Titans Reveals the Inspiration For Dick Grayson's Nightwing Identity

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the Titans Season 2 episode "Fallen," streaming now on DC Universe.

Last week's episode of Titans clarified that Deathstroke's plan wasn't to kill the team (mea culpa, Jason Todd), but instead to expose Dick Grayson's lies, so that he will lose his "family," much in the same way that Slade lost his son Jericho. The final scenes left viewers to wonder whether, in abruptly assaulting a pair of federal officers at an airport, the former Robin is seeking further punishment for his sins, or if he's no longer in control of his actions. This week's episode, "Fallen," offers no answers while raising new questions, and teasing the inspiration for Dick's new costumed identity. Spoiler alert: You'll likely groan.

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The new questions center primarily on the swiftness of the justice system in this version of the DC Universe, as Dick (Brenton Thwaites) moves from arrest and arraignment to sentencing and imprisonment within apparent hours of committing his crimes. He pleads guilty to assaulting a federal officer, in exchange for a seven-year sentence, with no chance of parole, which seems like a pretty steep penalty. What's more, the fall of the adoptive son of billionaire playboy/philanthropist Bruce Wayne doesn't make the news, as Gar Logan (Ryan Potter) and Donna Troy (Conor Leslie) try to contact him by phone for help with their own problems. For that matter, there's no sign of Bruce or Alfred Pennyworth reaching out.

Instead, because of his background as a police detective, Dick is singled out by disgruntled prison guard Len Armstrong (Evan Jones) to serve as a snitch. When Dick refuses the job, and the benefits that accompany it, he's moved into a cell with three members of the Corto Maltese, a ruthless gang that's dethroned MS-13 within the Kane County Correctional Facility. (Presumably the gang's name is a nod to the South American island nation introduced in The Dark Knight Returns, itself an homage to the classic comic book adventurer.)

Well, make that former gang members, with hearts of gold. However, they're forced into an untenable position: If they're deported, they'll be murdered when they arrive home. If they remain, they'll be killed in prison. Their only possible out is to murder "the cop" -- this is, Dick Grayson -- which they refuse to do. And despite his repeated insistence that he won't take sides, Dick has an established soft spot for hard-luck cases, made worse when the naive Luis (Julian Works) insists that Alazul, a folkloric figure from their village, will help them escape prison and certain death.

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"In our village, Alazul is our hero," Luis explains. "He lives between the moon and the stars. And in the time of greatest need, he flies down and saves you." To describe Dick as skeptical would be an understatement -- "A bird that comes in the night and saves people?" -- but it nevertheless plants a seed. If that's somehow too subtle for viewers to draw the connection between Alazul and Nightwing, Dick's looming new costumed identity, "Fallen" hits us over the head with Luis' cell-wall graffiti: a bird that's evocative of Nightwing's classic symbol. There's also a crude hourglass shape, which sort of resembles a mask, but we'll let that one slide.

In the comics, a maturing Dick retired his Robin identity after growing tired of living in Batman's shadow, even as he led the Teen Titans. He later adopted the moniker of Nightwing, a tribute to the hero of the same name in the bottle city of Kandor (actually Superman). Given the tone and continuity of Titans, it's highly unlikely Batman and Robin ever teamed with Nightwing and Flamebird (that is, Jimmy Olsen) in Kandor, which means the inspiration for his new identity has to originate elsewhere. And so, here we are, in a prison cell in ... Utah?

When the trio's leader, Santos (Rey Gallegos), is murdered in the prison yard, Luis and Raphael (Orel De La Mota) remain determined to escape, despite their further-diminished chances. They make their move as they're about to loaded onto a prison transport to be deported, only to be beaten down by guards wielding batons (coincidentally, Nightwing's preferred weapon). When all hope seems lost, however, Dick  swoops in, like -- waiting for it -- a bird that comes in the night, to save Luis and Raphael, and provide cover for their escape.

Dick doesn't stand up and proclaim, "I will become Nightwing!," in no small part because he's struck in the head with the butt of a guard's rifle, and then handcuffed as he lay on the ground. However, we're left with no doubt that he's inspired by Luis' faith in Alazul (to say nothing of his graffiti), and by Raphael's belief in redemption. The question is how Dick is going to get out of prison, without becoming a fugitive, piece the Titans back together, and don his new identity.

Maybe Bruce Wayne can provide him with a shrewd lawyer who can get him off on ... temporary possession by a guy presumed dead for five years?

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.

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