Titans got off to a patchy start with its Season 2 premiere as it made an effort to wrap up Season 1’s long-running storyline in one episode. With Trigon done and dusted (that’s not really a spoiler), the show then focuses on setting up some plot points and introducing characters that could play a vital role in future episodes. In the process, it ends up running longer than expected but that longer runtime doesn’t necessarily translate into a more captivating viewing experience.
It’s glaringly obvious how Trigon was a much better fit as a Season 1 finale than a Season 2 premiere. The ingredients are all there – the conclusion to the beast narrative, Rachel’s emergence as Raven with her ability to control her powers, unleashing them on Trigon to essentially eliminate him in one stroke and setups for future episodes that would’ve really been teases for the next season. As it turns out, one of the showrunners Greg Walker explained that as being an intentional decision, wanting to end on the darker note of Robin turning evil and giving Trigon a win, as opposed to resolving things neatly, which they chose to preserve for the next season.
That odd decision aside, the episode proceeds with a shaky narrative at best. As if seeing Robin descent completely into darkness wasn’t enough, we’re given subplots with every other character following that same path. The good thing though is those subplots help shine some light on the one-off characters thus far, especially Conor Leslie’s Wonder Girl and Curran Walters’ Jason Todd. It was also super cool seeing a Robin vs Robin fight, never mind that it was a dream sequence.
It’s funny how easily Trigon is done with once Rachel gets a hold of her powers (and that, mysteriously, after having her heart ripped out of her chest). I’m going to have to revisit Raven’s comic origins to get that but the ease with which she takes off Trigon is laughable at best. There’s also some occasionally bad acting at display from Teagan Croft although those bits are few and far between.
Technically, Titans has boasted stunning visuals and production values from Day 1 and Season 2 is no different. In fact, tonally, this would fit right at home with Zack Snyder’s DCEU movies, it’s that rich in aesthetic. The visual effects though seemed wonky at times, particularly with Trigon who had a oddly, unconvincing walk and posture at best, as well as Gar moving around as a snake which is where the compositing seemed off. Still doesn’t take away how big-budget of a show Titans feels.
Among the setups, it’s finally great to see a Batman with a face. Throughout Season 1, Titans used a double and camera angles to obscure Bruce Wayne’s face since they hadn’t cast anyone yet. But we now have Iain Glen who, despite his wobbly accent, does a fine job with his gait, posture and smirk as portraying an aged Bruce Wayne. More importantly, he comes across as just the father figure that Robin needs. It does seem strange to see a skinny Bruce but Michael Keaton’s portrayal has proven that it’s not really a problem. I’m looking forward to seeing more of him.
Also worth watching out is Slade Wilson a.k.a. Deathstroke. I’m unsure if Titans will project him as the major villain or will he just be another cog in this ever-expanding online universe (again, I’m late to this review and still haven’t seen the other episodes yet) but there’s a sense of awe and mystery around his persona that I’m hoping Geoff John and co will tap. The team is also finally settled in their new San Francisco headquarters and Curran Walters being promoted to a series regular and made part of the main ensemble should give us some lighter moments as well as more Robin-on-Robin sequences.
On the whole then, despite the shaky start that includes an average plot and less than convincing end to Season 1’s overarching storyline, Titans still shows a lot of potential. The setups are intriguing, Deathstroke looks set to wreak havoc and I can’t wait to see more of Iain Glen’s Bruce as well as the chance to see more heroes from the main Justice League. But perhaps it’ll be more interesting to see how the young squad of heroes evolve to face their next challenge, whatever that is.