Titans Season 3 Finale Is Ignominious End To Best Red Hood Story Ever
The Season 3 finale brings to a close the best season of Titans to date. When people usually say things like “best” or “worst,” often its synonymous with “favorite.” While this is my favorite season of the show, I also feel like it is “objectively” better than the previous ones. While Brenton Thwaites’ Dick Grayson is still the series’ main focus, we got pretty deep into the emotional journeys of the other Titans this year. Other than a slight stumble in the home stretch, the pacing of the season felt much more consistent. There was also a better balance of their version of gritty realism and the fun, goofy magic of comic book stories. There also was more team action than previously, but I imagine hardcore fans of the Teen Titans story would still want more.
Nonetheless, I think the Titans season 3 finale brought the best (meaning: my favorite) Red Hood story so far to an incredibly moving close. When it comes to DC series on the CW or the HBOMax originals, some fans of these characters are overly critical of them. Whether it’s silly plot moments or questionable visual effects (all usually related to TV budgetary limitations), they treat these stories as “lesser” than those in the DCEU. (The Snyder fans are especially critical of anything the maestro didn’t touch.) Titans is definitely in the pulp tradition. Vague power usage, confusing instances of heroes in civvies and their costumes, and moustache-twirling villains are part of the DNA of comic book stories. CW series are serial morality plays for teenagers. Titans is something different, and in their next season I hope they can better balance the pulpy silliness against what appears to be sloppy storytelling.
Spoilers to follow.
What I Enjoyed From the Titans Season 3 Finale
Image courtesy of HBOMax
While this season was all about, as the show calls it, “Gotham bullshit,” the story between Damaris Lewis’ Blackfire and Anna Diop’s Starfire was wonderful. Blackfire is a classic comics villain, meaning she was evil for a while, but now she vacillates between hero and antagonist. Titans completely subverted our expectations about her over the final three episodes. She seemingly takes Starfire’s power and abandons her, but Starfire is cool with it.
Blackfire became the first love of Joshua Orpin’s Superboy, and he destroyed her only way home. In this episode, she just forgives him. As a parallel to the sibling disagreement going on between Dick and Curran Walters’ Jason Todd, Blackfire and Starfire give us a story about the great power of forgiveness. The two women simply talk openly and honestly, and when the time comes choose to forgive and move forward rather than, you know, destroy a whole city.
The arms-length redemption of Jason Todd was not ideal. I would have liked to have seen him face the entire team, rather than just Dick and Ryan Potter’s Gar Logan. Still, the final scene between him and Iain Glen’s Bruce Wayne was deeply moving. Much of the lore in Titans about Bruce Wayne is that he’s a truly sadistic father to his crime-fighting kids. In this season alone, Dick told a story about Bruce sending him into the woods to survive and he had to behead a wolf. When Jason admits the depth of his fall to him, Bruce is more like Starfire than Dick. He simply forgives him, and then lets him choose his own path. It’s macabre but also touching when Jason asks if Bruce killed the Joker for him. Walters’ delivery of Jason’s “Thank you” moved me. It’s what any Red Hood always wanted.
There’s a Fine Line Between Pulp and Sloppy Storytelling
Image courtesy of HBOMax
In the finale, the baddies kill around 2,000 Gothamites. A massive failure on the Titans’ part, and truly tragic. So, the fact that the “fix” is some kind of vague power mash-up with Lazarus Pit liquid to bring them back to life is fine with me. That is the good kind of silly that only really works when characters are magic. (Shout out to the woman with curly white hair who played an uncannily accurate dead lady.) Even the costume inconsistency is something we comics fans should let go. How does Gar get his same clothes back after being an animal? How does Dick get into his costume so quickly right before fight scenes? To that I say, ever think about shutting up?
Still, it’s tough to accept that kind of silliness when it appears to be carelessness with storytelling. A number of questionable decisions from the Titans in the “Troubled Water” episode, for example. The way the whole police plan played out was ridiculous. So, it’s been difficult to understand, let alone care about, the whole “rogue cops in league with Crane” angle. It seemed to only exist to give the Titans someone to beat up. Though, it is a nice touch to bring ARGUS into a story as the heroic cavalry before revealing they are a ruthless, uncaring intelligence and enforcement agency. (Also, Titans member Roy Harper was name-dropped, meaning we’ll likely see him in Titans season 4.) There’s also a moment in the episode opening where Jonathan Crane goes from the Batcave to the streets of Downtown Gotham in seconds. It just felt sloppy in parts. Yet, it’s still a fun hour of TV.
The thing that disappointed me the most about the season 3 finale, was that we didn’t see Dick reunite with the Titans. He’s just back with them at some point. The episode could have used that quiet moment to focus on and tie together the character journeys from the rest of the season. Still, once they’re together and working on the plan, it’s just as fun as any Titans fan could hope for.
Image courtesy of HBOMax
Titans is streaming on HBOMax, and Season 4 is expected in late 2023.
What did you think of the finale and of Titans season 3 in general? How do you like how they handled the Red Hood story? Were you happy with the number of other Titans in this season? Let us know your thoughts, reactions, and hopes for season 4 in the comments below.
Featured image via HBOMax.
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.