DC Recap Round-Up 3, Week 9: a CRISIS Tie-In (and TITANS Season 2)!

13 Dec

Welcome back! Welcome to the first of two Recap Round-Up posts this week, and this slightly brief one will deal with the midseason finale of Black Lightning, and give you a review of the second season of DC Universe’s Titans! It’s a busy week of recaps (we got half of Crisis on Infinite Earths to also do this week, you know), so let’s jump in…

“The Book of Resistance, Chapter Four: Earth Crisis”

Things in Freeland are getting bad, because the ASA is getting desperate to maintain their hold of the town. It’s gotten so bad, that Agent Odell is about to do the crazy act of mind controlling the metas in the containment facility to subjugate the Henderson and Black Lightning’s resistance. While this is a big problem Black Lightning should handle, it’s kinda small potatoes when you realize what else is going on, and it has a lot to do with the sky turning fire red! Yep, Crisis on Infinite Earths is knocking on this Earth, and it affecting Jennifer in a traumatic way, making her see multiple Earth versions of herself!

There’s Gen, the Jennifer of Earth-1 who’s dad gets killed at Christmas by that Earth’s Odell; and Jinn, the Jennifer of Earth-2 who has been corrupted by Odell so badly she ends up killing her entire family! Well, this meeting between the good Gen and evil Jinn makes Jennifer realize she can’t just be obedient to Odell anymore. Not that it doesn’t matter because she seems to disappear in front of her family’s eyes, and then Jefferson is taken away in a flash of light, just before a wave of antimatter wipes out everything! So I guess that’s the end of Black Lightning. Well, at least until whatever happens in the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths and before it returns after the midseason break.

Um, that’s not good.

–So at least now you get an answer to why there isn’t a Earth-1 Black Lightning involved in Crisis. But murdered in your own house on Christmas? That’s wrong. The lesson of this episode is that Agent Odell is a jerk in every universe.

–Lots of leaps from our core characters to figure Jennifer’s problems come from parallel universes, but hey, how else do you explain red skies?

–We get some government pushback to that transmission from last week from the Resistance to those outside Freeland, and that involves actual “fake news” claiming that was all a hoax and still just a SARS outbreak as the reason for the occupation.

–Lynn has a homemade Green Light lab started up, because that’s what you do when you’re a smart woman who’s lost her drug supply.

–So both Anissa and Lynn know Khalil is the brainwashed Painkiller, but both are on different ends on what to do about him (Anissa is for killing him, Lynn isn’t).

–“What are you, Glynda the Good Witch from The Wiz?”

And now…

So if your read this column regularly, you might be aware I do watch the DC Universe shows, and have watched the first season of Titans, which has had mixed results in my view. It took a while to pull itself into a show that would be interesting, but in its season finale it hit a hard stop, mostly because the actual season finale was saved until season two. And boy, does it show in the second season premiere, as it cleans up the big threat of season one bad guy Trigon so fast, it spends the final third of the episode basically setting up the whole arc of season two. That arc: Dick Grayson starts training new heroes like Garth and Raven in San Francisco, which gets the attention of one Slade Wilson/Deathstroke, who has a deep vendetta against the Titans for a wrong committed against his family. Another threat, sprung by Deathstroke, brings the other Titans back to San Francisco to deal with this threat and confront the sins of their past.

You got a pretty good arc for season two with Deathstroke as your big bad, confronting the dark secret that split the Titans up years ago, still dealing with the change Raven went through as a result of her dealing with Trigon, and even introducing new characters, like Slade’s daughter Rose, and a clone that is part-Superman with a cool dog. And let’s not forget the occasional appearance of Bruce Wayne to be a sounding board for Dick Grayson’s emotional journey this season. So did it pan out to a better season of Titans? Well, yes it did, but it also brought in a different batch of problems than season one had.

No Green Arrow in sight.

The big problem is our Titans spend a lot of time not being that this season, taking a few episodes to come back together, and once Dick’s big secret about where Slade’s vendetta actually comes from, spend a third of the season apart again before coming back together again for the final couple of episodes. While they seem to be an actual team by the end of season two, it comes in a rather clunky kind of way (more on that later). And as good as Esai Morales is as Deathstroke (no disrespect to Manu Bennett here), his character becomes kind of irrelevant as a villain by the midseason so much that he’s dealt with a little too quickly at the start of the season finale. While I complained last season ended too abruptly, this one ended a wee bit too cleanly and quickly. Whether this was because of fears of cancellation and playing it safe, I couldn’t say, but the execution of the season’s end was a problem.

Those negatives aside, there were some standout episodes in the bunch, like the flashback episodes exploring how Deathstroke hurt the Titans, their morally murky plan to get revenge against him, and the introduction of Superboy and Krypto. And after waiting two seasons, Dick finally gets his crap together and becomes Nightwing. All in all, it’s an improved season, but it hasn’t quite figured out the balance of all these characters yet. I hope season three continues the upward trend of improvement, and hey, maybe a few less random F-bombs, huh?

At least now they wear costumes. That’s an improvement right there.

NEXT TIME: It’s time for the big DC TV crossover event as we cover the first half (Supergirl, Batwoman, and The Flash) of Crisis on Infinite Earths!

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