In many ways, the Season 2 Premiere that was Trigon was a Season 1 finale masquerading as the opening episode. Episode 2 is the true Season 2 premiere that not only sets up a path forward for the season, but also time jumps three months as a true premiere would. And unlike what Titans is habituated to doing, this episode juggles all its characters fairly well though I suspect that might change in future episodes.
The highlight of the episode is (or is supposed to be) Rose Wilson. A mystery for the entirety of the episode’s run with her fighting and healing abilities, Rose is eventually revealed to be the daughter of Slade Wilson a.k.a. Deathstroke introduced last episode. Most of her interactions are with Dick Grayson as he steps into his new role of acting leader of this newfound Titans team, while trying to ensure that he doesn’t imitate the worst parts of his own mentor.
As Grayson takes over mentoring duties and prepares and trains a new squad of Titans for what lies ahead, Brenton Thwaites brings a maturity and stability to his performance that’s a far cry from his “F*** Batman” days. He’s resolved his anger issues with Bruce, evident from last week’s interactions as well as his phone call to the age-old Caped Crusader. Thwaites is the anchor that holds some of the group’s more volatile and unstable elements, including the current holder of the Robin mantle, Jason Todd.
Curran Walters is dynamic in his portrayal, displaying the raw energy that one would expect from a Robin with relatively little experience in the field. His squaring off with Gar is both simultaneously fun and cringe to watch. Rachel begins coming into her own as well although she gets little to do and it’s evident that the beast inside her is still active, waiting to manifest itself.
The other major subplot involves Hank taking a teen under his wings in hopes of ridding him of his drug addiction. What he doesn’t realize is that his own beloved Dawn is addicted to ridding criminals off the streets, despite her comatose situation that lasted a month. In a turn of tables, Hank wants to lead a normal life and think about things as marriage, children and family while Dawn wants to continue the crime-fighting, unaffected by her recent accident. The duo struggle to come to a consensus and, while not as exceptionally handled as it could, those sequences hit the mark.
The final subplot is the most underwhelming, even though it’s full of potential. Conor Leslie’s Wonder Girl and Anna Diop’s Starfire bond over catching “Shimmer”, a rogue metahuman, and have fun in the process. I wouldn’t be surprised if Titans gave them an entire episode of their own to bond. The fun eventually ends with Koriand’r being taken captive by one of her own, leaving Donna Troy stranded.
The connecting thread behind all this, is the emergence of Doctor Light as the new antagonist. He begins targeting people in the vicinity of our heroes as they explode emanating bright light. The worst part about this is the effects; the fire looks so incredibly fake it stands out immensely amid the otherwise excellent production values. In fact, fire and explosions have been a big issue on the show right from Season 1. With all that expertise, you hope they’d get that right.
Still, we now have Doctor Light and Deathstroke as potential nemeses for our heroes, forcing everyone back to Titan Tower. It’s going to be interesting to see how the show juggles these two villains, or ends up introducing more, creating a squad in its own right. This episode for now was a substantial improvement over the lackluster premiere but Titans still has some way to go before it unleashes its full capability.