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‘Titans’ S01E02: ‘Hawk and Dove’ (review)

In search of a safe haven for Rachel (Teagan Croft), Dick (Brenton Thwaites) arrives on the doorstep of vigilante heroes Hawk and Dove (Alan Ritchson and Minka Kelly).

 

There are two thoughts I have to start you off with this week. One of them, I can’t claim as my own, and I apologize to whoever said it, because it’s really quite astute and hits the nail on the head.

“TITANS takes the Teen out of Teen Titans.”

I find that to be a perfect encapsulation of what I was trying to say last week, but also, I think that it gives us a way to sort of “grade on a curve.” Going in with that mindset, it’s easy to accept a lot more and judge on a different level than you would if you were getting a bloody Wolfman/Perez adaptation with the “f word.”

The second thought: Imagine how hard it was to NOT start DAREDEVIL SEASON 3. Because DD has a track record; Based on the previous two seasons, I know that right now, before I press play, that I will enjoy it. With Titans Episode 2? It might be more of what grated me last week.

Into the breach, for you, my reader. Into the breach once more.

Within the first two minutes, we meet Hawk (Hank Hall) and are greeted by the same amount of profanity that we had in the entire first episode (I’m guessing, but I really think that’s true). I’m not a prude; I use swear words more than I care to admit, but it makes me ask, “Just who is the show for?” And the thing is, I know exactly who it’s for; when I went to see MAN OF STEEL, there was a packed house in Astoria. The climax of the fight between Superman and Zod happens. Superman snaps Zod’s neck. The entire theater gasped…except for one guy, at the end of my row, who yelled out, “YES! YEAH!” I don’t know him, and I won’t take the time to psychoanalyze this person, but I think that he is exactly who this is for.

Now, again, I’m not a prude, and I can handle what I’m hearing and seeing (the violence), but I’m not sure if this was made for me. And furthermore, I think WB thinks they made it for me. Meanwhile, I saw a picture from SUPERGIRL where Kara, Clark and Lois are on the farm in Smallville and I said to my buddy, Dan, that I want to print an HD photo of it, frame it, and put it on the wall with my family.

I can point to a screenshot, a moment that may or may not exist on film, and say, “That is for me,” but 1 hour and two minutes into 11 episodes and I’m asking this question? I don’t think that’s a good look.

If you’ve absorbed this and maybe even find yourself agreeing, I want to point something out to you:

Being ultraviolent isn’t unexpected from Hawk.

So, being a little potty mouthed shouldn’t be either. It’s a fine line, because in a comic, they use those fun wingdings, but here, on the screen, yeah, you’re ears are going to hear some stuff. Hank Hall is all aggro attitude and roid rage. The thing about his portrayal by Alan Ritchson here is that the ego and aggressiveness is kept for the mask. His vulnerability in front of Dawn (Granger, aka Dove, played by Minka Kelly) is one of the highlights of the episode. He cares for her.

They care for each other really and they’re sweet on and to one another. We can argue a bunch of semantics regarding their personalities (such as Dove being a pacifist that never actually strikes anyone but uses blades and talons; again, the show keeps characters pretty much on tone, but puts them through a Warner Brothers, not DC Comics, filter), but on the surface, this is Hawk and Dove. Go with it.

Hank bears the scars of a life lived hard. He needs a hip replacement, he’s taking tons of painkillers, he has “performance issues”; he’s all too human. Dawn flashes back to four years ago, when they both took down a gang with Robin and it’s hard to believe that these were the “salad days” because it seems that nothing has changed; they’ve all just gotten older.

On their way from Detroit, Dick and Rachel stop in Ohio to get some R&R, and Rachel ends up saying the Lord’s Prayer and making crosses out of paper and putting them all over the place.

As weird as that may be, that’s nothing compared to the family we meet in the next scene (which I correctly guessed was the Nuclear Family from Batman and the Outsiders). Straight outta Pleasantville:

Dick makes a promise he can’t possibly keep and Rachel finds out that Dawn and Dick have a pretty intimate past. A past that doesn’t sit well with Hank, as you can imagine. Makes you understand his performance issues; I mean, how can you ever hope to measure against Robin? That said, Dick plans to cut and run on Rachel, and gets a hefty advance from Alfred to pay off Hawk and Dove because he’s “no good at family” and we “don’t know what (he’s) become.”

It’s possibly the other mystery of the show. I assume that we’ll keep hearing the phrase, “What happened between you and Bruce?” more and more and that the answer will slowly unravel as the series continues. It’s a complicated mess; I kind of dealt with the same thing in the first volume of STRAY (available at fine comic book stores nationwide) and, actually, the breakup was the one thing we avoided answering until the very last issue.

Like I said, it was complicated, so I get what’s going on here with Dick and Bruce. The Nuclears go medieval on Rohrbach, and, after their “last job” goes south, Robin goes medieval on some gunrunners to save Hawk and Dove. Now, say what you want about how grim and gritty they are portraying Robin, but he does adopt a few of Batman’s tactics in this fight scene. He also castrates a guy, so cosí cosá.

The episode ends with the Nuclear Family catching up to Rachel and Dick, beating the unholy hell out of the heroes and the possible death of Dove (?!).

 

Will you watch next week’s episode?

Yes. The quality is gradually trending upward, and I find myself caring about the characters at the end of this episode more than I did last week. I mean, it’s hard not to when the last scene has Dick performing CPR on Dawn as a raven flies into the camera.

EXTRA POINTS & NIT PICKS:

  • Soundtrack was bangin’ once again!
  • DC Universe has to figure out their streaming bugs. It was easily ignored last time, but now…sort your life out, mate!
  • It bears repeating from above, but Ritchson and Kelly are fantastic as Hawk and Dove.
  • Episode shoulda been called “Birds of a Feather.” Raven, Robin, Hawk, Dove…it’s right there!!
  • I’m not going to make this an Easter egg hunt, because other sites will do it better than I will, but I thought this was fun:

Among other familiar names in contacts: Alfred Pennyworth, Lucius Fox, Dawn Grangier, and Hank Hall.

NEXT WEEK: S01E03 – ORIGINS

 

Vito Delsante is a comic book writer, graphic novelist, editor, letterer, and the co-creator/writer of STRAY with Sean Izaakse, and THE PURPLE HEART with Dean Haspiel and artist, Ricardo Venâncio. He’s written for DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Image Comics, AdHouse Books, and Simon & Schuster, among others, and his stories have been reprinted in other countries. He lives in Pittsburgh, PA with his wife, Michelle, his daughter, Sadie, his son, James, and his pitbull, Kirby.  You can find him online at incogvito.com and you can follow him on Twitter @incogvito

 

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