In recent episodes, DC’s Titans has come on really strong, shedding the somber albatross that was Season One, and moving forward to a much better written Season Two. I missed out on the recap of last week’s episode, but that’s just fine since nothing in this week’s episode deals with the cliffhanger from it. So we’ll forge right ahead and revisit that episode at a later date.
So this episode, as I said doesn’t deal with anything from last episode, but it does shed a lot of light on what led to the Titans conflict with Deathstroke, as well as give us a good, long look at how different things were for the team when they were first together. It was an obviously simpler time, everyone was very happy in their skin, and remained friends/family despite some broken relationships. This is where we meet Garth aka Aqualad, played by Drew Van Acker. Dude looks ripped straight from an issue of Aquaman, except he looks more like classic Arthur Curry than Jason Momoa could hope for on his BEST day. Surfer boy, blonde, bright smile…which is a little odd since Garth was never a blonde in any comic book iteration, but I digress.
Anyways, after foiling an attempted carjacking, we see that Garth is being thrown a birthday party at Titans Tower where he’s showered with love and adulation by his superhero family, Hank Hall, Dick Grayson and his girlfriend Dawn Granger. Yep, you read that right. Apparently ol’ Dick was the rebound when Hank’s annoying frat boy ways finally ground on her last nerves. Obviously there’s no hard feelings in the slightest, which to be honest is pretty damn cool to see Hank not devolve into an angry, jealous ex-boyfriend stereotype. However, Donna Troy seemingly wants absolutely nothing to do with any of these festivities, choosing instead to bury her head in a Frieda Kahlo book. Why? She’s trying everything she can to keep Garth in the place that so many men find themselves with women, THE FRIENDZONE.
Garth, despite his repeated attempts in the episode, can’t seem to grasp a solid foothold to climb out of the sunken place of romance. He’s been crushing on Donna for years and has never once given up trying to get her to return his affections. Now, in today’s day and age, one could take his persistence as stalking or harassment which, if that’s where you went hearing about it, seek help. Garth is no social reject who feels or acts like he’s entitled to Donna’s affections, he just trys incredibly hard to spend time with her but backs off when she puts up resistance. Donna, on her end, seems hell-bent on doing everything to make sure he stays there though and to be honest, it made me kind of dislike her tactics. Faced with the burgeoning feelings for her teammate/childhood friend, while also considering her destiny as a Themyscrian warrior princess who set to return to the Island of Paradise she opts to run instead of facing her feelings.
Donna consults with her liason at the Themyscrian Embassy (and let me be honest, that was a cool thing to see that aspect of Diana’s history is well represented here) and arranges her departure to return and assume her destined role. After a rumble with Dr. Light, who they stop from acquiring a source of deadly power, she then finally gives in to Garth’s advances, since she apparently feels it’ll be the last opportunity she’ll have to see him. She pulls the ol’ “Sleep with em and slip out quietly” move on this poor man. He wakes up thinking that he’s FINALLY broken through and commiserates with Dick in the great room. Dick, being the good friend he is, lets him in on the news that he got the ultimate one-night stand treatment.
Sadly, this is where things kind of got unexpectedly pretty grim for our hero. Finding Donna at the private airstrip, Garth tried to browbeat Donna into her treatment of him at that moment, pretty much calling her a coward for running away from what her heart is telling her. In predictable fashion, Donna sees reason and runs after the departing Garth, leaping into his arms only to see him gunned down by Deathstroke. The murder of their teammate at the hands of the mercenary sets them all on a path seeking revenge for the tragedy that befell them. The end sets up a turning point for the team that obviously broke them completely apart and shredded their previously upbeat, carefree demeanor. Its all fun and games till someone gets killed I guess.
The episode also gave us our first glimpse at Jericho, Deathstroke’s son and Rose’s sister. Deathstroke apparently has been keeping a watch on him and his estranged wife, as we see earlier in the episode. Yet after the murder of Aqualad, he finds himself under the watchful gaze of Dick Grayson, who is now resorting to all the tricks of his mentor, Batman, making it clear that he’ll be exploiting Jericho to find Deathstroke. It was a little jarring to completely disconnect from the current storyline to dedicate these next two eps to flashback but the story definitely needed telling. Four episodes in, Titans is definitely in a good groove and its building toward an explosive follow-up to this episode!
Titans S2 Episode 4: Aqualad
Learning about the Titans past enlightens us on their conflict with Deathstroke, yet clumsily illuminates how tough it is for even the pretty boys to escape the friend zone. Donna struggles with choosing her heart over her destiny and learns the painful lesson over the road not taken.
- Finally explores the secret history of the old Titans team.
- Viewer may feel disappointed over unresolved cliffhanger from last episode.