<em>Titans</em> recap: Putting the pieces together

Each episode of Titans so far has gradually expanded the scope and depth of this new DC Universe. While last week introduced viewers to Hawk & Dove and supplied some details about Robin’s crime-fighting history, this week’s episode gave us a lot more information about Starfire, showed us actual flashback scenes from when Robin was first adopted by Bruce Wayne, and even brought Beast Boy into the same room as the other Titans for the first time (though it didn’t last long).

Starfire was mostly absent from last week’s episode, and now we see what she was up to: Visiting Rachel’s home in Detroit. While there, she runs afoul of some cops, but they’re no match for an energy-powered alien. She finishes up with them and manages to make it to an Ohio gas station at the exact same time the Nuclear Family stops there with Rachel for a mid-kidnapping pit stop. We saw this strange supervillain family make quick work of Hawk, Dove, and Robin last week, but it takes Starfire only a few seconds to burn the dad to a crisp. She was hoping Rachel could cut through her amnesia and tell her who she is. No such luck there, but Rachel and Starfire make the reasonable decision to take off on their own, leaving the Nuclear Family in the dust.

The Nuclear Family is forced to return home empty-handed and one man short. We get a little more information about them when they report to their creator, who looks a lot like an older version of the dad. He’s ready to decommission them for failure, until the daughter asks him what’s so important about Rachel anyway. He responds that she is the only person who can “invite” her father to Earth. Looking out the windows of his skyscraper, this man complains about the filth and perversion of the world around him; he thinks the only cure is Rachel’s father, who can burn the flesh from the world. Therefore, he needs her in order to summon him. When the daughter says she’d like to see a post-Trigon world, the man reconsiders his original plan and decides to give the Nuclear Family another chance — though, obviously, he’ll have to make them a new dad. This sounds like the makings of a burgeoning demon/robot alliance, which can’t possibly be good for anyone.

Robin and Starfire are going to spend the rest of this episode trying to figure out Rachel for themselves, but those of you who have read Teen Titans comics should already be catching on. Traditionally, Raven is the daughter of a demon named Trigon, whose power can unleash Hell on Earth. Although he hasn’t been mentioned by name yet, it sounds like Trigon (or a being very similar) is in play here. What form he takes in this show, and what exact powers he has, is still a matter of mystery.

As Robin tries to track down Rachel, he’s reminded of his own past as a runaway orphan. We see him as a child talking to a therapist shortly after his parents’ deaths. The therapist is delighted to tell young Dick that Bruce Wayne wants to adopt him, but Dick’s priorities are elsewhere — namely, the revelation that police don’t think his parents’ deaths were an accident. Almost immediately after being shown to his room in Wayne Manor, Dick sneaks out the window and uses his acrobatic skills to jump from tree branch to tree branch.

It doesn’t take long for him to be collected, of course. When his therapist asks why he wants to run away, he answers plainly: He wants to find the people who killed his parents, so he can kill them in turn. He makes one more runaway attempt, this time stealing one of Bruce’s cars and gunning it down the Gotham highways like young Kirk in the opening scene of J.J. Abrams’ first Star Trek movie. After that, Bruce makes him a better offer. In a note delivered with a very fancy-looking breakfast, Bruce tells him that revenge will not bring his parents back: “Let me teach you another way to deal with the pain.” And so it began.

NEXT: Destroyer of worlds?

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