“You still haven’t accepted your guilt. And so you must pay.”
In “Bruce Wayne”, Dick confessed to an emotionally-wrecked Jason his role in Jericho’s death while last week, the truth of Jericho’s fate played out. “Atonement” dives right back into the present and Dick finally telling the truth to his team. It goes about as well as one would expect, with everyone save Kory (she was never affected by Dick’s lie) wanting to distance themselves from their former leader. The breakup plays out much like it did in “Jericho” with everyone going their separate ways, but this time not just to deal with the lingering tendrils of shame feeding their guilty consciences but also to process the truth Dick laid out for them.
Even Dick thinks it necessary to get away, paying a visit to Jericho’s mother, Adeline. She responds about as well as one would hope, not with physical or verbal abuse, rather the quiet anger and resentment of a mother who blames her husband just as much as Dick for her son’s death. She believes that Dick’s apology is a way to absolve himself of the guilt and while it may be unfair, it’s a very human reaction when someone seeks forgiveness. It can be hard, determining whether someone is truly sorry for their actions or are more concerned with alleviating the guilt.
Yet the same can be said for those who hold onto the resentment and anger; what does it really accomplish? Even when the anger is justified, more often than not it’s more poisonous to the wronged party than that person guilty of the wrongdoing. “Atonement” gets this right, making no apologies for Adeline’s reaction or Dick’s quest to seek absolution.
Philosophy aside, this conversation leads to something much bigger when Adeline points Dick towards the surprise waiting in the sitting room. Slade Wilson, his quiet, seething rage threatening Dick in no uncertain terms that, should the Titans regroup, he will kill them all. But as cut-and-dry as things appear on the surface, nothing is as it seems as, after Dick attacks two security cops at the airport, his face-to-face with Slade strongly suggests that Jericho’s body may have died but his spirit, by way of his meta abilities, lives on.
On a lesser note (but built up with more spectacle) is Gar introducing Conner to the world of heroes. Though he means well and is such a charismatic guy, Gar’s definitely not the best person to be tasked with chaperoning an inexperienced “super man” into the world. This is emphasized when Conner unknowingly attacks a pair of cops arresting someone but it ends up spiraling even farther out of control when Conner, reliving the traumatic memories of being attacked by Luthor’s soldiers, goes H.A.M., unleashing his Kryptonian-based powers on the unsuspecting police backup. Further proving his inability to handle the situation, a scared Gar runs off, leaving Conner (and the helpless officers) to face Conner alone.
Despite Gar’s non-heroic response, “Atonement” once again captures a genuine reaction someone overwhelmed with something before them would behave. He does call for Dick but now that the secret of Conner is out, it’s going to make life more difficult for him and the Titans that just happen to be around when a Mercy Graves-led Luthor Kill squad returns to San Francisco.
With the last few episodes jumping between framing past tragedies while paving the way for the future, “Atonement” seeks to lay bare the aftermath of catastrophe and the wounds left on those caught in the blast. Dick’s journey is a powerful reminder about owning your mistakes, regardless of the consequences and that even heartfelt apologies don’t always provide the benediction one hopes to receive. More to the point, “Atonement” suggests that not only should we own up to our mistakes, but be mindful of our motivations in seeking absolution.
Teen Team Titans (?)
- The pairings created from the Titans’ disbanding—Jason with Rose, Rachel with Donna (though she ends up ditching the Amazonian)—suggest some captivating narrative arcs down the road. But Dawn and Hank’s return to Wyoming and subsequent breakup (after being confronted by Peg, Ellis’s piece of crap sister) calls into question their entire relationship. Hank points out how grief counseling brought them together and their relationship has been fueled by their sometimes questionably violent behavior as vigilantes. Not quite the aspirational story of love there, particularly now that Peg’s found a target to put all her screwed-up ideas of life on. I’m not sure if Hank and Dawn will find their way back to each other but, in a way he’s right; there’s no way they can have anything healthy between them if they don’t first fix the parts of themselves that are still broken.
- Speaking of terrible sisters, Kory’s own—Blackfire—makes her first Titans After taking over Faddei, who Kory immolates to set free, Blackfire, now queen of Tamaran, asks for her sister’s forgiveness, never mind the fact that she’s killed their parents. Though this sister rivalry will finally give Kory a strong, impactful arc, with the Deathstroke/Jericho story being at the heart of this season, it’s more than likely this storyline will have to wait until next year to play out. Still, an alien struggle for power? Sounds a bit like Game of Thrones if you ask me…and no, that’s not a bad thing.