Welp, let’s chalk another one up in the “I-stand-corrected” column that started with Episode 8 of Titans — though this instance of correction is much less pleasing than the previous one. If you journey back to my review of Episode 2, “Hawk and Dove”, you’ll read that I quite liked the dynamic between Hank and Dawn, the committed couple that had a penchant for vigilante justice. Their dialogue wasn’t the greatest, but the relationship felt sincere and came as nice distraction from the then already strained focus on Dick and Rachel. I remarked that I would “very much enjoy seeing their evolution as people – provided the writers felt up to the task.” Unbeknownst to me, the best time to insert that evolution — a fairly thin version of it at that — was in the middle of the season’s climax.
Episode 9, titled “Hank and Dawn”, seemingly abandons what felt like a pretty important event to return to where we last left the couple. Hank is mourning over a now comatose Dawn, and the show takes this as the opportune time for a flashback. It’s here where we’re given glimpses into the duo’s past, with Hank’s relationship with his brother taking up the majority of it. The results of this journey into the past are mixed at best; and while its placement in the season certainly bares some of the blame for that, the biggest culprit is a lazy and predictable script.
The episode starts off promisingly as we’re treated to some heavy backstory for Hank and his younger brother, Don, that really fleshes out Hank’s character. The struggles he endures adds a nice layer and new meaning to the man’s showboat bravado. Even Dawn gets a neat intro — though the details are haphazardly tossed around — that shows more of her dominant-yet-caring nature and her upbringing. All good things must come to an end, however, and that “end” happens to come at the halfway-point of the episode. The transition is shocking and, in more concerned hands, could have been a hard segue into a very introspective and painful third act. In actuality, it ends up being nothing more than just shocking.
From there, the script abandons its straight-forward character building in favor of a crudely-structured attempt at catharsis. The final half of the episode tries to explain what brings our two “love-birds” (sorry) together, but it ends up being very rushed and borderline laughable. If you thought the Kory/ Dick sex-scene was cringe-worthy, you’re in for a real treat. Nothing says “mood-setting” like beating up pedophiles.
In terms of how this episode relates to the main plot, it’s hard to say. There’s very little going on here that ties into current-timeline Titans, aside from a few brief appearances of Rachel in the form of “dream-visions”, but what significance these appearances have remains to be seen. In any case, the groundwork they lay is interesting.
Two episodes. There are two episodes left in Season 1 of Titans. Why then, I ask you, are we still doing these off-shoot episodes? Frankly, this feels more like a pilot for a Hawk and Dove show than it does an episode of Titans; and while that’s certainly an enticing prospect, it doesn’t belong here. What’s worse is that they don’t even get a full, proper treatment. As enjoyable as the first half of the episode is, the goodwill built by it and Episode 2 is squandered in the second half for no payoff. The two eponymous characters feel worse off, and the momentum that the main plot gained from the previous episode has now slowed to a crawl.
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