So this episode finally gives us some insight into the reason for Jason’s life after he left the Titans at the end of the second season and before he died in the first episode of this season.
So Jason, having been back in Gotham after leaving the Titans in San Francisco, is struggling with what happened between him and Deathstroke last season. Bruce sees this and recommends Jason see a psychiatrist, Dr Leslie Tompkins (Comic and Gotham fans should find that name familiar). She knows all about Bruce and his vigilante exploits and I thought it was a good idea to have Jason go see her. I couldn’t help but wonder if Bruce sought out therapy cause he never seemed to be getting better or over the vigilante thing but maybe that’s just me. What I also could see was that Bruce was realising that Jason was using being Robin as a crutch, even though it’s ironic, Bruce didn’t think it was a good idea for Jason to be out in the field if his mind was not right.
Fear is the topic at hand during the sessions Jason has with Dr Tompkins. Jason wants to get over the incident with Deathstroke and doesn’t want to be afraid anymore but not just because of Deathstroke, Jason fears being replaced as Robin. It is then that he notices the picture of Dr Tompkins with Jonathan Crane AKA Scarecrow and fixates on the experience of being exposed to the fear toxin. To be honest I don’t think Jason was going to therapy long enough before Bruce made a decision about him being Robin but I understood where he was coming from. This episode really had me feeling bad for Bruce because I understood that he just wanted Jason to understand that his value in his family didn’t just come from him being Robin and that Bruce actually saw Jason as a son. I felt bad for Bruce because I could see that he realised all the mistakes he made with Dick (that just drove him away) and he didn’t want to repeat those mistakes but instead Jason took it as Bruce having no faith in him and thinking that he is ruled by fear. Even to go as far as compare the treatment of Dick and his screwups to his own. It was funny how normal this sort of sibling rivalry/comparison was but also how it can drive people to do bad things to redeem or prove themselves.
Jason aims to rid himself of his fear and visits Jonathan Crane. Jason wants Crane to create sort of the opposite of his fear toxin, as the one he used was fear-inducing he wanted one that removed his fear completely. Crane tells him it can’t be done but Jason entices him with information. Basically, through that information, Crane finds out that not only is Jason Robin but Bruce Wayne is Batman. Jason manufactures the toxin and starts taking it regularly, explaining all the chemistry stuff Dick found when he was investigating. Crane is a master manipulator and has Jason murdered by the Joker. Which I find interesting, did Crane know what the Joker’s plan was or that Jason wouldn’t be able to resist? Either way, Crane revives Jason using the Lazarus Pit (that is now near Gotham? – portable Lazarus Pit?) and starts controlling Jason as Red Hood, using a toxin. In exchange, Jason promises to help Crane escape, which I think is weird cause he seems to be able to be out and about already so the cell, itself, seems to be just a formality but I don’t want to pretend to know the minds of Gotham criminals.
In the present day, it is clear that Jason is being controlled by Crane entirely and here Crane tells him of his plan to take over Gotham by engulfing the city in fear that only he can control. Gotham domination is not a new plotline though so I remain not interested for now.
This episode was good as we got some insight into the relationship Jason has not only with Bruce but with Gotham and his friend from before he was Robin, Molly. I think it was well done and acted well enough but whether it was a complete redeemer for Jason as a character? I cannot be sure. I also think it is a bit unfair that this episode was completely devoted to Jason when other characters on the show have not had such a privilege. I also hate how this was written pretty well when the writing for other characters on the show is so stale. There is an imbalance in the show for the way the white characters are written versus the only POC characters, Kory and Gar. In my opinion.