This Titans review contains spoilers.
Titans Season 2 Episode 3
Reunited, and it feels … mostly good. For the third episode of Titans season 2, “Ghosts,” most of our heroes converge on Titans Tower in San Francisco for an interesting character examination, and not-so-bottled tension. Meanwhile, Slade Wilson and Doctor Light make their first villainous moves.
Although it has really only been one episode that everyone has been split up, I agreed with Rachel’s “Finally” when Donna, Hank, and Dawn arrived outside the tower. Dick has indeed become something of a nurturing camp counselor to Titans 2.0 – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing – but he needs the reminding by his old teammates that some of the old, angry Robin ferocity might be needed to take down someone like Doctor Light.
The most compelling thing about this show is the shared history of the former Titans, and that gets a lot of time this week. Donna’s brief memory of a birthday party (is that a Martian, octopus … or Martian Octopus on the cake?) with maybe Roy Harper is effective in conjuring up reasons why she can’t stay in the tower.
I like these heroes confronted with their old traumas. Surprisingly, Donna is a little tougher on Dick. The dialogue between Hank and Dawn is great wherein the former’s sense of “higher purpose” and super heroics is connected to his addiction. It is compelling how much he needs to be a hero, whereas Dawn loves it. The difference is Dawn does it as a thrill, but Hank has a problem. Hank – who is quickly coming to rival Donna as my favorite character on this show – also gets a great post-beatdown moment with Dick. When they aren’t arguing with one another, and Hank isn’t dropping f-bombs, the two are old brothers-in-arms, pulled back into battle.
Speaking of the swearing on the show, three episodes in, and it feels less gratuitous than it did in the first season. So when it does happen, it lands better – typically courtesy Hank.
The looming threat of Deathstroke, and the titular ghosts he’s created, goes a long way to building up Slade as a character, despite not spending too much time with him this episode. This is a good strategy. Slade doesn’t seem like a chatty character so far, and it’s engaging to see how others react to him. Each of the original Titans are convincingly scared witless of Deathstroke – even the maternal Dawn and warrior Donna seem ready to kick Rose to the curb when they learn Dick is protecting this particular “street.” Contrast their reactions to Doctor Light, a formidable super-powered villain, but a bit of a doofus, and not one they seem especially scared of.
On the younguns front, it’s clear Jason has heard of Deathstroke, and builds him up as some sort of super-bogeyman.
And he is. What Esai Morales does say as Deathstroke is pretty chilling. He’s strategic, and I believed his delivery about wanting to put them in “crisis.” Thinning the herd, picking them off one by one. His brand of nastiness is likewise aligned with his comic book counterpart. Plus, Slade is already so much smarter than the Titans, and I can see Dick being easily manipulated by his ruthlessness.
It’s good to give the rookies a chance to bounce off one another this episode because it creates a clear distinction with the more seasoned heroes. Plus, it allows the actors to settle into their youthful performances.
The sparring session is great — even though Raven’s power reveal left something to be desired (not that it was bad, per se, but it just felt…not quite there yet). Interestingly the sparring sessions are the best fights we’ve yet seen this season. But the actual fight against Doctor Light is anti-climactic. It is more running/dodging, and I hoped for more teamwork combat (but I will always get excited when Donna uses her lasso). The Rose and Dick sparring is good because we just need more from the lead Titan.
Rose, however, is a snarky, rebellious teen – and that is pretty true to most teens who aren’t children of assassins. Her banter with Rachel is pretty good, but they could push both characters’ dialogues in better directions. Rachel’s call with Kory landed with a thud for me as it was too cloying; she is still a young girl, but she also confronted her demonic father, and I think Rachel has earned a little more moxy at this point.
Jason is so incredibly unlikable, and Curran Walters is almost too good in the role. Like the character of young Jason in the comics, he’s a little punk. But his scene with Gar — imploring Beast Boy to help him do intel on Doctor Light because he needs a win – shows a vulnerability to “Robin two point whatever.” I want more of that, even if he maintains some rougher edges. And he totally deserves that smackdown from Dick, even if I can see why the former Robin felt bad about it. It was such a Bruce thing to do. (Also, I really thought he was marked for death by the end of the episode, and we were about to see the Titans version of Joker beating him with a crowbar.)
That leaves us with the Kory stuff this week. It is good, and charming, even. Kory needed this plotline where she is aware of her true identity, and must face the reality of her mission, and the folks back home on Tamaran. I even enjoyed the flirtation with her bodyguard/pursuer. All that said, let’s get Starfire to San Fran, thanks.