“Dick Grayson” might not provide a satisfying season finale, but it’s a fun what-if scenario on its own and sets up more to come.
This recap of Titans Episode 11, “Dick Grayson”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
We end, in many ways, how we all began: With Dick. That would be Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites), obviously, who was last seen pelting through a demonic forcefield conjured by Rachel’s (Teagan Croft) all-powerful world-eating daddy, Trigon (Seamus Dever). But it swiftly becomes apparent that the idyllic life we’re greeted with at the start of this episode is a fallacy; an illusion designed to force Dick into becoming what most terrifies him.
With that suitably ominous opening out of the way, let’s be frank here. “Dick Grayson” isn’t a great finale to the first season of Titans. It’s a fine, intriguing episode full of great fan-service moments, but it feels so isolated from the main story for so long that when we eventually return to reality some of the momentum has been lost. That isn’t to say that it doesn’t bode well for the already-commissioned second season – it really does – but it is to say that if you’re looking for a definitive close to the story told in these last 11 episodes, you won’t find it here.
What you will find is domestic bliss – temporarily, anyway. In his vision, Dick has married Dawn (Minka Kelly). They have a child together and another on the way, Rachel and Gar (Ryan Potter) are away at college, and all is well. Then a wheelchair-bound Jason Todd (Curran Walters) arrives with some bad news: Alfred and Commissioner Gordon are dead, and Batman has snapped.
The scene between Robin and Robin only really works because of the “Jason Todd” episode earlier in the season, thus proving that Titans has been up to something all along with these character-focused diversionary episodes. Jason insists that Dick Grayson has always been the true Robin, and that he’s the only person who can bring Bruce back from the brink. Dick begrudgingly decides to return to Gotham and sort things out.
Gotham is, predictably, a crime-ridden hellscape. The Joker has been hospitalised, and the new Commissioner has taken a stern stance against vigilantes. Appealing to his former mentor’s better nature doesn’t work, so Dick heads to the hospital where Joker is being kept alive, and runs into FBI agent Kory Anders (Anna Diop). It’s nice to see Kory out of prostitute chic, but we barely get a moment to enjoy it before the Dark Knight has clambered through the window and stabbed the Joker to death with a Batarang. Looks like he has snapped after all.
If that wasn’t enough evidence, the following scenes prove it. Batman takes a detour to Arkham Asylum and massacres a bunch of inmates, guards and staff in a scene absolutely littered with Easter Eggs for Bat-fans, and once Dick has revealed Batman’s secret identity to the police and arranged a smash-and-grab on Wayne Manor, he butchers a whole bunch of coppers as well – including Kory. Dick, at a loss, has the mansion blown up, and finds the World’s Greatest Detective alive in the rubble. And he kills him.
As Biggie Smalls might say, it was all a dream. But that was obvious. “Dick Grayson”, like “Hank and Dawn”, has a bunch of tell-tale signs that give away the fact this is all being imagined, but to its credit the episode never really tries to convince you that what you’re watching is anything other than a deranged test. But a test to what end? In the final scene we find out – by embracing his dark side, Dick Grayon has surrendered himself to Trigon. And there, the season ends.
Or does it? A post-credits scene cuts to Metropolis, where a test subject possessing the Superman symbol breaks free from Cadmus Labs – and takes a dog with heat vision with him.
“Dick Grayson” was a gutsy finale, I’ll give it that. Rather than really wrapping the season up, it just got it started. The big bad has only just arrived, most of the characters haven’t been explored in anywhere close to the depth that Dick has, and almost the entire thing was a wacky, surrealist trip through a grim nightmare. It was bold, but then again much of Titans has been. For all its issues, you can’t fault it for ambition.