“It used to be a breath of fresh air. Now it just feels like a stale burp blown into the face.”
This review contains spoilers for Titans season two.
Season one of DC’s Titans was a much-needed tonic in the oversaturated realm of the superhero genre. It focused on the complex, interpersonal relationships between our central characters and let the audience get behind the mask of these heroes. The characters weren’t just interesting, they begged to be invested in. It set up season two perfectly for an easy home run. Or so you’d think.
If season one was a tonic, season two is its noxious evil twin. A group of central characters that you’d struggle to count on four hands, too many plots and sub-plots to keep track of, and a series of anticlimactic antagonists all fuse together to create the chaotic mess that is Titans season two.
Episode one – Trigon – picks up where season one left off; Trigon (Seamus Dever), the all-powerful consumer of worlds, kill’s Rachel’s (Teagan Croft) mother and turns all her friends against her: a strong start to the season. In Trigon, we finally get an antagonist worthy of matching the Titans and this was sure to make a compelling plot line for season two. Then, in 20 seconds, Rachel kills him and undoes everything. Though Trigon is only the first in a very, very long line of anticlimactic antagonists.
Deathstroke (Esai Morales), Dr Light (Michael Mosley), Mercy Graves (Natalie Gumede), Conner – AKA Superboy (Joshua Orpin), Faddei (Robbie Jones), and Cadmus all follow Trigon’s lead in the space of thirteen episodes. How on earth are we expected to invest in conflict between protagonists and antagonists that are barely fleshed out?
It’s almost as bad with our ‘heroes’. In season one there was a tidy handful of seven main heroes, with a scattering of interesting side-characters. Season two is a messy melting pot of no less than eleven central characters, plus more than a few hovering on the sidelines.
Instead of building on the Titans that we already know, more are thrown into the mix to distract from the poorly written episodes. One of the strengths of the first season was the rocky and turbulent relationships between the Titans, but in season two they all fly around like hurricanes without direction. Season one revolves around Rachel’s destiny to find Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites) and the many ups and downs of the pair’s unusual relationship. The depth in the relationship starts out strong in the first episode, and then is promptly ignored for almost the entirety of the following twelve.
At the best of times superhero shows can have convoluted logic, but if the show is good enough then we’re willing to let it slide. This one isn’t. Rachel is possessed by a dark power that she can control; then she can’t, then she can, then she can’t, etc. Kory (Anna Diop) loses her power for no reason. Dick goes to the airport and punches someone so he can get sent to jail. Don’t worry though, he breaks out. How, you ask? No idea, it’s not explained in the show.
Rose (Chelsea Zhang) has a magic ability to heal herself. Except her eye for some reason, she’s only got one of those. Donna (Conor Leslie) – AKA Wonder Girl – goes toe-to-toe against Superboy – she’s super-fast, super strong and basically Wonder Woman 2.0. Oh, but she dies after being electrocuted by a fairground ride. Don’t worry though, the last episode hints that – surprise! We might be able to bring her back! Because nothing is sacred or makes sense in this show.
The plot is lazy at the best of times. There’s a scene where Bruce Wayne (Iain Glen) magically manages to get all the female Titans together to convince them to reform the Titans. Then, Kory literally says: “Bruce Wayne somehow miraculously arranged for us all to meet at this diner in the middle of nowhere to mansplain us into putting the Titans back together”. It’s hard to remember the last time a film or TV show literally explained to the viewer what they’ve just witnessed. What’s worse is that they just do it, no questions asked.
There are a few redeeming features; the diverse cast reinforces the idea that anyone can wear the mask. Plus, Chella Man’s performance as Jericho is incredibly compelling – it’ll be interesting to see how his character is developed in the next season. The action sequences – although they are few and far between – are well choreographed and would please even the most critical among us. A good feature of DC shows, including Titans, is the fact that the heroes aren’t perfect people; each of them has flaws make them more believable and less fantastical. Aside from those things, the show doesn’t have much going for it.
The strongest TV shows in any genre have characters worth investing time and emotion into. We should be left wanting more instead of needing to fill in the blanks. Season one of Titans did that, yet season two fails to compare.
There were high hopes for this show. It used to be a breath of fresh air. Now it just feels like a stale burp blown into your face.
Directed by: Carol Banker, Nathan Hope, Kevin Tancharoen, Glen Winter, Nick Gomez, Alex Kalymnios, Akiva Goldsman, Toa Fraser, Boris Mojsovski, Kevin Sullivan, Millicent Shelton, Larnell Stovall.
Produced by: Akiva Goldsman, Geoff Johns, Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, Greg Walker, John Fawcett, Robert Ortiz.
Cast: Brenton Thwaites, Teagan Croft, Anna Diop, Ryan Potter, Minka Kelly, Alan Ritchson, Conor Leslie, Curran Walters, Esai Morales, Chelsea Zhang, Natalie Gumede, Joshua Orpin, Iain Glen, Chella Man, Michael Mosley, Seamus Dever, Robbie Jones.
Release Date: January 10th 2020.
Available on: Netflix, DC Universe (US only)