S02E08 — Dick befriends Jericho Wilson to learn more about Deathstroke.
I’ll tell you this now, for free. I don’t care how good or bad this episode is or isn’t; it opens with Bowie’s Five Years and I will just live in my Bowie fandom from here until the end of the show.
Ok…real talk. I’m not quite two minutes in and I just realized the significance of five years (especially after Bruce pounded it into my head a million times last ep).
There have been good episodes of TITANS before this, especially this season. But out of all of them, this is possibly the most cinematic so far. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt like I was watching a movie while watching any of the DC Universe offerings, but I did tonight. This episode is the closest TITANS has ever come to being as good as DAREDEVIL, and that is not shitting on TITANS at all. It’s an achievement. That said, this episode isn’t as good as DAREDEVIL, but it’s close enough for the show. There are some flaws, some…gaffs, maybe, but overall, if I were a member of the writer’s room, or one of the showrunners, this is the episode that, I feel, gets it.
The episode takes place entirely in 2014 (boom, Five Years), and its central theme is lies. The weird thing is that it also serves as an origin story for Jericho, so all the lies being told are in service of him (or, are told to him to protect him somehow). Slade lies and says he’s an insurance salesman instead of a mercenary. His mom lies and protects the image he has of his father being a military hero.
Dick and the Titans lie to him about their intent; they befriend him in an effort to get revenge for Garth’s death.
There’s a lot of lying going on, and the show takes the extremely shortsighted point of view that lying is bad. Yes, it’s not the most ideal way to handle relationships, but it seems as if every character on the show, Dick and Donna especially, are just being crushed by the weight of a lie. It’s not entirely realistic, but sure…you guys are heroes, and yes, heroes don’t often lie (which is a big bold face lie in and of itself, but you catch my drift).
Daddy issues aside, you have to hand it to Jericho for getting this far. His dad kills three assassins in their home and he gets his throat slit…and the kid still loves his dad until Dick reveals how Garth dies?
Jericho is ride or die with his pops. When Jericho’s mom meets with Slade to tell him, “Bring my son back,” that is the most mom thing you ever saw (since Sister Maggie). She has a great explanation for maintaining her lie, too; she says, “A son has to believe things about his father in order to become a man himself.” Bro, that hit me deep.
Here, then, is Deathstroke’s mission; bring his son back by whatever means necessary. Also, you find out that he wasn’t supposed to kill Garth; he was supposed to kill Ann Magnuson (Jillian). Wintergreen reveals that his initial mission is still incomplete, so what you have here is Slade, with two missions (one personal; one professional) that have just intersected.
Again, best episode of the series (so far).
Another interesting side effect of all the lying? Dick’s relationships with his friends, especially Dawn (his girlfriend, remember), are all falling apart. This hits at just the right moment, as Deathstroke lures Donna away from the Titans by texting from Jillian’s phone. Which means, yes, the Amazons are dead and Deathstroke never leaves money on the table.
What follows is a damn brutal fight scene between Donna and Slade, which, Donna loses. Now, this is important. Wintergreen, in an earlier scene, tells Jericho that his father wants to talk to him. Jericho runs it by Dick and Dick tells him he should go (by the way, this is the right answer) and that he will stay away.
But, what happens is Donna hits an emergency beacon, which brings Robin out, who then runs off to confront Deathstroke in front of Jericho.
You can just see all the lies swirling around, and excuses being made, and Robin gets the ever loving shit kicked out of him. There’s a very “blink and you’ll miss it” exchange that happens with Slade and Jericho. They make a big deal out of this bracelet, the Eye of Horus (which I’m sure has a link to Black Adam), that Slade wears because, superstitions being what they are, it protects him in battle. He gives it to Jericho. Jericho, when he finds out about Slade’s true identity, rips it off and gives it to his mom as he moves out. She, in turn, gives it to Slade when she asks him to bring Jericho home. Slade, right before he stomps a mudhole in Robin, is about to give it back to Jericho, when he hears Robin coming in…and he tucks in away in his belt.
I mean, that was subtle, but if you thought he wasn’t going to accidentally kill his son after this, you weren’t watching close enough.
So, no. Dick never killed Jericho. He can maybe be blamed for facilitating his death, but the stabbing was done by Slade. Dick’s Catholic guilt is probably responsible for him claiming to be the murderer. I want to talk about that storytelling swerve, however. I understand that there were great pains made to change the direction from Season 1 to have less…I don’t know, angst? than there was prior, but you can’t give us the Robin/Dick we want, tease a character flaw that threatens everyone around him, and then give us a technicality.
The aftermath, other than Jericho’s death? The Titans split. Dawn breaks up with Dick. Donna offers him a place to stay.
- One thing that hasn’t been given an answer? Why was Slade targeting the Amazons anyway?
- By the way? As a father…Deathstroke is pretty much on the money as a dad. It doesn’t excuse his crimes, but he clearly loves his kid. Not sure how much he loves Rose, though.
- TITANS isn’t the type of show that gets fan theories, but there’s one that I want to bring up, just in case it comes back. Someone out there believes that Jericho bodyhopped into his father at the moment he gets stabbed. It’s an interesting theory, but one I’m 60/40 on. It would make an interesting twist though.
NEXT WEEK: ATONEMENT
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