EPISODE 8: “Home”
Before the season began one of the more popular casting announcements was that of Tim Drake (Jay Lycurgo). Up until now, we have only gotten glimpses of him, but in “Home” the focus of the main theme of the season brings him back front and center and uses another famous Batman comic book story as inspiration.
“A Lonely Place of Dying” was a 5 story crossover between Batman and New Titans which introduced the character of Tim Drake. In the story, Dick Grayson meets the aforementioned Drake when he finds out that Haly’s Circus is being sold. Tim tells Dick that he knows the whole truth about Batman and Robin and asks Dick to return to being Robin because Batman needs him. From there a series of events leads Tim to taking-up the Robin mantle and he saves Batman and Nightwing from Two Face’s trap.
In “Home” we see a version of this played out again. Tim goes to Wayne Manor to confront Dick and tells him he knows all about him and Jason Todd’s time as Robin and that he would like to be the next one. Dick of course denies the whole thing not wanting to bring Tim into this world, but Tim decides he’s going to prove his worth by helping the Titans out. This doesn’t work out well as Tim is in over his head and gets shot in the back by Scarecrow.
While it isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison, this version of Scarecrow has been more of a real-world take than any we have seen outside of Batman Begins. Well, the writers go back to the Batman Begins well again when we learn that Scarecrow’s master plan is to poison Gotham City’s water supply with his fear toxin and frame the Titans for it. Of course, he has Jason call Dick and play on his emotions telling him he needs help and wants to come home. The rest of the Titans voice their reservations about Jason’s sincerity and tell Dick they should leave him alone, but they follow him anyway and fall right into the trap.
Kory’s growth in season 3 cannot be understated as she seems to be connecting more with her Tamaranian roots. Blackfire’s presence has played a major role in this, but the visions she has been getting seem to suggest it’s something larger than her sister.
Speaking of Blackfire, her relationship with Connor has been one of the more fun parts of the season and it is on display again here. Damaris Lewis and Joshua Orpin are excellent in playing two characters who are finding their human parts of their personalities in each other. This has been a welcome development in a season where everything has been really heavy.
“Home” definitely seems like the opening of the final arc of the season. Jason is conflicted about the choices he’s made. Scarecrow’s plan is finally in play and the Titans are now being looked at as the villains. Kory’s visions are getting more and more clear and we know Rachel and Donna are coming back. This show has had a hard time sticking the landing, so let’s see how they tie the bow for season 3.
EPISODE 9: “Souls”
It has taken 8 episodes but we finally get to see the expected return of Rachel Roth/Raven (Teegan Croft) and Donna Troy/Wonder Girl (Conor Leslie) in “Souls”.
However, it’s someone else who returns that is the real surprise of this one.
At the end of “Home,” we saw Tim Drake (Jay Lycurgo) get shot by Scarecrow and he’s struggling to stay alive. In a stroke of genius by writer Richard Hatem we are transported from the emergency room to a train in the afterlife where the soul of a frightened Tim is headed towards his terminable end. However, he is not alone. Donna Troy is also a passenger which means her soul is also caught in a state of Limbo.
I always wondered at the end of season 2 how they would go about bringing Donna back and I really love the decision here to tie it to Tim’s situation. It’s juxtaposed to Rachel on Themyscira working with the Amazon priestesses trying to resurrect Donna. This is a Rachel we haven’t seen before. She’s much more confident in her powers and in her mission of bringing Donna back to life. It’s also a contrast to how Donna’s soul feels as she expresses she does not want to be brought back to life.
But who she tells that to is the real surprise.
In a twist I didn’t expect, Donna and Tim are saved by none other than Hank Hall/Hawk (Alan Ritchson) who explains to both of them the lay of the land in Limbo and also how to get back to the living. After a little convincing, Donna agrees to help Tim and Hank find the inverted tree where the bridge to the living begins. Anyone who is spiritual knows the varying significance of the inverted tree. This was a nice touch by Hatem and a global way to get the point across to the viewers.
“Souls” also brings the return of Bruce Wayne (Iain Glen) in a very powerful way. The last we saw Bruce in real-time he was telling Dick to “be a better Batman” after he had apparently killed tThe Joker with a crowbar. The reason for his return here is probably going to be controversial among Batman purists, but for this story, his decision works for me.
One of the standout decisions in this episode was the choice by Boris Mojsovski to shoot the Afterlife scenes in black and white. The contrast of that with the color in the life scenes really heightens the stakes for everyone involved. It makes sense that Limbo would be this place devoid of anything colorful. It was something I appreciated and thought added weight to the episode.
“Souls” is one of my favorite episodes of the season. The performances by all the actors, specifically Ritchson, are some of the best the season has to offer. It also serves as the starting point of the eventual reunion of the Titans and the true beginning of Tim Drake’s journey to what will eventually be him becoming Robin. Now that Donna and Rachel are back the Titans will be an even more formidable foe for Jason and Scarecrow. – Eric Holzmann