Titans review: The team still feels the impact from Asylum


As Dick Grayson dismantled the albeit-unofficial Titans team to reconnect with Donna Troy, the Titans cope with the latent side effects from their torture during the previous episode.

During episode 7, “Asylum,” Dr. Adamson and his followers captured and tortured our team. However, effects from that torment didn’t end with last week’s episode. After all, in a comprehensive season-long plot, the on-screen struggles rarely ever stay in one episode. While the team on the route to break up, we explore each character’s journey as they try to individually navigate their mental health following what The Organization did to them, particularly the newly retired Robin.

In the first few moments of episode 8, “Donna Troy,” the Titans plot focuses on Dick’s continued struggle with giving up Robin. As we learned from the episode preview, Dick turns to his main support system and pseudo-sister, Donna Troy.

Since Donna has been a guiding force in Dick’s childhood and has taken on the big sister role throughout his entire life, he instinctively goes to her to find answers on how he can give up his days as Robin despite already quitting his crime-fighting partnership with Batman. However, he also turns to her because he knows that she has her civilian and hero personas artfully compartmentalized, and he wants to emulate that in his new life as Dick Grayson, the detective and brooding young adult, and Dick Grayson the brooding vigilante.

We watch Dick try to adopt a makeshift identity as a socialite at Donna’s photography exhibit. During this scene, we learn that Dick is just a dork who is so far detached from any existence outside of the BatFam (and incorporated company) that he doesn’t even know how to make small talk.

Dick has basically grown up with his divergence between wanting to be a “normal” citizen, but “Asylum” forced him to acknowledge that his increased violence propagates his attachment to his vigilante status. Whether Robin, Boy Wonder, or any other alias associated with him, The Organization made him realize that not only was his violence fueling his unhealthy connection to Robin and what that symbol actually means for him—giving up on aspects of his old life, including his old family—but also that his time as a singular vigilante made him more violent, creating this chaotic cycle.

The scene where Donna leaves the exhibition to expose the poachers and Dick ruins her plan to preemptively kick some tail foreshadows how Dick can connect to his life as just Dick Grayson. Though Donna’s schedule plan doesn’t pan out (thanks to Dick), this scene illustrates that being a civilian is just as powerful as throwing punches as a hero or vigilante.

Donna was planning to use her career as a photographer to unravel the poaching ring without physically harming anyone, and she does that without parading as Wonder Girl. After all, if there’s anything we’ve learned from the women protagonists in the Titans series (namely Kory, Raven, and Donna) it’s that powers transcend punches and firestorms.

Given Kory’s newly recovered memories and reinstated mission to kill Rachel, Dick could inadvertently find power in his detective skills, seeing as he might need to track down Starfire, or at least the members of Kory’s pre-Titans team, in the near future.

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Nonetheless, Dick needs to realize that, after his time with Donna and once he finally reunites with the Titans, he needs to rely on a family so he can work to find his identity. Knowing Grayson, that probably won’t happen for a while.