REVIEW: Titans, S2E9 – Atonement

titans 209 atonement review

In “Atonement,” Titans leverages the fallout from Dick’s (Brenton Thwaites) confession and explores how it scatters the already ailing group. While Dick seeks forgiveness for his past, several of his friends come face to face with their own pasts all at once. And poor Gar (Ryan Potter) was left all alone to focus on Conner’s (Joshua Orpin) future.

Upon the conclusion of Dick retelling Jericho’s fate, Titans Tower is sadly emptied of all but Gar. Somehow, everyone else decided the truth about his death was the last straw, and they must abandon Dick to his lies – excepting Kory (Anna Diop), who was called away by her old bodyguard Faddei. Her words of encouragement before leaving to take care of her own business provided Titans with their first glimpse of the couple’s chemistry since the premiere. Although couple isn’t quite the right word, since the status of their relationship went the way of Gar’s screen time.

titans 209 atonement gar

Still in shock that Gar got a plot.

But Gar finally got his moment to shine in “Atonement,” as Dick unceremoniously left him in charge of Conner’s care in the absence of literally every adult in his life. Sweet Gar was the only team member who believed the Titans‘ mission was bigger than its leader’s half-truths, and so he stayed behind and nearly drove himself mad trying to keep busy while waiting for Conner to wake up. Once he was awake, their interactions easily comprehended the best part of the episode. The latter’s malleable naivete fit perfectly with Gar’s optimistic and persevering spirit, and their videogame practice suggested a real-world test of heroism would have excellent results.

Unfortunately, Gar couldn’t bring himself to contact Bruce Wayne as Dick requested – perhaps because everyone else thus far had failed him – as thus didn’t prepare Conner for the world as well as he might have. The buddy comedy tone of their scenes soon gave way to horror and tragedy, since Conner couldn’t distinguish good guys from bad or modulate his behavior accordingly. I won’t attempt to guess whether not Titans was making a statement about police violence when Conner thought a perp was being attacked by them and acted accordingly – but either way it ended with him on the run and Gar making desperate calls to Dick.

Dick, of course, was in no position to answer. His soul-searching “Atonement” mission took him directly to Adeline Wilson’s door, where he sought forgiveness for her son’s death. Adeline is not ready for that, but instead points him to Slade (Esai Morales) himself. Why she would remain with the man that killed her son is another story, but perhaps something else is going on. He seemed rather weak and stood with great effort, while Adeline spoke of him as someone in great need of her care.

Either way, Slade issues an ultimatum: disband the Titans for good or watch them all die one by one. This sent Dick running for Greenland, but at the last second he was overcome and decided to attack airport security instead of boarding. You may surmise from this that I suspect Jericho was inhabiting Slade in the previous scene, and then transferred himself to Dick to complete his revenge. Or it could be Kory’s sister Blackfire (more on that soon), but Dick may also have decided getting himself arrested was the best form of self-punishment.

The rest of the Titans sought out or ran from their own pasts in “Atonement,” though Donna (Conor Leslie) and Rachel (Teagan Croft) did the least of it. While Rachel had originally agreed to follow Donna out the door, one short taxi ride later had her exiting very dramatically upon realizing that Donna was just as culpable as Dick for leading Jericho astray.

titans 209 atonement conner

Real awkward, real fast.

Her whereabouts may be a mystery, but Dawn and Hank returned to the exact spot they left: the home where they lost Elliot to Doctor Light. Dawn hoped to rebuild it and take back their lives in that way, perhaps even to open another sobriety clinic for teenagers, but the town had other plans. After a particularly passionate round of karaoke, the happy couple run into Elliot’s sister and are immediately reminded that they have much to atone for themselves.

It’s actually rather surprising that they didn’t consider the blood on their hands when chewing Dick out; it’s a subtle parallel I admit I didn’t think Titans capable of. Dawn and Hank were trying to help Elliot, but their good intentions ended with his death and led to them running away before his family could ask any questions. Is that really so different from Dick’s dealings with Jericho, which the old Titans had full awareness of for the most part? Sadly, despite singing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” together the night before, it turned out there was a valley low enough. And so Hank drives away from Dawn, ending the avian power duo in the hopes of bringing less pain as a solo act.

But perhaps no one had a rougher time in “Atonement” than Kory, who learns that her entire court back in Tamaran is dead thanks to her sister’s coup. Not only that, but Blackfire takes over Faddei’s body and forces her sister to kill him. It’s a heartbreaking moment which Diop plays to perfection, and the reveal that she knew it was Blackfire all along makes her previous conversation with him more poignant in hindsight. Hopefully Titans will finally take us to Tamaran after all this teasing, though, as it seems a worthy cause for the team to help Kory with come Season 3.

First, though, they have to reunite without Deathstroke killing them and take him down in four episodes or less. Good luck!