Titans’ third season brings its titular team to Gotham City at a time when vigilantes like them have been reminded just how dangerous the lives they lead are. In its build-up to a riff on DC’s “Batman: A Death in the Family” arc, Titans previously made it clear that Jason Todd was on a path toward self-destruction that Bruce Wayne thought he couldn’t stop.
Titans’ season three premiere, “Barbara Gordon,” opens on Jason seemingly proving Bruce’s point as he suits up against his mentor’s wishes in order to take the Joker on alone. Though Batman (Iain Glen) and his allies constantly find themselves fighting the Joker all throughout Gotham, Jason sincerely believes that on that particularly night, the opportunity was prime to do away with the clown even though heroes with any amount of common sense know that it’s always better to bust villains with backup.
Impactful as Jason Todd’s death was in DC’s comics, Titans gets right to the business of it in a rather perfunctory way in “Barbara Gordon,” because the episode presumes that you’re probably familiar with the hero’s fate. Surprising no one, the Joker absolutely lays Jason Todd out and ultimately kills him, which Titans tells us is a devastating development, but does a less-than-stellar job of conveying. Everyone talks about how sad they are that Jason got himself done in by a known murderer, but Titans makes little pretense of hiding the reality that, somehow, somewhere out there, Jason’s probably alive and getting ready to return as the Red Hood.
Before the Red Hood shows up, though, Titans spends a bit of time setting up the introduction of yet another Robin, Tim Drake (Jay Lycurgo), a Batman fan who’s devastated to learn about Tim’s (who he doesn’t know is Robin) death on the news. Initially, it seemed as if Titans planned to just “kill” Jason off in order to introduce the Red Hood and Tim’s Robin to the story in order to emphasize how largely Gotham looms in this season. But “Barbara Gordon” takes a surprising turn as Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites) begins looking into what Jason was up to before his death, and his investigation leads to a couple of important discoveries.
There’s little surprise when Dick finds that Jason was synthesizing some sort of inhalable stimulate that augmented his strength, suggesting that Titans may venture into Bane territory sooner than later. What is somewhat unexpected, though, are the multiple files on other young Gothamites that Dick discovers in one of Bruce’s databases.
Carrie Kelly, Daxton Chill, Stephanie Brown, and Thomas Duke only appear as photographs in this episode, and none of the actors portraying the characters are named in the credits. But Titans acknowledging that these characters exist feels very much like the show’s way of alluding to Lee Bermejo, Rob Haynes, and Khary Randolph’s We Are... Robin series as a way of tying together the larger Bat-Family.
Even though the Red Hood’s on the way, and Tim Drake’s probably about to suit up, it would be very interesting if Titans or perhaps another Gotham-focused show might eventually focus on these Bat-adjacent people. Busy as Titans already is with its proper members, pulling that sort of storytelling here might be a challenge that the series isn’t quite yet up to, though.
Titans’ third season is now streaming on HBO Max where new episodes drop every Friday.
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