Season 3, Episode 5 of “Titans,” titled “Lazarus,” gives the viewers a deep dive into the psyche of Jason Todd and the origin of the Red Hood. It is a great flashback episode because it doesn’t feel like it’s breaking the show’s pace. Instead, more insight is given on a crucial player in “Titans,” Jason Todd, his fear, and the wrong path he took to conquer it. This episode also operates as a great character study and a deeper examination of Jason and Bruce’s relationship.
Warning: This review contains spoilers for season 3, episode 5 of ‘Titans’
“Lazarus” starts with immediately confirming Jonathan Crane’s involvement in the Red Hood plot; Jason has been working with him this whole time. But it appears that Jason is more the brawn, and Crane is the brain because Crane is quick to console Jason’s concerns about his actions towards the Titans and calms him down with the anti-fear toxin. It’s clear that Crane is manipulating Jason by being his supplier for what has become an addictive drug for Jason.
The episode then goes back three months to show how this all began. Jason is having nightmares and flashbacks of his near-death experience. Bruce tries to comfort him but benches him until he sees a therapist, Dr. Leslie Thompkins. To avoid Bruce’s commands, Jason visits his friend, Molly Jensen. Together, they investigate a missing child, but his fear makes him hesitate when confronting the low-level criminal and leads to a painful beating by the goon.
Finally, Jason goes to see Dr. Thompkins, but he does his typical Jason act of being sarcastic, sassy, and reluctant to talk. But Jason also learns that Leslie was once a colleague of Jonathan Crane and one of the first victims of the fear toxin. Here, Jason’s fascination with Scarecrow and the fear toxin starts to bloom as he questions Bruce about Leslie and Jonathan Crane.
The interactions between Jason and Dr. Thompkins are where the episode truly shines, as the show gets deeper into Jason’s psyche and even the relationship of Batman and Robin. In a session with Dr. Thompkins, Jason admits to no longer feeling worthy of being Robin and that Bruce will now abandon him. But Dr. Thompkins thinks that Jason just fears being himself.
The performances in “Lazarus” are stellar, and Curran Walters is impressive as a more vulnerable Jason Todd. And Iain Glen gives us a very emotionally vulnerable Bruce Wayne, a different view from how Barbara and even Dick sees him. In a heartwarming conversation, Bruce acknowledges Jason as his son and that he is proud of him.
But their slightly mended relationship is put on the brink when Bruce takes Jason to Crime Alley and tells Jason that he’s no longer allowed to be Robin, not because he’s not good enough, but the mantle and pressure have done so much harm to him. While it’s clear to the viewer that Bruce is doing this out of love, Jason thinks this is a betrayal and that Bruce considers Jason too weak. Bruce tells him he doesn’t need to be Robin to be his son, but it’s already too late, and Jason won’t be convinced.
This is where we start to see the transformation into Red Hood, and it’s probably the part of the episode that stops “Lazarus” from being perfect. Unfortunately, these last 15 minutes were a bit too rushed.
After stealing the fear toxin from the Batcave, Jason goes to see Crane in Arkham Asylum and asks him if it can be reverse-engineered. Jason makes a deal for the “anti-fear toxin” in exchange for telling Crane all of Batman’s secrets. And it’s revealed that the night Jason confronted the Joker was a test run for this new drug. After Jason is killed, Crane brings him back to life using one of Ra’s al Ghul’s Lazarus Pits under Arkham. How no one has discovered that Lazarus Pit, we’ll never know.
After he’s brought back to life, Jason becomes the Red Hood and immediately gets revenge on the goon who beat him earlier. He’s now a Red Hood under Scarecrow’s control.
“Lazarus” is an absolutely stellar “Titans” episode, and if it weren’t for the rushed ending, it would’ve been perfect. Yet, it remains one of season 3’s strongest episodes due to the phenomenal performances, especially by Curran Walters, and the exploration of the psyche of Jason Todd.
But this episode poses a tough question: is Jason redeemable? While it’s clear he’s being manipulated by Jonathan Crane, and he’s under the control of the drug, it’s also shown that Jason has moments of clarity between doses. After killing civilians and even a Titan team member, Hank, is Jason Todd unforgivable?
And with a few previews of upcoming episodes already released, it seems like the Titans will have to ask themselves the same questions. Can Jason Todd be saved? Is he worth it?