Titans season 3, episode 12 review: Prodigal

Curran Walters in Titans Season 3, Episode 12 - Photograph by Ben Mark Holzberg / HBO Max
Curran Walters in Titans Season 3, Episode 12 - Photograph by Ben Mark Holzberg / HBO Max /

Gar Logan and Rachel Roth attempt to save Nightwing in Titans season 3’s penultimate episode while Dr Jonathan Crane is about to enact his plan for Gotham.

“Prodigal” opens where Titans season 3’s eleventh chapter, “The Call is Coming from Inside the House”, concluded, with Gar Logan/Beast Boy (Ryan Potter) and Rachel Roth (Teagan Croft) catching up to the dying Dick Grayson/Nightwing (Brenton Thwaites) following the attack from Red Hood’s followers.

Distraught, Rachel attempts to revive Nightwing with her healing abilities but to no avail as he is already dead. Gar loses it then a swarm of bats circles around the heroes, which triggers his new transformation into a green bat. With help from the other bats (presumably from the Batcave) Gar raises Nightwing’s body and travels with him over the Lazarus Pit. Gar, in bat form, drops the fallen Boy Wonder into it.

Gar soon reverts back to his normal form as Rachel looks over Dick’s body in the solution. He questions whether they both saved Dick in the nick of time. Rachel responds to Gar saying they now will have to wait and see how it will affect the fallen Titans leader as the main title credits begin to roll.

The word is out. Nightwing is dead.

Back in the Batcave under Wayne Manor, Jason Todd/Red Hood (Curran Walters) reports back to Dr Jonathan Crane aka Scarecrow (Vincent Kartheiser) and informs him that Nightwing is dead. But this is not of his concern as Nightwing is Todd’s “monster”.

Crane intends to destroy Gotham before rebuilding it, but Todd disapproves of this and insists it was not part of the deal. Red Hood was meant to be the city’s savior, but Crane intends to destroy innocent lives. The Scarecrow then chases Todd off with a chain and sickle, noting that he still reeks of fear.

On the other side of town, Tim Drake (Jay Lycurgo), his parents Jack (Ryan Allen) and Janet Drake (Chantria Tram) and Janet’s nephew Stephen Chen (Vinson Tran) intend to evacuate Gotham with Donna Troy (Conor Leslie). However, Tim wants to remain and fight, informing Donna of Nightwing’s death – but due to Crane’s hold over the media, police and surveillance, the truth is not so easy to decipher. Donna seeks a way to get to the docks despite Tim’s persistence of blind heroism.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Barbara Gordon (Savannah Welch) remains behind bars inside the Gotham City Police Department as Fletcher (Greg Bryk) gloats while he removes her food tray. Crane revels in Nightwing’s apparent death as Barbara remains silent and ignores her enemies’ taunts.

In Dick’s subconscious, the apparition of Dr Crane taunts him as his body lies submerged in the Pit. As Dick’s spirit struggles to return to the living world, he faces his old nemesis’ silver tongue as the Scarecrow tells him Bruce Wayne was never a father figure to him and that he was always jealous of Todd. That Dick did not overcome fear; he only buried it with rage. Both negative emotions did more damage to himself than his opponents. Dick re-appears in The Joker’s trademark purple suit and beats down an apparition of Jason Todd.

Blackfire and Superboy take Gotham

Elsewhere, Blackfire (Damaris Lewis) revels in her newfound powers by attempting to steal a passerby’s car. She threatens him with a fire blast but then Krypto arrives, bringing her to Superboy (Joshua Orpin). Conner is still succumbing to Kryptonite poisoning but Blackfire uses her solar energy to burn away the green dust.

After the healing, Superboy informs Blackfire of Dick’s reckless behaviour. She suggests that he leave the Titans behind as both of them have become outsiders to the people they serve – for Blackfire being a pariah amongst the inhabitants of Tamaran and for Superboy being an alien on Earth while also being the partial genetic template of criminal mastermind Lex Luthor. With that, Blackfire, Superboy and Krypto leave to tie up loose ends.

The Nightwing Rises…

Back at the Lazarus Pit, Gar and Rachel converse over Beast Boy’s latest transformation. Gar believes fear can trigger his changes. Rachel goes on to reflect that when she fought Trigon two years back, it was love that gave her the strength to defeat her father. Rachel uses her empathic abilities to unlock more of Gar’s potential.

The Lazarus Pit reacts as deep within the spirit realm Dick fends off against his temptation and meets his spirit of his father John Grayson (Sean Clement) and his younger self (Taj Levey). Dick also sees his future daughter (played by Lillian Monzie), highlighting the prospect of a brighter future ahead.

Despite the highs and lows of this season, “Prodigal” is quite frankly one of the better episodes and one of the most superior of the series thus far. It is, without a shadow of a doubt, an improvement overall, with new revelations and high-stakes action setting it apart from previous offerings.

What’s also interesting is that, in spite of its title, “Prodigal” is more of a Dick Grayson-centric episode because it was as much a character study on Dick as it was about granting Jason a chance at redemption. And both of these things happen, as Dick survives the Lazarus Pit and returns, offering Jason that chance to redeem himself. What they soon find out, though, is that Crane’s plans to destroy Gotham have already been set in motion.

A redeeming chapter of Titans season 3 at just the right time

Unlike previous episodes, this one handled the themes of death, souls, afterlife and rebirth very well. That said, some parts that did not quite work, such as the scenes between Dr Crane and Dick – where the latter was wearing the Joker’s suit. The debates came off as folly and for that reason it just didn’t work.

That said, a touching moment with his late father and potential future daughter was a really heartfelt revelation for Dick.

The best parts of this episode were those that led up to the confrontation between the Drake family and Donna Troy, the quieter moments between Gar and Rachel and the conflict between Jason Todd and Dr Crane, however, there are other aspects that let it down.

The scenes between Superboy and Blackfire were fine but at times felt out of place, the humor did not land well, particularly when juxtaposed with everything else happening around it. But the subplot did improve a great deal once Kory Anders/Starfire (Anna Diop) made her entrance.

Titans season 3 is now available to watch on HBO Max.

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What do you think of the second to last episode of Titans season 3? Have you been enjoying Titans season 3? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!