TITANS Season 1 Episode 9 Review: Hank and Dawn

This week’s TITANS diverts your attention away from the series’ main plot and instead focuses on the backstory of Hawk and Dove, two characters you might have already forgotten. This crime-fighting duo was featured in the second episode of the series, and because the series has gone through hell and back since then, it feels very out of place to have an entire episode focus solely on them. Though their place in the rest of the series is still uncertain, this week’s TITANS stands out as a distraction, one that asks you to sympathize with these characters all while painting them in a dark light themselves.

The subject matter of this week’s episode is dark, even for TITANS. Unlike many of the dark aspects of the series we’ve seen so far, this week deals with horrors that plague the real world. Hank, also known as the superhero Hawk, has a large portion of the episode focus on his upbringing and the series of events that led him towards a life of amateur crime fighting. Hank is fueled by the tragedies he has experienced, and each of them has their place in how he has developed as a person. As a child, he was molested by his football coach. His younger brother, who is also his original crime-fighting partner, is an anchor in his life, someone who has helped him countless times throughout his life. After Hank and his brother develop their hero personas, Hank’s brother is killed after being his by a car, the same car which took the life of Dove’s mother, bringing these two characters together.

Though the episode is unapologetic in its portrayal of these tragedies, and rightfully so considering the unbalanced ignorance of these topics in today’s television world, this episode has other moments that completely throw off the progression of these characters. At one point, when Hank and his brother are college students, they start to argue in a library. When approached by someone who reminds them that they’re screaming in a library, Hank and his brother just start punching everyone around them like they’re bullies in a 1980s movie. They start throwing fists around completely unprompted, but instead of feeling bad about taking their conflict out on strangers, they just assume they’re the heroes and literally tell the dean of their college to expel them. 

So many decisions in this episode come out of left field, and while the tragedies that Hank has faced are in no way diminished by these decisions, it’s his pride in his aggression that becomes problematic. His initial entries into the superhero world come from seeking retribution from sex offenders, which becomes a heroic action in itself, but the revelation of his physical abilities comes from releasing his aggression on innocent people. Though this episode tries to have the audience sympathize with Hank as a character, it does just as much to define Hank as a character as it does damage him. At some points, I wasn’t sure if this episode was depicting Hank as a hero or a man on the verge of becoming a villain. 

Dawn, an obvious secondary plot to Hank’s main plot, has her entire story rooted in its relation to Hank. There are very few moments when Dawn is seen as her own character, because more often than not, she is just there to help Hank or move his character further. She lost her mother, which has a tragic toll on her, but even then her tragedy takes the backseat to Hank’s progression. So, while this week’s episode is entitled “Dawn and Hank,” it should be more accurately titled “Hank… and Some Dawn Too.” I feel this episode would have a much different place within the series if it actually focused on the two characters, but instead this episode seemingly distracts more than it does progress. 

This episode’s entire reason of existing is revealed when Raven, who is seemingly communicating her message from the future, successfully contacts Dawn. Though we are left in the dust about what Raven has to say, Dawn finally wakes up from the coma she was left in at the end of the first appearance. She tells Hank that they have to find Raven because she needs their help in some way. So, while we will definitely be seeing these characters again, I hope that TITANS can be purposeful in the reasons for making such an out of nowhere bottle episode, especially when we’re so close to the actual end of the season.

Written by William Staton, TITAN Beat Writer

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