The Prodigal Son Returns In Latest Titans Episode, But Which Robin Is It?
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The Prodigal Son Returns In Latest Titans Episode, But Which Robin Is It?

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BY October 13, 2021

Look back to the premiere episodes of Titans Season 3, it was always going to be very big and very Batman-heavy. The Red Hood arrived after Jason Todd died at the hands of the Joker. But instead of returning for revenge on his adopted father, Curran Walter’s Jason came after his brother instead. Brenton Thwaites’ Dick Grayson has had a tough road over the course of the Titans series. Estranged from Bruce Wayne, he had to move past his childhood trauma and become his own hero. Yet, the journey it seems is not over for Dick Grayson just yet. In the past two episodes, Nightwing has proven to be a terrible leader for the Titans and is much a prodigal son as Jason. Meanwhile the disparate rest of the group are again scattered across the city.

This is still my favorite season of Titans, though I am not fond of the sharp left turn the series took with some of its characters. Yet they are still telling some great stories here. The resolution to the Starfire and Blackfire story is much better than I expected, and the role that Superboy plays in it surprised me even more. We’re also seeing Teagan Croft’s Raven and Ryan Potter’s Gar Logan are starting to manifest their powers in ways that fans have been waiting years to see.

The toughest part of any superhero story is the villain’s nefarious plan. While the plan made sense for most of the season, it’s taken some turns that’s hard to follow. Still, even with the perceived missteps, the finale will surely contain a fair amount of good old-fashioned comic book chaos.

Spoilers for Titans Prodigal episode to follow.

What the Penultimate Titans Episode Gets Right

Titans Prodigal Son Episode HBOMax ryan-potter-teagan-croft Image by Ben Mark Holzberg via HBOMax

The standout storyline this year, even with the Nightwing and Red Hood fight unfolding, was two other adversarial siblings. In the comics, Starfire and Blackfire are often at odds with the latter being a full-on villain. In the Prodigal episode, the true heart of this Titans team surprises not just us but Damaris Lewis’ Blackfire as well. Anna Diop’s Starfire, not powerless but not “Starfire” anymore, tracks down her sister and confronts her. Blackfire is ready for a fight to the death. Yet instead of duking it out like the Bat-boys, they just talk. The visions Kory has had all season led to her discovering a truth. Her parents stole Blackfire’s powers via Comic Book Science™ and transferred them to Kory. This was the source of all the pain in both of their childhoods. There’s no punching, no super-powers. Simply, we get two sisters forgiving each other.

Even though Blackfire was about to leave the Titans behind, she was not about to break bad. Rather, she and Joshua Orpin’s Superboy were going to continue to be a couple and be partners in superhero-ing. Sure, Blackfire is totally cool with killing, but even though she rejected the team, she didn’t reject the idea of helping those who need it. This floored me, because I fully expected Blackfire to go “mad,” and have to be put down by the Titans.

Still, there is some breaking going on, and it’s a half-Kyrptonian heart. Connor was rightly disturbed by what Dick did to him in the last episode. When Blackfire decides to return home to take her throne, Connor feels betrayed. He sabotages her ship, stranding her on Earth. There’s going to be big consequences for his actions. He may even leave the Titans behind.

Dick is the Prodigal Son in this Titans Episode

Titans Prodigal Son Episode HBOMax brenton-thwaites_0 Image by Ben Mark Holzberg via HBOMax

The decisions made in the past few episodes about Dick are questionable at best. There are also strange continuity errors, which may be intentional. The show paid off the bats from the Batcave that have followed Gar around all season. He turns into one, and then somehow uses them to fly a beaten-to-death Dick to a Lazarus Pit. While a bit silly, this is easily forgivable because comics get goofy sometimes. What I found difficult to get past was that he entered a Lazarus Pit in his Nightwing costume and then emerged in civilian clothes. (I have a theory that Thwaites must hate the costume, because he so rarely wears it.)

While in the Lazarus Pit, there is an interesting sequence where Dick assumes the form of the Joker and starts beating Jason to death himself. He then meets his father in the hereafter, getting a simple and much-needed “I love you,” from him. Yet, while in the Pit he talks to Vincent Kartheiser’s Jonathan Crane, who along with the Batcave and Gotham also seems to control Hell? It’s more likely a manifestation of Dick’s fear, but it didn’t land the way I think the storytellers wanted to. Nonetheless, the message is received. Dick is his brother’s keeper, and in saving Jason he can save Gotham. The scene in which he reconciles with an unraveling Jason was a little rushed, but I expect they are saving the big emotional stuff for the finale.

Kartheiser is still “doing the most” as Crane, shifting his plan to the supervillain classic: Kill everyone. Yet, despite this, he still seems to have control of the entire Gotham police department. I’m just chalking it up to Scarecrow gas, because otherwise it doesn’t make much sense.

Titans Prodigal Son Episode HBOMax conor-leslie-jay-lycurgo_0 Image by Ben Mark Holzberg via HBOMax

Titans debuts new episodes each Thursday on HBOMax.

What did you think of the Prodigal episode of Titans? Am I being too obtuse with the sharp turns the story has taken? Let us know your thoughts, reactions, and theories about how it all ends in the comments below.

Featured image by Ben Mark Holzberg via HBOMax

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Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.

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