“It doesn’t mattered what you’re called. It matters what you do.”
Acting as a soft reboot of sorts for the upcoming season, “Rose” introduces several new characters to the series, both good and bad, that eventually forces the Titans’ separate paths to coalesce into one.
It’s been three months since Dick, Jason, Gar, and Raven moved to San Francisco and begun training as a team. While there’s no real mention of the crime-fighting in the Golden Gate City, Jason’s impatience suggests that Dick has them firmly entrenched in the training wheels phase. As much as it is for them, this cautious approach is just as important for Dick who, as the leader, carries the fear of letting them down. This undercurrent of fear becomes clear when, after taking in Rose (Chelsea Zhang, Relish, Andi Mack), a mysterious girl displaying metahuman-like abilities who warns Dick she’s running from some very dangerous people, he calls Bruce for advice. It’s more proof that last week’s conversation with his former master helped scrub Dick’s seemingly unending resentment from Bruce that shadowed him throughout all of season one. The other clue that Dick has made amends with his past and is ready for the future is his proclamation to Jason “I’m not Robin anymore. You are”. Dick is still trying to figure out the evolved person he wants to become and, as much as we want that Nightwing reveal, he’s still a-ways from that particular evolution.
Speaking on characters evolving, Hank and Dawn have seemingly moved onto the next stages of their lives. Working at a ranch helping recovering addicts, the two initially seem happy enough, if not a little bored with the quiet life. Hank is especially Zen, accepting the pain and rage that has followed him for so long, and not allowing it to drive him towards danger. Considering Hank’s tragic background, it’s a surprise when Dawn is the one that can’t put away the adrenaline rush of danger fighting crime brings. When he realizes Dawn’s return to that life, Hank begins to set an ultimatum for her, one interrupted when Ellis, one of their recovery patients barges into the house, alight from the inside. His light bomb explosion signals the return of a Titans villain from the past, one who earlier was freed from his San Quentin cell: the sadistic Dr. Light (Michael Mosley, Ozark, Criminal Minds).
The final Titans duo, Donna and Kori, are bounty hunting partners in Chicago. The pair has really found their groove, hitting it off soon after Trigon’s defeat. There’s natural ease about their kinship that builds up the bond they’ve formed working together. This will be something to watch down the road—in addition to the interpersonal relationship of the other Titans—as the team comes together to face villains from the past, and antagonists such as the Tamaran who takes Kori right under Donna’s nose.
Catching us up with the Titans after three months apart, “Rose” stands on its own more of a premiere than last week’s episode. While there are some hiccups along the way—the interrupted cuts that drag down some of the character interactions and the Arrow-like focus on highly choreographed and wholly inorganic fight scenes—it still does a fine job setting us up for what’s to come. The episode title’s namesake is a welcome addition to the team but, more than her character’s personality is her parentage. We all knew Deathstroke would play a big part in this season but now that his daughter’s involved with the Titans, it’s fair to say that there is a lot of room for even more family drama.
Teen Team Titans
- Judging from the sounds of slicin’ n’ dicin’ heard in the background, it seems like Dr. Light’s escape may have been orchestrated by Deathstroke. Considering the history both villains share with the Titans (in the comics as well as hinted at thus far) it may be that our heroes will be facing a formidable pair. The question doesn’t just stop at why, but also whether or not other metas-like the recently captured Shimmer (Hanneke Talbot, iZombie, Star Trek: Discovery) will throw their hats in the ring for a bit of payback.
- As if Dr. Light and Deathstroke weren’t enough, the Titans will also need to address Kori’s kidnapping by a fellow Tamaran, presumably sent to retrieve the princess as her mission was never accomplished. Not only will this divide the Titans focus, but expect some tension between her and Dick when they meet again, considering he’s pretty much ghosted her since that whole dirty business with Trigon.
- I mentioned the interpersonal relationships being a vital part in Titans’ Season Two success and that includes shining a brighter light on Donna Troy. Considering she arrived so late into season one, the story hasn’t allowed all that much time to develop her character as much as the others. Conor Leslie carries that Amazonian gravitas well and a deeper exploration of who she is as both a person and a Titan is just what this character needs to fully appreciate her importance to the team. Knowing that other at least two historically well-known Titans (Aqualad, Super Boy) are set to debut this season, we’ll most likely get a bit more of Donna’s backstory during some of these moments.
- Though mentioned in passing, Gar has yet to come to terms with his near murder at Dick’s hands. It’s fair to say that Dick is still harboring some serious guilt of his own. Even Jason suggests this during their scene when Dick tasks the new Robin to be a leader to the team. The honesty here not only gives us a Jason Todd whose potential goes beyond the cocky and somewhat unreliable character we’ve seen so far but also cements the fact that Titans will address ‘little things’ like a near-death experience at the hands of a comrade and not just sweep it under the rug.
Titans – “Rose”
7.5 out of 10