WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the Titans Season 2 episode "Jericho," streaming now on DC Universe.
Between Dick Grayson's guilt, Deathstroke's rage and the trepidation of the original Titans to return to the "ghost"-filled Titans Tower, viewers might have suspected the former Robin was directly responsible for the death of Slade Wilson's son Jericho. They maybe even envisioned a Batman-style trap in which the doe-eyed innocent was dangled over a vat of deadly chemicals to lure the assassin out of hiding. But, as we learn in this week's episode, Dick's role was a little more nuanced, and morally gray, than that.
Despite his sinister look when he "accidentally" crossed paths with Jericho five years ago, shortly after the murder of Aqualad, Dick (Brenton Thwaites) had no intention of harming the young man. Instead, he wanted only to use Jericho (Chella Man) to learn information about Slade, with the full support and participation of the other Titans -- initially, at least. Like teenage chums in some 1950 book series, they build fires on the beach, toss around the football, and ... probe for details about Jericho's estranged father.
When it becomes obvious that Jericho doesn't know much, if anything, about his father (he believed him to be an insurance salesman), the Titans' determination begins to falter; they genuinely like this kid that they're manipulating. Dawn (Minka Kelly) and Hank (Alan Ritchson) demand the Titans cut ties with Jericho, for his sake, a move that's complicated by Dick's discovery that the young man can possess the bodies of others. Dick and Donna immediately recognize the possibilities of Jericho's "gift," with Robing rationalizing to a skeptical Dawn that the Titans could train him to use those powers.
It's at that point Dick fully embraces Dawn's earlier plea to "Be Batman," whether or not he realizes it. While Dick may have a genuine affection Jericho, that appears to be trumped by his tactical value. He seamlessly moves from potential intelligence source to would-be child soldier, much in the way Dick (and, later, Jason Todd) transitioned from Bruce Wayne's word to a weapon in his single-minded crusade.
"Look at us," Dawn pleads. "We're using a kid ... a damaged, fucked-up kid who just wanted some friends, to find his damaged, fucked-up father." However, Dick convinces Dawn, and apparently himself, that Jericho needs the Titans, to have a place to belong. It certainly sounds good, even noble, but when Dawn and Dick reveal to Jericho who they are, and invite him to join the team, it's really another form of manipulation.
Jericho is star-struck in realizing his new friends (or, "friends") are actually Hawk and Dove, Wonder Girl and Robin. The revelation, to say nothing of the invitation, goes a long way to overshadow what comes next: Dick's confession that he sought out Jericho to learn more about his father -- who, oh, by the way, is a ruthless murderer.
We, perhaps, then can't be surprised that Dick sanctions a meeting between Jericho and Deathstroke, over Dawn's objections. ("You told me, 'Be Batman,'" Dick reminds her. "Remember?") Likewise, it's no shock that Robin arrives at their meeting place -- the church where Slade led him in the previous episode -- to confront Deathstroke, particularly after the assassin targeted Donna (Conor Leslie).
What begins as a possible reconciliation between father and son is marred by Dick's arrival, and the brutal fight that ensues. Robin is no match for the seasoned, controlled assassin. But when Deathstroke goes in for the kill, Jericho steps between him and Dick, and pays the ultimate price with a sword through the chest. There is no convenient "retcon"; Slade did murder Jericho, just as Rose Wilson (Chelsea Zhang) and I.N.T.E.R.P.O.L. believe. It's just that Dick Grayson -- and, indeed, the other founding Titans -- have culpability.
Still, it's not quite as cut-and-dry as earlier comments may have led us to believe. We're nevertheless left with questions about this episode-long flashback, which ends with the team shuttering Titans Tower, and Hank and Dawn turning their backs on Dick. For instance, we're not privy to any kind of truce, which was certainly implied by Slade's return to action in the Season 2 premiere after Jason Todd proclaimed on television, "The Titans are back, bitches!"
What's more, despite the slow-motion sequence in which Slade stabs Jericho, we don't see the body hit the floor. It may seem like a minor detail, but it leaves open the possibility that Jericho isn't truly dead, but instead used his powers to transfer his consciousness into his father, and then into others.
Streaming now on DC Universe, Titans Season 2 stars Brenton Thwaites as Dick Grayson, Anna Diop as Kory Anders, Teagan Croft as Rachel Roth, Ryan Potter as Garfield Logan, Curran Walters as Jason Todd and Conor Leslie as Donna Troy, with Minka Kelly as Dawn Granger, Alan Ritchson as Hank Hall, Joshua Orpin as Superboy, Chelsea Zhang as Rose Wilson, Chella Man as Jericho, Drew Van Acker as Aqualad, Esai Morales as Deathstroke and Iain Glen as Bruce Wayne.