This Titans review contains spoilers.
Titans Episode 10
Titans has been like a roadtrip with a friend with whom the ride is entertaining, but wildly erratic with a lot of detours that leave your head spinning. One minute you’re driving down the highway en route to a steak house for a main meal, the next you’re veering off on a country road to get fresh-baked pie from some backwoods stand.
Except, you know, replace steak house with the main narrative of establishing characters, getting a team together, and trying to unravel the mystery of Rachel, then replace pie stand with, say, “Doom Patrol,” “Jason Todd,” and “Hank and Dawn” episodes.
But, to borrow a phrase from another universe, we’re in the endgame now with the biggest chapter yet, “Koriand’r.” An episode with both a spaceship and a demon house, it moves the action forward significantly by opening up Kory’s backstory while also introducing a world-ending big bad. And I swear Titans, with only two more episodes to go this season, you better not pull this car off the road one more time…
So yeah, a lot happens in the new ep. Pulling threads together, the action returns to Angela’s (Rachel’s mom) abandoned farmhouse from two episodes ago. We pick up with Kory choking Rachel after the latter tried to fix her Swiss-cheesed memory, but instead reminds the former she is an alien sent to Earth to kill the girl. Oops. Meanwhile, we see Rachel in a mirror universe astral projecting to Hank and Dawn – and learn the visions of Raven the pair were experiencing last episode, imploring them to find Jason Todd for some reason, occurred simultaneously with the aforementioned choking-out.
Speaking of Donna, after powered-up Kory makes quick work of Gar and Dick, the erstwhile Wonder Girl has a grand entrance in the episode by subduing her. With. Her. Lasso. Donna’s introduction to Titans gave us the most well-adjusted character we’ve seen on the show. But this brief, incredibly cool moment, sets up how formidable she can be.
In little time, Conor Leslie’s assured performance, and the writing for Donna, have already made her my favorite character on the show. She has such a perfect read on Dick (“You have a thing for dangerous women”), and punctures his aloof demeanor. Plus, whereas Kory has swagger, Donna’s is a cooler, more subdued confidence. Hopefully she’ll stick around so we can see more crackling chemistry between her, Dick, Kory, and the rest of the team.
But I digress.
After her attack on Rachel, Kory (Anna Diop) apologizes and runs off. When Dick and Donna follow to an old factory via a Wonder Girl throwing star tracker (because Dick isn’t the only one with cool gadgets), Titans lays on us a de-cloaked Tamaran spaceship!
It is a huge moment as Kory’s memory continues to return, and she offers up an exposition dump that, yeah, Tamaran – and pretty much everything – will be covered in darkness by the interdimensional demon Trigon unless his daughter Rachel, aka his doorway and anchor in this realm, dies.
A couple interesting character beats emerge from the spaceship reveal. First up, I have to commend Brenton Thwaites and Conor Leslie for their reactions as Kory’s ship appears. Both of their characters look surprised – Dick more than Donna – but not necessarily shocked. It is subtle but speaks to how these two former sidekicks had clearly seen some alien stuff in their past. And without hesitation, they follow Kory on board (“Gotta admit: I’m impressed,” says Donna).
The other small moment here is Dick’s F-bomb upon Donna’s discovery that Angela remains loyal to her baby-demon-daddy Trigon. The swearing on Titans can often come off as distracting, and an unnecessary tactic to remind viewers, “Hey, we’re being grown up here.” But it works in this moment because of the enormity of the moment. It feels honest. Plus, it reminded me that I’ve come a long way towards liking this version of Dick Grayson after a rocky beginning. (Now put on a damn Nightwing suit, already!)
While Kory, Dick, and Donna are having a sci-fi side adventure, Gar and Rachel are mixed up in a horror movie at Angela’s house.
Rachel is rocked by unleashing something violent in Kory, and is blaming herself in typical angsty superhero/teenager fashion with the “everyone I get close to gets hurt” schtick. But she has a point as she Ravens-out at Gar. But the writers need to give actress Teagan Croft more to with Rachel. It is too early for her to shift to an emotionally-controlled Raven, but a more nuanced performance would be welcomed.
Anyhow, Angela (Rachel Nichols) steps in with pep talks that Rachel can choose how to use her darkness. So, let’s talk about her for a moment.
Yes, she is Rachel’s mom – just sprung from Adamson’s facility. But the internal logic is wacko that everyone automatically trusts her enough to follow her to some spot in rural Ohio. It makes sense for Rachel to want to go, but no one else seemed the least bit wary. (I mean, c’mon Dick! The world’s greatest detective you are not.)
Still, here we are in a house that oozes creepiness like the Midwest farmhouse equivalent of the Overlook Hotel where phones go dead, and unnerving old-timey family photos line the wall. We meet a sheriff who knew Angela back in the day, and he moves fast in asking her out on a date. The sheriff is overzealous, and dies horribly for it (bad move, sheriff dude; don’t show up unannounced with flowers to a lady’s house – especially if she’s in a relationship with a demon.)
But kudos to Angela for somehow paying taxes on her house while it remained abandoned all this time, and having the wherewithal to make soup from ingredients in her garden. It turns out she’s not just a demon’s gal pal, but also resourceful!
Meanwhile, Gar experiences Macbeth-level “Out, damned spot!” hallucinations from his mauling, as a tiger, of the evil asylum doctor a couple episodes back. It works for the pacifist Gar to be riddled with guilt, but the hallucinations turn to wicked food poisoning. Ryan Potter gets some good moments in this episode as Gar. He is the nerd of the group, immediately recognizing Donna as Wonder Girl, but experiences trauma from his actions as well.
His illness, likely truly caused by Angela, is killing him and allows her to manipulate Rachel. Granted, her buddy is croaking on the floor, but Rachel all too readily agrees to mother-daughter demon-summoning bonding time in the hopes that her interdimensional dad will heal Gar. She opens a portal in a mirror, naturally.
And so, enter Trigon.
We get a glimpse of a monstrous arm before Trigon (Seamus Dever) emerges in his human form as a handsome gent. He makes good on healing Gar while teasing “Boy or beast: You’ll have a lifetime to decide” (hopefully this also means he’ll have a lifetime to turn into other animals). Rachel gives dad a welcome-home hug, but unfortunately misses his comment that he’ll begin eating the world right after her heart breaks. As Dick, Donna, and Kory – sadly having changed out of his magenta disco attire — arrive, only the former Boy Wonder can enter the magicked house (now shielded behind a shimmer).
Trigon’s arrival upends Titans, in both exciting and frustrating ways. Trigon is easily one of the most powerful villains in the DCU, and while it is awesome we now have an alien, Amazonian, and super-demon all on the same show, it seems unlikely he will be stopped in the remaining two episodes this season. Plus, while Rachel can ultimately defeat him (if she undergoes “400 consecutive days of the harshest warrior training,” according to Kory), that’s not going to happen barring a training montage in another dimension turning Rachel into Raven.
Again, that has to happen in two episodes. And damn it, Dick is nowhere near to getting his Nightwing gear! So, we’re probably looking at a cliffhanger finale.
“Koriand’r” is a huge episode, and is overall really enjoyable. Similar to the unsettling land of misfit heroes from “Doom Patrol,” the horror vibe works in Titans, and the show should explore it further. And I love me some spaceship reveals. Yet the episode is also rushed. I wonder if it couldn’t have been paced out more gradually, and earlier in the season, when Titans was instead going off on detours for pie (yes, I am back to the pie).
But the team is by-and-large together, and the origins pretty well explained, with a supervillain poised to wreck crap up. So, who is ready for a fight with an unstoppable, omniscient demon?