When DC Universe was formally announced in May 2018, one of the aspects the new streaming service prided itself on was the original live-action content. The first of which, Titans, premiered October 12, 2018, with the season finale airing December 21 of the same year. The series was met with mixed reviews with highlights including the cast led by Brenton Thwaites as Dick Grayson / Robin and great introductions to all the characters. However, fans and critics alike were disappointed with the incredibly quick conclusion to the season with a finale that felt like it came from an entirely different show. While it was later revealed that an additional, unreleased episode was filmed, fans were still left scratching their heads about the confusing conclusion to an otherwise well-received first season. In this article, I’m going to look at where I believe Titans season one went wrong and what the new season can do to rise to the level of the other fantastic series on DC Universe.
The Villain Problem
The fatal flaw I found with Titans season one was the lack of villain development. Throughout the first season, viewers were given very little information about Rachel’s father, who fans of the comics know is the demon Trigon. While I understand the idea of mystery in the series, by not revealing Trigon prior to the end of the penultimate episode, I began to lose interest in the character, especially after episode six, titled “Jason Todd.” By this point in the season, we had gotten plenty of teasers regarding Trigon, particularly within the convert in episode three as well as with Dr. Adamson in episodes five and six. The end of the sixth episode and the halfway point of the season would have been the perfect time for fans to see who Trigon was in his demon form. While we know Trigon needed Rachel to bring him to Earth, a tease of him or a clue into how Trigon was going to do that would have been a better way to set up his character. For the final five episodes, the only development for Trigon is the characters around him, such as Rachel, Angela, and Kori. Viewers receive no direct information about him and his sudden appearance in the penultimate episode left viewers very confused.
With the Trigon plot unresolved going into season two and Deathstroke imminent, it will be interesting to see how Titans resolve this storyline. I would assume that Rachel overpowers Trigon after seeing what happened to Dick Grayson, banishing him or sending him into hiding for the remainder of the second season. With the entire Deathstroke family already cast for season two, I hope more time is spent with them and is used to develop their characters, all of which are incredibly interesting in their own right. By following Deathstroke and his children closely over the course of the entire season, similarly to how Arrow did, the characters will be fully fleshed out when they come face-to-face with the Titans towards the end of the season.
Sticking to the Story
While I really enjoyed the character development brought on by the standalone episodes, I felt that there were far too many for this first season. The purpose of the first season is to get audiences associated with the central cast, in this case, Dick Grayson, Kory, Gar, and Rachel. I thought the introduction and development of Hawk and Dove was done really well in the second episode, providing world building as well as character development for Dick Grayson. Even the episode about Jason Todd was handled fairly well and I thought was a good way to conclude the first half of the season. However, my problem lies within the episodes “Donna Troy”, “Hank and Dawn”, and “Koriand’r.”
Within these three back-to-back-to-back episodes, the central plot to the season, Rachel and her father, was put on the back-burner and replaced with more world building and unnecessary character development. While I really enjoyed Donna Troy as a character, her arrival in the season felt late and began a shift in the focus of the season from Rachel to Dick. However, that shift should have never occurred because there could have been enough room for both without compromising Rachel and Trigon’s relationship and development.
While the episode “Hank and Dawn” gave us a very deep look into these two characters and most likely served as a test episode similarly to the episode “Doom Patrol” (which I quite enjoyed thanks to it developing Gar’s story and occurring earlier in the season), the episode should not have been there to start. This, of course, concluded with a teaser for a team up battle that was not even seen in the finale, the Titans and Jason Todd versus Trigon. Although the history of the two characters was very well done, at a time where viewers wanted more overarching story content, the episode ultimately hurt the season as a whole.
This leads me to the penultimate episode of the season, “Koriand’r.” The plot revolving around Kory should have resolved itself around episode seven in my opinion. Her character development is ultimately cut short because the revelation about her character is pushed to the end of the season. By having all the central characters developed by episode seven or eight, there leaves room for the characters to work and develop as a team. On top of this, the episode is trying to bring in Trigon for the finale.
In season two I hope the series can remove these single episodes focused on characters outside of the team. The only new cast members who need them are Joshua Orpin’s Superboy and the Deathstroke family. Aqualad is set to be introduced as well but I hope they do not give him an episode like with Donna Troy. By putting the focus of the episodes on the team and on the season’s overarching story, the show should drastically improve from a narrative standpoint.
Do Not Dwell on Season One
Something I’m desperately afraid of entering season two is that the show will dwell for too long on season one, pushing back the Deathstroke and Superboy plots until the fourth or fifth episodes. The best approach, in my opinion, is the one I expressed earlier, where Raven quickly eliminates the Trigon threat and the team moves on. Another idea is to start season two with Trigon already defeated or out of the picture and using flashbacks explain what happened in the past throughout the first four or five episodes while also developing season two’s arc. This would be similar to how Young Justice handled its second season and that worked out well for them. Another thing that should be resolved almost immediately is the Robin/Nightwing situation. With the Robin suit burned, Dick Grayson will need to be suiting up in black and blue very soon. There are so many plot lines to resolve and develop going into season two, and I can only hope that the team behind Titans can handle them all properly.
Titans is scheduled to have a panel at San Diego Comic-Con next week and with it, we should be getting some first-looks as well as a trailer. Hopefully, those first-looks include Nightwing and Deathstroke! Ultimately Titans season one was a pretty good start to the series, but hopefully, with a slight narrative change of direction, the series can elevate itself to the top tier of comic book television!
What did you think of Titans season one? Are you looking forward to season two? Let us know in the comments below or on our social media!