REVIEW: Titans, S1E6 – Jason Todd

Last week was an exploration of the various dynamics of Titans, but this week “Jason Todd” focused much more specifically on Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites) and the dysfunctional home life that led to the eponymous new Robin (played with gusto by young Curran Waters) becoming his replacement.

It’s like looking in a mirror.

Titans kicked off the episode with another round of flashbacks, time this taking us back to the funeral of Dick’s parents and a kind protector named Clayton (guest star Lester Speight) who was convinced that the young Grayson would be better off living with the rich Bruce Wayne instead of with a poor circus man like him. This relationship was what really grounded the episode, providing a glimpse of the life he could have had and the man he could have been at Clay’s side instead. It also drove the plot for Dick, as he raced to stop the killer from hurting the last remaining member of his circus family. A killer who also came from a broken home, and who placed the blame squarely for that on Robin’s shoulders. If nothing else, this episode was the answer to the question we’ve been asking these last few weeks: who is Dick really? He doesn’t seem to know by the end of “Jason Todd,” but at least the audience has a much better idea.

The other central focus of the episode was the young and excitable Jason Todd, whose desire to get closer to his predecessor was infectious. But by the end of the hour, it was clear that the boy hid even more darkness than Dick underneath that perky exterior. But for the first half, it was Dick’s jealousy that got the spotlight. As much as he wanted to get away from the violence his father figure brought out on him, it stung to see someone else standing in his place – someone with Batmobile driving privileges, no less.  This tension was the most successful aspect of “Jason Todd,” balancing the need for freedom – from parental guidance and more importantly from the unhealthy environment Bruce fostered – with the need for belonging. The fact that Titans pulled it off without even using Bruce’s shadow this time around was all the more impressive.

Appreciate you guys coming here today.

If there was any moment that went off the rails in “Jason Todd,” it was the revelation of Jason’s darker side. First, it occurred in literal darkness as Titans once again chose to light their fight scenes as poorly as possible, so it took a few seconds to realize who was doing what to whom. But once the lights came back up and it was obvious that young Mr. Todd beats up innocent police officers as vengeance for how he was treated when he was homeless, that created a whole host of new questions. How could Batman not know this was going on, for example? And if he did know, why would he let it continue? Why does Dick just let him go without contacting Alfred at least, for that matter? Finally, either this shared darkness between the boys was enhanced by Bruce or else Bruce was not able to stem the tide for them. But either way, should he be allowed to raise anyone else? Unfortunately, the episode was not interested in answering any of them, which left me with a unsettled feeling.

Kory (Anna Diop) got a few cute scenes with Dick, as he called to check in on the Nuclear Family and invited his new family to one of Batman’s safe house. Last week’s tryst was not brought up again, but there is a sense of camaraderie between them that can easily be developed later on. Rachel (Teagan Croft) and Gar (Ryan Potter), meanwhile, were barely a factor. But their reactions to the existence of another Robin were adorable, and once again their presence added a touch of laughter to a story that could easily fall into a slump otherwise. As for the overarching plot, not much progress was made aside from the hint that even if the Titans want to protect Rachel, they’ll still need to use her to get the answers they need.

Titans drops Fridays on the DC Universe streaming service.