“It’s Never Too Late to Change”: A Character Analysis on Terra
By: Josella Arriola
“Aftershock Part I”
After being shunned by Beast Boy, Terra swears full allegiance to Slade, no longer acting like a double agent. Slade gives her a suit with his emblem on it. After that, Terra stands right in front of the Titans with her hair covering her left eye. She proceeds to crush the T-Car. Beast Boy tries to reason with her saying, “Stop Terra, we’re friends!” Then she throws his own words back at him: “I don’t have any friends, remember?”
Usually when two people enter into an argument, the anger and frustration leads the person to say hurtful remarks out of anger towards the other person. Most often the people make remarks or statements out of anger only in the heat of the moment. When one person reaches past their breaking point, the person winds up saying things they don’t mean and later regret. Since Terra threw his own words back at him about no longer being friends, he must feel guilty and regretful for uttering that phrase at all.
Returning to the battle, Slade aids Terra in attacking the Titans. He informs Terra that her suit is directly connected to her nervous system which he can control. The Titans retreat back to the Tower, conflicted about battling Terra. Beast Boy mentions that Terra was “one of them”, a Teen Titan and also their friend. Raven states that Terra was never really their friend in the first place. She was a traitor sent by Slade to spy on them and gain their trust.
Despite everything she’s done, Beast Boy still accepts her and continues to vouch on her behalf. Having Beast Boy vouch on Terra’s behalf despite everything shows his full devotion to her. Even after all the lies and betrayal, Beast Boy is still on her side and cares about her. He brings up Robin’s past as Slade’s apprentice stating that even though he turned to the dark side, they never gave up on him. Acknowledging Beast Boy’s point, Robin allows Terra to have one last chance to turn over a new leaf. In the next scene, Terra breaks out Cinderblock, Overload, and Plasmius (usual Teen Titans villains) with Slade congratulating her. Raven and Terra fight in the mud arguing with each other. When Raven is down, Terra proceeds to provoke her in hopes that Raven will lash out at her and lose her temper instead of being calm and in control. Terra succeeds and Raven goes into her “demon form” yelling that the Titans gave her their trust, friendship and shelter. In return for all their efforts and hospitality, Terra deceived and stabbed them in the back.
After her fight with Raven, Terra seeks out Robin and Starfire to take them down. Exploiting Robin’s weakness against him, she pushes Starfire off a cliff and into a nearby lake. Terra has taken out all the other Titans except Robin. During their fight, Robin attempts to bring Terra back to the light and face herself, asking her, “Do you really want to be Slade’s lackey?” In another effort to get through to her, Robin shares his brief stint as Slade’s apprentice. He was able to break free of Slade’s control because of his friends. Terra remarks that she doesn’t want to be saved, that she’s doing fine on her own. Robin’s response is that, “You can only save yourself.” Pay close attention to this quote because it becomes more important and meaningful in “Aftershock Part II”.
She retorts: “I’m not some sad little girl waiting to be rescued.” This statement gives the viewers a small insight into Terra’s childhood. Other people probably took pity on Terra freeing her from bad situations she’d get herself into due to her unstable powers. Following this, Terra makes a full-blown confession for siding with Slade. She claims that it was her choice. Slade didn’t force her into it as previously believed. Her desire was to destroy all the Titans.
With the knowledge that Slade is controlling her through the suit, I highly doubt these remarks are Terra’s real thoughts. Slade is merely controlling both her body and mind forcing her to say these things to Robin. After their confrontation, Slade congratulates Terra on a job well done saying that the city is now theirs for the taking. Fed up with Terra’s betrayal, the Titans vow to take down Terra once and for all no more chances for redemption.
“Aftershock Part II”
In this episode’s introduction, Beast Boy’s gift to Terra, a silver heart-shaped box is shown to be shattered and broken, possibly a symbol of Terra’s broken heart after her rejection from Beast Boy. Next, Terra’s picture is split down the middle with one eye present, representing her allegiance to Slade. During her monologue, Terra states that she has done terrible things such as betraying the Titans, swearing complete loyalty to Slade by doing his every command, and taking over Jump City. Terra comments that she has “no regrets” about the bad things she has done or the people she has hurt or so she claims.
The city is shown to be gloomy, quiet, and desolate. Terra goes on a patrol around the city making sure the Titans aren’t anywhere. Along the way, Terra walks past old haunts which stir up long forgotten memories: good times hanging out with the Titans being shown in the form of flashbacks.
Terra stumbles upon the bank where she stopped Mumbo the magician from stealing bagloads of money from Jump City Bank. Feeling proud of her, Robin and Beast Boy cheered her on for a job well done. Following that, she crosses the park where a flashback shows her and Beast Boy walking through the park together side by side. Terra is laughing at a hilarious joke Beast Boy is telling. After that, Terra swings by the old pizza stand, recalling her hangout with the Titans over pizza. She had a good time with them. In the distance, Terra sees shadow figures of the Titans’ ghosts haunting her because she supposedly took them down and now they’re getting their revenge. Beast Boy in his wolf form confronts Terra snarling.
Appearing scared, she stops in her tracks and cries out “Beast Boy, aren’t you even going to talk to me?” Funny how Terra wants Beast Boy to engage in conversation with her considering the last time they talked, she threw his words (from the previous episode) back at him and refused his offer for friendship. Being cornered by the other Titans, Terra runs off afraid. Beast Boy agrees to “take care” of Terra since they have “unfinished business” to attend to.
Meanwhile, Slade forces Terra to stand her ground and fight instead of running away as she usually does when faced with a difficult situation. Given the opportunity, Terra makes her choice and runs away to Slade’s underground volcanic lair. Fed up with Terra’s incompetence, Slade abuses Terra by throwing her hard against a wall. Also, to rub more salt into the wound, Slade states that Terra chose this life.
Nobody else will accept her now after all the evil things she has done. She belongs to Slade now as his “property” which he can dispose of at any given moment. Terra comes to a realization that she no longer wants to be Slade’s apprentice anymore and attempts to escape. Slade remarks that it’s far too late for Terra to feel guilty and gain a conscience. He places great emphasis on the phrase “far too late”, seizing the opportunity to take full control of Terra using the suit he made for her.
Beast Boy sneaks into Slade’s lair and confronts Terra. Terra asks him to destroy her while she has some control over her body. If not, Slade will regain control over her body and force her to attack Beast Boy. Terra exclaims that she has no desire to fight anymore. In response, Beast Boy remarks, “Don’t allow Slade to control you.” Terra declares that she didn’t have a choice or an alternative. Beast Boy rebukes her stating the she always had a choice.
Terra’s confession signals to the viewer that she has given up the fight for control over her life. She has resigned herself to her fate, utter self-destruction at the hands of Slade. Beast Boy points out that things didn’t have to turn out this way. Things could’ve happened differently. Terra chose to join Slade due to her insecurity regarding her powers. It was her decision to betray the Titans who have been nothing but hospitable towards her. As Beast Boy says this, Terra won’t face the fact that she brought all this trouble on herself. Just like before, Beast Boy reassures Terra that she can still do the right thing. Even though she has done despicable acts in the past, she can still use her powers for the greater good. In the midst of her reflection, the Titans come charging through pleading with Terra to “stop this madness” while Slade commands her to “finish the job”. Hearing all these voices around her, they get drowned out by Beast Boy’s voice allowing her to make “the call”. Beast Boy tells her, “It’s your life, your choice… It’s never too late to change.”
Instead of listening to what other people want for you, think: what do you want for yourself out of life? Remember how in Part I of Aftershock, during Terra’s battle with Robin, he said, “You can only save yourself.” This quote still rings true. Terra has the choice either to free herself from Slade’s influence and take back control of her life or succumb to utter self-destruction at the hands of Slade.
In addition, Beast Boy allows Terra the chance to shed her evil past and begin anew. She can still be “saved” and forgiven. Taking Beast Boy’s words to heart, Terra’s redemption arc commences. She regains control of her powers and uses them to defeat Slade. Unfortunately, the extreme magnitude of Terra’s powers awakens a dormant volcano that could destroy Jump City and all its citizens.
The other Titans evacuate from the scene immediately, leaving Beast Boy as the only one left behind. He begs Terra to escape with him, but she declines. She states that taking care of the volcano is her responsibility, since she’s the only one who can stop it. In this very scene, Terra continues her character arc from earlier: instead of running away from her problems or difficult situations like usual, she chooses to stay behind and face the volcano head-on, bearing full responsibility for her actions.
Beast Boy tells Terra that stopping the volcano would be a futile endeavor. Once more throwing his words back at him, Terra states that, “It’s never too late”. Notice how Terra pushes her hair away from her left eye. This action signals to the viewer that Terra has returned back to her normal self. She’s no longer under Slade’s control. In a valiant effort to make up for her past mistakes, Terra sacrifices herself to save the city and everybody in it. Before she carries out her final mission, she and Beast Boy share one last hug. In the middle of the hug, Terra’s parting words to Beast Boy are: “You were the best friend I ever had.” Despite everything that has occurred, Terra considers Beast Boy to be a “true friend” because he was always supportive of her, encouraged her to give it “her best shot”, and openly accepted her without question.
At her funeral, Beast boy makes a short speech about Terra: “Her name was Terra. She was gifted with tremendous power and cursed with it as well. She was a dangerous enemy and a good friend. And she was one of the bravest people I have ever known.”
All her life, Terra viewed her powers as a “curse” because it drove people away from her. She’d always have this lingering fear that people wouldn’t be friends with her anymore if they found out about her powers. They’d most likely label her as a “freak” or even a “weirdo” and break off the friendship. All Terra desires is to be accepted by others and have real friends who will stick by her side.
Even though it cost Terra her life, she sacrificed her life for the good of Jump City and her friends. In memoriam, the Titans erect a statue in Terra’s honor with a plaque underneath with the proclamation that Terra was a Teen Titan and a True Friend.