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‘Titans’ S01E09: ‘Hank and Dawn’ (review)

S1:E9 — The origin story of Hank Hall and Dawn Granger’s relationship and the loss in each of their pasts that brings them together as vigilante Super Heroes Hawk and Dove.

“Life isn’t fair.”

“Why not? Why can’t we make it fair?”

Jeez Louise, this episode was DARRRRRRRK, but…BUT…it’s an incredible story. Just maybe ill-timed or misplaced in the season. And I’ll get into the ham-fisted way they tried to shoehorn the season’s story-arc into a flashback episode, but outside of that, it was a very good week.

It’s hard to tell exactly who reads this review column and, even more, how old they are in terms of pop-culture references. I don’t think there’s any way of telling demographics definitively, but for the sake of the old folks like me, this was “a very special episode of TITANS.” Or, to put it another way…

…Arnold and Dudley at the bike shop have NOTHING on this week’s ep.

The episode starts with Hawk and Dove (Hank’s brother, Don!) beating up on a sex offender and it’s unpolished, the costumes are raw, and it feels like KICK-ASS (or even JACKASS) in a way, but, from what I can tell, the video doesn’t go viral (instead, they make the front page later on). Don(nie) isn’t a pacifist, not at all.

Roll the credits. Afterwards, we come back to the present, and Hank is at Dawn’s bedside. Dawn is apparently still in a coma after the events of Episode Two. Hank is nursing his pain with a bottle of J&B and some pills he stole from the hospital’s stash. Now, I don’t want to give every beat away, and don’t want to do a play by play, but after we saw Hank medicating in Episode 2, and the way he is here, it’s clear that Hank is covering up a lot of pain.

A LOT.

What we get this week is the revelation of that pain; Hank was sexually assaulted by his football coach. Further, Hank was assaulted as a result of protecting Donnie. It’s no wonder he pushed himself as hard as he does.

Concussions, scars, and bruises have nothing on what Hank is covering up for inside. It’s noble, and yet it’s completely heartbreaking. This episode hurt on so many levels.

After getting expelled from their elite school for fighting in a library (I *think* it was a high school, but it felt like a college), the two decide to become crime fighters, and continually call out Batman and Robin. And then we get Raven, somehow affecting Hank’s memory by appearing in reflections, and trying to get his attention which is…

…hmm. Sure.

It’s one of those things that maybe works in comics, but looks totally cheesy in film. Donnie pulls up a map of registered sexual predators and they have their mission.

From here, we shift to Dawn’s memories, of her dancing in, I think, Swan Lake. It seems that abuse runs in her family too, as her mom (played by Marina Sirtis) is returning to an abusive partner.

A chance encounter as mother and daughter literally run into Hank and Donnie, and seconds later, SECONDS LATER I KID YOU NOT, a runaway van hits Donnie and Dawn’s mom, killing them.

Again, I say…

Hank and Dawn meet at a survivor’s (guilt?) group, and slowly start to date, and I don’t mean to sound like a sap, but it’s really wonderful, guys. I can’t tell you how great seeing unrefined Hank trying to take afternoon tea with erudite Dawn was (Dawn, apparently is from England, and likes her habits, I suppose). It was lovely, truly.

Dawn finds out about Hank being Hawk, he explains his childhood trauma, and she takes it upon herself to seek out the abusing coach, and make him pay. The fact that Dawn has agency, has her own motivations, is great. A fight ensues between Dawn and the coach until Hank arrives at the coach’s house. He tells Dawn to leave, and she shuts the door and stays and EVERYONE WE ALL DESERVE A PARTNER LIKE THIS IN LIFE!

Rachel’s cameos in memories help bring Dawn out of her coma (because of course) and Dawn tells Hank they have to go find Jason Todd.

I want to make sure we all understand something; at least, something about me. I am happy to call out stupidity and continuity mistakes and all that stuff, but don’t think that I wouldn’t recommend this series to others.

At the same time, I’m not a gushing fanboy about the series either.

When the episodes work, they work well. Truth be told, there have been three, THREE, great episodes. That’s one-third (as of this week). The other six are fine, and that’s really as far as I’ll go with it, but in a weird way, I can see how those three great episodes (“Jason Todd,” “Donna Troy” and “Hank and Dawn”) can make this 11 episode season a good one.

If you’ve been on the fence about the show, and I’m sure a lot of people are, these three eps give you more than most superhero tv shows will, in terms of character development and individual arcs, and I think, while I don’t see an Emmy nomination any time soon, the series, as of this week, is a success.

Will you watch next week’s episode?



As it brings the promise of getting back to the ongoing storyline and, it seems like Dawn and Hank are going to recruit Jason to help Rachel, it looks like we have our team and I am HERE FOR IT.

EXTRA POINTS & NIT PICKS:

  • Barbara and Karl Kesel both worked on Hawk and Dove comics, hence their Easter egg.
  • God, those Rachel things were awful. Only thing worse was the SFX on that van accident.
  • I have to give one thing a second look, and maybe you can help me out with this, reader. After they have sex, Dawn wakes up and says they can’t be together, which makes me think that maybe, this isn’t a memory, but more like her subconscious telling her that being with Hank is dangerous and that, if she were to come out of the coma, she needs to leave, but…man, I don’t know. I just pulled that out of my ass, so maybe??? Dawn doesn’t strike me as an unreliable narrator, though, so…ignore me.

NEXT WEEK: S1:E10 – KORIAND’R

 

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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