Titans continues to surprise with an episode that comes out nowhere. WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD.
When we last saw the Titans Dick had run into Rachel’s house and was the only one to get through the interdimensional barrier. But that’s not where we open. Instead the audience gets a five year time jump of a happily married Dawn and Dick living in Los Angeles with a little boy and another on the way. No real explanation is given although the occasional dimensional shift tunes the audience in that something isn’t quite right.
Instead of flashing to the present the episode plays it straight and shows us a future where Dick is happy but Batman is losing his mind. Jason Todd is in a wheelchair after a fight with The Riddler, Commissioner Gordon is dead, Barbara is dead and Bruce has no one left.
That’s enough to drive Dick to Gotham, albeit reluctantly, and viewers get their first time at how bad the city can get. Gotham without Batman is a hellhole, prostitutes are everywhere and the dead are sprawled out on the street. It can only get worse.
It’s almost impossible to talk about this episode without spoiling it. That’s not something I like to do but the steps the show takes are gutsy. Not only does it finally show Batman, though he never speaks, but it shows an unhinged Batman. Titans’ Batman makes Ben Affleck in Batman v. Superman look like an amateur.
What unfolds is very much a grounded retelling of The Dark Knight Returns in its truest form. Many have tried to homage but this one nails it. Meanwhile the audience is left wondering how any of it relates to the main story. None of that seems to matter though because it’s so enthralling you get sucked in within minutes.
Just in case that wasn’t enough to thrill you make sure you stay until the very end of the episode. There’s a post-credits tag that not only cracks the Titans universe wide open but somehow manages, yes again, to make one of the sillier parts of DC Comics look insanely cool.
Titans has this ability, I’d even go so far as to call it a want, to make aspects of the DC Comics Universe respectable again. Before the show aired no one thought Hawk and Dove were cool. Now they are some of the biggest badasses in the show. Robin, who has culturally been seen as a bit of joke until this point, has totally established himself as a fantastic character. I wouldn’t be surprised if a number of Titans cosplays started showing up at conventions from now on. It’s that good of a show.
What’s even better is we’re really just getting started with the first season. With a little over 20 episodes the series we’re watching the show get comfortable and spread its wings a bit more. It continues to surprise in the best possible way.