Titans returns from hiatus with an episode struggling to move on from the past and embrace its future.
While Dick trains the next generation of Titans, Donna and Kory track down a rogue metahuman. But an old threat drives the Titans – old and new – back together.
Reviewing television is an interesting beast, opinions can change from week to week depending on how an episode presents itself. One week it could be the greatest series on TV and the next week maybe it jumps the shark and ruins its entire legacy.
Well last week (reviewed here) Titans returned to our screens with an episode full of growing pains. It was all to be expected knowing that the episode was a Frankenstein’s monster created using footage from the unaired season 1 finale and new footage filmed as part of season 2.
Whilst it was still a great episode, packed with action and plenty of character, it suffered from being the awkward transition point between seasons.
“Rose” is Titans second season giving us its mission statement and proving just what kind of entity the series will be moving forwards. It’s clear from the outside the production team has learnt from the successes of other live-action series on DC Universe and adjusted its storytelling accordingly.
What struck me most about the writing of “Rose” was how it capably balanced the expanded regular cast of the show. Dick, Rachel, Gar and Jason are the main focus of the episode as they train at Titans Tower and encounter Rose for the first time. But there is still time to show Hank and Dawn out in Wyoming and Donna and Kory on their mission to capture Shimmer.
We’re also introduced to upcoming villain Dcotor Light as the series begins to setup future storylines is a much more constructive manner.
This is a level of balance which Titans struggled to achieve in its first season. Looking back to episodes “Jason Todd”, “Donna Tory” and “Hank & Dawn” they were only able to focus on their namesake. That level of focus required the omission of other characters at the expense of the seasons overall arc.
This new approach is incredibly refreshing for the show. It creates a richer tapestry in the storytelling but also makes the world more interesting to watch as a viewer. Finally we’re seeing the story begin to serve the characters rather than the opposite and its very encouraging for the future of Titans.
It’s not just the new style of storytelling which is working in Titans favour however. The pacing of this episode also betrays a much more mature approach to crafting the show.
Whilst there are still some smaller moments of action – Rose’s introductory car chase and rooftop battle is a truly cinematic spectacular – the episode is much more measured in its approach to exposition. Each of the plot lines in play takes its time to reveal itself, they also represent diversifying the types of stories that Titans is telling.
Dick and the gang in San Francisco represent the heroes in training, superhero storyline, whilst Donna and Kory are doing something similar their storyline introduces elements of science fiction and finally Hank and Dawn portray a more romantic, redemptive story which is very compelling to watch.
But whilst the episode is slower in nature, the writers still know how to keep fans hanging on every line of dialogue. Though not a laden with Easter eggs as Young Justice, there is still plenty for DC fans to fall off their seats over.
Where the past episode named Superman and the Justice League, this episode it was the turn of Roy Harper to have his name casually dropped in to conversation. Given his status as a member of the comic book Titans I hope we’re about to see him added to the series’ lineup.
There are still some drawbacks though, this episode clocks in at only 41 minutes, a full 11 minutes shorter than “Trigon”. Though it doesn’t feel it for most of the episode, in the end it does feel like “Rose” could have included more.
It’s a minor niggle in what is an otherwise great episode.
“Rose” presents a more mature style of storytelling for Titans. It’s measured. It’s mature. But above all, it’s balanced in its approach to featuring each of the series leads. This is for sure Titans 2.0.
Titans stars Brenton Thwaites as Dick Grayson/Robin, Anna Diop as Starfire, Teagan Croft as Raven, Ryan Potter as Beast Boy, Alan Ritchson as Hawk and Minka Kelly as Dove.
Titans season 2 is available to watch now on DC Universe in North America. internationally the show will be available via Netflix.