Can we get Chella Man a series?
After half a season of alluding to the Titan’s original sin, Titans finally pulled back the curtain on the team’s use of Jericho (Man) in their revenge scheme against Deathstroke (Esai Morales). And, in a shocking twist, it sort of exonerates Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites) as the lone actor in the tragedy. Instead, it seems every, including Deathstroke, had a part to play.
But the real gift of the episode was the chance to see Man impart such sweetness and gentleness into the character. As written in the pages of New Teen Titans, Jericho was always meant to be a gentler member of the Wilson family, but Man gave him something extra — including a real exuberance when Dick let’s him in on the Titan’s secrets. Sure, comic book Jericho shows some of this off when he body-swaps in the Hive compound, but it is more impactful to see it on Jericho’s proper face. And that’s the key thing here, Man does a lot with expression and sign language. It’s a shame the character will not remain on the show because of this added (and needed) energy.
The show may offer a different debut for Jericho than seen in “The Judas Contract,” but it is a change for the better. Sure, we lose the more badass version of Adeline in the process, but it gives Dick and Jericho a chance to bond and it gives Jericho a chance to find acceptance — something this version of the character never really had before Dick spotted him in the record store.
Also, it is interesting to see the other Titans get to know him as person before he is a power. They all go in under false pretenses, to be sure, but it is clear they all have second thoughts on using him as a weapon against Slade. It makes their behavior five years later less black and white.
In the show’s present, Dick claims all the blame for himself, but everyone really shares in this. Donna (Conor Leslie) was more than ready to use Jericho. Dawn (Minka Kelly) was happy to add him to the roster once Dick decided Jericho was better off with them. Hank (Alan Ritchson) went with the flow the whole time. (And we can’t help but notice the costume room has two extra slots for Roy and Wally) The way they abandoned Dick — and the way they continue to view him with suspicion — is not entirely earned. Also, the way they pushed their own guilt onto him was not healthy.
Then again, this show isn’t about a healthy version of the Titans.
But the person with the weakest claim against Dick is ultimately Slade himself. He pushed the issue with Jericho, and, ultimately, let his anger get the best of him (despite warning Dick about emotions). Previously, it seemed Dick had put Slade in the position to kill his own son, but we now know Jericho sacrificed himself to save Dick. That is a very different scenario from the one he was feeding Jason (Curran Walters) and the one the show was feeding the viewers.
Which only makes sense as Titans is utilizing a purely villainous version of Deathstroke. He would push all of the blame to anyone and everyone other than himself.
Nonetheless, the rest of the season will be different. The older Titans have to heal, for one thing. They also have to admit the circumstances were terrible and Dick is not solely to blame for Jericho’s death. If they can, there is a way forward for the group.
But again, this show isn’t about a healthy version of the Titans and that sort of healing may be beyond them.
Titans streams Fridays on DC Universe.