Five Thoughts on Titans‘s “Prodigal”

By | October 15th, 2021
Posted in Television | % Comments

This show dear readers. This *insert word here* show. As my previous thoughts demonstrate, I have not been the biggest fan of the last couple of episodes – more “The Call Is Coming from Inside the House” to be fair. “Prodigal” offers up another mixed bag that is more of the same as the previous episodes, the Titans are still disconnected etc. However, this being the penultimate episode these maneuvers make sense within a larger macro structure which make for a better episode even if the first 7 minutes are a lot.

1. Repetition

Repetition has been a fundamental organizing principle of TV since the beginning, from scheduling broadcasts (same Bat-time, same Bat-channel) to genres like the crime procedural, and the production of TV itself. Which is why it isn’t a surprise to watch “Prodigal” and get this sense of déjà vu about it, but that feeling isn’t entirely comfortable either. “Prodigal” repeats several plot points from previous episodes, to say nothing of the nature of this last trio of episodes. With all this repetition it can feel like everyone is just running in place. That last part is kind of the point of TV, it’s about the journey because once the point of character growth is achieved and internalized there is no longer a show. A similar schema appear in romantic comedies.

“Prodigal” is yet another Dick Grayson in a dream like sequence episode. Previous episodes to employ this storytelling technique include S01 E11 “Dick Grayson” and S02E07 “Bruce Wayne.” This time the series dispenses with giving Grayson’s inner turmoil an avatar of his adoptive father, Bruce, and instead force him to embody all his rage and fear. At one point transforming into the Joker and bashing Jason’s head in. All the while Jonathan Crane appears as the Devil. This trip down memory lane is all a maneuver to get Dick to remember his biological father and obtain some degree of absolution for failing him … somehow.

This scene went on a bit too long, it should’ve ended the moment he dropped the crowbar and choose not to continue beating this visage of Jason. At that point the choice was made and growth was achieved. He learned what Harry learned in Chamber of Secrets and now needs to get to that place when Harry talks to Sirius and Order of the Phoenix(as always screw J.K. Rowling and her shit politics, but those are good books). The thing is, that same moment of choice has occurred in the previously mentioned episodes. Dick chooses to kill Bruce. Dick chooses to escape prison. And yet he’s still struggling over this, rightly so but it is repetitive.

Connor once again has a Tamaranean burn the kryptonite out of him. Oddly his clothes stay on this time.

Scarecrow for all his talk of growing and moving on is incapable of that. Which is why his master stroke is to repeat himself again by redoing the plan that original got him captured by the Dynamic Duo, blowing up 200 containers of fear toxin over Gotham City.

This episode reminded me of the quote by Albert Einstein and insanity, which is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”

2. Irony is Dead or the gonzo nature of this show is a bit much sometimes

Look I am probably one of the dozens of people who rather enjoys Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – The Ultimate Edition. There is honestly a lot to pick at. But Titans lifting the “bats took me into the light” aspect of the dream sequence from the opening credits of the film and playing it straight was both not very effective. It is another example of how the adaptation of “comic book elements” (read: images and happenings that make up the eclectic world of the source material) are put in this tension between surrealism and suprarealism, which due to budgetary and production constraints create the camp comedy of Dick Grayson’s dead body being carried away by a cauldron of bats.

That whole sequence was a lot from Raven not knowing where Dick was to seeming to be only half a block away. The pained anguish at discovering his body … when you knew he was dying. It was just a lot and didn’t play effective on an emotional level.

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The momentary body horror of Beast Boy turning into a bat, however was well done.


To blatantly steal from the Rewatchables podcast, Vincent Kartheiser is the winner of the Overacting award this week for when he does his best Gary Oldman from Leon impression and declares that “EVERYONE” will die. All the while he quotes “September 1, 1939” by W.H. Auden.

I respect that the Titans writing and producing team have gone with this distinct version of Scarecrow and Vincent Kartheiser has certainly been allowed to make … choices. But pulling a Gary Oldman was not a very effective one even as the series connotes everything in the fact that he has had a psychotic break.

4. What Dreams May Come

As previously mentioned, having yet another Dick Grayson in a liminal, surrealist, dream state isn’t anything new. However, as he again works through his demons and fights for his soul, we do get a glimpse of a future. One with a daughter, presumably Starfire is her mother, which was a nice little moment. The daughter however was holding just the brightest red balloon, due to the color grading. This when mixed with her beige/sepia colored dress just gave me the most Pennywise IT vibes imaginable.

5. Escape from Gotham City

Starfire manages to track Blackfire down and showing up at a most opportune time so that both her sister and Connor do not go the full Bonnie and Clyde. This was a meeting that is necessary, and audiences are looking forward to, so they cut away. Repeating exposition isn’t fun, but we do not see the moment Blackfire realizes that her sister is not her enemy and has been used by their parents to. It denies a powerful moment of sisterly healing to just quickly push to Connor’s petulant heel turn because his girlfriend needs to go home and make peace.

//TAGS | Titans

Michael Mazzacane

Your Friendly Neighborhood Media & Cultural Studies-Man Twitter


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