Saturday, August 14, 2021

REVIEW: 'Titans' - Red Hood Taunts the Titans as They Strive to Make a Difference in Their New Environment in 'Red Hood'

HBO Max's Titans - Episode 3.02 "Red Hood"

With the Joker out of the picture, the mysterious Red Hood takes charge. But after bringing the Titans back to Gotham City, Dick is confronted by the city's newest villain - and his shocking real identity.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of HBO Max's Titans.

"Red Hood" was written by Tom Pabst and directed by Carol Banker

This episode is a long walk up to a big, shocking reveal. As such, a lot of its effectiveness is based around that reveal. Dick learns that Jason is still alive. More than that though, he has become the new villain to take over Gotham City. He has assumed the new identity of Red Hood. An identity shift like that is significant. It's not the first time it's happened on this series. However, it's pretty sudden and jarring too. It took two seasons for Dick to embrace life as Nightwing. He could no longer be Robin. He was annoyed that Bruce replaced him as his sidekick. He saw the reckless abandon with which Jason conducted himself on the job. Dick always wanted to help. Jason was always determined to prove himself. He walked away from the team because he felt they didn't respect him and he wasn't given the opportunity to shine. Some big developments obviously happened between the seasons. Dick saw a mystery that needed to be solved upon returning to Wayne Manor. He knew something was going on in Jason's life before his supposed death. He saw the signs. Bruce didn't. And now, Dick is left behind to pick up the pieces. That includes dealing with the reality of this new development. But again, does all of this make sense for the character the show has spent ample time with at this point? It mostly plays as another example of a show struggling to find something interesting in a supporting character as a hero and thus decides to allow him to have more fun as a villain. That heel turn can open up new creative opportunities. But again, the transition has to feel earned for the audience. With Jason, it just doesn't. This episode doesn't want to make the ultimate twist too obvious. It doesn't want the viewer to see it coming from a mile away. It should make perfect sense in hindsight though. It doesn't. None of Red Hood's actions feel informed by the character the audience has previously known. Yes, the grudge he holds against the Titans is understandable. It's still mostly petty and driven by ego. All the clues point to some master manipulator pulling the strings and catching everyone in the city off guard. Red Hood knows how the Titans will react in any given situation. As such, he can manipulate the trust Dick is hoping to have with Barbara as the police commissioner. That partnership needs to be fruitful in order for some base level of respect to form in this city. The two sides need each other to battle the various threats they face. Dick needs the rest of his family to come to Gotham City to help him be a better Batman. He still makes mistakes. It's all seemingly driven by Jason knowing Dick so well. And yet, that point is illustrated through chess. It's a big metaphor about moves being named after birds and the various connections that link Dick and Jason together as the two former iterations of Robin. It's simply too much. The show wants to present itself as smart. It creates the argument that Jason has elevated himself to the point where he is a true threat to what the Titans are hoping to achieve. It just doesn't have the same gravity and weight that the past villains have embodied. It can be fascinating for a season-long antagonist to be revealed as a former member of the team. That also carries the responsibility of being able to track the emotional through line of his character development. With Jason, it's all incredibly scattershot. The show has more ambitions in this storyline as well. It's not completely dependent on how the viewer responds to this specific twist. Kory is once again losing control of herself and her powers. That too is a familiar note. These characters are never allowed to operate with any true consistency in their abilities. That's annoying at this point. It proves that their personal turmoil shapes how they act on this job caring for the citizens of the world. That must be noted throughout all of this. But it also feels like the same story being told once again. Meanwhile, Dr. Jonathan Crane aka Scarecrow is brought into the proceedings as a consultant for the Gotham Police Department. His insights mostly feel dictated by the plot instead of proving his grand genius. As such, the value he brings to the story isn't all that impressive or meaningful just yet.