Five Thoughts on Titans‘s “Hank & Dove”

By | August 18th, 2021
Posted in Television | % Comments

The initial batch of three episodes of Titans comes to an explosive end with Jason proving he isn’t messing around. This chapter of the season comes to a close and positions the show to succeed in ways previous seasons have not. With a simple and effective deadline plot Titans begins to feel like a team show even if it isn’t quite there yet.

1. Distribution Strategies

“Hank & Dove” close out this initial trio of episodes released to HBO Max, going forward Titans will be released on a weekly schedule ending the season in October. Previously the series was released weekly on DC Universe in a more traditional television model. As the streaming Wars enter a new phase outlets have begun experimenting with release strategies that build towards a middle ground between the historical weekly model and the Netflix binge. By releasing an initial batch of episodes a series has a chance to create a buzzy initial release and keep the audience on the hook for the next couple of months.

The decision to release “Barbara Gordon,” “Red Hood,” and “Hank & Dove,” all at once has been to the show’s benefit. Watching Titans on a weekly schedule has never really worked for me due to the show’s unevenness at making episodes a discrete and fulfilling unit of storytelling as it also tells season long narrative. If they had just released “Barbara Gordon” my feelings on the potential of this season and the willingness to see it through would be very different. “Gordon” as an episode is largely fine. It establishes the seasonal goal “be a better Batman” and asks the question, what does that mean for Dick. It just didn’t grab me the way The Americans season three premiere, “EST Men,” did. Instead of having to wait a week to see “Red Hood,” a much stronger episode overall, I was able to watch it later that day. None of these episodes are perfect, though they are noticeably stronger compared to previous seasons. Taken as chapters in a novella of Titans season three they come together to form what Hedi McDonald would describe as a satisfying chunk of narrative that has left me wanting more after the explosive finale to “Hank & Dove.”

2. It Makes Sense

Hawk and Dove have been on the show in at least a recurring capacity since the first season. That presence makes the decision to kill Hank and write Dawn off due to grief make sense. They are of the original generation of Titans the show isn’t focused on. After the second season and their continual on again off again relationship to each other and their cowls, what further use did they have? Together their drama would take up screen time that could be reallocated to finally doing something with Conner or maybe showing what Raven is up to in a ‘C’ plot.

Alan Ritchson does some of his best work on the show, since “Rose,” as he leans into Hank’s meat head vulnerability forced to take stock of his life in a way the adrenaline fueled vigilante life never had before. All while stuck in a bed for half the episode. Minka Kelly also does excellent work as her character goes on a desperate chase to save the most complicated man in her life. Her breakdown as she realizes what has happened sells Hank’s death more than any VFX explosion ever could. Individually they were great, and yet it didn’t hit me as hard as I would expect. The idea of Hank and Dawn as a couple be it romantic, physical, partners was present throughout their time on the show and yet outside of “Rose” never given the space to exist as a thing unto itself. Their partnership was often shown through the lens of Dick Grayson and how he affected their dynamic. That inability to exist on their own terms is part of the larger issue the show has with using its cast of characters. Starfire is going through her own issues at the moment and outside of Gar, it seems like no one else seems to realize it. Maybe now that the core cast is being paired down the Titans will come together and be shown acting as a family. That arc toward family is the raison d’etre for the series so achieving it won’t happen until the end, however showrunner Greg Walker could begin showing the group functioning as at least a team.

Continued below

3. Something for Conner

Juggling the cast of disparate characters is no easy task. One of the characters that has had the least to do since arriving in the second season is Joshua Orpin as Conner who has been relegated to standing around in a tight t-shirt when he isn’t acting as their tank on their nightly raids. There is a certain fanboy to juvenile vibe his pairing with Gar brings out, but that dynamic both hasn’t been used for comedy and feels a little out of sorts for the show tonally. The show has failed to give us a meaningful reason for him to exist on the show besides a connection to the comics, much like Starfire’s ongoing parasomnia you would think his character could use a ‘C’ plot to simply introduce himself to the audience.

“Hank & Dawn” might not have given him a reason to exist for audiences emotionally, but they do give him a reason to exist for the plot. With his super speed Dick tasks him with creating a device that can disarm the bomb in Hank’s chest. This is a novel use of super speed that requires him to absorb a large amount of information and then make something out of it, that’s a level of creative thinking he hasn’t been asked to do before. It’s not much but it is a reason for him to exist.

I’ve yet to come to a conclusion on Orpin’s performance if the juvenile aloofness is intentional or just how he acts. He isn’t one for being highly emotive, and this is a reading that is based heavily on the contextual elements, but his slow motion realization that he wasn’t fast enough in getting to Hank was well done. It was similar to the moment Luther set off the bomb in the capital in Batman v Superman. Here is this powerful being rendered powerless and it isn’t his fault.

4. Deadline Plots

That feeling of powerlessness and Dawn’s breakdown are all born from a simple deadline plot marking another episode where the writing team went to a simple plot to structure an episode. After a run-in with Jason, Hank comes home with a bomb implanted in his chest, a bomb that is ticking down at the rate of his heart and cannot be removed by force. Which leads to the Titans getting creative in how to disarm it. Without act breaks the show never goes full 24 ticking clock motif, but they certainly filled the frame with enough monitors slowly counting down that you got the message and created a sense of real time stakes.

Previously I mentioned some odd staging that might have been due to COVID protocols. Those protocols are similarly felt in this episode as the team disburses and begins to operate nearly independently of one another. Hank is left in his room for a series of two hander scenes with the Titans. Gar and Conner are in the Batcave trying to create the disarm device. Dove is off on her own hijacking a truck full of gold bars. Dick goes off on his own investigating Jason. Until the latter two come together in a showdown with Jason. A showdown that takes place in a deserted harbour, which is both an action movie staple setting and open air for the crew to shoot in. The use of the deadline was a good reason for everyone to be separated from one another.


A surprising plus to revealing Jason as under the Red Hood is it gives everyone a name to say. They repeat his name over and over, “Jason” this and “Jason” that. It’s repeated so often it begins to evoke the quality of Jason Vorhees as he hunts down his former friends.

//TAGS | Titans

Michael Mazzacane

Your Friendly Neighborhood Media & Cultural Studies-Man Twitter


  • -->