Titans

⭐⭐⭐ based on 2 reviews.

tl;dr: A fun take on some classic characters, with decent ideas and solid casting marred slightly by a lot of plotholes and some weird story decisions. Hawk and Dove are dope, though, and that's pretty impressive.

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DC Heroes

Season One

Spoilers Ahead: My reviews are not spoiler-free. You have been warned.

Titans had a bit of a weird start, one which almost felt like it had started life as an episode of Gotham and then been spun off. Opening with a distinctly brooding, mildly psychopathic Robin working as a detective, alongside Raven/Rachel in full runaway-teenager mode following the pretty brutal murder of her "mum", it felt like a cop drama was in the off. But within the first few episodes, Dick's partner had been killed off (why bother with her at all?) and his job had been all but forgotten. I mean, what kind of department is this that a Detective can disappear for weeks at a time without anyone even trying to call him? He moved across state lines, he kept getting involved in various crime scenes, and it wasn't even clear that he was working his own case to begin with so... what the hell? Also "Fuck Batman"... if it's just trailer bait, don't bother. Preferably, in this instance, don't bother at all in fact.

That said, once we've left behind the initial setup, Titans begins to become something more interesting. That detective badge is a useful crutch, helping out in various areas as an increasingly diverse cast begins to slowly revolve around Rachel, trying to work out who she is and why so many people are intent on killing her. Just don't expect too much by way of actual explanation. Who are the Organisation? What's their backstory? How does it relate to "aboriginal mythology" around corvids? Why was an alien sent half way across the galaxy to kill her? Why Earth? What's up with the "family values" brainwashing? Don't worry, you'll never find out... and you won't really mind.

Instead, Titans first season does a good job of setting up both its heroes and a wider world that's clearly pretty used to masked vigilantes and supernatural entities. We get small clips of dialogue that show that metahumans and aliens are both well known to exist, the brief cameo of the Doom Patrol serves as a nice reminder that we're living in a world with more than just Batman's friends running around in it, and even the subtlety of having the Superman logo on t-shirts helps sell the world building. It does get a bit annoying having A-listers like Batman and Joker constantly "off screen" or in the shadows, but fine, I get why they had to do that.

Of those heroes we get to spend genuine time with, I think they're all pretty well cast and decently written versions of themselves. Robin (both of them) probably come of the worst for "plot-driven emotions", but it almost works most of the time. Sunfire's amnesia is a nice touch (I don't know if it's a common thread to her character) and I like how they deal with both Beastboy and Raven. Beating them all, though, are Hawk and Dove, who quickly become compelling and interesting characters with a rich back story, helping cement the group together and hinting at much deeper pasts. Again, that helps to flesh out the world, as well as both Dick and Wonder Girl's back stories and works very well. I was not expecting for Hawk and Dove to be my favourite characters, but there we are; both actors absolutely nail these characters and the show is about 10 times better for it.

Once it hits its groove, then, Titans feels like early seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: fun, mysterious, fast-paced, and with a good heart, but still suffering a little from losing grip of its own plot threads. It's set apart both by its more "realistic" portrayal of street-level crime fighting (plenty of blood and bruises), which is more akin to Netflix's Marvel outings, and by a weird lack of pay-off. I really liked the final episode of the season until I found out it was the final episode. It's great seeing into Dick's mind and watching him slowly be beaten down by Trigon's manipulation, but how is that the curtain call? Even with the Super Boy teaser (awesome) it still feels extremely abrupt. All I can say is I'm very glad I waited until season two was out to start watching the show, because that would have been a super annoying cliff hanger to be left on.

Season Two

Spoilers Ahead: My reviews are not spoiler-free. You have been warned.

So I binged the entirety of season one and two in a single weekend. It was fun, but it really highlighted how much the show changed between them as well. If season one was the Good Omens of the DC world - a quirky, action packed ride to the apocalypse - season two is, well, Arrow. Only with less actual crime fighting and many more flashbacks. But before we go near that, the first two episodes of season two should clearly have been the finale to season one. They feel really odd as they stand: you wait over a year on that cliffhanger and Rachel defeats Tirgon, this world-ending force, in a matter of minutes. And then you get a season finale discussion with Dirk and Bruce, before revealing Titans Tower. Yeah, definitely just put these two episodes in season one if you ever consider watching the show.

Moving on to the proper season two plotlines and we get Deathstroke. Yep, definitely Arrow similarities; we even get a brief callout to Roy Harper at one point, though nothing ever becomes of that. In fact, nothing ever becomes of a lot of things. If season one was a little fast and loose with its explanations, season two pretty much just gives up. Huge amounts of plot are just moved along without further discussion. Why is Donna still living on "Man's Earth" if she was only meant to be here for another six months? Even with the consulate destroyed, she's still meant to return for warrior training (or whatever)? Who actually planted all the weird "I Know What You Did Last Summer" style clues around the Tower? Okay, Rose kind of gets collared with this later on, but it never actually gets directly addressed. How does Jason get over his seemingly almost complete PTSD from being dropped from the building? What was Dick's plan there, anyway? What as Deathstrokes? Neither of them did what they said they would, yet it kinda meant they both did what the other was expecting? How do more people not know about Aqualad's death? How does Deathstroke actually miss so many targets? How does Dick get out of jail? What's with the gargoyle? Who is controlling all the TVs to manipulate people together? How is Sunfire's sister able to hit people with intergalactic purple goop from anywhere? Why is Robin so incredibly dumb?

Oh yeah, that last one is just for plot points. I mean he makes so many bad decisions (they both do, but I'm specifically talking about Dick here). Sure, it's all part of his arc to becoming Nightwing (an arc slightly undercut by the fact that his suit is then made by Bruce Wayne for him, without discussing it at all, which all kind of feels like a major step backward in their relationship), but it just feels a little too stupid at some points. I mean why even bother opening the Tower again if you're not going to train any of the new Titans ever?

That said, whilst the plot feels a little disjointed and there are quite a few holes in it, I did enjoy season two. Hawk and Dove continue to be excellent, but I feel like all of the main characters got some positive character development. I liked the history-filled flashbacks teaching us about the old Titans, and Jericho is both a great character in his own right and a clever way of fleshing out Deathstroke (who was excellently cast). Rose feels a little two-dimensional and, honestly, I think you could have done the season without her, apart from the final actions of killing her dad so the heroes don't have to.

Though, on that note, they were definitely planning on doing so. Which makes the whole speech from Dawn about how they have to "avoid becoming monsters" just feel a bit rich. They're happy manipulating a kid to kill his father in the first place... sorry, they pretty much are monsters already.

On the flipside, Super Boy is dope and Krypto is adorable. Loved that entire plot line, even the Cadmus-controlling Beastboy parts, and I really like this take on the character. The finale showdown was a lot of fun, even if the death of Donna felt silly (Super Boy is right there and could have easily saved her), and I like the overall ending. Rachel gets a little screwed around and I found both her and Sunfire's plots a little lacklustre, but in general they set up an interesting third season that I'll be happy to watch.

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