Titans season 3, episode 4 recap – “Blackfire”

August 19, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
HBO Max, Weekly TV
4

Summary

“Blackfire” fleshes out the world of Titans a bit more away from Red Hood, and delivers a late contender for best fight scene of the season.

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4

Summary

“Blackfire” fleshes out the world of Titans a bit more away from Red Hood, and delivers a late contender for best fight scene of the season.

This recap of Titans season 3, episode 4, “Blackfire”, contains spoilers.


The first three episodes of Titans’ third season have been, essentially, a retelling of “Under the Red Hood”, an iconic Batman storyline that was adapted well enough that it didn’t feel like we were treading too much old ground – even though we’ve seen the story on-screen before, in an animated film and in a video game, and that’s just off the top of my head. But it was also ostensibly a continuation of two seasons of Titans, and thus it culminated last week in the tragically avoidable death of Hawk. The opening moments of “Blackfire” acknowledge that loss, but the rest of the runtime is spent smartly side-lining Red Hood and building on some other threats to Gotham and the status quo, including this reimagined Scarecrow, Starfire’s sister, the titular Blackfire, and Batman himself – perhaps more specifically how his psychopathic ideology has seeped into not just Gotham’s underworld but the headspaces of his staunchest allies.

Titans season 3, episode 4 recap

But, yeah, everyone is torn up about Hawk, particularly Conner, who blames himself for not having reached his room in time, and Dawn, who literally pulled the trigger that killed him. Her leaving the team to grieve alone in Paris feels like a bit of a cop-out, in all honesty, a way for the show to shunt the loss aside rather than having to really grapple with it. But Dick is left behind, and he’s clearly affected by both Hank’s loss and Jason’s downfall, so when he hears that Red Hood has ordered a hit on Dr. Crane in prison, he intercepts his transport, beats up his guards, and spirits him away to a remote cabin in the middle of nowhere.

I like this interpretation of the Scarecrow since it highlights his talents as a psychologist rather than reveling in the mask and the Fear Toxin and all the other quintessentially villainous aspects of his persona. Here he’s more subtle, gradually picking at Dick’s psyche, which also makes him a mouthpiece for this season’s obvious argument that vigilantism is dangerous and exploitative in and of itself; that Batman is as much of a villain as the ones he keeps locking up in Arkham. The cabin where Dick and Crane hide out is symbolic of that. It’s where Bruce trained him and subsequently Jason, at least in part by sending him off into the woods alone, to be at the mercy of a local wolf. It’s a cliched line when Dick says that the wolf should have been scared of him rather than vice versa, but it’s a telling one. Part of Bruce’s training is becoming an animal.

While all this is going on, Starfire continues to grapple with her weird visions and blackouts, which are getting worse – much to Gar’s distress, since he always seems to lounging around Wayne Manor when she kicks off. His first idea is for her to take a soak in Bruce’s isolation tank, but that doesn’t work, and when Gar wakes up he realizes she has knocked him out, bundled him into the trunk of her car, and driven him out to the middle of nowhere. But is it the middle of nowhere, really?

Of course not! The car just so happens to be parked on a hatch that leads down into a secret government facility staffed by one random guy and containing a captive Blackfire, who has been psychologically luring her sister there despite her cell dampening her powers. They have a chat about their sibling rivalry – Blackfire feels she was always punished more severely, Nebula style – and then they have a fight. Starfire wins but, again, not really. She isn’t able to get through to her sister, isn’t able to change how she fundamentally sees things, so it makes her breaking her out and taking her along with her a puzzling decision. Sure, leaving a relative to the mercy of government experimentation is a tough sell, but leaving a sibling who is also a danger to the entire human race to the mercy of government experimentation is a bit more reasonable.

This square-off between sisters isn’t the only fight scene of the episode – there’s another between Nightwing and Red Hood, who arrives at the cabin, which is really great-looking. The suits and the weapons and the effects all stand out against the dark backdrop, and the choreography is impressive. This, too, amounts to a standstill. A GCPD marksman is ordered to fire from a chopper by Barbara Gordon, which only results in Red Hood being able to slip away – along with Scarecrow. That probably doesn’t bode well for anyone’s short-term future, but it makes the next episode of Titans an exciting proposition.

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