Hello there, dear reader. You may have enjoyed reviews of season one of Titans on this site before; maybe not. Regardless, the show must go on, both in terms of DC Universe content (Netflix if you’re outside the USA) and new reviews of the second season.
Below are some brief summaries, evaluations, and snide asides that came to mind while watching each episode. Spoiler alerts are in full effect!
Episode 1 – “Trigon”
Premise: Capping off the events of season one, where Raven’s demonic father Trigon was brainwashing Nightwing* with an eye toward manipulating Raven in a bid for global conquest.
*Let’s not dance around this – Dick’s going to become Nightwing and Jason Todd is officially Robin.
Does it work: Surprisingly, yes! We get a bunch of tidy introductions to the cast then end with a great team-coming-together sequence at their new home. Trigon ends up brainwashing/corrupting the souls of all the Titans except for Beast Boy (who faces utter failure in the real world and not just some dream) and Raven (who can rest easy as perhaps the most normal member of the team?). Each Titan’s dream sequence makes for a nice encapsulation of their inner conflict, with the episode ending on two great notes – the Titans getting their own penthouse suite in San Francisco, and Deathstroke returning to what he does best.
- There is a sequence near the end of this episode where Slade Wilson stares at his Deathstroke outfit, no doubt feeling just as ambivalent toward it as Dick Grayson does his Robin outfit… and as I do staring into Google Docs during each episode. (It’s good to be back.)
- Jason Todd, the idiot child who crashes motorcycles indoors for fun, also fails to close the rear window of Nightwing’s car and just leaves it open. This trash kid is working miracles for the Jason Todd brand.
- Kory, accurately described by Donna as “an alien,” though she “could have put more love into that”
- Beast Boy, with the dual superpowers of turning into any animal (an easily defeated snake) and getting the crap beat out of him
- Raven can end the world if her heart breaks / she loses faith in humanity, much like Tinkerbell – clap to keep faith alive!
- Nightwing’s nightmare overlaps with Jason Todd’s, which should have been shameful enough to boot Dick out of the Trigonverse on the spo
- Donna shares Diana Prince’s love of ice cream
- Raven’s mother is unceremoniously killed on the spot without comment from anyone in the episode.
- Raven to Nightwing: “We’re supposed to save each other,” then he tried to choke her to death, so she changes the dream to her falling for a long time at his parents’ circus, where he finally snaps out of it and saves her. Hey, if the first dream doesn’t work…!
- Raven, empowered with the gem Trigon pulls out of her, is able to send him back to hell. Maybe the real magic was the friends she made along the way to season 2!
- Iain Glen as Bruce Wayne, hell yeah! I like this portrayal of an older, seemingly softer Batman. He’s learned a lot of hard lessons and isn’t a grunting psychopath. That accent and tea-drinking tells me all those years with Alfred have rubbed off on him, though.
Episode 2 – “Rose”
Premise: The Titans (Nightwing, Raven, Beast Boy, Robin) are all training when they notice a young woman, Rose (Ravager), on the run from the police on the nightly news. Donna and Kory stake out a superhuman outlaw together. Hawk and Dove carve out a new life together.
Does it work: Yes! There are interesting developments on all fronts. Robin turns out to be dangerous with a wooden sword even while blindfolded, while Beast Boy and Raven try to keep up with unpowered training. Donna and Kory as superhuman detectives begs for its own series, while their target Glimmer adds to the questionable but appropriately colorful wigs on display.
Far and away, my favorite angle was the inversion of Hawk and Dove’s relationship. Usually, their dynamic is fairly obvious, with Hawk as the instigator of violence and Dove arguing for pacifism/diplomacy. Now, after the events of season one, their roles have swapped: Hank is giving retirement from superheroing a serious try, while Dove can’t help but bust heads by night. Hey, she’s busting a meth lab to help their client in rehab, so it’s not completely out of the blue, right? Then (Dr.) Arthur Light sends a human light bomb (a la Iron Man 3’s Extremis bombers) that scares them right back into action. This sequence of events ties into something I found interesting about season one’s constant need to justify the heroes committing violence in pursuit of justice. Are there enough demons, murder cults, and assassins yet?
- Ravager beats up a bunch of cops in front of a bunch of other cops, all with guns drawn, but they all get helplessly pummeled and never catch up to her after she jumps buildings. This girl’s better at getaways than Joker was in The Dark Knight!
- Nice use of Dick/Dirk in the cafe. Related: thank you, James Tynion IV, for announcing this “Ric Grayson” crap will come to an end.
- When Dick tells Ravager there are other ways he could get her information, other Titans should bring up the multiple trackers and where they go in the body.
- Dick calls Bruce late at night for advice on helping Ravager – nice “camp counselors” scene.
- Bruce has like six chandeliers in his study and plenty of candelabras – what is he, some kind of billionaire? Oh, I see.
- Roy Harper called Donna – she blew him off, right? RIGHT??
Episode 3 – “Ghosts”
Premise: Dr. Light makes a play against the Titans. A Tamaranean guard makes contact with Starfire, ushering her home.
Does it work: Similar to Ravager’s abduction into the Titans in the second episode, there are some quick cuts that leave a lot to the imagination, which doesn’t help some otherwise high-tension scenes. The stadium fight against Dr. Light, for example, moves extremely quickly from a light show in the field to darting through a back street. Couldn’t Donna have caught up to him sooner? Can’t Donna solve all the problems?
I’m being facetious – this show’s on a great track. I watched all three episodes with a group of friends, one of whom didn’t see season one at all and was still able to follow along with minimal explanation. I always feel a certain relief inside during superhero movies when I know the story will not have to rehash the protagonist’s entire pre-superhero life and decision to use their powers for good.
Let’s talk about superhero outfits for a moment, because there are moments where they seem essential and others where the show wants to put on a veneer of adult respectability only for the outfits to make way more sense. For example, Hawk has to dress a leg wound after the Dr. Light fight, which is why they should wear their super-suits when they’re on a mission instead of trying to kick ass in bluejeans. Robin takes on Dr. Light in full uniform and deflects a light blast with his cape as a result. Who’s the more experienced crimefighter, again? Maybe Light was a chump in past showdowns so the older Titans got cocky. I mean, Robin takes him down solo, so what good are all those light-blasting powers, really?
The remaining classic Titans’ absence is becoming palpable: Superboy, Flash, and Aqualad, with episode 4 all about Aqualad. Wonder Girl already showed off her super speed during the Dr. Light confrontation – writing satisfyingly tense fights with Superboy’s strength and Flash’s speed on the table will be a serious juggling act.
- Dick: “I covered my tracks” bringing Ravager back, after HIS CAR EXPLODES. Plus, the old Titans all bring up Slade’s knowledge of their location to him and he just shrugs. That’s the spirit, Dick! We paid for blood!
- Kory taken into custody by a royal Tamaranean guard. This is no Disney princess commission: she needs to take the throne or else she’ll get held up in another 2-star hotel. The guard was sent by Starfire’s sister, Blackfire. And Starfire’s slept with this guard before! Or as she and Donna are calling it now, an “interruption.”
- Seasoned professional Slade working with jerk-bro Arthur Light (I Really Hate That Man.gif)
- “I miss this,” “Everybody needs a higher purpose, maybe saddle maintenance isn’t it”
- Donna confirmed as half-human, half-Amazon
- It’s easy to hate on Jason Todd’s bratty take on the Robin mantle, but it’s also easy to love hating it, too. Nightwing utterly dropping him was a necessary step in maturing, or maybe it will start a new pasttime in the tower.
- “He’s a grandiose motherfucker, isn’t he?” – Hank talking about Dr. Light recharging at a stadium after blacking out the city.
- Light recharges a LOT like someone right out of the inFamous videogames.
- Donna uses her lasso to whip a motorcycle into Light, like a BOSS.
- “When I look at you, all I see is greatness” the guard says about Starfire- good taste!
- Just as Donna/Dick and Rachel/Dick are great supportive threads, Raven/Starfire is a great friendship between girls – Rachel sees all these veterans wanting to move on and is afraid Kory will also move on, specifically without her, plus they both have lethal superpowers. Plus, Rose and Raven bond as platinum members of the Bad Dads Club.
Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 for entertaining worldbuilding and revealing the backstory that put our young (and old) heroes where they are, 4 out of 5 for Starfire and Wonder Girl stealing the screen (and Robin stumbling so hard)
Episode 5 – “Deathstroke” (preview)
Just commenting on the trailer – a proper villain with an established motive like Deathstroke is exactly what this series needs, and I can’t wait for this season to kick into high gear. He even gets a sinister purpose statement:
You’ve been tricked by that charlatan Dick Grayson. He gives costumes to foolish kids, making them believe they’re heroes, leading them like lambs to the slaughter. I told him if he ever put the Titans back together I’d kill every last one of them, and you’re about to learn I’m a man of my word.Slade Wilson