What to Watch Verdict
Gotham City takes center stage, leaving the Titans behind the curtain, but at least they make it interesting.
🦇 The story raises the stakes in action and consequences.
🦇 The special effects looks great.
🦇 Very accurate depiction of Red Hood.
🦇 It's become a Bat-Family story.
🦇 The Bat characters are okay.
🦇 They keep adding more characters instead of establishing the current ones.
When Titans Season 3 first announced their intention to have our heroes deal with Batman’s foes in Gotham City, I was turned off. The Titans belonged in San Francisco in their giant T-shaped home, fighting crime in the Bay area. With the addition of Bat-family elements, I feared the series would become just another Batman show, when I really just wanted it to focus on the Titans. Based on the four episodes given to the press, the Titans being in Gotham isn’t so bad, but it is also not that great. The main focus of the beginning of the season seems to be Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites) and Jason Todd’s (Curran Walters) relationship. The rest of the Titans, who have already established themselves as heroes in their town, arrive in Gotham to help Commissioner Barbara Gordon (Savannah Welch) with a case related to one of their own teammates. They feel a bit like decoration for the Bat-family story.
It’s no surprise from the teasers and trailers that Jason aka Robin meets his demise by the hands of the Joker. He then returns mysteriously as The Red Hood—very much like the animated film, Batman: Under the Red Hood, which includes the infamous scene of Red Hood meeting with the leaders of the gangs of Gotham. It’s pretty cool to see the Red Hood storyline come to life, but again, this is supposed to be a Titans series. But there is a twist—the Red Hood isn’t after Batman. He’s targeting the Titans and it becomes extremely twisted and somewhat satisfying to see some changes from the first two seasons.
At the beginning of the season, the Titans—consisting of Dick Grayson aka Nightwing, Kori (Anna Diop) aka Starfire, Garfield Logan (Ryan Potter) aka Beast Boy, and Connor Kent (Joshua Orpin) aka Superboy—seem to have their act together as a team. Everything seems fine and dandy until they are needed in Gotham after Jason’s passing. Of course, Hank (Alan Ritchson) aka Hawk and Dawn (Minka Kelly) aka Dove come along on the adventure because they are Titans too. Unfortunately, Raven (Teagan Croft) is still off at Themyscira trying to resurrect Donna somehow, so we do not see their story play out. Rose (Chelsea Zhang) and Jericho (Chella Man) are nowhere to be found and are never even mentioned. Their disappearance remains a mystery, at least in the first four episodes. Hopefully it will be addressed later this season, because if it isn't, that would really be a bad look to get rid of two Asian characters with one being from the trans and deaf community.
When the series focuses on Gotham, it feels a bit mundane because it’s the same story being told over again. Bruce (Iian Glen) is the same old moody man we have always known and Barbara is hardened by her experiences with the Bat-Family that left her paralyzed. It’s only when the Titans come into play when it becomes interesting. Like in the comics and cartoons, the Titans are a lot brighter and happier than the people of Gotham and their appearance adds some dimension beyond the darkness.
Our Titans, however, are given little attention in the Gotham world. The past two seasons showed little interest in showcasing Gar and his journey and, honestly, this season feels no different. Him and Connor feel like they’re just sprinkled into the story, which pains me as they’re the comic books’ original Titans members. Hopefully, the next few episodes will feature the two more, but it seems unlikely as we will see the return of Raven and Donna, as well as welcome Bat-Family newcomer, Tim Drake (Jay Lycurgo). The space within the 13-episode season is getting a lot smaller.
If you are expecting Blackfire (Damaris Lewis) this season, don’t fret. She’s around and really messing with Kori. It’s quite entertaining to watch the two as they interact, but we are only given a glimpse of their relationship. I expect Blackfire to be a real domineering force during the second half of the season, because the first half is focused on the Bat Story.
Season 3 also seems to be the bloodiest yet. The production value, particularly the special effects, look like they got an upgrade. And the blood and gore is at another level. There are heads in bags, gruesome self-destructive bodies, and just straight up murder. The series also raises the stakes by actually threatening the lives of these characters. With the passing of Donna, who we know is set to return alive, it felt like everyone was safe. Sure, Aqualad died last season, but we had just met him. This season, it is actually great to know that there are consequences to actions and not everyone is invincible like Superboy. These characters are still just regular people (minus Starfire, Beast Boy, and Superboy) in super-suits.
Overall, Titans works best when it focuses on the Titans themselves. Other than Tim Drake, who is adorable, the rest of the Bat crew isn’t that interesting. The Red Hood story is interesting, but there’s only so far you can go with this story. Like the past seasons, there are always two-part stories and I hope this will be the case, so we can finally focus on the title characters.
Laura Sirikul is a freelance writer, researcher, and managing editor of The Nerds of Color. Throughout her career, she has written for Nerd Reactor, What To Watch, Nerdist, IGN, Movie View Magazine, Red Carpet Report, Mental Floss, Trek News, The Hollywood Reporter, Character Media, Bitch Media, and many other outlets. She has been on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, Nerdist's Fangirls, and many other news shows. For almost ten years, she has covered film and television extensively along with in-depth interviews with major studios such as Disney, WB, and FOX. She is also a member of the Asian American Journalist Association and the Hollywood Critics Association. Apart from addressing topics covering film and television, Laura is a strong advocate for social awareness for the underrepresented in the entertainment industry.