Last week, the Titans were all ready to go as a unit together and continue the longest road trip in the DC Universe. Interpersonal relationships developed, the four finally got a fair fight against the Nuclear Family, and the mysterious Cult Leader with his mysterious plans turned out to be only piece of the puzzle. Dick Grayson had to find out of the hard way though, being put in a fight with a personal SWAT squad and having to be rescued by no one other than… Jason Todd?
We knew it was coming, but still. You gotta wonder what’s gonna happen next.
*** Spoilers abound in the recap below.***
Fifteen Years Ago
A somber piano plays as we fade into a Gotham City elementary fifteen years. The tombstones of John and Mary Grayson indicate that they died in 2002. This means the shows is canonically set in 2017 and which definitely answers a recurring question I’ve had, but still does not address the inconsistency of the aesthetic or the technology.
A young Dick Grayson can do nothing but stare at his parents’ tombstones before placing a single white flower on the plot. He is comforted by one of his circus guardians. Dick brings up the police investigation and the hydrofluoric acid used to burn the ropes, and the poor circus guardian was not ready to have this conversation, but tries his best anyways. He insists Bruce Wayne is a much better guardian for Dick, and it’s hard to disagree given that Bruce Wayne is white privilege incarnate and eventually Dick gives in to the sage advice.
The music swells into the title card’s guitar riff.
New Boy Wonder on the Block
Somewhere in parking structure in Chicago, Jason Todd and Dick Grayson bond by carrying Mr. Adamson a.k.a. Myterious Cult Leader along the concrete. Jason is exceedingly excited by this team up. Dick is looking at Jason with a face that screams “You are a child. I am now your babysitter. We are not friends.” Jason gives a proper introduction and Dick is confused by Jason’s chipper attitude (if we’re being honest, I’m a little confused because it’s weird seeing Dick all doom and gloom and Jason… happy). Jason offers a fist bump and Dick reluncantly pounds it.
They toss Dr. Adamson in the truck, and Dick is trying to figure out why Jason here and if Batman know he’s there. Jason is like “yeah, of course” and he’s just excited to meet the previous holder of the Robin mantle. Jason quickly rushes off to grab his civilian attire and the two drive in a traffic-less Chicago.
The roadtrip banter quickly reveals that Jason has been working with Bats for almost a year and Dick is a bit taken aback. Jason casually drops that he tried stealing the hubcaps the Batmobile before talking about his suits’ upgrades and Dick is just stewing in his emotions right now especially when Jason takes a jab at Dick’s old/current suit and quickly reveals that Batman put a tracker in Dick’s arm. That’s… all kinds of creepy and we don’t have nearly enough words to unpack that in this recap.
Jason and Dick engage in elementary architecture banter (what timeline are *we* living in?) at one of Batman’s safe houses. The retina scanner rejects Dick and Jason has to step in to open the front door. The elevator ride down is awkward as Dick and Jason ponder each other’s suitcases and the perks and quirks of vigilantism, some of which Dick has never experienced a.k.a. driving the Batmobile. Jason then calls attention to the bright colors that draw fire away from Batman (a Tim Drake move if I ever saw one) and Dick is so very conflicted as he returns to the car to drag Dr. Adamson.
And then the two start talking Machiavelli and this is not how I expected the first few conversations of the Robins going, but we’re going to go with it. The philosophy story quickly transitions into Jason inquiring about Dick’s current employment status before grabbing some beers.
Dick takes a quick detour to the bathroom where he prompt finds the scalpel and starts trying to remove the tracker before getting a call from Kory, currently rocking a new outfit. Dick lies about the number of assassins and technically tells the truth about who got him out of the messy situation and successfully removes the bug. Kory casually drops the death of the Nuclear Family (such a poetic sentence).
The sense of time and distance continues to be confusing as apparently Dick is only an hour away from the rest of the Titans, but we gotta keep that plot moving.
Dick tells Jason to hit the road and hands over the removed tracker. Jason seems confused why someone who want to remove an electronic device that was implanted without consent. Dick tries to dismiss Jason, but Jason is pretty dead set on convincing Dick that Bruce Wayne is a good dude. When that fails, Jason hands over some photos that were sent to ‘Robin’ via Gotham PD of performers of Hailey’s Circus who have all been burned with hydrofluoric acid. Y’know the same acid that indirectly killed Dick’s parents and apparently Harvey Dent too. We get some name drops of Gotham’s crime families and Dick details how his parents paid a debt with their lives.
Jason explains that “the Melting Man” is out there throwing acid and when he asks Dick if he knows who it could be, Dick just shakes his head. When Dick asks if Jason talked to cops, Jason says “Fuck no” and honestly… same. Jason’s disenfranchised with the police state and I can agree with that.
They move over to the secret computer lab where Dick has to ask Jason to enter the password. A quick Wayne Enterprise search reveals that Atlas the Strongman (i.e. the circus guardian from the flashback) is still alive and only one and a half hours away. Dick insists that Jason stay behind, but Jason’s delaying pleas give the rest of the Titans enough time to knock on the front door.
Other Family Matters
Dick escorts the rest of the Titans inside and is adamant that no introductions are necessary. Although that doesn’t stop a series of exchanges of who’s Robin and who was Robin and who Jason is and what everyone is to everyone else.
Kory decides to be the adult and gets the kids to quiet down. She and Dick go check in on the unconscious Dr. Adamson and Dick recaps the last episode and a half. Kory makes fun of Dick for being jealous of Jason and makes several digs at Dick’s final turn of honesty. Kory volunteers to take over guard duty and Dick decides that Jason can tag along to visit Atlas. Speaking of…
In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Atlas a.k.a Clay is working on his model car hobby listening to phone line. A time skip later, he’s staring wistfully into a mirror getting ready to go to do his job as a security guard. As he walks along the city, we see a man holding a melting ice cream cone because subtlety is dead.
Jason and Dick makes their way to the speakeasy Clay works out. Jason nonchantantly talks about his rough childhood before they find their way to the bar. Dick flashes his Detroit police badge (which somehow works) and Jason flashes an obvious fake ID before admitting that he’s 19 like that would make the situation better.
Dick makes his way back to the VIP lounge and reconnects with Atlas and the reunion is surprisingly touching. Meanwhile Jason sneaks in through the alley door. Dick and Clay continue catching each other up about what has happened over the last 15 years. Clay expresses his regret for not keeping touch with young Dick, and Jason eyes the bar with the unearned confidence of every white man. Clay and Dick exchange numbers and Dick ponders the Elseworlds. Atlas rightfully points out the several socioeconomic struggles Dick would have experienced if he stayed with Clay.
Meanwhile, Jason manages to get into a scuffle within 30 seconds of reaching the bar. But before a fistfight can get going, there’s a small explosion. Dick then gets call from Atlas’ number, but it’s a man shrouded in shadows who is very clearly the Melting Man…’s son.
Two Years Ago
A Maroni Crime Boss, Anthony Zucco, is arrested. Robin stares angrily at the news screen and then stares angrily at a prison camera feed. The cop makes a mistake of telling Dick that Zucco is getting a deal and Dick leaves the room and starts praising Batman’s methdology in earshot of Nick Zucco.
Later the original Melting Man is being escorted in a prison convoy on an oddly empty street as a lone car follows it. A smoke grenades drops on the bridge and we hear the fluttering of a cape that causes the convoy to crash. Anthony Zucco is rightfully terrified especially when Robin drags him out and gives him an old fashioned beatdown before slowly choking Anthony Zucco out before resuming the usual punches and kicks. Then comes out the bo staff before someone starts shooting acid bullets. Anthony Zucco asks for help and Robin pulls a Batman Begins and refuses to save the man.
It’s the Night. It’s Time for Vengeance.
Dick realizes he fucked up two years ago and Jason is a little too happy go lucky. Dick discusses the downsides of child soldiers and makes a pretty compelling argument before Dick gets a text and has to start making plans to save his friend. Jason stands awkwardly outside the bar.
Presumably an hour later in a chemical plant, Dick wanders around in costume eventually finding Clay hanging on some chains while acid drips down. The Melting Man watches from above with sinister intent as Clay realizes who Robin is in about three seconds making you wonder if the domino mask is enough of disguise.
The Melting Man makes some murder threats and explains how the Maroni family killed Nick Zucco’s dad and Nick lost his entire family to melting. The Melting Man seems happy with how this all turned out. The acid drops on Clay and Dick makes one final please before Jason comes in from an even higher rafter.
The mandatory action sequence starts and the Melting Man gets a solid acid bullet on Jason but before he can deliver the kill shot, Dick enters the fray in full force and ends the fight in five seconds flat. Jason goes outside to distract the cops, while Dick tends to Clay.
Now Jason’s definition of “take care of” seems to be “beat the hell out of the cops and also shoot them if need be.” Honestly, this is what Jason Todd would actually do so there’s that. Dick intervenes before the beat-down can continue, and in that moment Dick realizes he’s not as far gone as the rogue Robin who revels in beating up cops with provocation.
Jason leaves the building and Dick is left to wallow in his guilt. He patches up Clay. Clay asks if Bruce knows that Dick works with Batman, although Dick insists that he doesn’t do that anymore. Clay looks at Dick with parental pride as Dick mopes to catch up with Kory. When she asks how many Robins to expect, Dick coldly answers “None.”
Back at the safehouse, Kory kicks Dr. Adamson awake. He insists the only person he’s going to talk to is Rachel, setting the stage for the next episode…
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