Warning: This review contains spoilers for episodes one to three of “Titans.”
“Titans” has returned for its third season after moving streaming services from DC Universe to HBO Max. And the difference in quality is already clear to many fans and even casual viewers. Before, while “Titans” was enjoyable for any DC fan, it was very hit-or-miss. But the move to HBO Max and the move to Gotham City has already shown a profound benefit to “Titans.”
Everything on “Titans” is upgraded, from the heroes and villains to the action sequences. Season 3 already seems darker and more mature than usual, but in a way that’s welcome because the mature topics are so expertly handled. Plus, this season is well-refined and grounded in the concepts it’s trying to explore, such as the true costs of living the superhero life and even the cost of being a Robin.
Seeing the Titans work together as a team from the start is an amazing sight to behold. Each character on “Titans” is perfectly cast, and that even applies to the new additions. While we’re still in the early days of the season, Jay Lycurgo as Tim Drake, Savannah Welch as Barbara Gordon, and Vincent Kartheiser as Jonathan Crane all impress. Brenton Thwaites continues to prove that he was destined to play Dick Grayson, and Anna Diop is perfection as Kory; it’s also much appreciated that Kory’s leadership is already being showcased in Season 3.
And Ryan Potter’s Gar Logan and Joshua Orpin’s Conner play so well off of each other. Finally, Curran Walters has stepped up his game; he’s already a phenomenal Red Hood.
And again, the move to Gotham is a smart choice because the stakes are high, and your beloved heroes are truly in danger. When Dick Grayson calls the Titans in to help with the mysterious Red Hood, he gives the patented hero speech, emphasizing that Gotham is different and their situation is extremely risky. And after watching the first three episodes, the viewer realizes that the speech was meant for them, just as much as for the Titans. And oh boy, the writers were not afraid to prove that.
Season 3 jumps straight into the drama, not shying away from the Death in the Family and Red Hood storyline. While there are many classic elements kept in this iconic storyline, many changes are made to Jason Todd’s story. What was Jason experimenting with before his death? Could it be an anti-fear toxin? Jason did say he wasn’t “afraid of anything anymore.”
And since Ra’s al Ghul is not in the picture, there’s already the question of what brought Jason back to life or if he was truly dead in the first place. Why would Bruce bury an empty coffin? And is Jason truly the mastermind, or is someone pulling the strings? All of these questions have already been posed to the Titans team and the viewers, and it’ll be fascinating to put the pieces together week by week.
After Jason’s death, Bruce was shown already looking for the next Robin, leading to some quick cameos that would make any DC fan giddy. But in a shocking twist, and probably the most major change, Batman kills the Joker and leaves Dick Grayson to clean up his mess, telling him to “be a better Batman.”
The most shocking event was the ending of episode three. After being manipulated by Jason, Hank agrees to meet with him secretly, but Jason instead plants a bomb into Hank’s heart that counts down based on his heartbeat. Episode three was the most intense of all, as the team works desperately to find a way to deactivate the bomb and as Hank grows more and more downtrodden.
In a shocking turn of events, Jason gives Dawn the opportunity to kill him by giving her a gun, and while Dick tries to dissuade her, Dawn takes her chance just as Conner has finished the deactivator.
As Conner runs to deactivate the bomb, Dawn shoots the gun; then Jason gleefully informs her that the gun was the detonator, not the device in his hand. With just five heartbeats left and Conner only a step away from saving Hank, the bomb activates, killing Hank and leaving Dawn devastated.
The intensity and seriousness of episode three’s conclusion and the catalyst ending an original Titan’s life have set the tone for season 3. And the way the situation was crafted from beginning to end was beautifully handled. Dick Grayson is correct; it isn’t San Francisco anymore, it’s Gotham.
The first three episodes of Titans will keep you glued to your seat, and there’s no doubt that Season 3 episodes will leave on nail-biting endings. But, with ten more episodes to go, this seems like only the tip of the iceberg.