After a week off the main plot of the season to give us the tremendous “Souls” episode, we are brought right back into the thick of things with the ramifications of what happened at the end of “Home”. In order to remedy the situation Dick (Brenton Thwaites), with Barabra’s (Savannah Welch) approval, makes a decision that puts the team and Gotham City in a dire straits.
In a plot line similar to what we saw at the end of Batman Begins, the citizens have been drinking the water supply which Scarecrow (Vincent Kartheiser) has framed the Titans for poisoning. The team decides not to sit back and goes out to confront the people to try to tell them the truth about what happened. This leads to a couple of battles between the team and the people of Gotham but it’s pretty short and unfulfilling. I am sure COVID is the reason why we did not get a longer fight scene but it does what it needs to do to move the narrative forward.
The journey of Jason Todd (Curran Walters) has been the main story of the season but there was a little regression in this one for me. It appeared he was ready to return to Wayne Manor and give up the Red Hood, but a conversation with Scarecrow once again manipulates him into putting on the mask again. This is the first time this season where I feel like they’re returning to the typical Titans writing style where they are dragging out a storyline. Watching the episode play out it makes sense, but I feel like they’re going to have a hard time wrapping this up with only 3 episodes left. That being said, I’ll take as much of Walters and Kartheiser as I can get as they’re arguably the two best actors on the show and their work has been fantastic.
“Troubled Water” also brings back “team” Titans and gives us some incredible action scenes, specifically for Superboy (Joshua Orpin), Beast Boy (Ryan Potter) and Nightwing. It was nice to see Beast Boy once again take on his tiger form and wreak some havoc, as he has been the most underutilized character this season, but we also got some terrific fight choreography for Nightwing. The move to HBO Max has really upped the production value this season and it really shows up in the hand to hand combat scenes.
One of the more enjoyable parts of this season for me has been the relationship between Starfire (Anna Diop) and Blackfire (Damaris Lewis). The Tamaranian sisters have had a love-hate relationship that has been central to Kory’s character arc and it takes yet another unexpected twist that leaves us questioning Blackfire’s true intentions for being on Earth.
I am sure by now everyone is asking “Do Donna/Wonder Girl (Conor Leslie) and Rachel/Raven (Teegan Croft) return to the team???” Well…the answer is sort of. Donna is on her way back to Gotham when she is put through a hero’s trial by her Amazon monitor Jillian (Ann Magnuson) who wants her to prove she is ready to be back amongst the living. These scenes are shot in black and off-white which appears to signify they are taking place in some kind of alternate reality. This is similar to the style they used to shoot “Souls” and again it really works.
Rachel’s return is a little different but very symbolic as it manifests as a connection to Gar/Beast Boy. As we saw in “Souls”, Rachel is almost fully formed as Raven and has complete control of her powers. Her past relationship with Gar has created a bond where she can sense where he is.
“Troubled Water” leaves the Titans on the outside of Gotham looking in. In a season of parallels to famous Batman stories it seems we are being set-up for a loose translation of “No Man’s Land”. I am not sure where this one ends up, but I do know there’s only 3 episodes left to figure everything out. – Eric Holzmann