August 18, 2021

Review: “Titans” is Back, and Better Than Ever

If there’s anything that the first two seasons of Titans had, it was far too many comic book characters to keep straight. So of course, the natural course for the third season premiere is to introduce a whole host of new characters to contend with.

These include a post-Killing Joke Barbara Gordon (Savannah Welch), now taking her deceased father’s place as Commissioner of the Gotham City Police Department; an incarcerated Jonathan Crane, aka Scarecrow (Vincent Kartheiser), who works as a consultant for the GCPD; and the mysterious Red Hood, a new crime figurehead emerging in Gotham.

The first three episodes of Season 3 are largely dedicated to a single arc, which means that some characters are sidelined to make way for the narrative. Gar Logan (Ryan Potter), Conner (Joshua Orpin) and Kory Anders (Anna Diop) don’t get a lot to do, and Rachel Roth (Teagan Croft) is conspicuously absent entirely from the opening episodes.

Despite this, I think it was a smart move to put out the first three episodes at once, simply because of that single narrative. It is a pretty straightforward adaptation of the Death in the Family storyline from the comics, beginning with Jason Todd (Curran Walters) going after the Joker alone — with disastrous consequences. I do appreciate the devotion to the single storyline as a start to the season, instead of the multiple B-stories that defined the first two seasons. If the whole third season were to go this way (separated into defined arcs), I wouldn’t mind at all.

What the premiere episodes of Titans Season 3 do best is building on the events and characters of previous seasons, which makes for a more engaging viewing experience with the aforementioned single narrative. Plot lines and character arcs are brought into a new light with the life-changing events of these episodes, and there were some twists that genuinely surprised me (in addition to some that I expected).

The first episode, “Barbara Gordon,” acts as any season premiere does, in setting up the storylines that will be present in the episodes ahead, and it wastes no time getting into them. “Red Hood” follows it up with the introduction of one of the season’s primary villains, and an excitingly chilling one at that. “Hank & Dove” gives us some great (and heartbreaking) character moments, especially with the titular characters, who are in my opinion the least developed of the main cast.

The episodes just keep getting better, and they’re surely an improvement on previous seasons. Tense, down-to-the-wire sequences make for an amazingly dynamic viewing, and logical flaws aside, Titans Season 3 is off to a strong start with a seemingly endless amount of potential for the rest of the season…and beyond. [Grade: A]

Directors: Carol Banker (episodes 1-2), Millicent Shelton (episode 3)
Writers: Richard Hatem and Geoff Johns (episode 1), Tom Pabst (episode 2), Jamie Gorenberg (episode 3)
Starring: Brenton Thwaites, Anna Diop, Ryan Potter, Curran Walters, Joshua Orpin
Rated: TV-MA (violence, language)
Available: HBO Max
Fun Fact: This is the first season of Titans to premiere exclusively on HBO Max.

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