, S2E12 – Faux-Hawk

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With one episode left in the season, Titans has its wayward team members slowly inch their way back together in “Faux-Hawk.” I’ve already lamented how far off-track the plot has gotten from its promising setup, so I’ll stick to the facts for at least a few sentences. Hank (Alan Ritchson) has been cage-fighting to support his drug habit, but meeting a teenager with an unhealthy idolization of him acts as a sort of wake up call. Donna (Conor Leslie) and Dawn (Minka Kelly) continue their slow quest to rescue Gar (Ryan Potter), who is being brainwashed into a complete killing machine by Cadmus. Unsurprisingly, Rachel (Teagan Croft) and Kory (Anna Diop) decide after a small spat that their time is best spent helping that particular effort as well. Dick (Brenton Thwaites) is still off-the-grid in his friends’ eyes, but he clears the air with Jericho’s (Chella Mann) mother and gets himself a new suit courtesy of Bruce’s foresight.

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Dear reader, I cried.

The real meat of “Faux-Hawk,” though, belong to the flashbacks of Rose (Chelsea Zhang) and Deathstroke (Esai Morales). Their fateful connection is revealed to Jason (Curran Walters), because Rose no longer wants to lie to him in light of their real feelings for each other. Finally answering the question of where Rose even came from, it turns out that Slade had an affair and promptly forgot about his daughter because there was no love lost between him and her mother.

Two years after Jericho’s supposed death, Rose grew tired of getting run over by cars and diving face first into pavements without feeling any pain. She demanded to know her origin, and her mother unwillingly provided enough information about Slade for Rose to track him down. While he brutally rejected her at first, he soon relented – mostly because her powers would make her a useful pawn in his war against the Titans. It’s mostly tragic to witness how easily led Rose is by her brand-new father, desperate for his validation and for some understanding on her own abilities. She continues working with him even after he tells her he’ll cut her eye out because she’s “too pretty.”

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Rookie mistake, Deathstroke.

But while Jason isn’t necessarily a stranger to unhealthy dynamics and abusive situations, he still can’t wrap his head around the lies she’d previously told the team and starts to question how genuine her feelings for him can even be. If anyone had told me at the start of the season that one of the most gut-wrenching moments in Titans would be Jason walking out on Rose (after she punches him in the face as an apology because if “Faux-Hawk” is about anything, it’s cycles of violence), I would never have believed them.

Alas, he does walk out in order to rejoin his team, who are converging on their currently horrendously violent friend Gar. Because of this, Slade puts his murder plan into action and calls his daughter back to his side. What she probably doesn’t know, and what Dick just realized, is that her brother is by his side too. Or inside him, rather, because he most definitely does not approve of his father’s bloodthirst. It seems that Jericho and Slade have been waging a war inside the latter’s body ever since Jericho possessed his dad in order to avoid dying.

With all the bloodshed and abusive behavior in “Faux-Hawk” – for example, Hank even dreams of Dawn beating him up for loving drugs more than her – it seems the only way out of this mess is through presenting a united and nonviolent front. Dick’s goal is now to save Jericho rather than to kill Slade; the girls want to save Gar from having to kill anyone else; and Hank wants to save himself from ever being high enough to give a child his suit along with the license to hold up a laundromat. Hopefully they join forces in the finale and achieve at least one of those goals.

Titans episodes drop Fridays on the DC Universe streaming service.