After last weeks introduction of Jason Todd to the universe, Asylum sees the Titans back together this week to find Rachel’s birth mother. As with every mission so far, this one goes haywire and finds all of our heroes bound and tortured throughout the episode. Kory and Gar continue to get a little short changed with character development in service to Dick and Rachel which I understand for the time being, but moving into the back end of the season, we need to see the narrative give more time to them.
When The Messenger (recurring guest star REED BIRNEY) reveals that Rachel’s birth mother is alive and being held captive by The Organization in a mysterious psychiatric facility, Rachel is determined to rescue her. But once inside, the Titans are faced with their deepest vulnerabilities and fears.
Titans Recap: Episode 107 “Asylum”
Written By: Brian Edward Hill & Greg Walker
Directed By: Alexandra Kalymnios
Original Airdate: November 23, 2018
Kory is experimented on as the doctors test her regenerative powers, though we still don’t “know” she’s an alien, I mean we know that, but the story doesn’t. Besides blowing up the place at the end and walking through the fire like Khalessi, Kory doesn’t get to do much besides be picked apart on an operating table. Similarly, Gar is tortured into revealing himself and only is able to do so once Rachel frees him. They spent a significant amount of time telling us he’s vegan and has never bitten anyone before, so of course we all knew where that was going… once transformed, he can’t control his anger and lashes out at the doctor who had been prodding him all episode, ripping his throat open. We see him transform back on screen, good job on that CGI, and he’s horrified. I’m wondering if this will lead to him transforming into other creatures moving forward.
Rachel has exhibited healing powers in the Doom Patrol episode, but it isn’t until Asylum that she fully understands what she’s capable of; healing and taking it back. The discovery and rescue of her birth mother should be leading us towards a more concrete explanation of Rachel’s backstory, her Raven tattoo, and all this hubbub about her father along with more details on The Organization. So far the big bad of the season has been pretty underdeveloped; all we know is they’re looking for Rachel and they work for her father. Those of us with comic knowledge can sort of fill in the blanks and there’s so much going on story wise, you can overlook it and not even realize, but as we near the final confrontation of the season, a more well developed villain would be helpful.
From the beginning, this has been Dick Grayson’s journey from angry, reluctant sidekick to leader of the Titans and this week finds him finally confronting his issues with the “Robin” persona while drugged. Hallucinating his younger self, he addresses the issue that Robin was supposed to “be the answer”, “fix things” and he ended up turning it into a monster. It’s Rachel’s voice and his promise to her that wakes him from the haze. Perhaps now we can see Dick truly move on from the issues he’s been carrying with him since the beginning of the season.
The way Titans is structured wouldn’t necessarily work on any other network, with any of set of characters but it works for the most part here. As I mentioned in a previous recap, this show is written for DC Comics fans, people who at least the bare minimum about these characters and are able to attach quickly. The story is crafted to not only tell you arc of bringing a team together to defeat a villain, but it’s crafted as a character study, diving in to what makes our characters tick and what has brought them to this juncture in their life. It’s because of this the show is able to take divergences to meet the Doom Patrol, Hawk & Dove, or Jason Todd and it doesn’t seem to stall the narrative. As mentioned above, a bit more time with Kory and Gar and the story is solid. And while we pour one out for that amazing Robin costume Dick burns at the end of the episode, don’t be too sad because you know what this means… Nightwing is coming! Oh and we’re meeting Donna Troy next week!