Previously on Titans, viewers were introduced to Hawk and Dove and while this episode, “Origins,” features them, the main focus is on Kory. In my past reviews, I have criticized Kory’s new origin as well as her current costume. “Origins” doesn’t help alleviate any of those major concerns but Anna Diop’s performance is excellent considering what she is given. The episode also provides us with more background into Dick’s upbringing with Bruce and brings up closer to unraveling the mysteries behind Rachel and the cult pursuing her. As always, spoilers below the photo.
The episode picks up immediately where the previous left off as Rachel is getting abducted. Kory is watching the scene from across the way. From there, the show jumps back to four days prior where Kory is investigating the Roth household. She uncovers a box containing letters and information about Rachel including a picture of her at a convent. At this point, a cop enters the home and Kory incapacitates him and his partners quickly. The fight scene is very poorly lit but overall not bad. Anna Diop has a commanding presence on screen but it is still very hard to get past the bad wig and dress she is still wearing.
RACHEL AND KORY:
Cut back to the present, Rachel is in the car with the strange family who is playing roadside bingo while she is handcuffed. Kory has been tracking the family and finds them stopped at a gas station to refuel. From there Kory burns the father and saves Rachel. After reaching Rachel, Kory demands she tell her who Kory is. Rachel admits a little confused that she does not know. The effects themselves are not wonderful but the way Kory’s skin is tinged orange while using her powers is a very cool touch.
Dawn is in the hospital with Hank at her side while Dick is outside the room looking in on the couple. Dick is triggered by something and stuck in a flashback from fifteen years ago where a young Dick Grayson, played by Tomaso Sanelli, is speaking to a social worker who informs him he is going to be fostered by Bruce Wayne. The woman also tells him that the police suspect the Graysons were murdered and the fall was not an accident.
We then see a car driving up to Wayne Manor and Dick immediately leaving out his window while Bruce watches unbeknownst to Dick. This is one of the first times we see Dick’s acrobatic skills but the CGI is rough. It immediately reminded me of the Star Wars prequels whenever Obi-Wan or Anakin flip around.
Dick returns from his flashback and is confronted by Hank who immediately wants to know who those people were and what they want with Rachel. After admitting he doesn’t know, Dick tells Hank to watch out for Dawn and swears he will find the people who took Rachel. As much as I love Minka Kelly as Dawn, I am starting to love Alan Ritchson as Hank even more. His character development here is so important. Previously, he was so caught up in his jealousy that he was willing to assault Dick, now the two are calmer despite the previous events. I was disappointed this is the last we see of them for the remainder of the episode.
Dick then gets a call from a fellow detective giving him an update on the Roth case. She informs him there was an intruder at the Roth crime scene, Kory. The detective also informs him that security cameras at a gas station caught Kory leaving with Rachel. Dick then learns his partner, Amy Rohrbach, is dead.
RACHEL AND KORY:
While Kory is driving with Rachel and asks again if they have met. Rachel says no and Kory snaps at her to be quiet so she can think. Rachel tries to touch her to feel what she is feeling but is unable to do so. Kory tells Rachel there are people out there who are trying to hurt her but she isn’t. Kory is disheartened that meeting Rachel didn’t trigger her memory. She then hands Rachel the picture she took from the Roth home.
The two talk about their powers and the show attempts to set up an interesting dichotomy between the characters. Rachel refers to her power as a darkness instead of her while Kory calls it a light. While I appreciate the shows attempt to set up a “Ying and Yang” of these characters it doesn’t work mainly because Kory’s personality isn’t the bubbly, optimistic girl she is in other mediums. Instead, she is aggressive and brash which works against her “light” based powers.
Kory and Rachel then enter a diner to stop and grab some food. While there the pair’s waitress is harassed by an abusive ex-boyfriend. Kory interferes as he lobs some causally sexist comments at her and Rachel. As Rachel waits in the car Kory takes care of the men while a pop cover of “Sunny” by Boney M. plays in the background. This song was also playing when the scene with Kory and Rachel in the car opened. This is the first time I haven’t outright hated a licensed music choice within the show and I think this song was chosen to add to Kory’s “light” theming. Once again though, there is a tonal disconnect between who the show wants Kory to be seen as and who she actually is.
Dick is on the highway clearly tracking down the lead to find Kory and Rachel. As he is driving we hear the narration from the social worker we previously saw in his flashback saying “You know the first rule about running away? It’s never about running away.” Within the flashback, the social worker is trying to implore a young Dick to let people help him and give living with Mr. Wayne another try. The scene then cuts to Dick exploring Wayne Manor’s halls and pausing on the portrait of a young Bruce with his parents.
He then finds the garage and decides to test drive the Aston Martin he has been driving since the pilot of the show around Gotham City. As he is driving he signaled to stop by a police car and instead hits the gas and ends up in a car chase. Dick is clearly enjoying the adrenaline rush. The car then cuts back to the present day when Dick stops in front of the gas station and investigates the crime scene. Dick hacks into the gas station office computer and is able to download the security footage from the scene. From there Dick is able to track down Kory’s car at the St. Paul’s convent in Covington, Ohio.
RACHEL AND KORY:
Kory and Rachel pull up to the covenant where a nun is surprised to see Kory is back. The nun then looks at Rachel, realizing who she is and exclaims about how much she has grown and how it has been since she saw Rachel last. Once inside Kory tells the nun she doesn’t remember anything. The nun informs Kory that she was at the convent a year ago looking for Rachel because people were tracking her but is unable to tell Kory who was looking for Rachel. Rachel asks the nun why her mother brought her here as a child and the nun tells her to protect though she doesn’t know what from. While walking upstairs the nun reveals to Kory that when she was young Rachel was hiding from her father and her mother was frightened. The nun is able to identify the strange key Kory has had since the pilot episode as belonging to a scooter palace from down the road.
The show continues to utilize religious symbolism in regards to Rachel and her demon power source. The addition of the convent is just another example. I am happy to see the show following that thread as opposed to just using the traditional horror trope as a trope. Religion within superhero shows and narratives is complicated and often not followed through. In the Avengers, Captain America famously says of first meeting Thor, ” There’s only one God, ma’am, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.” Following that one phrase, nothing else is really followed through in regards to Steve’s faith in that movie or the entire MCU.
The show cuts back to the strange family who kidnapped Rachel entering the residence of the man, Doctor Adamson, who initially spoke to the father about catching Rachel in the previous episode. The mother tells the doctor that the family failed. The doctor refers to Kory as a “unique being.” He admits she is “formidable but she is no Rachel.” Doctor Adamson threatens to kill the family but not before telling them that Rachel is more than just a girl and “her father will reveal us.” Doctor Adamson speaks about Rachel’s father as if he is the second coming and goes on to explain he cannot come without Rachel. Instead of killing the family he offers them another chance and says he will get them a new dad. The organization Adamson is working for or a part of remains unclear as well as is how these families are being built. It is however clear that they are related to the doomsday cult mentioned in the previous episode.
As a disco tune plays over the background, we cut to Kory opening the locker at the Scooters Skating Rink just to reveal another storage locker key. Kory heads back to Rachel who is eating and asks about her father. Rachel says she doesn’t know anything and her mother never spoke of him.
Rachel goes to play at the arcade in the skating rink and runs into a familiar face to fans. Gar walks up to her which she is at the pinball machine and give her pointers. The two bond and have an adorable, awkward connection.
DICK, RACHEL, AND KORY:
Dick is finally able to catch up with Kory’s car and tracks her and Rachel to the skating rink. There he confronts Kory and informs Rachel they need to leave but is met with hostility. Rachel is under the impression Dick doesn’t care considering he just last episode tried to leave her in Dawn and Hank’s care. Kory tries to tell Dick about the strange family after Rachel but he blows it off and accuses Kory of kidnapping. Rachel tells him she wasn’t kidnapped but instead saved. Rachel demands that if she goes Kory comes with them.
In confronting Dick in angry Rachel loses control and her demon-like persona emerges and causes the glass around the parking lot to shatter. From there Rachel asks that she is brought back to the Sisters at St. Paul’s. The three take Dick’s car while Gar watches them leave.
As soon as the Aston Martin pulls out of the parking lot, we are thrust back in a flashback to a young Dick Grayson after stealing Bruce’s car. The social worker informs Dick that he could spend time in Juvie for his crimes but he is lucky since Mr. Wayne doesn’t want to send him to jail. Dick informs the social worker he isn’t running away but instead searching for answers to who killed his parents so he can be the one who kills them. Once returning home, Dick finds a note from Bruce saying he can teach him another way.
DICK, RACHEL, AND KORY:
We return to Dick and Rachel who are now back at the convent. Dick relates Rachel’s situation to his own past commenting how he too made the mistake in thinking that leaning on someone would make the pain go away. He goes on to clarify that the loss isn’t going away but it can be controlled and channeled. Rachel tells him she wants to stay at the convent awhile and he doesn’t push her. I continue to love Dick Grayson’s ongoing attempt to be a better role model than Bruce. He cares deeply for Rachel and obviously feels helpless in trying to get her to understand his failings. The moment is genuine and well crafted emotionally.
While Dick and Rachel were speaking in the church, Kory steals Dick’s car. As Dick leaves to check on the car the nun goes to speak to Rachel and slips something in her drink, making her fall asleep. From there the camera zooms out to focus on a crucifix in the church. Kory took Dick’s car to the other storage facilities in hopes to track down the key to her memory. There she finds various research she has found and a tanning booth looking machine. After playing a tape she learns that in an effort to track down Rachel she was led to an “extraterrestrial religious cult” in Ohio. The room is littered with references to ravens as well as pictures of Rachel.
Rachel wakes up on a stretcher as two nuns roll her down a hallway. She is told she was given something to “relax” her. The nun informs her she is being kept here to keep her away from her father and sacrifices must be made. While Rachel is trying to escape, Dick catches up with Kory in the storage unit and confronts her about stealing his car. Dick finds the evidence Kory has collected. Cutting back to Rachel, she staring down demon persona facing her in the mirror who continues to feed into her deepest insecurities. Rachel attempts to stop the projection by holding up a crucifix but fails.
Dick and Kory continue to unravel the mystery behind Rachel and the people following her. Kory is able to deduce that Rachel is part of a prophecy and the destroyer of worlds. While still investigating, Rachel is trapped in the room and struggling to control her powers and illusions with the mirror she broke now piecing itself together to better show her warped reflection while the demon demands she “let me in”.
Rachel finally let the demon in and the storage container Dick and Kory are in shakes, causing the two to run out and see smoke coming from the convent while hundreds of birds fly away. Rachel runs away from the burning convent toward the adjacent woods in some of the best cinematography featured in the show thus far.
Kory’s character has improved in “Origins” but I am still hesitant to completely get behind this iteration’s version of her muddled origin. Seeing Kory as a detective is an interesting take but not one I completely understand since Dick is also a detective. Additionally, Gar’s role so far seems to be shoehorned in and while he is not yet completely part of the main group his moments do not feel organic to the story.
I enjoyed the flashback scenes from Dick’s childhood but it did frustrate me how absent Bruce is in this series despite playing such a large role. I know the show has plans going forward to cast an actor as Batman but until then this seems like a very odd creative choice. The show excels most when it focuses on the personal relationship and connections between the characters. Rachel is central to everyone and her chemistry with them is well done. Despite this show not having a great start, it is getting exceedingly better.
Episode 3 is available on HBO Max.