Final Thoughts On Titans Season 2
by Erik Amaya
As much as Titans is about a group of superheroes who cannot get their act together, it is also about the aftermath of traumatic events. This is definitely underscored in the concluding episode of the program’s second season. It eschews a big battle with the stated big bad in favor of noting how the group process the consequences of their actions. It’s an interesting idea, to be sure, but also reflects the program’s odd tendency to short-change its season-long antagonists. Although, it is possible our own expectations of superhero television makes us expect something different from these confrontations than Titans is interested in exploring.
In the case of the second season, this means Deathstroke (Esai Morales) ends up not fulfilling the promise of his early appearances on the show or even the build-up of the various flashbacks. And even in the case of the thematic conflict — Slade representing the wedge between the Titans — is left unfulfilled as only Dick (Brenton Thwaites) in his new Nightwing costume and Rose (Chelsea Zhang) in her Ravager outfit take part in the battle against him. Since Dick and Slade discuss the problem of trusting others, you would think more Titans would’ve shown up to help. Also, it’s doubly strange that Donna (Conor Leslie), who also has a personal beef with Slade, sat out the fight in a nearby car.
Than again, getting Deathstroke out of the way was a necessary part of the plot as the group needed to be united for the fight against Mercy (Natalie Gumede) and Cadmus. But even then, that scene is more about Conner’s (Joshua Orpin) and Gar’s (Ryan Potter) internal struggles against their Cadmus programing than any long battle scenes. That said, the brief fight between Donna and Conner proves the show knows how to stage one.
Which leaves us believing the show can do the sort of thing the Arrowverse is known for, but because it is on a streaming service and has a different budget, it chooses to focus on the emotions under the fights than the fights themselves. Look at Slade’s disbelief when Rose stabs him or Jericho’s (Chella Man) joy to be in a new body. Consider the way Conner’s mind is constructed and the way it turns into a cornfield when Dick helps him escape Mercy’s control. These are the moments that truly matter to the show, even if there is the lingering sensation that the physical confrontations get less time and attention than they deserve.
But the best example of this is the apparent death of Donna Troy herself. It’s so sudden that you expect her to survive being electrocuted while also wondering why Conner didn’t lend a hand. The manner in which she dies is secondary to the team getting one last gut-punch they must work through. It sets up Dick finally doing something like a leader by admitting how he failed Gar and constructing a fairly moving toast to Donna. The whole aftermath gives the Titans a moment to be a team, even if Rachel (Teagan Croft) is off to Themyscira and Jason (Curran Walters) is on the path to becoming the Red Hood.
All that said, there is something odd about Donna’s death which prevents us from believing she’s truly gone. For one thing: Donna’s death in the comics came with a bunch of caveats — including her strange and obscure origins. It is possible Titans could use some of that for its own purposes. Also, as we saw just before her fight with Conner, Leslie is one of the great strengths of the show. She has comic timing, can carry the dramatic elements, and just seems so essential to the proceedings that we cannot imagine she’ll be out of the picture forever. Also, the team still needs a big win and getting her back would be an ideal victory.
Meanwhile, there are plenty of ideas teased for the second season including just what united all of the women in Elko, Nevada — Trigon still seems like an obvious answer — Rachel’s evolving powers, Blackfire’s (Damaris Lewis) plans for Kori (Anna Diop), and whatever retribution Lex Luthor might design for the team. We also hope we get a live action Tim Drake out of the deal as Jason is clearly headed for that new costumed identity.
And, hopefully, the show will figure out how to balance its big confrontations with the aftermath of those events. Titans is never the show we expect it to be, but it should figure out how to artfully pay off some of those expectations every once and awhile.
Titans will return to DC Universe in 2020.