Titans Season 3 Episode 4 Review: Blackfire
Starfire meets her sister as Dick plots to lure Red Hood into a trap.
Titans shifts its attention by bringing Starfire’s sister into the fold as Koriand’r takes the leap to thwart her own visions. Meanwhile, a distraught Dick spends the hour plotting against Red Hood in the hopes of luring him into a fight to take on him singlehandedly. Writer Stephanie Coggins and director Millicent Shelton do a commendable job of keeping the focus on just these two storylines even as the plot takes a detour from the consequences of previous week’s episode.
After the devastating events of last episode, the Titans are understandably left broken at the loss they bore. It’s especially poignant to watch Conner Kent tear up about his inability to save Hank. Even Superboy needs to be consoled by Gar and Dawn and reminded that only thing that was up to them was to try. That brief scene between the three is powerful and a good reminder that Titans can do an equally good job if it decides to devote genuine focus towards the emotional state of these much broken characters. It also seemingly leads to Minka Kelly’s Dawn departing the season and I’m unsure if we’ll see her back for quite a while.
That said, it’s equally jarring to see Koriand’r and Gar quickly become distracted from the tragedy that befell them and even have a little bit of fun. Not that it’s wrong, it just comes too soon. Nudged by Gar, Koriand’r finally decides to do something about her visions after she accidentally hurt Gar. In the process, she discovers her long lost sister Blackfire although that still doesn’t explain how it helps her visions, unless Blackfire was causing them, which is at odds with the secure facility she was kept in.
Dick meanwhile is the lone warrior who wears Hank’s death on his sleeve and runs an elaborate scheme of taking Scarecrow hostage to lure hte Red Hood out. As unnatural as it seems, it does feel refreshing to see Jonathan Crane indulge in manipulative tactics to trick Dick into thinking he’s outstaying his welcome in Gotham, only for Dick to shut him up and outsmart him every single time. Dick does ultimately get his shot at Red Hood but it’s ruined by the GCPD’s only timely intervention.
Titans continues its complex rigmarole of coming up with narratives and justifications that don’t make much sense. Among the top is the entire explanation of the US government funding a secret program to study an alien Tamaran run by a lone scientist who is too chicken to protect the facility. Blackfire is consequently broken out with laughable ease. Dick’s booby traps laid out for Crane are equally far-fetched, as is the GCPD’s “$6 billion” budget at pioneering night-vision aimed via a helicopter. Sometimes, the writing goes overboard in filling potential plot holes but in the process ends up digging its own grave.
Thematically though, there’s a recurring theme running between the Titans feeling weighed down by their mentors in some capacity. Dick is constantly struggling to come out on his own and not be just another Batman, which motivates his decision to ditch the Robin moniker and don the Nightwing suit. Intrinsically though, he’s carrying Bruce’s psychotic tendencies, his affinity to wield fear as a weapon and employ violent scare tactics to fight crime, instead of adopting a more pragmatic approach. Conner Kent feels the same weight when he questions whether the ever-perfect Superman would have failed and if the reason he failed is because of the imperfection his DNA holds, given that part of it comes from Lex. And Gar is just tired of being walked away over everyone and has a genuinely delightful moment as Beast Boy gains a fan.
While there’s more that can be done with the Titans I’m enjoying where they’re taking the season thus far. This is probably one of the series’ most consistent run of episodes in how closely it’s sticking to a narrow series of subplots instead of being all over the place, or alternating between the main thread and a side-quest. My major gripe with this episode is that I expected a deeper exploration of the fallout from the previous episode with the team’s inability to save Hank haunting them miserably but it sounds like only Dick is carrying that burden as of now. Regardless, I’m looking forward to more interesting things from the show and hopeful that Hank’s demise will come back to haunt the team (unless of course, he gets resurrected like Jason Todd has or Donna Troy eventually will).