Often, stories are all about pacing. Reveal too much too soon, and you lose your audience. Hold back too much, same problem. For all it got right during its first season, the Titans second season premiere seems more like a season finale than the start to a new chapter. Inexplicably, the first season of Titans ended on a strange cliffhanger after a slow-burn leading up to the confrontation between Raven and her father, the demon Trigon. (Comic book stories!) Brendon Thwaites’ Dick Grayson fell under the thrall of Trigon, played by Seamus Deaver. And the season just ended. So, when the Titans Second Season Premiere kicked off it had to end this story. Despite the marketing spoiling what happens, the episode still works well, but as a finale to that story. Other than a brief glimpse of Esai Morales’ Slade Wilson, nothing in the episode feels new.
The denouement of Rachel’s origin story is a worthy tale that explores, briefly, the greatest emotional fears of the titular Titans. Thus, it’s up to Rachel on her own to face her demonic father and save her newfound family. Only in the final act of the Titans second season premiere does the story actually move forward. What’s remarkable about this conclusion is how much better it would have been were it the conclusion to the show’s first season. The ending sets things up nicely, making it so that the group has to find each other once again to face a threat they don’t even know is coming for them. This ends the spoiler-free part of the review, so bookmark the page and return if you’ve not watched the episode.
Titans’ Second Season Premiere Finally Completes Season One’s Story
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Two things happen in the Titans second season premiere that most fans could predict. The first is that Teagan Croft’s Rachel (or Raven, as she’s known in the comics) triumphs over her demonic father. The second is that Dick Grayson makes peace, of a sort, with Bruce Wayne. To be fair, the second season premiere was, originally, meant to be the Titans season one finale. However, showrunner Greg Walker, told IGN last year that they ultimately decided to “shorten” the season and save this resolution for the premiere. It’s unclear if this was a story decision or budget-related, like the shortening of Swamp Thing’s first season to ten episodes down from 13. Whatever the reason, it made the first run feel incomplete. Thus, the delayed resolution throws off the pacing of the second season right from the get-go.
To be clear, it’s a good episode. However, because the marketing for the Titans second season essentially overlooked this entire episode, it lacked even the slightest bit of tension. As soon as fans saw the red crystal on Rachel’s forehead, they knew Trigon ultimately failed. The story they want to tell—that Deathstroke will come for the new Titans—feels unnecessarily delayed. Fans eager for the next chapter in the Titans saga to start in earnest may feel that the Titans second season premiere is a bit of a slog. Still, fans won’t be short-changed by the decision to carry over the end of this story. Instead of just 11 episodes, Titans second season clocks in at 13 episodes. Which is good because Joshua Orpin’s Superboy (and Krypto!) don’t even appear in the episode.
The Judas Contract and Rose Wilson A.K.A. Ravager
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The sophomore episode of Titans second season will begin the larger story by introducing Chelsea Zhang’s Rose Wilson. The illegitimate daughter of Slade Wilson, she eventually becomes Ravager. She’s featured heavily in the two Titans trailers and her unresolved family issues will likely play into the larger conflict with Deathstroke. The story, likely following the classic Titans tale The Judas Contract, will showcase stories in the present and the past. In the first appearance of Iain Glen’s Bruce Wayne, we learn that this is not the first time Dick Grayson and the Titans united. However, as we reported, it appears that one of their members fell to Deathstroke.
Drew Van Acker’s Garth (A.K.A. Aqualad) features prominently in (what we assume are) the flashback sequences. His absence from the present-day sequences suggest that he might be dead, killed by Deathstroke. The fourth episode of season two, according to unconfirmed reports, is titled either “Aqualad” or “Garth,” and that suggests we’ll learn his fate therein. Of course, it’s possible that due to apparent relationship drama between him and Conor Leslie’s Donna Troy, Garth just retired. In the comics he eventually becomes the hero The Tempest, so it’s possible he’s just not in the loop anymore. Still, the smart money suggests that Deathstroke was able to kill the Atlantean sidekick.
How Much of the Larger DC Universe Will Titans Include?
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The last lingering question fans have about Titans second season involves heroes (and villains) not normally associated with the Titans. First, there are questions about the characters on DC Universe’s Doom Patrol. They appeared in Titans first season, because Ryan Potter’s Gar Logan (A.K.A. Beastboy) lived with them. Of course, with them busy on their own second season, partially financed by HBO Max, it’s unlikely they will appear again. Cyborg, played by Jovian Wade, appears in that show. However, that character is both a part of the Justice League and Titans in the comics. While the actor could perhaps do double-duty, it seems that (for now) he’s firmly a part of the Doom Patrol. Other Titans characters, like Kid Flash or Speedy (the Green Arrow’s sidekick) are also noticeably absent. Walker said that he didn’t want to bog the already character-heavy series down with even more people. So, maybe for season three?
The other thing fans wonder is if we will ever see a Justice League-level hero. Batman appears both in a dream sequence and as Bruce Wayne. Superman and the Flash both earn a mention. Yet, DC and Warner Bros. notoriously restrict access to these marquee-level characters. Crossover happens, as Deathstroke appeared both in the Arrowverse (played by Manu Bennett) and the DCEU (played in a wordless cameo by Joe Manganiello). Yet, it will help the larger world of Titans feel more real if we actually see some of these heroes, if only for a moment. Otherwise their absence in spite of continued mentions will play as well as the sad “text message conversations” Melissa Benoist’s Supergirl had with Superman when he was banned from appearing on the show.
Should You Watch Titans Second Season?
While this review of the Titans second season premiere may, on “paper,” seem mixed, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. Other than the questionable decision to cut the first season short, the series delivers in every other way. The special effects are equivalent (or slightly better) than those found on the CW shows. The actors deliver excellent performances, and the story that the second season promises improves on its predecessor. While it’s not as delightfully weird as Doom Patrol, it’s the kind of kick-ass, mature superhero series that fans will enjoy. Plus these sidekick characters are ones fans waited to see in live-action for years. It may not be the best superhero series on television (or even DC Universe), but it’s an enjoyable show worth your time.
But, we want to hear what you thought of the Titans second season premiere! Let us know in the comments or by sharing the article on social media.
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.