In Episode 8 of DC Universe’s Titans, “Donna Troy,” we have yet another slow unfolding of plot in favor of the exploration of the inner lives of the characters. And yet again, it is Dick Grayson who we get to watch emoting his way across the screen while little-to-nothing happens to move the storyline forward.
Specifically, Dick leaves the ‘team’ to meet his childhood friend Donna Troy She is Wonder Woman’s former sidekick, “Wonder Girl”, and is doing much better in civilian life than Dick has been so far. (And again, spoilers abound in this review.) Dick asks for her advice in how best to leave behind his life as Robin and escape the mentality of violence and brutality that he has been trained into by Batman. Of course, that violence and brutality has been tied to a sense of justice, but although justice is mentioned it’s also much less interesting to the writers of this episode. Which is unfortunate, because there was a great opportunity for genuine reflection on the proper use of violence and its place in society’s pursuit of justice. Instead, they went in the direction of moping broodiness (broody-ness? brooding? but ‘moping brooding’ sounds weird…).
Meanwhile, the rest of the crew—Rachel, Kory, Gar, and Rachel’s mom… Angie? maybe? I forget now—take the train from Bruce’s penthouse hideaway to Rachel’s mom’s place in Ohio. Which I wouldn’t have noticed if they hadn’t for some reason made such a big deal about it. The police catch up with Kory (wanted for beating up a bunch of cops in an earlier episode), so she blows up the train they’re on and they take a stolen animal control pickup the rest of the way. At the very end, Dick and Donna discover that Kory has been sent to kill Rachel. The episode ends with Rachel attempting to heal Kory’s memory and Kory seeming to attack Rachel. You’ll forgive me if I’m a bit skeptical as to whether or not that was actually what was happening. We all know “tune in next time” teasers rarely mean what they appear to.
The arguments goes something like this: Wonder Woman exists to protect the innocent. Batman exists to punish the guilty. Punishment leads to violence, with the unspoken assumption that this is automatically bad.
And I think this could have been an interesting and useful discussion. Our modern society has lost the ability to think carefully about violence, and as a result we end up with the extremes of brash, unreflective stupidity that are functionally indistinguishable from bullying on the one hand; and limp, hand-wringing inaction on the other. For example, we see this in the way people talk about criminal justice. Increasingly we are split between the side that wants to hang offenders instantly, and the side that wants to give them get out of jail free cards and universal health care.
All this to say, a revival of a thoughtful discussion about the place of violence in society as it relates to justice is needed now more than ever. And Christians have a uniquely useful perspective to offer to this conversation. After all, we worship the Risen Savior who was violently, brutally executed unjustly. And yet, it was a violence and brutality that we deserved. Clearly we should have thoughts on this topic, but this particular episode of Titans is unfortunately not the place to go to help us articulate them.
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