“You were supposed to protect these kids.”
After last week’s action-heavy episode, a sensible come-down focusing more on the character moments was to be expected. “Bruce Wayne” is that, delving deep into the psyches of the two Robins while spotlighting the underlying tension between the residents of Titans Tower.
Front-and-center in all this is Dick and, considering the episode title, it’s no surprise. For a brief moment, it seems as if the Batman himself (in the guise of Bruce Wayne, of course) has come to pay Dick a visit and castigate his protégé on all the bad choices he’s made these last few years. It quickly becomes clear that Bruce is nothing more than an apparition, a visual representation of Dick’s doubt, fear, and guilt that has been building towards this crescendo since the Titans’ last confrontation with Deathstroke. It highlights everything Dick has kept from the team, whether for their benefit or his own and is never explicitly resolved though, when Dick finally understands the pain driving Jason to perhaps take his life, he gathers the courage to vocalize the truth he’s been hiding—that he killed Deathstroke’s son.
Before moving towards that major narrative reveal, Jason’s emotional arc in “Bruce Wayne” is brutal. Sharing a similar type of burden as Dick, Jason’s issues go beyond guilt for his actions and, because they deal with his perceived value (or poison, as he says) or lack thereof in himself, Jason believes that removing himself from the equation will be a salve for those he poisons.
For all his bombastic and devil-may-care attitude brandishes the Boy Wonder as a smug and cocky ass, confident in his abilities, it’s a mask hiding the truth: he’s a scared kid that doesn’t believe he’s worth anything. It’s a call for help, one that, only a few episodes ago, Hank identified (perhaps subconsciously) as a hopelessness he and Jason shared. With this kinship in mind, it was shameful to see Hank so quickly blame Jason as the one messing with the team. Jason’s reaction to everyone coming down on him at once—so quickly after sharing a moment with Rose—was heartbreaking. Curran Walters is fabulous here, exuding the scarred and broken soul of a young man who just can’t seem to catch a break.
Emotionally powerful as Jason’s role in “Bruce Wayne” may be, it’s the narrative reveal that will be the biggest factor going forward. The news that Jericho’s death had something to do with Dick wasn’t a surprise; his open admission that he was the one who killed Deathstroke’s son was. Granted, his admission may be nothing more than guilt and it’s more than likely that Dick wasn’t the one to deal the killing blow, rather his actions put Jericho in the dangerous situation that eventually killed him. Still, whether or not he literally took Jericho’s life, at least as far as Deathstroke is concerned, is semantics. What matters is that the greatest assassin in the DC Universe blames Dick and, by proxy, the Titans and as a great sorcerer once said “The bill comes due. Always a reckoning!”
Teen Team Titans
- It took me through the first act to accept Iain Glen as Bruce Wayne. It helped that he was nothing more than a figment of Dick’s imagination (particularly that dancing bit at the club…Bruce Wayne doesn’t dance!). His use was an effective way for us to watch Dick’s psychological war play out, a very likely scenario (akin to a soldier’s PTSD) considering the harsh reality these vigilantes have faced. On its surface, Rose’s comment to Jason about the team’s need for a resident psychologist originally seemed as an off-handed remark by an outsider with a different perspective but how true it is. Just like Jason could in no way all right a scant 24-hours after nearly dying, fighting the evils of the world like the Titans have, suffering the losses of those closest to them, there’s no way even the strongest of psyches can get through that unscathed. Too often shows breeze past these types of wounds to the soul; Titans taking a full episode to explore it only solidifies my thought that the series is headed in the right direction.
- Though Conner and Eve’s arc was secondary, it was good to see them gain closure and also strengthen their bond; Conner calling the scientist “mom” seems a bit cheesy until you remember Conner’s psyche is more akin to a child than the adult he physically appears to be; when seen in that light, it’s a touching moment and while I don’t think this will be the last we see of Eve, now that Conner’s healed, it’s time to move on to integrating him into the group. Without Eve, he’ll need to stand on his own though, to be fair, he does have man’s best friend beside him to help with that task.