Titans Episode 5 Review: Together
Titans together! Finally! The full team gets together and learns all about each other. And we mean ALL about each other.
This Titans review contains spoilers.
Titans Episode 5
It’s hard to get a handle on Titans because of its offbeat approach. On the one hand, the DC Universe series clearly aspires to the kind of serious, “adult” storytelling that Marvel’s Netflix shows have become known for. But while those shows are notoriously bashful about embracing the colorful superhero elements of their comic book world, Titans is full-steam ahead, giving you all of the weirdness of the DC Universe in undiluted form with no apologies whatsoever, complete with story pacing that often feels more like the instalments of a monthly comic book rather than traditional hour long TV drama formulas.
With that in mind, if “Together” were an issue of a Titans series, it would be one of those “decompression” chapters. While “Doom Patrol” was an obvious backdoor pilot for the Doom Patrol series, they got away with it since Beast Boy’s origin has always been tied to that team. Plus it was just packed with cool visuals. But back here in the main Titans story, it has taken four episodes to unite the four members of the team, and now with episode 5 we finally get our Teen Titans together.
It’s actually kinda cool having an entire episode of what is essentially “plainclothes Titans.” We need this episode to establish (roughly) what the team dynamics are going to be. It helps that it has a fairly abbreviated runtime of about 40 minutes. One of the many freedoms afforded a streaming show like this is that it doesn’t have to adhere to time slots, which lessens the possibility of bloat as a season goes on. So if you’re going to have an episode that essentially takes place in one location, I guess this is the best option.
further reading: The Evolution of the Titans DC Universe Series
It’s nice to see Dick becoming increasingly less of a penis with each episode. It had been obvious from the start that being part of a team would be what brings him back from whatever mental and emotional brink he was at in episode one, and it’s a sensible arc. I sometimes feel like it’s moving too fast (how much time has elapsed on this show? A week? Less?), but it might just be because Dick’s angst felt so grotesquely exaggerated in the first episode that any regression to normal this soon feels like it’s moving quickly.
I suppose that maybe a case could be made that they’re moving Dick and Kory too fast, too. Not that I’m a prude or anything. I do think that Anna Diop and Brenton Thwaites have real on screen chemistry (seriously, that moment right before their kiss!), and I guess this was a fun way to both hammer home the immortal sex appeal of Dick Grayson while also showing how the TV Starfire is a free spirit in her own way, without the wide-eyed naivete of her cartoon counterpart.
But really, in any show, “getting to know you as a team” episodes are boring. They’re a necessary evil, but they’re tough to pull off. I know that we’re eventually going to get the inevitable “we were beaten because we don’t know how to fight as a team” episode, too, which I really dread. At least what offsets this is the fact that our four leads appear to be as solid as any other superhero ensemble on TV, and we can see the real beginnings of their dynamic here. What I really like is Kory’s worldly sarcasm and sense of humor (“I’ve heard that before” was a great line delivery, matched only by “Oh, shit, Dick’s gonna think I did it”), a change from her comic book counterpart to be sure, but something so needed on a team with two teenagers and a really, really angry former sidekick.
I love the little things we learn about these characters each episode, too. The revelation that Gar is vegan is really great, especially as the rationale for why he has “never even bitten anyone.” I like how that’s brought home by his non-lethal approach to the baddies in the parking lot fight. I do wonder when we’ll get to see him change into something other than a tiger, but on the other hand, it might just be more fun to watch him continue to find gentle solutions to violent problems while he’s a frakkin’ tiger.
further reading: Titans Season 2 Confirmed
The biggest problem facing Titans at the moment is that these villains aren’t compelling. The novelty of the family wore off already, and Dr. Adamson and his organization haven’t really been given any teeth, they’re just a collection of quirks. Additionally, Raven’s struggle with her dark self doesn’t seem to be accelerating in any appreciable way, so I’m not totally sure where we’re supposed to be with the urgency of this season’s big story. I’ve been enjoying Titans quite a bit, and I’m willing to make some concessions to its non-traditional structure, but at some point they’re going to have to raise the stakes and show us a little more of what’s going on. The problem is, I have the sneaking suspicion that we’re not going to get that with the next episode, but after that Jason Todd Robin introduction, well…it’s tough to complain too much. Hopefully episode six gives that character his due without derailing our main story for another week.
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Mike Cecchini is the Editor in Chief of Den of Geek. You can read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @wayoutstuff.