This Titans review contains spoilers.
Titans Season 2 Episode 1
At the end of the Titans season 1, we saw a dreamscape version of a murderous Batman while Trigon entered into the realm of man, and began his plan to destroy all creation — and things felt a little jumbled. However, the Titans season 2 premiere re-shuffles an already pretty good show, and resets it with a promising new beginning.
The premiere – titled “Trigon” even though he feels like an afterthought — picks up right at the end of the first season finale. Rachel (Teagan Croft) has brought her demon dad to earth, and Dick is in his dark place (the one where he kills Batman). Hawk and a healed Dove arrive with Jason Todd (Curran Walters) because he was needed for some reason that isn’t quite cleared up. And despite a rally cry from Donna — “Titans … and new Robin… let’s go” — the team is equally sucked into their worst memories, or dark desires.
It’s a shaky setup that should have been a season 1 finale, but at least Rachel becomes Raven, and the Titans are born.
While we get a pretty cool CG demonic Trigon straight from a heavy metal album cover, — who hammers home (a lot) how much he needs Rachel’s heart to be broken — the show actually sheds some of its darkness for a brighter sophomore outing. An outing with hopefully less unnecessary violence).
The best moments of the episode take place after Rachel dispatches Trigon.
First up is the reveal of Esai Morales as a weathered Deathstroke who feels the need to come out of retirement when he sees Jason’s cocky “Titans are back, bitches” TV camera-bomb. This older Slade tracks with the timing of this show, where also Batman is older, and the sidekicks are grown up.
Speaking of Bats, Iain Glen (Ser Jorah from Game of Thrones) steps into the Italian leather shoes of an aging Bruce Wayne. And it works. His American accent leaves a lot to be desired, but the conversation with Dick (Brenton Thwaites) carry an odd sincerity. They portray a father and son who are very different from each other, but nevertheless are trying to find peace. Glen actually reminded me of Kevin Conroy, the definitive Batman, and I enjoyed his gruffness, and pained smile. And it was almost touching that this Bat-dad knew Dick could shape Jason into a better Robin than he could.
Still, that accent tho.
Additionally, the return to Titans Tower (sadly not shaped like a “T”) clicked, especially to the version of The Talking Heads’ “This Must Be The Place.” There is a sweetness to the new class of Gar, Jason, and Rachel exploring their HQ with bright-eyed wonderment. And it gives the entire series promise of less brooding, and more super heroics (although I know some folks would prefer the grit).
Beyond that, the premiere has great character moments from Donna (Conor Leslie), the break-out from the first season. She’s a natural leader. I didn’t get much out of Kori (Anna Diop), but dug the frenemy moment between her and Donna. Meanwhile Hawk (Alan Ritchson) continues to be the R-rated voice of the audience (“Kid should have asked us to get f—ing Superman”), and Dove (Minka Kelly) is just a sane presence in the mix — I especially love her parenting Hawk and Jason in Wayne Manor while the grown-ups are all away. And hey, Gar (Ryan Potter) as a snake is cool, after getting the crap kicked out of him by his teammates.
This wasn’t a multiverse-shattering premiere, but it feels quite a bit like a much-needed course correction for this series. I am looking forward to more fun, hopefully a more cohesive tone – and narrative structure — and less, “F—k Batman.”