Titans is coming down the stretch as Slade’s family drama with Rose and Jericho take centerstage while the fractured Titans attempt to find them own individual balance as the circumstances force them to reunite, sooner than expected.
This writer’s theory that Jericho was in control of Dick’s actions that put him in prison was always a bit far-fetched and “Faux Hawk” conclusively debunks the idea. Dick’s actions, as nonsensical as they were, were his alone. As a leader who believes he failed Jericho and his team, Dick’s road this season has been rife with guilt, self-doubt, and an unhealthy number of hallucinations to work through said issues. He doesn’t get much screen time this week, though his final scene—a visit to Stu and Lily, the Titans (and Bruce Wayne’s?) armorers—creates the most hype for the finale as we get the highly-anticipated first glimpse of his Nightwing upgrade. Watching him don the new suit next week will provide scores of geek-out moments for the Titans community and, even as nothing more than a casual fan of the comic book property, I’m extremely excited to finally see Nightwing in action.
As “Faux Hawk” encapsulates Hank’s namesake, it’s fitting that his story carries the most significance. Losing himself in the violence of fight clubs, snorting blow to no end, and random hookups with Titan groupies, Hank’s life is a handful of donkey balls. Fascinatingly enough, none of this brings Hank to his lowest point. That’s reserved for when he confronts an impostor in his suit, a teenager he sold it to for $200 bucks.
That realization, combined with an earlier dream where Dove confronts Hank’s self-destructive behavior, and the teen’s open revere for Hawk, is a punch to the gut. Like Dick, Hank’s journey has been lined with the character’s inability to get out of his own way. He’s been a shattered soul since his brother died and his words to Dawn, that neither of them has truly healed from their losses and their union only delayed the inevitable return of their destructive tendencies, were prophetic.
As he lays on the bed with drugs on the nightstand and self-loathing that threatens to eat him from the inside, Hank has finally come to the fork in the road where he must decide on the easy path that will lead to his ruin or the much harder path that, while it may lead to his death, is lined with the ideals he so desperately wants to live up to as a Titan.
It’s been a long time coming but finally being able to see Rose’s history with Slade and how she came to be who she is now was a revelation. I wasn’t too enamored with her early on, but “Faux Hawk” erases any of those doubts. Chelsea Zhang is given more space to shine and that she does, showing a vulnerability her previous scenes had been lacking. It’s essential as well, considering the emotionally draining clash she has with Jason after telling him the truth. Her open honesty is a thing of beauty but even Zhang is not quite up to the challenge of matching Curran Walters. The hurt, anger, and betrayal he displays after discovering Rose’s duplicity is, in a word, phenomenal. Walters channels a depth of emotion beyond anyone else on the show (though Alan Ritchson has been brilliant in his own right). When Jason walks out on Rose, damning both her and the Titans (in language a tad more colorful), it’s difficult not to empathize with his shattered soul and wonder if he’s abandoning his team or will he swoop into the fight at the 11th hour.
For being the lead-in to the finale, “Faux Hawk” answers a few questions but also leaves a lot up in the air. So many questions on the direction characters will choose and how the finale will handle the task of wrapping up the seasonal story lines. On the one hand, the inevitable confrontation between the Titans and Slade has to be the primary story, right? But then what about the fight to free Conner and Gar from Cadmus? I wonder just how much the season finale will resolve and how much will be pushed off to Season Three. Considering that Slade has been the looming threat this entire season with Cadmus only coming in halfway through, the former arc must play out to the end. But what type of end will that be and, in his 5-year struggle to stop his father, what role will Jericho play in this war reaching its conclusion? One more week and we find out.
- If there was any doubt as to the vile and corrupt nature of Cadmus, watching them send a Manchurian Candidate-like Gar into a coffee shop to kill innocent bystanders as a test sealed the deal. The only question in this is how in the world will the Titans be able to break their friend’s conditioning and what if Conner joins in on the party? Mercy moves up Phase 2 of their operation after finding out that Dawn and Donna are on to them; the idea that the Titans will be forced to fight a war on two fronts—Cadmus-controlled Gar (and Conner) and Slade—doesn’t bode well. More than their safety though is my worries for the integrity of the finale. There are too many unknowns for them to adequately wrap up these storylines. Considering my theory that Cadmus will be a primary antagonist in Season Three, I have to think that will be the arc that suffers the least amount of attention.
- Sadly, Kory continues her descent into irrelevance (from a narrative sense). Though her power issues and mental state will be explored next season—particularly if her rivalry with dear sister Blackfire is a primary narrative— as of now, she’s become lost in the shuffle. The same can be said for Rachel whose scary new power set has been given no real time to develop. Like Kory’s story, this may have been punted to next season but even if that’s the case, neither one of these have been handled with a deft hand. It’s unfortunate as these are two great characters who deserve better. Season Three will need to go a long way to giving them (and one or two others) the attention they deserve.