Jason Todd is back as the Red Hood. Less than an episode until he was brutally murdered at the hands of the Joker, Todd returns as the masked Red Hood to terrorize Gotham. He makes a shadowy entrance and has the criminal underbelly of Gotham quickly seeking his services. Meanwhile, Koriand’r struggles with visions of her own as Dick learns of the dubious alliances that the GCPD have forged.
Todd’s return isn’t exactly a surprise for even the most casual of comic fans, which is why I didn’t hesitate to “spoil” this at the beginning of the review. When Donna Troy is up for resurrection despite dying a “heroic” death on which the Season 2 finale hinged, it’s extremely unlikely the DC Universe series will let go of someone as pivotal as Todd. As Red Hood, he takes on the Joker’s personality, opting for psychological scare tactics such as holding parents and their children hostage and sending the Titans on a goose chase of sorts. These scenes again draw heavily from The Dark Knight where Joker constantly played mind games to keep everyone guessing.
Dick meanwhile is shocked to learn that the Gotham City Police Department is seeking the assistance of Jonathan Crane in profiling such criminals. He’s the best we got, says Barbara to a perplexed Dick, before Grayson himself talks to the Scarecrow in his jail cell. Vincent Kartheiser makes a decent impression as the famed villain, giving the sense that we can expect a lot more out of him. Curiously, you’d think in a city where psychopaths run rampage, Gotham would have their own competent psychologists for this sort of thing; the GCPD’s reliance on Crane only comes across as a plot convenience.
Using intel gathered from Crane, Barbara and everywhere else, the Titans work their way towards tracing the Red Hood. In arguably one of the shoddiest investigative pieces of writing, Grayson and Beast Boy draw a connection between chess moves and the Hood’s hideout and are able to track him down. Dick is consumed by an insatiable curiousity to learn more about who this Red Hood guy is, which again doesn’t make much sense given that we’ve just been introduced to this guy. It’s possible he feels ever more responsible for protecting Gotham in the wake of Bruce’s abrupt departure and Red Hood is simply the first antagonist that shows up challenging Bruce to “be a better Batman”.
Koriand’r continues having her visions that result in her speaking in an alien language, presumably with her sister Blackfire, which is where this is all likely leading to. Interestingly, Beast Boy pours through Bruce Wayne’s books and discovers a copy of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, the author’s personal diary that pioneered the philosophy of stoicism. Bruce displayed a strongly stoic behavior, devoid of many emotions in processing Todd’s death so that’s a neat bit of connection there to allude to Bruce being a practioner of stoic philosophy. But besides being a Bruce Wayne fanboy, Beast Boy doesn’t have much to do this episode and neither does Superboy.
Enter the return of Hank and Dawn. Remnants of their strained relationship from last season continue, as do their lingering issues with each other. At this point though, Titans is razor-focused on the Batman-Nightwing-Red Hood storyline that all other players get sidelined, with only mere hints at where their plots could branch off. Which is actually a good strategy for a change seeing how much Titans hops around from one narrative to the other. This might end up being one of the show’s longest serial arcs.
With Nightwing having faced off Red Hood now, and possibly even aware of his identity, it’s inevitable Dick would push strongly to uncover the reason behind Todd’s transformation and get him back. If anything, his revival may also hold the key to bringing Donna Troy back to life – that is, assuming he actually did return from the dead and his inhaler didn’t just stop his heart from beating. Titans may not be offering anything out of the ordinary but it certainly is progressing along nicely and squarely focused on its contained storyline. Let’s see how well it can sustain this pace.