If you were still suffering from the shocking ending to Episode 3 I can’t blame you. Whenever a show decides to kill off a character, especially one as popular as Hank Hall/Hawk (Alan Ritchson), it tends to stick with you for a bit. But — as the saying goes — the show must go on, and it doesn’t waste any time in doing so in “Blackfire”.
The team is trying to cope with Hank’s death, specifically Dawn (Minka Kelly) and Conner (Joshua Orpin), who each blame themselves for his demise, but there isn’t really any time for that. Jason/Red Hood (Curran Walters) is still out there and determined to take not only the Titans down but apparently, he also wants to make Dr. Crane/Scarecrow (Vincent Kartheiser) pay for assisting Dick/Nightwing (Brenton Thwaites) when he tries to have him killed in Arkham.
Or so it seems.
In past seasons, TITANS has used misdirection (i.e. Jericho in Season 2) as a plot device to build suspense and intrigue and they go for the same angle here. This sets up a very interesting dynamic between Dick, Jason, and Dr. Crane which gives us a little more fleshing out of the larger plot to the story while also showing a little of Dick’s recklessness (kidnapping Scarecrow from the GCPD and taking him to a cabin in the woods to interrogate him) as a result of Hank’s death.
This version of Scarecrow is very different but I have to say I am enjoying it thus far. He doesn’t have his famous fear toxin (at least not yet), so he uses psychoanalysis to prey on the fears of those he encounters and tries to manipulate them. He unsuccessfully attempts this maneuver with Dick, but you can tell he’s just setting him up for something in the future.
Back on the homefront things aren’t going well. Dawn decides she needs a break and moves to Paris to cope with her feelings and Conner blames himself for not being “Superman” enough to save Hank. Gar is tired of dealing with all of them and Kori, well, Kori is still having her vision-filled possessed blackouts where her only intention seems to be cooking up Gar for some barbecued green tiger.
After appealing to Gar’s desire to stay alive, he helps Kori by telling her to focus more on her visions and stop trying to fight them. She takes his advice and discovers that her older sister Blackfire/Komand’r (Damaris Lewis) is the one “possessing” her by psychic messaging. She is then brought to a bunker where she and Gar discover that Blackfire is being held prisoner by the government. This is a stark contrast to how she was introduced at the end of Season 2 when she arrived on Earth destined for revenge against Kori. I thought Blackfire would be one of the main villains this season, and she very well maybe, but the episode ends with Kori and Gar breaking her out from prison and she decides to go with them. However, if you’re familiar with the source material, you know Blackfire has a strong thirst for revenge against Starfire. She could be trying to soften her up before she makes her move.
Episode 3 left us all in shock after Hank’s death, so I was expecting this episode to be more focused on the team grieving, but, as I said in my first review, I think the writers took the complaints of previous seasons to heart and seem focused on moving the story along at a faster pace. The moments of grief we get for the characters, specifically Conner and Dawn, are quick but strong and without any fluff. This allows the main plot (and subplots) of the season to breathe and develop, and that’s what happens here. So while episode 4 isn’t as deep as episode 3, it does contain important plot points for the Red Hood storyline and begins the Starfire/Blackfire subplot. Most importantly, nothing is wasted here. Every moment serves a purpose, which isn’t something I could’ve said in previous seasons. – Eric Holzman
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