I pointed out the gritty nature of DC Universe’s newest show Titans in my review of the pilot. We continue to meander through this brutal new world in the second episode, “Hawk and Dove.” [spoiler alerts from here on out]
Here we meet the titular characters Hawk and Dove, the couple Hank and Dawn. And once again, we’re not given any backstory, we’re just thrown into the plot with a series of brutal beatings and two new unknown heroes. I’m still a bit fuzzy on what their powers are—though Hawk’s seems to be getting captured and tortured, while Dove’s is apparently sleeping with all of the main male characters we’ve met so far (and again: this is a gritty version of the DC Universe, so take potential content warnings into account).
Dick Grayson has taken Rachel to Hank and Dawn so that they can keep an eye on her. He has done this nominally so that she will be in more capable hands than his, but in reality because he does not want the responsibility of caring for a teenager. She can sense the truth, so she knows that once again she is being left alone without any understanding of her own powers and without any assistance in the world. For his part, Dick thinks that because of back story we’ve not yet been given, he has become too brutal and violent to care for someone who needs as much attention as Rachel—or maybe even for anyone.
This is particularly rough (though just emotionally, so that doesn’t count as much, right?) given that Dick himself was orphaned and raised by an emotionally distant “father” figure. Rachel had thought she had found a kindred spirit and instead is being abandoned, this time by someone her powers had led her to.
At the same time, Dick’s arrival makes Hank worried that Dawn is going to abandon him in favor of Dick, with whom she has some kind of history. In other words, throughout this episode we have the theme of the fear (or reality) of abandonment.By contrast, we are introduced to a family of some sort that at first glance appears to be normal. We meet a brother and sister playing a game while the mother and father putter about the kitchen doing mother and father things. Very quickly we see that they are not so normal, and that they are, in addition to apparently being a loving family, able and willing to torture, kidnap, and kill in order to accomplish their goal (in this case, torturing Dick’s partner to find out where he is, kidnapping Rachel once they find them, and murdering Dove when she gets in the way).
So far, we have been given heroes who are so grey in nature that, without backstories, it can be hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys. Yes, I know Robin is a good guy. But I don’t know that from this series. If we cut out prior knowledge (or just take Robin out of the equation), the only way to tell the heroes from the villains would be by 1) amount of screen time and 2) keeping track of who ties up their enemies before torturing and/or killing them.
Clearly we as Christians aren’t going to endorse this kind of worldview. Yes, we recognize the reality of sin in the world. And of course we recognize that all people, even the good guys, are sinners. And yet, especially in the last couple of years and for political reasons which need not be focused on now, Christians have become too willing to dismiss bad behavior on the part of the “good” guys. We believe that sin has infected the world, and that only the blood of Christ can pay for it. But being forgiven is not the same thing as being given permission. We ought to hold each other and the world to the highest possible ethical standards. Yes, we should forgive. But we should also rebuke. Which isn’t to say that a stern talking to would solve the problems outlined in Titans. But it would at least give us a place to start.
With all that said, Titans continues to be an interesting series. Given how little we know (from within the show itself) and how grim a worldview we are left with, DC has still managed to produce a solid episode.
Dr. Coyle Neal is co-host of the City of Man Podcast and an Associate Professor of Political Science at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, MO.