S1:E11 — Dick takes a dark journey back to Gotham in the (season) finale.
I should do one of those TL;DR recaps right here at the top, right? Just to spare you the nuance of a full review? That could be the easy way out, and maybe it’s warranted, but there are a few things I feel I have to get off my chest.
This episode is jarring, and not in the way you might think. It opens with Dick, in California, on a pool floatie, sipping a beer while “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by the Beach Boys plays. We slowly ease into the life that he has and by “slowly” I mean “breakneck speed.”
It’s five years later; Dick is married to Dawn and they have a son named John(ny) and are expecting their second child.
Rachel and Gar are in college in Chicago. Jason Todd is in a wheelchair and reveals that Batman is in trouble. No mention of Kory, but we meet her later and she’s a federal agent (DEO, maybe?). All this information (with the exception of Kory) comes in five minutes. That is a LOT to digest, and I don’t mean to say that this is poorly executed or poorly acted; it’s just fast. It’s maybe done intentionally?
Like, it’s meant to make you question everything you’re seeing, and I get that, but if you take what happened last episode, and how it ended, there’s not a doubt in my mind that starting this episode is a mindf*ck.
There is no reference, no mention of Trigon and how he’s reunited his family.
I want to jump ahead to minute 39.
Dick has just killed Batman and his eyes get the same black creepy thing that Rachel’s does when she uses her powers. Dick has given into the darkness. This is the first time we see what Trigon has done (although he appears in the fantasy as a cop, which was a cool touch). Throughout the entire episode, I was looking at the time, wondering how they would end the first season and…shit, man…it’s so frigging bleak.
It’s a cliffhanger, sure, but man, are you really going to string this shit on into Season 2?
And then add Superboy and Krypto??
I’m just…baffled is all. I mentioned it last week, but this season could have used an extra episode, just to decompress some of what we saw in the finale. But then, I have to be honest; maybe it’s not the way they got to the season finale that’s bugging me. Maybe I was just hoping for something else? A little bit more…heroism.
Not everything has to be EMPIRE STRIKES BACK or INFINITY WAR. We don’t have to end everything on a down note, wondering if your heroes are going to pull through. Frankly, that’s why it works for EMPIRE and AVENGERS; we have faith in those heroes.
They kill indiscriminately, and their heroism is a point of contention. The grading curve for how the go about doing their crimefighting (and let’s be clear; they have not fought any crimes, really) is incredibly steep. I like these characters regardless, and I am hoping for something to shake this…aggression by way of self-hatred off and see them act like superheroes but I really have to question if that is coming, and if they’ve earned happy endings for themselves.
That’s what is so jarring about the opener. We see Dick, Dawn, Rachel, Gar (and, ostensibly, Hank) earn their happy endings and yet, it’s all fake. It’s almost as if they creators of the show are trying to tell us that these characters, these heroes, don’t get to have a happy ending. If you really think about it, that works for Batman.
Batman doesn’t get to have a wife, kids, picket fences and picnics. The tragedy of Batman is that he *could* have that if he gives up his crusade, but he will never give up his crusade. If Batman were the one that Trigon was manipulating into choosing darkness, it would all make sense. If the ultimate victory came at the cost of Batman killing the Joker, then yeah, this makes all the sense in the world.
There’s just one problem…
…Dick isn’t Batman.
He gets to walk away, and from what we’ve seen in TITANS this year, he did, but by letting Zucco die, the creators have given him this weight of “sin by omission” or “sin by apathy” that he just can’t shake off. By letting Zucco die, Dick is doomed and there’s possibly no redemption for him. At least, not in the way that he’s presented here. As a result, his sins become Rachel’s and Gar’s, etc.
As their de facto leader, he is leading them down a path of good intentions that ultimately will lead them to Hell.
It’s truly messed up.
As season finales go, Episode 11 doesn’t make me hopeful for this team in the future. I feel like Season 2 will have a death (in the family, Jason?) and it will end with Deathstroke holding a gun to someone’s head.
Hell, Superboy has already killed a bunch of dudes as he escaped from Cadmus, so you can’t even hope for him to be the voice of reason.
Guys and girls, I have no idea what to expect next, but I think it’s safe to say that we can’t (and truthfully, shouldn’t) expect this:
Will you watch next week’s episode?
Well, no, but I am going to do something special next week and binge the whole season again to see how it holds up as a whole. Call me a glutton for punishment.
EXTRA POINTS & NIT PICKS:
- The recap skip is a godsend, guys.
NEXT WEEK: SEASON ONE
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