Last episode, “Deathstroke,” ended with Jason Todd possibly falling to his doom. Suspense is a good story-telling technique, and the folks working for the DC Universe shows know this. So, instead of resolving this almost literal cliffhanger, “Conner” focuses on Superboy. This version of the character first appeared in the “Reign of the Supermen” story, immediately after the Death of Superman shocked the world, real and fictional both. He’s a much more recent addition to the Titans’ ranks, actually starting with the Young Justice comic, that began with Robin (Tim Drake), Superboy, and Impulse in the late 90’s.
Cadmus Labs is linked to this version of Superboy, and that’s the case here as well as the comics. The new powerhouse battles several Cadmus security officers, frees Krypto from a small cage, and the two of them walk off. Shortcutting the naming process that took a while in the comics, the young man names himself Conner after the patch on a shirt he picked up along the way. The two of them leave Cadmus and wander downtown Metropolis. In the wake of these events, there’s a lot of chaos at Cadmus, and we focus on three individuals: Walter Hawn, a management type, Dr. Eve Watson, who appears to be coming off quite a night out, and Mercy Graves, yet another character that began in the DC Animated Universe and made the jump to comics and live action (like Harley Quinn). No one is pleased about the escape of “Subject 13,” and Dr. Watson theorizes what he might be going through out in the world. The young man himself wanders around and is having some disturbing flashbacks, as well as some confusion over a t-shirt. As Eve continues to give Mercy the best theories she can, Conner stops a mugging, doesn’t quite get the details on how this should work, but does end up with something he wanted, matching the later look of the comic book character.
Mercy and Eve continue to clash, clearly not coming from the same perspective, as we learn more about the plans for Subject 13, which are now seriously off the rails. Eve and Mercy tag-team the briefing for Cadmus’ hunters, and it’s easy to see who has the more humane approach. Conner hides from his pursuers, sees something that triggers another memory, and decides it’s time to take a trip. He ends up very far away, unknowingly retracting the steps of both of those who contributed DNA to his creation. In the comics, the secret behind Conner’s “parents” was kept for years, here, not even half an episode. Conner and Krypto pay a visit on sort of a relative, and the young man has problems sorting out his memories from present reality. As he finds out he doesn’t like brandy, Conner also learns a lot about one of his forebears. This gets interrupted by the arrival of a Cadmus attack squad (because what secret lab doesn’t have it’s own heavily armed security forces?), and we see that both Conner and Krypto are formidable. Eve, forced on to the field team by Mercy, watches the tide turn against the Cadmus men, and then ends up being confronted by Conner, who has a lot of questions.
After some talk about Conner’s “dads,” they hit the road, although where the black pickup they’re in came from is very unclear. Eve both teaches Conner some things and learns some facts that surprise her. The conversation covers fission, Metropolis’ two most famous residents, and what he should call Eve. Following up on the battle, Mercy lays more plans. What happened to the man Conner was talking to is never really cleared up. The road trip stops at a diner, Eve talks Conner out of getting involved in something, and they argue. The argument helps Eve decide where to go next, and they take off for a lot more driving.
The pair end up in San Francisco, conveniently enough since that’s where the Titans are at present. We see more of one of Eve’s weaknesses, and they, along with Krypto, end up at an abandoned facility on the outskirts of the city. Eve guides them inside, down some hallways, and to a big vault-like door she tells him has his answers, but he might not want them. Not likely to stop now, Conner wrenches the door open, and we get an idea of what happened with Subjects 1-12. The young man is very upset by all this, and takes it out on Eve, who isn’t really equipped for this kind of thing. She cautions him about anger, and gets a better feel for some of his motives in what he’s done over the last few days. She gives him some good advice about how to judge people, and cautions him his life won’t be easy. Cadmus forces arrive once again, and he fights his way through, while she makes up a story to try and satisfy Mercy. Mercy isn’t buying it, and changes the parameters of her mission.
Trying to obey Eve’s parting words, Conner wanders the streets with his dog, doing his best not to get involved. Naturally, his meanderings bring him to the scene of the big fight with Dick, Jason, Kory, and Deathstroke, and Connor manages to leap into action, literally, and save the falling hero’s life. The meeting takes a turn when Mercy catches up with her quarry, and the episode ends not looking great for Conner’s future. Krypto, somehow, has already been captured off-screen.
What I liked: Joshua Orpin, who I don’t think I’ve heard of before, did a good job as the new and confused Conner. It was an interesting spin on the character’s history. Dr. Eve Watson was a good conflicted scientist, and Natalie Gumede made an appropriately ruthless Mercy Graves. They gave an episode to a character we really haven’t seen before, and made it work pretty well. I’m glad they’re not suddenly giving Conner all his powers at once. I’m amused that this is the reverse of so many of the other characters, where he gets his comic book look but is never referred to by the codename.
What I didn’t: While I was pretty sure it was coming, the coincidence of Conner arriving just in time to save Jason was a bit much. Where they got the pickup for this trek across the country was left unclear, as was the fate of one of the characters.
This might have been one of their better episodes. I’ll give this one a high 3.5 out of 5.