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‘Titans’ S01E08: ‘Donna Troy’ (review)

S1:E8 — As The Titans go their separate ways, Dick turns to an old friend, Donna Troy (CONOR LESLIE), for answers.

Wherever you found Conor Leslie, DO NOT SEND HER BACK.

Now, yeah, that could easily be misinterpreted as a guy talking about a lovely woman and how her appearance on the show brings more beauty to it (Anna Diop, Sherilyn Fenn, Rachel Nichols…it’s an embarrassment of beautiful riches), but realistically, that’s not even close to what I’m talking about.

What Conor Leslie does, as Donna Troy, by virtue of her presence and performance, is she makes the show better, and by better, I mean she brings Wolfman and Perez’s Donna to life. She gives us, as fans and viewers, what we were waiting for, in a way not too dissimilar to what we got when Curran Walters appeared as Jason Todd.

On screen, as in the comics, Donna and Dick have a very comfortable relationship, very easy to see why they get along. With all we’ve seen this season so far, this could have easily been mishandled by making it another sexual conquest for Dick, but the material, and the performances by both Leslie and Thwaits, is classic New Teen Titans.

The episode starts with Dick and Donna, as teenagers (or maybe preteens, it’s hard to gauge) and Donna is the perfect bright foil to Dick’s dark and somber tone. It’s clear that, even at a young age, Donna was/is the best part of Dick’s life. It’s a bit of a nitpick because, historically, Dick was the best part of Bruce’s life and he never resented what Bruce did for him (however, in this show, the way it’s presented is that Bruce didn’t do anything for him, but did something TO Dick and ruined his life). Young Donna has a great line about their relationship: “If things get dark, and you need someone to talk to, I’m always here.” It’s foreshadowing, sure, but it works because she is the one that can penetrate the darkness inside of Robin, and it looks like she was always capable of doing that.

After the flashback, the team breaks up (AGAIN! I KNOW!) and Dick goes off to find Donna (who, apparently is in Chicago, too…coincidentally). Storywise, the episode goes off into three directions (two, eventually). Dick and Donna, Kory and Gar, and Rachel and her mom. Clearly, based on what I wrote above, the focus is on Dick and Donna, but Kory starts to get flashes of her past, some memory of her piloting a spaceship (I guess; it’s never explicitly stated, but that’s the gist of it).

Kory leads the Roth/Azaraths and Gar back to Rachel’s house via train, only to be found by a US Marshal, which leads to YET another murder by Kory. Prior to this, Kory encourages Gar for his murder last week (which, if you remember, I said that Gar would struggle with) WHICH IS TOTALLY NOT COOL, BRO! They get away, and Rachel offers to “heal” Kory’s mind (just like I said she should last week) and she awakens Starfire (which we learn is her name or codename when Donna translates some of Kory’s texts from her storage unit).

Back to Dick and Donna…there is…I wouldn’t call it humor, but there’s really no other word for it, really. It’s just their banter. It’s easygoing, and honestly, if they canceled this show and did a Nightwing/Wonder Girl series ala THE THIN MAN, I would not complain. The way the two interact is…it’s not brother/sister, nor is it a “will they/won’t they.” The best thing I can call it (and this is by no means an insult because it’s rare and wonderful to see) is pure platonic friendship. Seeing it makes me happy and I wish this existed in other comic adaptations. It’s perfect. Truly.

The episode ends with Dick and Donna racing to Ohio (man, who’d’ve thought the Buckeye State would be such a hotbed of activity?) to stop Kory from killing Rachel, as per the prophecy that Donna has interpreted.

No lie; best episode of the season. Better than Jason’s.

And then we got the preview for next week…

Will you watch next week’s episode?

I’m not going to lie; I kind of don’t want to because it feels like a momentum stopper. Like…you know how in all the Netflix Marvel shows, there’s always one episode in the season that feels like it doesn’t belong? Looking at the preview for next week, that is what it seems like we’re getting. Now, let’s not twist the issue and call it down the middle; I watch to write these reviews, so it’s not outside of the realm of my responsibilities. I almost *have* to watch every episode. But again, I’m less inclined to because it feels like we’re getting “cockblocked.”

EXTRA POINTS & NIT PICKS:

  • Another (unnecessarily) long intro.
  • Next week appears to be a “break week” with the preview looking like the episode will focus on Hawk and Dove…both Doves. Personally, I think this episode could have waited a season, but what do I know? I review the show, not produce.
  • Which means the Nightwing reveal I predicted last week will probably come in Episode 11, now.
  • One song on the TITANS unofficial soundtrack this week; Touch Too Much by AC/DC.
  • Name drops/Easter eggs – the Justice League, Diana, the Joker, the Penguin.
  • There is a fun interaction Dick has with a gent at Donna’s gallery showing. I’m not sure what the point is, but, correct me if I’m wrong, but…was the dude trying to flirt with Dick? He was, right? That makes it kind of great because Nightwing is a popular character among gay fans. Is that fan service? Probably, but it’s a fun scene.

NEXT WEEK: S1:E9 – HANK AND DAWN

 

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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