This Titans review contains spoilers.
Titans Season 2 Episode 6
With nary a mention of him since his tease at the end of season one, Conner Kent swoops into Titans with a great episode that’s charming, sweet, and exciting for what it sets up for the series. Oh, and Krypto!
Picking up after the stinger scene from last season’s finale, “Conner” has a bare-assed Lex Luthor/Superman clone busting himself, and Krypto the Super-Dog out of Luthor’s Cadmus Labs. What follows is a road-trip of self-discovery as the young naïve boy learns his powers, taps into his anger, and hopefully develop into a good person.
I really commend Joshua Orpin on his performance as Conner. Playing a full-grown adult newborn is a minefield because it tiptoes along the lines of some very well-tread tropes. But Orpin is damn likeable as Conner, delivering an earnestness that plays as sweet, even when he is accidentally robbing the woman he just saved. His more dramatic beats still require nuance, but I believed in Conner, and he conveys a lot of the inherent Kal-El morality that makes up half his DNA. Krypto helps quite a bit as well. First up, how awesome is it that we have Krypto on Titans?! But, from a character-building perspective, this boy-and-his-dog dynamic grounds Conner, and gives him someone to explore this new world with (and you just know Krypto has seen s–t, man; he knows what’s up).
But the other integral part of this episode is Genevieve Angelson as Eve Watson, the lead geneticist on Cadmus. Angelson is so good as the weary and compromised scientist. She is believable because, like most humans, she found herself caught up in a situation she thought she could control—and rationalized unethical behavior served her own ambition. But working for Luthor takes a toll on the soul, and she’s clearly struggling with demons in the form of substance abuse. However, Angelson’s performance is pitch perfect from her entrance after a late night – a mystery that remains none of our business – to her evolution as a mother figure to Conner. And she is his mother.
Conner represents Eve’s redemption. As much as she appears to sacrifice herself to save him, Watson is equally saved by the young super hero since he provided her a chance to make right.
The humor between the “adult” drinking wine for breakfast–and the man—child who tells her she smells like brandy—is likewise great.
Although they aren’t seen on screen, Lex and Superman’s presences are felt throughout the ep. Eve winces when she talks about Luthor, saying Superman doesn’t know Conner exists, and that he definitely doesn’t want to meet Lex.
Conner feels Kal-El inside him; he is drawn to the “S” shield, and he looks innately drawn to Metropolis when he sees that skyline (with the Daily Planet building). We don’t need to see Luthor to feel his influence; right-hand henchwoman Mercy Graves (Natalie Gumede) and Lionel Luthor (the excellent Peter MacNeill) serve to paint a picture of the boy Lex was, and the man he becomes. As an aside, I appreciate that boy-genius Lex appears close to the Superboy comics when the Luthors also had a farm in Smallville—down the road from the Kents.
These little touches add a lot of depth to the world of Titans. The show is crafting a narrative that feels like it exists within a familiar DCU, and doing it without having to lean solely on name drops.
Another component that really clicked within the episode is the display of powers. The moment of Krypto grabbing the rocket notwithstanding, the powers looked pretty solid. OK, that Krypto moment was super-fun, but also a little heavy on the CG. Still, it’s refreshing that Conner’s powers are pretty much in place. He uses a range of the traditional abilities, even if we’re not full-on flying yet.
The only bit that left me a little unsatisfied in “Conner” was the final moments where he enters the Titans action. Jason’s sincere appreciation for being saved, and even awe at witnessing the new guy’s powers, does a lot to humanize the surly Robin. But the cliffhanger of Conner being shot—and Krypto getting collared—was actually a little anticlimactic.
Still, all that said, the episode is my favorite of the season thus far. It is a strong introduction of the anticipated character, and Titans makes up for the fact we’ve waited so long in the season for it.
Aaron Sagers is a freelance contributor. Read more of his work here.