Thursday, September 16, 2021

REVIEW: 'Titans' - Jason Starts to See the Error of His Ways But Can't Escape Crane's Influence Against the Titans in 'Home'

HBO Max's Titans - Episode 3.08 "Home"

As an emboldened Crane looks to filter his poison through Gotham's water system, Starfire - still plagued by visions - enlists Blackfire and Superboy's help, and Gar finally tracks down Jason.

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.

"Home" was written by Tom Pabst and directed by Larnell Stovall

The signal calling for Batman has officially been replaced by one calling for the Titans. It's a celebration of what they've accomplished and the trust the city now has in the team. Everyone certainly operates as if they've just finished a successful mission. Dick and Barbara are preparing to attend a gala. Conner and Blackfire have sex. And yet, Crane and Jason are still on the run. They can still inflict a lot of damage. No one seems to find much agency in that concern. It's not until the end of the episode that the team once again realizes the scope of what Crane is still capable of doing. They may have disrupted his initial plan. However, he still has plenty of resources to inflict lots of harm. He does so even when Jason is wavering in his support. He was easily manipulated because of his reliance on the drugs to avoid fear. A lot of that can be blamed for his behavior this season. He still understands the magnitude of what he has done. He may never be able to return home to the Titans. They may never forgive him for killing Hank. It wasn't entirely Crane's doing either. He pushed him over the ledge. Jason was still susceptible because he felt mistreated by the Titans. He now hopes for redemption. Gar may be the only member of the team willing to extend that as well. He too understands that need for empathy. Just last season he was controlled by a nefarious entity and ordered to kill people. The team welcomed him back with open arms. With Jason, it's different because it's more personal. Everyone on the team hopes that can justify their animosity and their immediate instincts to always assume the worst with him. Jason can no longer be trusted. He has shown his true colors. Nothing he says or does can be taken at face value. It's just another opportunity to lead the team into a trap. Of course, the audience knows it's much more complicated than that. He didn't knowingly lead the Titans to Crane just to advance the next phase of his agenda. Crane took advantage of the situation. This episode also hopes to provide more clarity into Crane as well. Unfortunately, a session with his therapist mother does very little to explain his behavior and what he is hoping to achieve in all of this. It's all done with the intention of offering some psychological understanding for his behavior. In the end, it's just awkwardly executed. It also proves that the police know to monitor his mother but don't have the resources to actually take him down when he eventually shows up. That's incredibly lackluster considering he never presents as a daunting, physical threat. He always has others fight his battles. He is good at manipulating situations to his benefit. So, his escape is mostly inexplicable. He's right to wonder about where Jason is and what he is currently doing. That provides him with the opportunity to poison the city's water supply. But again, that ending is inevitable thanks to the frequency of the action cutting away to focus on the leaking ceiling in Barbara's office. That didn't foretell the poison that has already seeped in and is now affecting the characters' judgments though. That's in addition to Dick suffering an injury and hallucinating various versions of himself. That device is completely aimless. It adds nothing of value to the overall story. Again, it suggests that he has already been poisoned somehow. In reality, it's just him pushing himself too hard despite his immediate injuries. The team has to take care of their minds just as much as their bodies. That's an important lesson. It's not amply told here though. Instead, it just offers a rushed introduction of Tim Drake as somehow who knows enough details about the team and a willingness to prove himself. That too is a familiar story. It's actually similar to how Jason has functioned in the past. Jason can perhaps see the error of his ways now. He can't save Tim from being attacked. He is powerless. All of this subtext is rich and meaningful. The execution in the actual story remains chaotic. That's not even mentioning that things are getting weird for Kory once more. That too wishes to be vague instead of detailing immediate answers right away despite how easily accessible they should be given all that the team already knows. It's weird and really disrupts the momentum of the season. It does so by only highlighting the poor instincts of the core characters as well.