Titans continues to be surprisingly okay in “Hawk and Dove”, which introduces two more characters, a lot more swearing, and a big cliffhanger.
It turns out that the episode titles of Titans, despite being unimaginative, are really rather accurate. “Hawk and Dove”, for instance, wastes no time whatsoever introducing Hawk (Alan Ritchson) and Dove (Minka Kelly); in the very first scene, the former is chained up by a group of hoods, about to be tortured for information, until the latter flutters in and slices them up good and proper. It isn’t the clearest or longest action sequence I’ve ever seen, but I can dig it.
These two – otherwise known as the world’s most comically handsome couple – are squatting in a Washington, D.C. apartment being swole and beautiful. I appreciate that Hawk, covered in somewhat fake-looking scars, squats in an undersized bathtub while chasing pain pills with beer – if we’re going to do the dark and gritty thing it’s nice to have some acknowledgement of bodily consequence. Oh, and Dove wears a Superman t-shirt, which I suppose qualifies as worldbuilding.
In flashback, we see Hawk and Dove fighting alongside Robin (Brenton Thwaites), presumably in their crimefighting primes, before the rigours of vigilantism resulted in bad hips and the inability to perform sexually due to “stress”. (I’m not entirely sure that counts as realism when the sex is with Minka Kelly, but what do I know?) Speaking of Robin, he’s still on a cross-country tour with Raven (Teagan Croft) and hey, you know what? He’s really good in this role. He’s good as Dick Grayson, anyway – fresh-faced, handsome, bit of an edge… it’s a shame that his Robin is so angsty, so far, because it kind of rubs up against the portrayal in an awkward way. (Everyone’s insistence on swearing all the time wears thin quickly as well – it just feels too try-hard.)
I’m quite charmed by the burgeoning relationship between Dick and Raven, perhaps against my better judgement. I just like Dick’s cluelessness. While holed up in a motel, he catches Raven watching Game of Thrones and asks if she should be watching it, just like how in a diner earlier he objected to her drinking coffee, despite the fact that while this is happening Dick’s partner, Amy Rohrbach (Lindsey Gort), is examining the floppy corpse of the man whose organs she puréed just last week.
I’m also keen on this interpretation of Raven. It allows for the occasional unexpected jump scare to keep folks on their toes, and her empathic abilities are a useful means of revealing juicy character details that would otherwise have to be ham-fistedly explicated in other ways. For instance, when Dick arrives on Hawk and Dove’s doorstep with the nipper in tow, her casual how-do-you-dos reveal an old relationship between Dick and Dove – just in case an awkward love triangle subplot was what you felt Titans needed at this stage.
Nevertheless, it’s some character drama, right? Hawk and Dick aren’t on great terms as a result of this, and even less so when Dick returns out of the blue with the intention of dropping a possessed child on the doorstep. Not to mention he has now “changed”, which in other words means he has embraced his angsty “Fuck Batman” attitude and now has no qualms about throwing his pointy Robin symbols in henchmen’s eyes.
But gruff henchmen are the least of our heroes’ problems in “Hawk and Dove”. The episode promotes a typical upscale suburban nuclear family to the role of supercharged evildoers, and when they turn up at the end of the episode to let the Titans know what time it is, Dick and Hawk end up battered, Raven ends up kidnapped and Dove ends up… dead?
Whoa, slow down there, Titans. Cliffhangers already? Now, look, I don’t mind the idea that these characters aren’t all guaranteed to survive the season, but to think they’re going to kill off the episode’s namesake in the same episode she’s introduced before the Titans have even all met one another is a bit of a reach. Still, points for effort. I’m pleased to report, again, that this show isn’t anywhere near as bad as people thought it was going to be. Maybe being cynical all the time isn’t the best approach after all?