The third season of Titans wasted no time upping the stakes, leading off with the murder of Jason Todd, loosely adapted from the classic comic book collection “A Death in the Family,” followed by original twists of Batman breaking into Arkham, killing the Joker, and fleeing his home city after telling Dick to “be a better Batman.” No pressure, right? Now once again borrowing from the comics, the Red Hood makes a move to take over a big piece of the underworld in Gotham. Dick and his allies need to find out who this new threat is, and Dick gets several surprises about things that have happened in Gotham while he’s been away. But most of the episode revolves around the newly emerged “Red Hood.”
In a very Gotham scene, the episode starts off with a big meeting of various organized crime families. It says a lot about the Batman’s impact on his city that hardened criminals are debating his morality with this much intensity. Some don’t believe he’d ever kill under any circumstances, and others can understand how he’d be pushed to that point. The discussion gets interrupted by a duffle bag dropping on the middle of their table and a voice demanding they open it. Some of the thugs try and deal with this the only way they really know how, spraying the rafters with gunfire. Things don’t go well for the criminals as the Red Hood makes his appearance, emphasizes his demands, and the bag proves to be full of some persuasive illustrations of the Hood’s commitment. The thugs have no idea how to deal with a masked man who has this kind of organization, dedication, and violence. It’s almost fun to watch if you don’t know what’s coming. Down in Washington, DC, we see how Hank Hall has begun a new life, and, while it’s never stated, you can practically feel some of his connections in the background making this possible. In short order, we also see Dove in action and get a feel for the tension between the two.
As the news carries the story of the Joker’s death, Dick gets to the GCPD to see Barbara. Apparently, he’s not universally loved, as at least one of the cops tries to run interference and knows exactly who Dick is. Eventually, Dick gets to her and they talk about Bruce’s recent actions, including some we hadn’t heard about before. Barbara is aghast at the charge laid on Dick’s shoulders, and he does get one affectionately mocking response. Some sparks flare, more of the angry than romantic kind, and Dick tells her that he’s bringing in the Titans, which she’s not sure about. Neither am I, for that matter.
As the Red Hood also watches the news about the Joker, Dick briefs his team about how different Gotham is from everywhere else, and how it’s dangerous even for “people like them.” Dick’s rough outline of a plan for the night lasts about thirty seconds as he gets a call from Commissioner Barbara Gordon. Apparently, a woman who really doesn’t fit the model for a usual Gotham criminal has been up to no good, is wearing one distinctive piece of clothing, and has come to the police bearing a note addressed to Nightwing. They really seem to be pushing their luck with the secret identity thing in Gotham, since Dick keeps showing up to talk to Barbara, followed shortly by Nightwing doing something. In this case, he goes to talk to the woman. Nothing goes as remotely as expected, and even the masked hero and some veteran cops are surprised by what happens next. Later, Barbara has another meeting with Dick (subtle, guys), and she tells him about a very unusual consultant the GCPD has been using. Dick is very displeased by this news, and then shocked when he hears the story behind it.
The team is settling in at Wayne Manor, and up to different things. Kory wanders the place, checks out Dick/Jason’s bedroom and then has another episode like we saw at the end of last show. Gar is in the library, fanboying over getting to look through Batman’s books, while Superboy is both unimpressed and hungry. Their debate about library etiquette gets interrupted when Kory wanders through, clearly not quite herself. The two follow her and there’s a confrontation in the kitchen that could have gone much worse. On the heels of this, Kory calls Justin, her hookup from Vegas. Conveniently, he’s a psychiatrist, and she tells him about her recent issues. She doesn’t really give him enough to go on at first, but does work in the “death in the family” phrase that’s part of this storyline. While they sorta flirt, Dick continues to prove he’s unclear on the secret identity concept and goes to meet the consultant as himself. There’s a lot of verbal sparring and feeling each other out, but Dick eventually gets some useful advice, as well as a clue being pointed out that a skilled detective really should have noticed.
The team is running through this new piece of information and some theories off it when Hank suddenly shows up, surprising everyone, especially Dawn. After some greetings, those two go off for an argument. The heroes split up to run down some leads, but put the pieces together too late as Barbara calls to warn them about a bank robbery turned hostage situation. Most of the team shows up at the bank, while Beast Boy and Superboy (Team Boy, I guess?) go off to work another angle. This entire scene has a great series of twists and turns, and the Titans get suckered. In the aftermath, Barbara isn’t in a forgiving mood, and basically tells Dick the Titans are off the case. Barbara does seem to share Dick and Jason’s temper issues in this world.
Regrouping back at the manor, Hank and Dick get a good friendship scene, with banter and relationship advice, as well as a food joke. Down in the cave, Gar is driven and determined to make progress on this case, which really should be Dick’s job and concern. But Gar is smarter than a lot of people give him credit for, and he makes a big breakthrough, impressing everyone. They figure out what’s going on and that the police are heading in to a trap. When Kory suggests he calls to warn them, Dick makes a crack about Barbara not taking his calls and doesn’t even try, again very out of character. There’s a slightly unclear scene that suggests the Titans sabotage the police for their own good, which is weird at best, and then the team goes to spring the trap. We get to see Hawk and Dove in action, but the main event is Nightwing versus the Red Hood. This was a really well done scene, from Nightwing actually moving like his comic book counterpart (they must have had a great stunt team for this), to the confrontation between the two, to the big reveal which isn’t remotely shocking if you’ve read any of the Bat-based DC books over the last few decades. The fight was really well done, though.
What I liked: That last scene was really impressive. It felt the most right of anything they’ve done on this show in a long time. The bank job sequence was brilliantly done as well, showing the caliber of strategist the team is up against. It was nice seeing Gar get used as something besides comic relief, and I’m intrigued by Kory’s episodes. The new consultant is an interesting choice, but makes some sense given his background.
What I didn’t: While I know this is “Titans” and not another Batman show, I’m a bit disappointed to see that the Dark Knight is probably gone for the rest of this season at least. Dick is really being sloppy with his secret identity. They’re really speeding up the events around the Red Hood’s story, and I’m curious how they are going to justify some of this. The sequence that led to this character in the comics is really complicated and not at all going to work here, so I’d like to hear how they did it.
It was a good episode with a few brilliant moments. I’ll give this a high 3.5 out of 5.