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Titans - "Titans" - Review

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Titans - "Titans" - Episode 1 Review

I feel as if everyone who watched the original Titans trailer, after it was over, said to themselves "Hmmmmmmmm?". Now I feel as if everyone who has watched the first Titans episode on DC Universe is saying to themselves "Ooohhhhhhhh!". This Titans show is drastically different from any Teen Titans iteration that has come before it and it's immediately evident that the powers in charge are going out of their way to make it so. With rougher action and more adult language and situations, they show a side of DC characters that haven't been seen as of yet of on a television or streaming service. This show tunes in more to the audiences that read the grittier New Teen Titans comics from the 80's and are now craving representation in the age of Marvel TV. DC has produced a show that is riveting and mature in its tone and design, yet at the same time still delivers on the comic book look, story, and action fans have been waiting for.

Similarly to how Raven brought the New Teen Titans together in the comic books, Raven is the catalyst for the Titans to meet on screen as well. The series kicks off with an eerie dream sequence where the young Raven watches a scene comic book fans have seen many times before, the death of Robin's parents, The Flying Graysons. Raven sees the young Robin's pain as his family is torn from him before his eyes. Raven's screams awaken her mother and she tells her that she's dreamt of "the boy" again. We get a glimpse of something greater possibly being wrong as Raven asks her Mom to keep the bedroom door locked. Mom nods and locks the door...which is revealed to be covered in crucifixes.

We meet Det. Dick Grayson on a stakeout in rainy Detroit. He eyes some shady characters and then looks longingly at a mysterious case in the back seat of his car. Back at the precinct Dick is introduced to his new partner whom he immediately shuns and tries to put her in her place. Seems they are going with the darker, more somber take of Dick Grayson here as opposed to the "Holy Rusty Manhole Covers Batman" version, which I expected, but seems as if Dick didn't exactly learn the "blending in" tact that Bruce always uses in public. Mr. Wayne is almost always smiling and happy when he's out amongst the people. I mean it might help out down the line if you weren't a brooding jerk to people if you wanted to go unnoticed as a vigilante, I'm just sayin'. Love how they get a nice Joker and Gotham reference in there for some sweet sweet world building.

In nearby Traverse City, MI Raven and her mother have a moment together in their kitchen before school. Rachel, as she's called, wants to know why her mother doesn't sleep at night. She can tell when her mother lies to her and she wants to know why she's always so scared of her. She basically wants to know what the heck she's got inside of her. We get a cool little glimpse of Raven's dark eyes here, suggesting something with this girl is not right. Mom's solution is to pray and it seems Rachel isn't interested in participating with her in this usual response. Things get heated until Rachel screams a demonic YELL! at her mother. She freaks out and says she's sorry as she grabs up her things and runs out to catch the bus. They are going with a more grounded, religious, horror based approach to Raven so far and we'll see how that plays out over the series.

The next scene is on the school bus and involves a random jerk deciding to pick on Rachel. She ignores him and a different boy stands up to defend her against the bully. The two boys fight with the defender seeming to get the worst of it. The bully gets in Rachel's face a calls her a "slut!", which...I thought was a weird choice of writing there. I mean why slut? Why not bitch? Or freak or something else? Seems like the dialogue purpose would be achieved either way. I bring it up because then as she turns her head to the window to look away from the bully, her reflection suddenly morphs! It becomes the darker, demonic black-eyed version of Raven and it repeats the insult calling her a slut. Why? Weird bit of writing there. Why did they have her inner demon insult the young girl? Seems more like it would want to eat their assailants face off if anything to defend her.

We glimpse a small moment of Rachel's school life of no friends and isolation as the hero who saved her on the bus totally ignores her when she tries to thank him. She heads home and props to the props department for the sweet Ankh on Rachel's backpack. Nice nod to Dr. Fate there. At home there's a little surprise waiting in the form of her mother and a bad guy. The bad guy forces Rachel's mother to reveal to her that she's not actually her mother. He then coldly shoots her in the head from behind. And there, in that moment, is the exact time this show differentiated itself from all the other DC shows that have come before it. The killing is brutal, up close, and very graphic. This triggers something within Rachel and Raven unleashes a demonic astral projection at the murderer. She forces him violently back against the wall, slamming him with great force! Rachel leaves the house and as if to drive home this is not a kids show even more, we see a parting shot of Rachel's mother, facedown, bullet to the head, with a pool of blood on the kitchen floor.

Later on that night Det. Grayson sits outside the same location he staked out before, reading case files. When a face he recognizes shows up we see that this guy is not a good guy and that he's recently gotten out of a child abuse charge. Dick watches them carry some duffle bags and that's it. It's on now. He grabs the case and puts his finger on a scanner, and then has to have both his eyes scanned as well to get the latch to pop. Hmmmm. I wonder what could be in there?

In a dark back alley two groups of thugs come together to do a drug deal. A voice calls out from above that he's only looking for the main man. BOOM! Robin drops in from above and makes his big entrance. The suit looks great and totally appropriate for vigilante work. Hilariously all the bad guys instantly start looking for Batman. The look on his face reveals this annoys Dick. We savvy comic book fans know this was part of the motivation for Robin to break away and form his own team to begin with. Once they realize they don't have Batman to deal with to the thugs gain a little more moxy. In a straight up nod to his mentor Robin throws down a smoke pellet and it's on! In a great scene of comic book type action Robin takes it to the collected group of bad guys. The music and camera work are top notch here. He beats and pummels and kicks in great moments of tv fight choreography. He uses his gadgets by flinging razor sharp Robin symbols full on shrunken style at the bad guys. He also uses his staff like I've been wanting to see on screen for a long time. Bam Bam and then Shaboom it extends and takes the guys out! He's also quick and strong and uses the opponents against each other by getting them to fire their own weapons against themselves, but not actually killing anyone in the process. Robin eventually catches up to the main heavy and boy does he take it out on him. Driving home yet again that this is not your kids Teen Titans Go, he brutally forces the guys face along a row of jagged broken glass! He tells the guy to never touch his little girl again and then proceeds to beat him, and kick him, and ram him on the ground with his bo staff. Wow. Not how I thought I would ever see Robin use his staff on screen. Oh and then he says Fuck Batman.

We find Dick Grayson sometime the next morning cleaning up his Robin suit. He works on his utility belt and gets things back in order. He's wiping blood off his throwing R's and he seems like he's not happy. Mr. Grayson may have some issues to deal with.

At the precinct the Captain is having a briefing when Det. Grayson walks up. They're discussing the recent Robin sighting from the night before. Gotham PD said he'd vanished and they all wonder why he's here, now. The Captain is not a fan of Robin's type of vigilantism and worries about escalation and painted freaks.

Rachel takes a bus to Detroit, gets dropped off in the middle of downtown and quickly finds herself in a shelter. A creepy woman tries to get her to go with her to a different childrens shelter. She tries to get her down an alley and into a car. The demon voice inside Rachel begins to speak up. It tells her the woman is a liar. She runs from the woman and throws a brick at a squad car to get away and taken into custody.

Dick approaches his partner and asks her if there's any new info on the Robin case. Ummm thirsty much Dick? Know how to play it cool or what? It's amazing they haven't figured out you're the Boy Wonder after only being there a month, why push it? They're interrupted by a police woman asking Dick if he's still got that thing for helping kids? He heads into a room and Rachel is there waiting for him. She's shocked. She tells him, "'s you. The boy from the circus " And thus begins the first meeting of the Titans.

Starfire wakes up in the aftermath of a car crash. I'm going to call her Starfire, because we all know its Starfire and in the show we don't know her name yet. There's a bloody dead man in the drivers seat and soft music playing on the radio. The airbags have gone off and the car is stopped along the side of the road. Starfire exits, looking fabulous in her purple dress, purple hair, green eyes, and fur coat. We find out she's in Vienna just as another car comes racing down the road, firing weapons at her as they approach! She runs off into the woods and avoids capture by hiding. She makes her way to a gas station and cleans herself up. She finds a locker key in her purse, a hotel key card, and a passport with the name Kory Anders on it. She makes her way to her hotel and finds that she can speak perfect German. She also finds a man tied up in her closet. It seems Kory doesn't know herself as she has amnesia but the man tells her some info and that they found the girl she was looking for. They can get her for her. He escapes and attacks her! She capably defends herself and then super punches the man across the room with her super strength! Woah, Kory is badass! She gets some info on where a certain someone is by promising to help the injured man. He delivers the info, then she coldly murders him by snapping his neck. O K ? So she's also a stone cold killer. Gotcha.

Back at the precinct Dick is interviewing Rachel and she's telling him how she's dreamed of him and how she knows all about him and his pain. She tells him someone killed her mom and that she needs help. Dick connects with her through this when she touches his hand and in an interesting scene we see a flashback to Bruce Wayne's hand on Dick's shoulder, shots inside Wayne Manor, and a note to Dick from Bruce. More nice world building there from the writer's room. Dick goes to check on her story and she begs him to lock her up at night because she's got something evil inside her. He calls to check on her story.

In a total dick move Dick leaves the station and Rachel and heads out for some unknown reason. He stops outside and rethinks his decision. He moves to go back inside when his partner shows up and starts talking to him. She funnily asks him about his sidekick back on Gotham PD. He explains that he left his mentor, a real solve things with his fists kinda guy, because he was becoming too much like him. Hmmm so what was with the face on the glass brutality at the beginning? Robins certainly not chilled out by coming to Detroit.

A police officer takes Rachel out of the station under the pretense of moving her to a safer kids shelter. Her inner demonic voice asks to kill the officer! She gets hurried into the waiting car and just as she's starting to get worked up and going to unleash, the officer sticks a needle in her neck, knocking her out completely. Dick arrives just as the car is pulling away but he sees Rachel in the backseat.

People dance and have fun as Kory walks around the nightclub she was given the info for. She makes her way into the back rooms and meets the man behind everything. Anna does a great job of acting here, exuding anxiety and confidence at the same time. The man interrogates her in English and she tells him she doesn't really know anything and that she's looking for answers too. He tells her that he loved her....and she tells him that she thinks she didn't love him. Ha! So he shoots her! This triggers Starfire's powers and she fights back! Heat and fire builds from within Kory! The bullet shot at her melts and she extends her hand and the fire unleashes! A mighty stream of flame shoots out and melts the bad guy and his two henchmen. The effects here are amazing as an orange force builds within Kory, strands of power ripple through her, her eyes glow green and her hair has energy coursing through every curl. She finds a picture of young Rachel Roth and chuckles at the ash form of her assailant, just before he falls apart into dust. This woman is seriously not to be messed with.

At an abandoned warehouse the man who killed Rachel's mother is still alive and has Rachel tied to a chair. Candles and weird bowls sit around the dimly lit room. The man tells Rachel she has a destiny, one that he doesn't want to come true. He mentions some cryptic prophecy type mumbo jumbo about someone coming to destroy our world and how he's going to save us, all while holding a very large knife. Again more kudos to the writer's room here as fans of the comic books definitely know who he's referencing there, but they've delivered it in such a cool repackaged, not in your face way, as to make it still intriguing. Fake kidnapping cop is there too but he soon meets a plain clothes Robin who attacks swiftly and brutally from the dark. The kidnapping zealot washes up and tells Rachel of his plans to stop Armageddon from happening by removing her heart and placing it next to the heart of a beast. I point that out because then as if to just drive home the point of, "hey this is the internet and we can be violent and say whatever we want" the show cuts to a close up of a heart in a bowl and the villain stabbing it repeatedly with the knife. I kinda felt a big, Meh, after that one. Unnecessary? Anyways. The dude goes with his heart burning rant as Rachel begs him not to hurt her.

Dick is kicking in doors and closing in on the two. He calls out for Rachel who returns his call with a cry for help. Psycho zealot man gags her and takes his big knife and hides behind the door, waiting for Det. Grayson. Just as Dick is about to walk through the doorway, Raven awakens! She attacks her assailant in her dark eyed Raven astral form, pinning him back and breathing her black essence into him! He convulses and vomits up a stream of dark blood. He dies and collapses onto the messy floor. Dick comes inside as the door opens and Ravens astral form returns to Rachel's still handcuffed body. Woah. This girl's not to be messed with.

Sometime later Dick brings Rachel to his Porsche and claims it's a family heirloom. Nice. They head out on the road and he tells Rachel he's taking her someplace safe. She tells him that she doesn't believe her mother's advice that there are no monsters in this world. More great foreshadowing there really. We've got a whole Universe of monsters, creatures, and adventures we can bring you.

Just when we think the shows over another scene begins. A night watchman is on duty at a large electronics store. He's playing a video game (the awesome Crystal Castles!!!) when he hears a noise from somewhere else in the store. He and his flashlight slowly make their way over to the sound. He sees a shelf of video games disturbed and follows their trail around a corner revealing a large green tiger! Yes! The guard fires a shot at the tiger after it growls at him and the kitty scampers away in a hurry. It runs through the fields and into a wooded area. The big cat pauses and begins to transform! A naked young man finally is revealed. He smiles, grabs his clothes and the game he just stole and runs off. Hello Beast Boy!

So I really liked this premiere episode and see the potential it has for a long and successful life. The DC Universe is wide and varied and full of inspiration. That being said it was not perfect by any means. Expectedly so, it's a new show, and this was the first episode and sometimes it takes a while to find the right groove. The first season of Seinfeld was terrible and they worked it out pretty well. Sometimes here in the pilot the acting was a bit stiff, the writing a bit off. There were a few inconsistencies and moments that I felt could have been reworked or retooled but overall this was a fantastic achievement for DC and their Titans character representations were a joy to watch.

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