Episode Reviews - Apprentice, Part 1


Episode #12 - Apprentice, Part 1
Original Airdate - October 4th 2003

Who is Slade? And what is he planning? The questions that have been keeping Robin awake at night are about to be answered. Slade contacts the Teen Titans and unveils his master plan: A Chronoton Detonator - - a sinister-looking high-tech device has the ability to stop time... forever. The Titans spring into action on a mad hunt to find the Detonator before it freeze-frames the entire city.

Review by Steel
Media by Bird Boy
Titans Writers
Written by David Slack
Directed by Michael Chang
Producer Glen Murakami
Producers Linda M. Steiner, Bruce Timm
Asst. Producer Kimberly A. Smith
Music by Michael McCuistion
Casting and Voice Direction Andrea Romano
Animation Services by Dong Woo Animation C.O., LTD.

Titans Voices
Greg Cipes as Beast Boy
Scott Menville as Robin
Khary Payton as Cyborg
Tara Strong as Raven
Hynden Walch as Starfire
Ron Perlman as Slade

Screen Grabs






Pans



Sound Clips
"What's a crouton detonator?" (MP3, 287kb)
"You don't have to act like Slade." (MP3, 387kb)
"From the inside, out" (MP3, 191kb)
"And I'll make you watch." (MP3, 561kb)
Review

'Ello, duckies! Steel's back to teach you lot a lesson!

Erm, whoops. Didn't mean to let that slip. Anyway, as you're probably eager to hear my brilliant opinion on this episode, here goes:

Wow. Wow Wow Wow Wow Wow Wow Wow Wow. For the story arc that wraps up the underlying plot in the Season One episodes, it is understandable that this episode had a much more dark and serious tone than any of the others. The very somber mood was still supported by the typical silliness and implausibility's that make the show so appealing, but the story definitely held its own weight and did not rely on the vastly reduced proportion of humor in the episode. Thankfully, "Apprentice" was spaced from the Slade-centric "Masks" with the brilliantly hilarious "Mad Mod." While "Masks" was the true setup for this two-parter, the fact that "Apprentice" came after a lighthearted romp both makes the shift of tone welcome and the overall mood of the series from becoming too grim. To me, the revelation that the lame excuse of a plot device called the "chronoton detonator" was a fake sort of symbolizes how dire and personal this new threat was, and this more intense feeling carried on throughout the rest of the episode as well.

While the opening sequence was reminiscent of Yoda's test of Luke in the cave during Empire Strikes Back, it still echoed the sentiment first established in "Masks": As much as he doesn't like to admit it, Robin's a lot like Slade. If "Masks" was about showing the similarities between Slade and Robin, "Apprentice" is all about showing what sets them apart. Despite the fact that the message is sort of beaten into us, the episode does a really good job of tying up the little hints dropped throughout the season and packaging them in a presentable manner to show us the disparities between the two.

Finding out about Slade's true motivation and his attitude toward the rest of the Titans was *fantastic*! Very early on in the series it was clear that Slade was capable of much more than what he was sending the Teen Titans' way in terms of difficulties, and many of his "plans" seemed nonsensical and like that they could be pulled off a lot easier by someone of his resourcefulness and mental caliber. I had suspected that Slade wanted to use all of the Titans for something bigger, but as the series progressed with episodes such as "Forces of Nature", it became increasingly clear that Slade wanted Robin specifically. "Masks" pretty much clinched the deal with Slade saving Robin from death halfway through the colossal beating that was being administered. Thankfully, what started as a completely nonsensical adventure finally showed what Slade really wanted. Ron Perlman threw in some harsh and gruff tones into his typical concoction of a sleek, cool, and calculating voice, a great effect that became most prominent in his really creepy concluding line in the first part ("I know it seems bad... but trust me. You'll learn to like it"). Slade was great in this episode, and the only thing I really have a problem with is the ease that the Titans were able to defeat him at the end. Sure, he was completely surprised, but this might be detrimental to some of the dramatic tension in the long run, especially since they're probably going to want to bring Slade back.

OHMYGOD OHMYGOD OHMYGOD! BATMAN REFERENCES! ::GIRLY FANBOY SQUEAL:: Yeah, I'm just as pleased as the rest of you to hear the "I already have a father" line and to see the Wayne Enterprises building, but I am glad that Batman was not actually brought in for the purposes of the story. We all knew that the Titans were going to make it out of the episode relatively unscathed: It is *how* they manage to accomplish the feat that I was the most worried about when watching the episode. For the more perceptive viewer, the references to Batman brought on the possibility that Batman could potentially come and bail Robin out. While a properly pulled-off cameo could potentially be pretty cool, I'm glad that Batman wasn't brought on the show for a few reasons: Most importantly, the show is entitled "Teen Titans" and not "Teen Titans and their Godlike Bosses." Part of the appeal of the show is the child empowerment, and showing that the Teen Titans can't resolve their own problems without interference from meddling adults sends a contradictory message to what the show has been trying to say in the past. Secondly, an appearance by Batman would trivialize the Titans in the sense that suddenly we know that someone is around to help them out when they get in major scrapes. Wayne Enterprises is an international conglomerate, and knowing that Batman exists is far different than showing that he's around. Finally, while I feel that Teen Titans is not in "continuity"; with the rest of the DC Animated Universe, the appearance of a Batman would totally destroy the ambiguity that the show's producers are going for.

Since the focal point of the episode was not Robin and Slade, but Robin's relationship with the Teen Titans and how it defines him as a person, it was only appropriate that the entire team was involved in the episode in a very lively manner. The little comedic bits were great: ("What's a crouton detonator?"), ("I will not be havin' attitude from a boat!"), Starfire's sneeze in what should have been a very tense moment, and Beast Boy's ridiculous Zombie/Robot theory. It's evident how much the characters have progressed through the series when they're willing to step in and try to convince Robin not to deal with Slade, when before the team broke apart at the slightest hint of an absence from Robin ("Final Exam"). Overall, the Titans coped with Robin's irrational obsession very well, and in the end it was his friends that saved and redeemed him. As Bird Boy pointed out, Cyborg's "and we don't care" line could have easily been one of the most corny lines ever, but in the context of what was going on in the episode at the time, those four words spoke volumes about all of them as people.

Overall, while "Apprentice" doesn't come close to touching the phenomenal lunacy of "Mad Mod", it is easily the best episode of the comparatively normal episodes this season. While the Slade stuff was pretty intense, it was nice to see that for once the Titans were in a true predicament and managed to work their way out on their own. Most of all, it was great to see that these characters are human and grow over time. "Apprentice" shows that "Teen Titans" is not only the ultimate superhero fantasy for any 11-year-old, but a show that has a solid grasp on the fundamental relationships that people share.

*-Review is the same for both part 1 and part 2 of "Apprentice"

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