S4E2: “Lex Luthor”
When we last saw the Titans they were embarking on a cross-country road trip back to San Francisco after saving Gotham City from Scarecrow’s fear toxin.
But as we know… nothing is ever that simple in this world.
Finally free and completely together, the Titans head to Metropolis to hone their abilities at S.T.A.R. Labs before they continue out west. The team is focused on getting stronger and acclimating Tim Drake (Jay Lycurgo) as the new Robin when they find out they’re on Lex Luthor’s (Titus Welliver) radar, specifically Superboy/Conner Kent (Joshua Orpin). Add to this an underlying magical threat from Brother Blood and Mother Mayhem and all the chess pieces are being put into place.
The most noticeable thing about episode 1 is the lighter tone it starts with. We see a team who has been through a lot and are finally at ease with who and where they are. This hasn’t always been the case with this show. Typically their heroic actions take a heavy psychological toll and require the characters to be broken down in order to be built up, but we don’t get that here.
The action sequences, while toned down, are top-notch. Whether it’s Kory/Starfire (Anna Diop) rolling her way through Lex’s bodyguards or Dick/Nightwing (Brenton Thwaites) and Tim taking on a group of ninjas, the fight choreography is flawless.
The standout from episode 1 is without a doubt Welliver’s Lex Luthor. Played with a swagger and confidence we rarely see in the character, he steals every scene he’s in and almost makes you feel sorry for him. The other villain we get a glimpse of is Sebastian Blood (Joseph Morgan), who definitely appears to be a momma’s boy with social anxiety who is descending into villainy.
As a season premiere, “Lex Luthor” accomplishes the goal of setting up the season but also shows how much the show has grown. It doesn’t lessen the stakes and it has all the things we love. The cast has gelled and each character feels completely comfortable in their own skin, which makes their individual moments feel more authentic. The shift from Gotham to Metropolis is also reflected in the tone, yet the return to the more supernatural elements of season 1 reminds everyone this is still TITANS! – Eric Holzmann
S1E2: “Mother Mayhem”
The shocking end of episode 1 left Lex Luthor dead and Superboy the lone suspect in his murder. After willingly surrendering to the police, Dick, Kory, and the rest of the Titans begin to investigate what exactly happened and who is behind Lex’s murder. What they find is that it is the Titans who are on the radar of Brother Blood and Mother Mayhem, and those two have plenty in store for the team.
“Mother Mayhem” dives deeper into the occult and supernatural. Written by co-producer Bryan Edward Hill, the show feels more like it could be an episode of “American Horror Story” than a show about superheroes, but TITANS has always been a show that pushes the envelope and Hill really goes there. He gives us familiar horror staples like demonic possession, nightmares, and witchcraft, and our first glimpse into the Church of Blood.
The focus here is on both Rachel/Raven and Kory/Starfire. Teegan Croft really shines and is arguably the most talented actor in the cast. She plays Raven with confidence but also shows vulnerability in the direst situations. It has been really awesome watching her grow each season. Anna Diop’s Starfire is not the one we all know from the comics, but she has been consistent throughout the series and has become one of the strongest members of the team. Diop has really made this version of Kory her own and the show is stronger for it.
However, they both take a back seat to Mother Mayhem (Franka Potente). She is introduced for a short time during “Lex Luthor” as the person who is helping Lex, but it turns out she’s the one pulling the strings. In the climactic scene of the episode, she takes out every single Titan except Starfire. It is clear that she is a force to be reckoned with and the team has its work cut out for them this season.
“Mother Mayhem” does an excellent job of advancing the story and fleshing out the villains of season 4. It plays out almost like a horror movie, with the slow pacing leading into the big reveal of the supernatural threat who immediately shows their wares. It is not foreign for TITANS to go to dark places, but this is even darker than we’ve ever seen before, and I am here for it. – Eric Holzmann