Okay, this might seem like an odd thing to post on Mother’s Day, but I want to talk about this scene.
Whenever people try to present Jason as the “bad Robin”, who was a bad person from the start and got what he deserved, I think of this scene. Jason spent his dying moments trying to save his mother. Not a kind, loving mother who had cared for him and been good to him all his life, either. Jason spent his final moments trying to save his absolute witch of a mother.
If you’ve never read A Death in the Family, here’s what happens. Jason begins to suspect that the woman who raised him wasn’t actually his biological mother, and his bio-mom is still out there. So he goes off to find her, and, various shenanigans later, sure enough he does. And to those of you who are used to seeing angry, bitter, emotionally closed-off Jason, his reaction to meeting his mother for the first time is heartbreakingly enthusiastic:
He just throws himself unhesitatingly into her arms, with the most heart-rendingly blissful smile on his face. It’s clear that Jason was pretty much starved for parental affection. Unfortunately, his mother turned out to be less-than-capable of providing it.
So Jason meets his mom, she tells him this whole sob story about how she didn’t have the money and she had to give him up, and instead of blaming her for abandoning him (not that that would have been the right reaction, but it would certainly have been understandable), Jason is completely sympathetic. "It must have been so hard for you", he tells her.
Then he overhears the Joker blackmailing her, and decides that it’s up to him to save her. This is the famous “disobeying Bruce” moment, as Bruce had told him not to do anything until he came back. Jason decides to take matters into his own hands because he wants to save his mother. Stupid, maybe, but you can’t say his intentions weren’t completely coming from the right place.
So he reveals that he’s Robin to his mother, she tells him to come with her, and then… this happens:
Yeah. That’s right. This jerk straight-up sold her son out to the Joker because it was more important to her that no one catch her “dipping into the funds”. Nice to know she has her priorities in place, there. She’s not even apologetic about it, either - “Sorry, kid, you chose the wrong person to trust”. After he made himself so completely vulnerable to her, she betrays him in the worst possible way, without even a hint of regret.
And I’m sure I don’t even need to tell you what happens next:
The cigarette always infuriates me for some reason. Yes, Sheila, I’m sure this is really freaking stressful for you. You know how you could have avoided it? By not handing your son over to a homicidal maniac.
So the Joker beats Jason nearly to the point of death, then decides that Sheila is a liability, too, so he ties her up in the warehouse with Jason and decides to bomb them both. And then comes the moment above. Jason wakes up - and his first reaction is to save his mother.
How do you think you would have felt, if you were in Jason’s shoes? He had been so, completely happy at finding his mother. Then she took him and handed him over to the Joker without a hint of regret. He’s been brutally beaten, nearly killed because of her betrayal. Yet he doesn’t show the slightest hint of anger or recrimination. He just wants to save her - even at the cost of not saving himself:
He wastes time untying her that he could have spent saving himself, and then he tells her to run for it and save herself. Unbelievable. And after the explosion, Sheila tells Bruce that Jason threw himself over her, trying to protect her from the main brunt of the blast. He died trying to protect his mother to the very end - despite everything she’d done.
So why am I posting this today? Because as much as Sheila’s actions were despicable, Jason’s were extraordinary. And because the parent-child bond expresses its strength even in the most dysfunctional relationships. Sometimes loving our parents and honoring them is easy, because they have loved us and brought us joy all of our lives. But sometimes we look at our parents and it’s really, really hard to see why we should owe this person anything. Some parents do not earn their childrens’ love (and, of course, vice versa). It’s really hard to know what to do in a situation like that, and there is no “wrong’ decision. While Jason would probably have tried to save his mother regardless (he was a hero, after all), no one could have blamed him if he had turned his back on her or not gone above and beyond to save her. But the fact that he didn’t shows something extraordinary about his capacity for love. Loving the people who are good to us is easy. But when we look at the people who have caused us the most pain, who have hurt us in the worst possible ways, and we still find a way to see the good in them, to love them - that is the hardest kind of love to give.
And that kind of love is worth remembering, too.