Any of you who know me and saw my coverage, you know I’ve been pretty pessimistic about Titans ever since the first trailer dropped. It seemed like it was being edgy for the sake of being edgy, the production design looked weak, the effects looked like pure garbage, and the show as presented just gave me bad vibes overall. Well, the premiere is here, and I’ll say this for it: Titans is not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be.
We get thrown right into the thick of things in Episode 1 “Titans,” seeing the Flying Graysons’ deaths through Raven’s powers. That whole sequence really sets up what I hope to be the beating heart of this series, this emotional relationship between Titans Raven and Robin, as it’s touched on later in the episode in an interrogation scene that might be the best part of this series premiere. The dynamic the show sets up between those two players is excellent; I hope they capitalize on it as the season continues. We delve a bit into Starfire as well, as she wakes up in Austria with amnesia. I also quite enjoyed this part of the episode, as it’s the best look at the character we’ve gotten thus far. The story in the premiere is solid, although I wouldn’t say it grabbed me by the throat or anything.
Episode 2 is a different beast. “Hawk and Dove” not only furthers the dynamic between Dick and Rachel, but introduces the titular fellow Titans Hawk and Dove, who are both excellent additions to the lineup so far. They get a good chunk of screen time in “Hawk and Dove,” and they serve not only to give us a window into the larger universe at play in Titans, but also provide us with more context to understand where Dick is in his life right now. We get flashbacks to Dick’s relationship with Dawn/Dove, and how their falling out created animosity between Dick and Hank/Hawk. The ending of “Hawk and Dove” is also incredibly strong, with Dawn incapacitated and Rachel being kidnapped.
The third episode of Titans, “Origins,” is the best of the three and showcases the chemistry these characters have with each other better than the previous two do. The writers also really dig into the main plot of the season, centering around the darkness inside Rachel welling up, hailing the possible arrival of Trigon (who isn’t referenced by name, of course). We also get a deeper look at Dick following his parents’ deaths, and eventually how he will become Robin. I will say that it’s a bit comical to watch them reference Bruce Wayne; we see him initial a letter and even stand in a doorway shrouded in shadow. It’s so obvious that DC told them that they couldn’t use Batman or Bruce Wayne on the show, so they pushed his presence as far as they could go with it. But these scenes remain effective nonetheless. We also get to see Kory beginning to put the pieces together as she attempts to discover what she was doing prior to her amnesia.
The acting on Titans is pretty solid so far. Brenton Thwaites is doing a good job portraying this series’ version of Dick Grayson. He’s certainly a much darker, more brutal interpretation of the character than I’m used to seeing, but Thwaites digs deep enough into that darkness and pulls off a good performance in these first episodes, even if some of the writing is off. Teagan Croft is also doing solid work as Raven. She’s playing a younger incarnation of her, one that very much relates to Thwaites’ Dick Grayson in what looks to eventually become a brother-sister dynamic. She has a range of emotions that she displays in the show, including anger, fear, and deep sadness, and Croft goes through all of them effectively enough. She has several very strong scenes opposite Thwaites that impressed me and sold me on their dynamic. Anna Diop is probably my favorite of the cast so far. She’s charismatic and somewhat sassy, and also ably plays the amnesiac aspect of her character. That performance could easily be annoying or overplayed if mishandled, but she makes it feel natural. She also has two of the standout action scenes, and Diop appears to be handling those quite well. She’s at her best thus far in episode three, where she gets to spend time with Dick and Rachel, and she bounces off of them nicely. Ryan Potter isn’t in much of the first three episodes. He’s an ending stinger for the premiere and has brief screen time in the third episode. What is shown looks good, I just wish we got more from him.
The production design on Titans is pretty good. I’ve seen the comparison made and I agree; Titans looks like a slightly higher quality Arrowverse show. The sets, costuming, and cinematography are not as good as, say, the Marvel Netflix shows, but they’re higher than The Flash. At the same time, you aren’t going to confuse this with an HBO production, that’s for sure. The musical score is surprisingly strong, however. I don’t know why that should surprise me, as Clint Mansell is involved, but the theme that plays during the DC title card put me off instantly with its low, buzzy grumble. The score during the actual show is much better, though.
When all is said and done, the first three episodes of Titans are pretty surprising. The series starts off a bit slow, but each episode builds off of the previous one and Titans ends up delivering some really satisfying storytelling, juggling multiple characters and plots reasonably well. Color me impressed.
What did you think of the first three episodes of Titans? Let me know in the comments below! Stay nerdy everyone!