The latest episode of DC Universe's Titans series explores the sinister, twisted history of Hawk and Dove. It's a pretty surprising move, given the last episode had a cliffhanger ending in which Starfire seemed to be about to kill Raven. What's more, "Hank and Dawn" is frankly one of the most awkward episodes of TV ever made. Actors Alan Ritchson and Minka Kelly are tremendously well-cast, but unfortunately the overall episode is - in narrative terms - pretty clumsy. It includes the show's first nude scene, a flashback in which Hawk and Dove had sex for the first time straight after murdering the pedophile who assaulted Hank as a child.
The narrative structure of Titans is really beginning to damage the series. There have been far too many side-adventures, taking audiences away from what should be the main story of Raven and Starfire. Some of those have been tremendous ("Jason Todd" was a series highlight, for example), but the show lacks a sense of direction. At this point, it's time for Titans to start answering some of the many questions it has raised to date, as was promised in the cliffhanger ending last week. Next week's episode is called "Koriand'r," so it's at least safe to assume it will explain Starfire's backstory - but who knows if it will actually resolve that cliffhanger.
Viewed as an individual episode, "Hank and Dawn" doesn't raise as many questions as the average Titans episode. That's because, with the exception of a few manifestations of Raven's psyche, it's entirely self-contained. But let's explore the most important questions of all - most notably, why Raven wants the Titans to find Jason Todd in the first place.
- This Page: What Was The Point Of This Episode?
- Page 2: Why Does Raven Need Hawk and Dove?
8) What Was The Point Of This Episode?
Titans introduced viewers to Hawk and Dove in the second episode, and they felt like cannon fodder to demonstrate how dangerous the Nuclear Family were. Dove was left critically injured, trapped in a coma after she was tossed through a birdhouse and fell to her near-death (Curiously, no members of the Nuclear Family ever demonstrated that kind of super-strength again.) Since then, though, the show has essentially forgotten about them. Robin hasn't been ringing Hank to find out how his ex-girlfriend is doing; there haven't even been scenes in which he checked his phone in hopes of getting a text about her. Even more surprisingly, Raven learned she had the power to heal people - and never once thought about Dove. Frankly, it's felt as though Hawk and Dove simply didn't matter all that much to the stars of Titans - and thus as though viewers really shouldn't care about them either.
That makes the decision to spend an entire episode exploring Hawk and Dove's history more than a little surprising. Nothing about the show to date has suggested that Hawk and Dove are important; then, suddenly, without any warning, Titans spends nearly 50 minutes telling you everything you ever needed to know about the characters (and a lot more besides). This is even more bewildering given it comes straight after a cliffhanger ending that carried such promise. Presumably Hawk and Dove do matter somehow after all.
7) Why Did Hank Leave The Door To The Medicine Room Open?
The central conceit of "Hank and Dawn" is the idea that both characters are trapped in their memories, a strange sort of shared nightmare. Hawk is feeling depressed as he watches over Dove's still body, and he decides to steal some drugs from the hospital and send himself into a stupor. He picks the lock of the medicine storage room and slips in, then breaks into the cabinet to steal some pills. For all Hawk is trying to be surreptitious, though, there's one strange detail. He leaves the door to the storage room wide open so that anyone who walks past can see him trying to get into the medicine cabinet.
6) What Is Post-Concussion Syndrome?
Flashbacks reveal that Hank Hall was a scholarship student who suffers from Post-Concussion Syndrome. This is a complex disorder that can last for weeks after you've gotten a concussion, sometimes even months. Typical symptoms include dizziness, headaches, fatigue, anxiety, irritability, noise and light sensitivity, and ringing in the ears. Making matters worse, though, is the fact that Hawk sustained repeated concussions over the course of his scholarship. He's lucky to even still be alive. Unable to play sports, Hawk decided to do the next best thing and become a vigilante. In one flashback, his brother attempts to get him to wear a helmet to protect his head in the event he gets into a fight, but he refuses. It's no wonder Hawk seems to be in a bad way; he's most certainly not looked after his own health, and the medical bills must be beginning to stack up.
5) Doesn't Donny's Death Make Dawn Replacing Him A Little Tasteless?
The flashbacks reveal that Hank began his superhero career working alongside his half-brother, Donny, the first Dove. The two siblings were an effective team, both conveniently trained in martial arts and hand-to-hand combat, and they began by targeting pedophiles like the man who had preyed upon Hank as a child. Unfortunately, Donny was killed in a tragic car accident - the same accident that killed Dawn's mother. Hank and Dawn became close, and Dawn learned the truth about Hank's secret identity. She ultimately became the second Dove.
The relationship between Hank and Dawn is a fascinating one, with two broken people attempting to find peace by beating up the bad guys. But the idea that Dawn inherited the mantle of "Dove" from Hank's brother is a strange one. It seems more than a little tasteless, and also casts the sexual relationship between Hank and Dawn in a weird light. That's one of the problems with this episode of Titans: it doesn't always seem particularly aware of the messages it's sending about the characters.