Being a Titan doesn’t mean being perfect.
Gar’s (Ryan Potter) vision of a Titan is something the others could really take on board if they ever bothered to listen to him. As the group optimist — and, let’s face it, idealist — his vision of what a Titan might be is demonstrably missing from the series. But one part of Gar’s concept it does its best to support is the notion that a Titan helps people. Sometimes, they even do it unwillingly.
Which brings us to this week’s update on Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites). Despite an attempt to assign himself to a living hell, he ultimately could not avoid helping someone. That natural empathy is something which sets him apart from the Batman. Or, at least, the modern concept of the Batman as an ultimately self-centered person who needs his war on crime to be fulfilled. Dick, meanwhile, can’t help but notice other people exist. And even when he says he isn’t here to help, he still helps. This was true when Rachel (Teagan Croft) first found him in Detroit and its true in the Kane County Detention Center, where a group of desperate refugees from Corto Maltese plan a futile jail break.
As an aside, isn’t interesting the way DC Entertainment just co-opted the name “Corto Maltese” because Frank Miller threw it in as an homage in The Dark Knight Returns? If you never read the actual Corto Maltese comics, I personally recommend The Ballad of the Salty Sea (to be released again in January by IDW) and Under the Sign of Capricorn. Hugo Pratt was a brilliant artist and his stories vary from plotty adventure tales to the occasional dreamlike cruise upon the water. I suppose one could be generous and say the country was named after the merchant sailor because he saved a group of people long, long ago. But what is also interesting about DC’s Corto Maltese is its status as a beleaguered nation no matter which DC world we happen to be visiting.
The Corteseans(?) also offered Dick a sign to a new identity. Which, to be honest, smacks of a magical ethnic thing, but at least puts the notion of a night bird in an Earthly context instead of a Kryptonian one. Granted, Conner (Joshua Oprin) could always mention the myth of the Kandorian Nightwing when Dick’s attempt to be “Pájaro Azul” gets shouted down.
All joking aside, Dick ultimately helped the refugees escape and seemingly proved he will always help people even if it means getting the stuffing kicked out of him by prison guards.
The theme of helping continued with Donna’s (Conor Leslie) attempt to find Rachel and Rachel decision to assist the “at-risk youth” she met at the shelter. Granted, the later scene at the squat suggests these young women may prove to be furious in an intergalactic sense. And even they are just people in need of a Titan’s help, Rachel will have to deal with that possible bit of Trigon who escaped and killed that guy. We also imagine she’ll need to ask for help from a Tamaranian princess.
Of course, the forces of darkness count on the heroes belief in helping to aid there own ends, as seen by Mercy’s (Natalie Gumede) pleas to Conner and even her suggestion that she would help reform the Titans for Gar’s sake. It almost makes you wonder if she knows about Deathstroke’s (Esai Morales) vow to kill them all if they ever group up. It also makes you wonder if she put the hit out on Donna’s Themysciran minder five years ago.
With only three episodes left in the season, it’s time to pull these threads together. Will the Titans be able to overcome some of their issues to become Gar’s vision of a team? Or will they fall back on their old habits? As we’ve said before, the program’s evolution into a story of people who are bad at being superheroes is a genuinely interesting take, but they need a genuine win at this point. A victory might actually keep them together for longer than a few months and, maybe, give Dick the wherewithal to set up and be a leader or hand everything off to Kori (Anna Diop). Either way, it would be nice to see this group be at ease with each other again.
Titans streams Fridays on DC Universe.