Titans Season 3 Premiere Episodes: Barbara Gordon, Red Hood, Hank And Dove
After an extended wait since the Titans season 2 finale, HBO Max released three premiere episodes for season 3. The titles of the episodes so far match the list that we reported on some weeks ago, and it seems that the series is both giving us what was expected from them and something very fresh and interesting. We’ve seen the Red Hood story before, in the comics, video games, and in an animated film. Yet, we’ve never quite seen it like this. The Robin who was failed by Batman directs his anger not his surrogate father but rather his surrogate brother.
The series makes a controversial decision these premiere episodes with the Batman (or, for legal reasons, the Bruce Wayne) character, played by Iain Glen. Of course, it’s not the first time a character with a strictly no-kill code makes this decision. Still, the only halfway inclusion of the Batman character could frustrate fans who see his absence as not an interesting circumstance for drama but, rather, a serious omission. To fully reflect my own subjective bias, I am lukewarm on the Red Hood story in all of its forms. As someone old enough to have incurred the wrath of his parents for calling to vote for Jason Todd to live, I appreciated the way they handled the fallout of his death. (Also, Tim Drake has always been an awesome Robin, and we only get him if Jason’s gone.)
The other frustrations Teen Titans fans might have is that this show is not, as yet, the kind of Titans-focused story they may want. This series, from its inception, has been about how Dick Grayson has been influenced by his time as Robin. This is a Bat-Family story first.
Spoilers to follow.
Barbara Gordon – First of Titans Season 3 Premiere Episodes Gives Us Batgirl (Ret.)
Image by Ben Mark Holzberg via HBO Max
When we last left Jason Todd (as played by Curran Walters) in Titans, he was seen watching the tarmac funeral for Donna Troy. He drives off on a motorcycle, his destination unknown. Interestingly, he goes where we should expect: Back to Bruce Wayne. He locates the Joker, takes some kind of strange drug, and then gets himself pummeled to death.
Throughout the first of the three premiere episodes of Titans season 3 does touch on most of the team. We see Anna Diop’s Starfire experiencing some kind of mental connection or disturbance. Ryan Potter’s Gar Logan is both a valued member of the team, but one who longs to be more in control of his powers. We see Joshua Orpin’s Conner Kent trying to live up to his relation to Superman and live down his relation to Lex Luthor. We even get to meet Tim Drake, as played by Jay Lycurgo, a super-fan of Batman and Robin. Yet, the heart of this story is Barbara Gordon, played by Savannah Welch.
With much of Titans season 2 (too much, perhaps) focusing on Dick moving past the trauma of his relationship with Bruce. So, when Jason dies, instead of reacting with anger or accusations, he’s tender. When he finds out that Bruce has a file of kids who could be potential Robins, he seeks out Barbara. She’s able to say to Bruce, quite harshly, what Dick is not. While not intentional, it’s her words to Bruce that inspire him to murder Joker and retire as a vigilante. He flees, telling Dick to “be a better Batman,” which he tries to do, just as Nightwing.
In Episode 2, Red Hood Comes to Titans, and He’s My Favorite One
Image via Warner Bros. Television
Comics fans like to debate which stories are “the best” for a character. The return of Jason Todd, my own reservations notwithstanding, is one of those. It forces Batman (and the audience) to truly reckon with Batman using children to wage his war on crime. What makes this story unique is that, this time, Bruce does kill the Joker for Jason. So, his murderous rage is then directed to the other man who failed him: his surrogate big brother. With Batman out of the picture, the battle between Nightwing and Red Hood for the legacy of their Bat-father’s is very interesting to me.
Arguably, this version of Red Hood is far more vicious than the comics or movie version, closer to the Arkham Knight version. This Red Hood targets innocents, and designs exploits both to take out criminals and turn Barbara and the public against the Titans. As this is a family matter, both Minka Kelly’s Dove and Alan Ritchson’s Hank Hall reunite with the team after locating, separately, to Washington, D.C. Again, the series does focus for moments on the other team members. There is a fun scene with Conner and Gar where they subtly show that Conner, technically only a few months old, is still adjusting to life outside of his cloning tank.
But, like before, episode 2 of Titans season 3 premiere episodes are all about the Bat. Though his on-set behavior may have been problematic, Vincent Kartheiser delivers a very interesting take on Jonathan Crane. Working for (presumably legal?) marijuana, he consults with Dick Grayson about the Red Hood, before he knows its Jason. It’s clear he’s going to turn on, well everyone, but it will be interesting to see how he eventually escapes prison and who helps him.
Hank & Dove – The Last of the Titans Season 3 Premiere Episodes Hurts the Most
As a kid, I loved Hawk and Dove. A comic I picked up because the one I wanted was sold out, I found the two characters to be just the right mix of goofy and badass. If you would have told me then they would be very central characters in multiple seasons of purely-for-adult audience live-action series, I’d never believe you. In fact, their appearance in the first season of Titans helped the show win me over during that rocky start. From the moment they appeared on-screen I expected one or both of them to die. Yet, the way that Hank goes out in this episode is perhaps a high point for this series.
In classic Hank Hall fashion, he argues for the team to kill Jason, and then agrees to meet with him one-on-one. We don’t really know if he was all talk and planning to help a scared and remorseful Jason. But that’s my guess. Sadly, he ends up with a Bat-tech explosive device implanted in his chest. For the first time, the focus of the show shifts to the characters not once wards of Bruce Wayne. Dove and Hank reconcile. Conner both reconciles with his unique combination of skills and feels he’s falling short nonetheless.
Also, Krypto is the goodest boy. Yes, he is.
Image via DC Universe
The climax of this episode, however, is what sets it apart. It really feels, as it is supposed to, that Jason has gone too far to redeem. Through trickery, he convinces Dove to detonate the bomb early, mere micro-seconds before Conner would have saved Hank. In a very Arrowverse-style montage (not a criticism, though some may see it as such), the actors, particularly Joshua Orpin, really sell the tragedy of losing not just Hank but Jason, too. Any comics fan can guess where this is headed, but how they get there is sure to be a wild ride.
Titans debuts new episodes Thursdays on HBO Max.
What did you think of the first three premiere episodes of Titans season 3 on HBO Max? Do like the story focusing on Red Hood, Barbara Gordon, and Dick’s legacy in Gotham? Share your thoughts, reviews, theories, and predictions in the comments below.
Featured image by Ben Mark Holzberg via HBO Max
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.