"Titans are back, bitches!"
Yes, the second season of DC Universe channel's premiere new show has returned. Even though Swamp Thing was cancelled, I can't fault the decision, nor can I fault the decision to bring back Doom Patrol. Why Swamp Thing got the axe, I don’t know. It's not any worse than the other shows on DC Universe. No better, either.
Okay, maybe Swamp Thing and Titans are both worse than Doom Patrol. But I have a soft spot in my heart for Morrison-era Doom Patrol. So those other two shows have big boots to fill.
Due to various shenanigans behind the scenes, "Trigon" was supposed to be the season finale of season 1, rather than the premiere of season 2. Some reviewers say that it seems an awkward fit as a season premiere. And it kind of does. Yes, the resolution of the Rachel, Trigon, and Dick Grayson story arcs delayed until season 2 are a bit awkward. Bringing together the other Titans--Donna, Jason, Hawk, and Dawn--is somewhere inbetween. It does feel awkward to bring the team together, but they don’t really come together at the end of this episode. The Titans trade Starfire for nu-Robin, as Starfire goes... somewhere to do something. We see Donna, Hawk, and Dawn at the end, in costume, at the new Titans Tower, but they're just figments of Gar's imagination.
Some elements, like the team moving to San Francisco, feel like the kind of thing that you'd get for a premiere rather than a season cliffhanger. The introduction of Deathstroke is another thing that could go finale or premiere. It makes sense to have him premiere at the beginning of the season where he'll presumably be the Big Bad. But his introduction also works as a finale cliffhanger.
But how do these elements all mesh together? We start where last season ended, with Dick under Trigon's mental corruption/possession. Trigon needs to break Rachel's heart so he can fully enter the Earth dimension. So, I guess his human form (Seamus Dever) is just a projection. Trigon makes the mistake of not corrupting Gar. So Gar shows up, grabs Rachel, and runs off with her. Trigon sends Dick after them, and we get some pointless runaround through the house. Ryan Potter as Gar is still amusing, like when he's yelling about horror movies as they run through the house.
Hank and Dawn end up at Wayne Manor, where Jason is riding around on a motorcycle since Bruce and Alfred are gone. Does Alfred have somewhere to go? I thought 95% of the time he dusted the dinosaur down in the Batcave and such.
Jason and Hank banter back and forth, and Jason reveals that Dick has a second tracker planted on him so that Jason can find him. But the others have to take him along. They arrive at the Old Haunted House that was Trigon's wife Angela's house. Donna and Starfire are already there. Once everyone has arrived, Trigon has Angela let them in. They each undergo mental corruption: Starfire kills Rachel, Donna kills the arsonist who killed her father as a child, Jason fights Dick in the ruined Batcave and shoots him with the gun that killed Bruce's parents, and Hank gives Dawn drugs.
This is where it hurts a bit to not see Gar's darkness. We learned last season that he has some darkness in him. I suppose the creative team had too much to cram in to give Gar some spotlighting. And the Hank/Dawn drug scene seems out of nowhere: did I miss that Hank was giving Dawn drugs last year?
All of the Titans are corrupted, and turn all black-veiny eyed. This breaks Rachel's heart, letting Trigon manifest in a mediocre CGI effect that looks like a much darker version of his comic book appearance. Why seeing Jason and Donna go black-eyed makes Rachel's heart break, I don't know. She turns black-eyed as well with the heartbreaking.
Trigon breaks Angela's neck, just to show that he's a bad-ass. "You have failed this inter-dimensional invasion"? Gar turns into a snake (so he can turn into more than a tiger?) after being kicked to a bloody pulp by the Dark Titans. He reaches the "real" Rachel and ends her possession. Rachel then talks about having to free Dick, for no particular reason since he doesn't contribute anything to Trigon's eventual defeat. But Titans is apparently subtitled The Dick Grayson Show, so we see Rachel mentally recreate the circus where Dick's parents died so that he can save her from falling to her death. Which breaks Trigon's mental spells.
Rachel, Dick, and Gar run outside, and Rachel confronts Trigon while the other two do nothing. And this is the biggest disappointment to me. We've seen the Titans come together over the course of season 1. But all they do here is stare as Rachel does all the heavy-lifting against Trigon. She releases her inner darkness or some such, which sends Trigon back to his home dimension. Whether Trigon is dead or banished or something else, they never say.
We then get a fairly extended wrap-up. Jason yells the opening quote of this review once the newscasters arrive. This causes an old man in the woods (Esai Morales) to stare in recognition. The old man, Slade Wilson, then links up with his old buddy Wintergreen (Demore Barnes), who takes Slade to a basement filled with Slade's old Deathstroke costume.
Dick takes Gar and Rachel with him in Donna's borrowed SUV. He visits Bruce Wayne (Iain Glen), and Dick says that he's come to terms with the darkness in him, and that he's realized Bruce was hard on him to keep his mind off the death of his parents. And Mr. Glen is about the most non-Bruce Wayne-looking Bruce Wayne I could imagine this side of Billy Barty. He's very old and very non-muscular. I don't expect Bruce Wayne to be a weight-lifter, but he doesn't need to be a skinny 59-year-old, either, 58 being Glen's real age. The elderly Bruce Wayne in Batman Beyond looks in better shape than Glen's Bruce Wayne.
After Dick asks Bruce for a favor, he takes Jason, Rachel, and Gar to San Francisco. Batman has paid for an expensive new penthouse, which I guess is the new Titans Tower. There's a training dojo, and one of those costume-storage rooms like the one on Arrow. And Gar imagines Jason, Donna, Dawn, and Hank there in their new costumes. But not Starfire or himself. So I guess Donna, Dawn, and Hank are also members of the nu-Titans, even though they stayed behind in Indiana near Trigon's House of Horrors. And have lives on the East Coast.
Curran Walters, Conor Leslie, Minka Kelly, and Alan Ritchson are now credited as show stars, so I guess their characters will be regulars. It seems an odd way to end the episode, having them not go with Dick and his team of superhero newbies.
"Trigon" has a decent amount of humor, thanks to Jason, Hank, and Gar. I liked the banter between Jason and Hank, and the general attitude of everyone about Jason as "mini Robin", so to speak. The season 2 poster also features Superboy and Rose Wilson. Superboy is good, since the team seems underpowered right now. We have Dick (non-powered athletics), Jason (non-powered athletics), Hank (non-powered athletics), Dawn (non-powered athletics), Donna (whatever the heck she does, but presumably Wonder Woman-like abilities), Gar (shapechanging, now into something other than a tiger), Rachel (whatever the heck her powers are: swirly black stuff so far), and Starfire (energy blasting). Except Starfire isn't a member of the team yet. So adding Superman-like abilities and whatever Rose can do (super reflexes and fighting in the comics) will help.
It does mean the team is overstuffed with cast members: ten once Conner and Rose show up. One has to wonder if they can pull off a team of superheroes given the budget restrictions on special effects. So far, the creative team hasn't displayed much desire to show the characters working as a team. Rachel beats Trigon all on her own while her seven teammates watch. Watching the creative team shift gears from one hero fighting Trigon, to ten heroes fighting Deathstroke, could fall flat on its face. Either that, or various plot contrivances, and/or indifference means that some of the heroes aren't involved.
That also means the show needs a Big Bad that can hold their own against the Titans, and hopefully some lesser menaces to fight the Titans. I wouldn't object to seeing a group like the Terror Titans or Fearsome Five appear, but I'm not sure DC Universe's F/X budget could handle them. Or any supervillain group. Not to mention, if you introduce a villainous group, you expand the cast even further. We've got ten Titans, with the rough equivalents of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman among them. The newer Deathstroke in the comic books could probably handle them but it's going to take a lot to convince me Esai Morales is that good.
Season 1 was all about "introducing" the heroes. Hopefully, Season 2 won't be a repeat of that. But introducing superheroes on TV is easy. That's why so many movies and shows do origin stories. Bringing in new heroes guarantees you at least one episode per hero for introducing the new heroes, so there's two episodes. Presumably, Rose's backstory is tied to Slade's since he's her father. So there's another episode or two, minimum. And add a Starfire episode, since we know nothing about her alien background.
Will the creative team be able to pull it all off? We'll see. I just hope they don't spend another season twiddling their thumbs like in season 1, with Trigon waiting to make an entrance and one-off stories about characters like the Doom Patrol, Jason, Donna, and Hank & Dawn. The show is called Titans, not Single-Episode Hero Spotlight. So we'll see what the future holds.
But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?
Written by Gislef on Sep 8, 2019