Titans: Family dynamics explored behind the team


Amid the torture and combat in Titans episode 7, “Asylum” explores the untraditional family dynamics behind the team. Even for a somewhat dysfunctional family, the Titans give us a love of goal-worthy moments in “Asylum” alone.

Though their comic book counterparts have decades of crime-fighting experience, the DC Universe Titans are still in their infancy. Rachel, Garfield, Kory and Dick haven’t officially donned the team name yet. However, they have been moonlighting as a cohesive unit. Before episode 7, “Asylum,” the four emerging heroes have supported each other, protecting one another’s physical and emotional well-being is a typical superhero adjacent behavior. However, the Titans are more than just a mishmashed team of heroes; they’re also a family, and the most recent episode explores the breadth of their family dynamics.

Throughout the series, Kory and Dick’s bond with Garfield and Rachel shares a likeness to parents and their adoptive children. To their kids’ dismay, they upgraded to a family-sized van in earlier episodes.

Before Kory formally met Dick, she was protective of Rachel and didn’t automatically trust Grayson once he tracked them down. In “Asylum,” Dick and Kory are amicable with their guardianship skills—at least when it comes to keeping Rachel away from the weird cult that’s been hunting her down for the better half of the season.

Titans Season 1, Episode 7. Photo Credit: DC Universe.

Stern parenting is their preferred parental style. They meet Rachel’s appeal to go to Dr. Adamson’s facility to rescue her birth mother Angela with rejection. Being the colluding teenagers they are, Gar lied when he said he agreed with Kory and Dicky regarding how the mission is too dangerous. They might not have synchronized their plot beforehand, but Gar and Rachel’s trick worked nonetheless.

Speaking of their kids, the series has gradually reversed Garfield and Rachel’s sibling hierarchy. Early on when Gar met Rachel, he took up the protective older sibling role in response to the hunters in the forest and Chief in episode five. Rachel was metaphorically and literally lost in that episode, seeing as she didn’t even trust herself.

Since Garfield worked to reassure her after she thought she failed at saving the injured deer, Garfield has played a guiding figure in her life, much like the role model function that older siblings portray for their younger siblings—whether it’s intentional or not.

Rather than relying on Gar for protection or stability, Rachel guides him during his most vulnerable moments to date on the show. Moments after Garfield transformed into his tiger form to protect Rachel and Angela, he loses control and kills one of the kidnappers.

Garfield hadn’t even bitten anyone prior to this. While he saved them from getting captured again, he didn’t have to change to accept or cope with what he’s done. He’s still processing it, but the gravity of his actions are obviously weighing on him. During his vulnerable moments, Rachel instinctively takes charge of the situation and announces that they need to find Dick and Kory.
As Garfield is inconsolable for understandable reasons, Rachel takes on the older-sibling role to make executive decisions for the separated teams.

Aside from their found-family — however, unconventionally they found each other — Rachel’s narrative also explores the broad forms family can take. Once she frees herself in a gruesome fashion from Dr. Adamson’s office, she’s immediately drawn to find her biological mother.

The divergent relationship from her new-found mother and the team-family that she’s somewhat familiar with (at least more so than her mom she’s never met before) could cause some conflict in the preceding episodes. But regardless of their relation, the four Titans are still a family.

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Even their witty retorts are in sync with typical family banter. Although the preview for episode 8 foreshadows an apparent rift between the team, they won’t disband for long, and their family bonds will grow and interchange throughout the rest of the season.