After the series premier of Titans, I was cautiously optimistic about the trajectory of the show. It definitely had room to improve, but it seemed to get off on the right foot. Episode 2, titled “Hawk and Dove”, is another step in the right direction, albeit while still stumbling on the same major problems that were present in the first episode.
This episode strictly follows Dick Grayson and Rachel, a.k.a. Raven, and introduces two new faces to the proceedings – the eponymous Hawk and Dove. Despite the end of Episode 1, Beast Boy makes no appearance and Starfire is completely absent, which is kind of nice because it allows for a more focused story this go-around. Hawk and Dove do have their own limited narrative, but it’s nested within Dick and Rachel’s attempts to understand what’s happening with her latent powers.
Speaking of Rachel, as of Episode 2, the troubled teen’s story is already running into issues. The most telling of which being that any transition away from Hawk and Dove felt tiring. Whether it be Rachel just being, frankly, uninteresting as a character or her mystery not taking any meaningful steps forward, her scenes with Dick are kind of boring. They can only have the same conversation so many times before it starts to become white-noise. It also doesn’t help that these two leads feel very wooden; Brenton Thwaites has no urgency and Teagan Croft has no subtlety. The resulting interactions feel kind of like a mix between a text-to-voice app and a soap opera. This, for obvious reasons, never works.
Once again, the writing really feels like it was thrown together in a day, and I fear this will be a persistent problem throughout the series. There are Man-of-Steel-sized leaps in logic, most of the dialogue feels stilted and forced, and little to no attention is paid to what is actually happening outside of “the moment”. There’s no room to breathe and get a feel for the characters beyond one word descriptors. True enough, it’s only the second episode, but there should be something that we’re continually learning about these people. Yet, unless they’re new characters, everyone on display feels stagnant; ancillary characters that have had about ten minutes of screen-time across the first two episodes feel like they’re on the same developmental level as our main characters. There’s a real opportunity for a well-crafted character-driven show if the writers had any sort of confidence in the viewer. Not a single scene can go by without everyone on screen taking a beat to virtually look straight at the camera and say, “DON’T FORGET ABOUT RAVEN, GUYS. ALSO, DICK IS REALLY ANGRY NOW, REMEMBER?”
Which is a bummer considering the glimpses of what could be with Hawk and Dove. While not perfect, the interaction and chemistry between the two aforementioned heroes makes this episode much more enjoyable than the first. They keep the plot grounded in a central location for a while and provide a much-needed break from the Raven stuff, even if she is still always lurking around the corner. Most importantly, I actually kind of had fun with this episode, despite its flaws – and that’s just because of some minimal work between two secondary characters. Their choreography was frenetic, their dialogue, while not Shakespearean, was at least interesting, and it actually felt like there was a reason to root for them other than, “They’re the good guys.” Their presence in the show is left seeming like it might fluctuate by the end of this episode, but I would very much enjoy seeing their evolution as people – provided the writers felt up to the task.
Titans is released every Friday only on DCUniverse!