Titans Season 1 Episode 3 Review: Origins
True to its title, the third episode of Titans is all about exploring the origins of its primary characters we were introduced to in the premiere episode. This helps us in multiple ways. For one, it brings the focus back to the original episode’s characters after a brief second season departure that saw the storylines shift abruptly towards Hawk and Dove. Second, it also helps us understand this weird ride we’ve been on since the show’s inception where every other character we meet happens to be a super-powered individual. And not just of the self-made self-trained kind but ones with a lot of inherent supernatural abilities. And finally, it helps uncovering the mystery behind the characters to the general audience or even the average DC buff even though all of them would be familiar to hardcore DC fans.
The girls are undoubtedly the highlight of the show. We see Rachel rescued from the family almost immediately by Starfire who begins becoming surer of herself with every passing few minutes and gains a confidence strong enough to overthrow a bunch of thugs at a bar like a boss. Hints at her alien origins are also peppered in with her ability to understand and decipher notes written in an unknown otherworldly language. With swanky old-school 80s discotheque tracks playing in the background and Rachel applauding her badassery, it almost feels like the duo are being set up for their own road-trip spin-off. There are fleeting moments where the show’s theme and general setup bears an uncanny resemblance to Guardians of the Galaxy and I wouldn’t be surprised if the show ends up going that route after a few episodes, with the usual DC gore thrown in for good measure.
Rachel is being troubled endlessly by the demonic spirit that refuses to leave her. Courtesy clues uncovered by Starfire, the duo land up at a Church where Rachel’s real mother had taken her as a newborn. Seeds are immediately sown that Rachel is being sought by some sort of beast who refuses to leave her and needs her body as a host to annihilate the world as we know it. The Destroyer of Worlds, they call her. I for one, laughed upon hearing that phrase as it formed the foundation of the fifth season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in which Daisy Johnson is given that tag for supposedly having destroyed the world. But I digress, and that’s two Marvel references already, so let’s get back on track before DC fans bash me left and right.
The weird quotient this episode is maintained by the subplot involving the family. Showing barely any remorse for the father’s death at the hands of Starfire, they meet a mysterious old man who threatens to “pull the plug” on them, before offering them one last shot at getting Rachel. Why you ask? Because Rachel holds the key to cleansing the world and providing it with a first start. If anything, these two isolated incidents with the family and Rachel at least help provide the show with it’s first unified and genuine sense of impending threat against which our heroes must unite to form a team. That’s good progress for a show that until now, was simply throwing weird characters at us from all directions.
Perhaps the most exciting part about seeing the show was witnessing Robin’s origins. Taken in by Bruce Wayne as a child, the billionaire trains him in the art of combat to mask the pain felt by the kid in losing his parents, and essentially takes him under his wing. That’s something all of us have grown up on. It’s still presented stylistically in a way that would definitely make Zack Snyder proud. And it has enough hints of being fleshed out more in future episodes; it would surely be interesting to see Batman and Robin spin-off episodes every now and then, detailing even more of their traumatic origins.
Unfortunately, we never get to see either Batman or Bruce Wayne and he’s mostly delegated to shadows, silhouettes or faint voice-overs. This is mostly done to keep the focus on Robin although it certainly implies Batman won’t have a major role on the show, which makes it highly likely they haven’t cast the actor at all. Never mind that the shadow is highly reminiscent of Ben Affleck in figure and stature (then again, he does have the perfect Batman physique) but it also helps the showrunners keep their options open, should they consider expanding Batman’s role in the show at any point in the future.
What’s irksome about the show at this point is its shifting focus and lack of direction in where the storyline is headed. While we see clear hints in this episode more so than others as to what sort of danger we could be potentially in for, it’s still frustrating to see the episode leapfrog between characters and storylines that it almost seems like a combination of multiple TV Shows in itself. The one-week wait makes it even more painful in an era of quick binges and I seriously feel Titans could’ve strongly benefitted from all episodes being released on the same day a.l.a. Marvel Netflix shows. That’s a third Marvel reference here which means I’ll wrap up my review for now; I really want to give this a higher rating but instinctively, it just feels like the show isn’t there yet.