After a bit of a wait and a lot of hype, the much-anticipated first episode of season 2 of DC Universe’s Titans is finally here!
I admit that Titans is a show that I started watching really late in the game and had mixed feelings about after the first season, but if it’s one thing that DC Universe’s shows have done, it’s kept it’s viewers on the hook. With last season introducing the core team as well as not one, but two, villains in The Nuclear Family and — more importantly — Rachel’s father Trigon (not to mention a parade of characters familiar to comic fans), everything was ultimately left on a cliffhanger with the threat of Trigon looming over Dick Grayson. I won’t take up too much time rambling about last season though. (You can find my recap of the whole thing here if you need some catching up!) We have a whole 52 minutes of new Titans to get through!
About that Cliffhanger…
The episode opens just as season one ended — Rachel realizing that Dick is under her Father Trigon’s control. A close shot on her face sets the scene from where fans left her from the previous season, which becomes all the easier to remember when Rachel begins to beg her father to let Dick go. When her plea goes unanswered, she activates her powers, creating a large, inky cloud rising around her, only for it to be sucked away by Trigon.
“You’re grounded. There won’t be any more magic.”
Rachel, bewildered by her dad’s ability to stop her normally unstoppable forces, says that she won’t let him do this. He scoffs a bit at the idea of her “letting him” do anything, as she is the one responsible for bringing him here in the first place, explaining that her purpose was to go on her adventure with her friends and bring him into their world. Angela, Rachel’s mom, is absolutely thrilled that Trigon is there, and says that Rachel has brought a gift, which helps Rachel to realize that her mother never loved her — an accusation to which Angela responds that what is here now is so much more important than love. Trigon assures her of this further by telling her that everyone will leave her whether by their own choice or by death, so the hurt and heartbreak is necessary. Once her heart breaks, she can join him in the new world that he plans to create.
Gar jumps in with an “um..hard pass”, grabs Rachel, and tells her to run. Trigon says to Dick that if Rachel wants to do this the hard way then he knows what to do. Dick nods and runs after Gar and Rachel. Angela laments that she didn’t prepare Rachel enough for what she was meant to do, but Trigon reassures her that all will go according to plan. He strokes her cheek and reminds her that once Rachel’s heart breaks, the world will belong to him.
And we’re off to the title sequence!
Meanwhile, back at stately Wayne Manor…
Next, we open on stately Wayne Manor, home of Bruce Wayne, where Jason Todd is being…well, Jason Todd: riding a motorcycle inside the mansion until he falls off the bike and is greeted by Hawk and Dove. After the proper introductions and letting Jason know that they’re friends of Dick Grayson, Jason trust them and tells them that Batman is across the world with the rest of the Justice League, adding that he has the entire place to himself. But of course, because, again, he’s Jason Todd, he tells Hawk and Dove that if Dick is in trouble, he’s more than happy to help because one Robin saving another is something that he’d never let Dick live down. They ask if he is the new Robin to which he says “Present and accounted for, babe,” and both Hawk and Dove laugh at Jason’s stupid comment. Jason, in a moment of deluded grandeur, says that he could take out Hawk in a heartbeat, which has Hank ready to throw hands until Jason says that either way, he wants to be there if Dick is in trouble.
“I kind of freaked out on him last time. I owe him”
Hawk and Dove tell Jason that they don’t know where Dick is, and that the tracking device he had implanted in him has been removed; that he has the big scar to prove it. Jason lets them know that there’s a secondary one that they’ll never be able to find but that he can track from the Bat-Computer…if they agree to let him come along to find him. Begrudgingly, Hank and Dawn agree to let him come along…but Hank in particular doesn’t seem too happy about it.
We skip next to Kory (A.K.A. Starfire) alongside Donna Troy outside of the mansion where Rachel is trapped. Donna starts to get frustrated and explains to Kory that her powers are being wasted trying what she’s doing and that maybe — knowing that Dick and Rachel are trapped in there with an intergalactic demon — she should try something that would actually be useful. It starts to turn into a clap-back fight, as Kory tells her that maybe the force of her criticism will help break the magic around the entrance, but Donna says that, at least, she’s not wasting her powers because she can’t sit still. Tensions build further but just as it feels like there’s about to be a showdown between Kory and Donna, Jason Todd pulls up with Hank and Dawn spouting that “the goddamn calvary is here!”
Wow, Dick is really being a–
Introductions are made again between Dawn and Hank and Kory, who all agree that there should be better circumstances for their meeting than trying to save Rachel again. Kory gives Hawk and Dove the rundown on who Trigon is and how he’s there to make sure Rachel’s heart gets broken so that he can overtake the Earth. While it seems like it should be a metaphor, the team has to start thinking of how to break the forcefield.
Meanwhile, Rachel and Gar are still trapped inside; agreeing that Trigon is a total asshole just in time for the hallway that they are standing in to start elongating and warping. They begin down the hallway looking for a way out; listening to Trigon calling out for Rachel as the eyes of the photos on the walls begin to bleed black. They realize that what Trigon has done to Dick is what he wants to do to them and that they need to find a way to make Dick normal again — to make him be able to hear Rachel.
They finish talking just as Dick begins slamming against the door of the room they’ve been shut in. Rachel tries to tell Dick that this isn’t that way things were meant to be, to which Dick tells her that they are all meant to be together and that he just wants to talk to her. While Rachel is wondering if she can get through to him, Dick begin to break down the door. Ready to rock, Gar begins to transform in order to defend them just as Rachel finds a hidden door on the other side of the room and — in turn — sees the other half of the team outside of the window, almost daring Dick to come and catch them, Rachel and Gar make a break for the door they’ve found and begin running down a series of hallways and stairwells as Dick comes casually chasing after them.
Yeah that portal totally isn’t a trick or anything…
Outside, however, the other Titans are faced with an invitation via Trigon opening a mysterious portal. Quite why going into the portal seems like anything resembling a good idea, who know, but as they all step in — Kory lingers but end up following the others — coming out on the other side to meet Rachel and Gar inside the mansion where they were before.
As the three try to maneuver what kind of mind trick Trigon could be playing on them, Rachel looks to Kory with curiosity and asks Kory to kill her. Obviously reluctant but somehow still cool with wrapping her hands around Rachel’s neck, Rachel explains that if she dies, Trigon will have no way of taking over the world and that this all her fault. Gar tells her that she can’t do this but Rachel continues to beg; telling Kory that she needs to do what she came here to do. Kory’s eyes light up and she apologizes to Rachel before incinerating her; revealing after it’s done that Kory’s eyes have gone black in the same way that Dick’s have.
Next through the portal comes Donna, who finds herself standing on the street and watches herself as a young child with her father getting ice cream from Trigon, disguised as an ice cream vendor. She watches herself walk with her father into the building they live in, knowing that it’s the day her father dies. Convinced that she can save them, she runs in to the apartment building where her family home is already on fire and her father has burned to death. Grown Donna finds her young self burning but she disappears as Donna approaches her.
Distraught, Donna begins to leave but in turn finds the man who set the building on fire. She grabs him and throws him against the wall of the hallway, asking him why he did what he did. He responds in a sad, scared voice that he’s sick; that he just likes to watch things burn and for her to please arrest him. Unable to overcome her anger, Donna lets out a growling “no”, and throws the man screaming out of the window. As Donna turns to face the cameras again, her eyes have also gone black.
Third into the trap is Jason, in a defining fight between himself and Dick Grayson — who also happens to be dressed as Robin. Dick accuses Jason of thinking he’s better than him and tells him that he can never be replaced, adding that Jason can be the new Robin when he’s dead. Throughout, Jason has continually been asking Dick to stop, and he finally agrees and tells Jason that that can be arranged. The fight peaks as both Robins skillfully try to one-up each other until Jason Todd is left pointing a gun at Dick. Dick reminds Jason that it’s the same gun that was used to kill Bruce Wayne’s parents, and tells Jason that he’s bluffing because Bruce would never keep it loaded. Jason hesitates, but tells Dick that while Bruce may only have it for memory, Jason himself keeps it loaded. He shoots Dick and kills him as his eyes grow black under his mask.
The final act in Trigon’s plan stars Hank and Dawn as, on the other side of the portal, Hank goes to answer a knock at the door. Hank and his drug dealer make an exchange and he returns to the couch where Dawn is; telling her that the drugs will make the pain go away. Despite Dawn solemnly saying that all she needs to make things better is him, Hank cooks up what we can assume is heroin and injects Dawn. She overdoses, and Hank’s eyes darken as he tells her that everything is better now.
Don’t go breaking my heart…
We finally return to the real Rachel and Gar, still running through the house as Gar appropriately screams “Real life horror movie!” They run into a room and find the other Titans who have all been turned evil, just like Dick. Angela remarks to Trigon that all of his children are so beautiful, but Trigon parts the team to tell Rachel that he has only one daughter for whom he would give the world. Though Gar tries to tell Rachel that it’s not really them, Dick approaches from behind them to say that this is who they all really are deep down; that this is team at their most natural.
The team defends on Rachel and Gar who can only fight back so much (obviously). Rachel, in a last ditch effort, tries her best to remind Dick of where and why they met and begs him for his help. He nods his head, walking towards a beaten and broken Gar, and looks to Rachel before picking Gar up by his neck and throwing him against the wall. Trying to save Gar, Rachel stands and screams loud enough to shake the scene, demanding Trigon help him. Nothing can be that easy, however, and Trigon just continues to remind Rachel of why she is the root of all the evil, and why this is entirely her fault: she is just like him.
“I’m sure it breaks your heart,” Trigon says to a sobbing Rachel. “I can see that it does. Good.” and with that, Trigon plunges his hand into Rachel’s chest and rips out her still-beating heart. She collapses to the ground as her heart turns to ash in Trigon’s fist; unveiling not only his true demonic form, but a red gem which he presses into Raven’s forehead.
Rachel opens her eyes — now blackened — and tells her father that she now understands her purpose, and that the world belongs to their family now.
He couldn’t if he tried…!
Trigon walks outside alongside Angela who talks about the best way to begin their reign before Trigon snaps her neck, claiming that she never understood any of it. He continues walking into the glen surrounding the mansion as the earth, flora and fauna die in his wake. Back in the mansion though, a green snake slithers across the floor and up to Rachel before transforming back in Gar, who grabs her hand and begs her not to give in to the evil.
Somehow, Rachel is able to hear him and snaps out of her evil trance, telling Gar that it’s time to stop her father — but only after she gets Dick back. Despite a bloody and shuddering Gar protesting and telling her that “[they] might be past that point,” Rachel insists that everything happened because of her dreaming of finding Dick in the first place; that her dreams are the key.
Rachel strides over to Dick and takes his hand, looking deeply into his eyes once again and demanding that he remember who he is and what happened to him — sending them both into a sequence together.
Dream a little dream of Dick…
In the ruins of Rachel’s mind, she tells Dick that she is there to save him regardless of whether he thinks he needs saving or not.
“What you did was all planned by Trigon. He was pulling the strings the whole time. You would never kill Batman.”
“Are you kidding?” replies Dick with a scoff. “I’ve been dreaming about this since I was twelve years old. My only regret is that I waited so long.”
Rachel reminds Dick that he’s the one she saw in the dream — the boy in the circus — and that they’re meant to save each other. Dick doesn’t seem to take too kindly to that; adopting a demonic voice and demanding that she shut up. But that only seems to spark the fire in Rachel even further — sending them deeper into a new dream; this time on a trapeze where Rachel tells Dick that this time if she dies, she dies for real.
Rachel grabs onto the trapeze bar and stares into Dick’s eyes and she swings, finally reaching the apex and letting go. She falls for what feels like ages, seemingly about to meet her fate before finally, Dick — hanging upside down like the master trapeze artist he is — grabs her hands. The touching moment concludes with both being brought out of the dream sequence and Dick is back to normal.
As Dick and Gar follow behind, Rachel decides that it’s time to speak to her father and strolls out of the house and into the desolate field. Rachel thanks him for showing her who her family really is before harnessing her full power in a blast of black smog and ink, encapsulating the two of them before exploding — sending Trigon through a portal in the sky.
The focus shifts back to the team who awake from the blast; all completely back to normal. Rachel comes walking back, meeting Dick to give him a hug. Aww!
The fight has finally come to a conclusion as time has passed enough that a news crew is on the scene with ATF officers; one of which tells the news anchor that whatever happened had been mitigated by some sort of new masked superhero team. Which — obviously — is the perfect time for Jason Todd to jump on camera.
“TITANS ARE BACK BITCHES!”
Hank drags Jason away from the news team and over to the road where the Titans have started getting ready to go their separate ways. There’s lots of banter about how, next time, Rachel should let them do their own eye makeup, and Dick seems to be loading up the car to go on some kind of road trip adventure. There’s a nice exchange between Dick and Kory about how they liked taking care of everyone together. Gar and Rachel load into the care with Dick and set off; leaving Hank, Dawn, Kory, and Donna behind.
On the road agaaaiin…
No rest for the wicked though — that’s the viewers, apparently — as we cut to a new scene of a fire burning from a cabin in the woods. The camera pans inside the cabin to find dozens of guns and weaponry, and an old man at a washbowl with an eyepatch over his eye. He grips the washbowl harder before the scene cuts to him in a rural store where the news of the Titans (and Jason’s charming appearance) play on the television behind the counter. The man seems angered and shaken, and seemingly disappears as the shop keeper comes back with his bag of tea.
He appears again at the gate of a very posh home — a slender, well-dressed man leads him through the property and discusses interest in his “services”. They finally reach a room opened by a passcode that — upon entering — we discover houses dozens of high-grade guns and weapons. The man showing the eye-patched man around lights up a framed costume within the room — revealing it to be Deathstroke.
“What do you think, old man? Are we back in business?”
Meanwhile, back at stately Wayne Manor (pt 2)
Wrapping up the episode, we see Dick arriving at Wayne Manor where he is greeted by none other than Bruce Wayne himself. Though Dick hesitates in the car for a while, there is a cut to him walking along the wood-paneled hallways of Wayne Manor and Bruce saying that he was surprised when Alfred said he had called.
Dick takes this time to discuss with Bruce why it was that he left being his sidekick. They sit down in Bruce’s library and Dick tells Bruce that while he doesn’t want to make a big thing of it, he wants to clear the air.
“When I moved to Detroit, part of me was still back here. I was still trying to make sense of what happened as a kid. I struggled. There was a darkness inside of me that I didn’t know what to do with. It hurt me and I hurt others,” says Dick.
“You weaponized me. You weaponized my childhood.”
Dick lets Bruce know that it’s not his fault even though he spent so long blaming him and that Bruce was just doing what he knew how to. He only did what he did to give him something to focus on besides what happened to his parents. Bruce looks on intently and asks Dick about the darkness that he had mentioned, to which Dick replies that it’s something he had to let go of in order to move on in order to see the good that Bruce did for him instead of focusing on the hurt. From there, the two begin to talk about San Francisco, where Dick mentions wanting to start the Titans back up. Bruce agrees to help…”on one condition.”
A secret headquarters? In THIS economy?!
Cut to Dick, Gar, Jason, and Rachel driving across the San Francisco bridge, impatiently asking where they’re going. They soon find out as they arrive via elevator to the new Titans manor — sprawling with beautiful amenities, space, training areas and so much more. Jason in particular seems enthralled with the training room lined with obstacles and weapons while Rachel daydreams at the overlook of the city.
They all gather with Rachel and gaze out the window, ending the episode on a flying shot above the city.
And there it is! The very first recap of the very first episode of the second season of Titans. While the majority of the episode felt like a stale but overly-quick continuation of the cliffhanger that was left with fans for season one, the ending of the episode makes it all seem worth it. It seems like a pretty great jumping off point for the Titans and I’ll be looking forward to where it goes from here.