Thursday, September 30, 2021

REVIEW: 'Titans' - The Titans Lose the Trust of the City as Crane Continues to Successfully Manipulate Everyone in 'Troubled Water'

HBO Max's Titans - Episode 3.10 "Troubled Water"

Things go from bad to worse as the Titans are falsely blamed for poisoning the city, forcing them into a perilous position as they work to regain Gotham's trust.

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.

"Troubled Water" was written by Melissa Brides and directed by Larnell Stovall

The citizens of Gotham felt safe because Batman and Commissioner Jim Gordon were protecting them. That's the legacy that Dick and Barbara believe they have to uphold. They once lashed out against their respective parents. They didn't want to be anything like them. But now, they are each filling those familiar roles. They believe they are being compared to an impossible standard and are failing the city. They can't protect it. Now, their predecessors didn't have all the answers. In fact, Bruce feels defeated to the point where he attempted suicide. Now, that moment still feels incredibly random. It was meant to highlight Donna's journey as a hero instead of provide some meaningful insight into Bruce's current condition. Meanwhile, Donna spends this entire episode just trying to get into Gotham. It's relatively easy for her. She can quickly overpower the national guard sent in to seal the city off from the outside world. But it's also a narrative meant to overanalyze the woman she has returned as. Her instincts may not be as sharp as they once were. She must be tested because her skills previously still led to her untimely death. She is given a second chance at life. She must prove worthy of using it before she can return to her world of vigilantism. All of that is clear. It's just weird how she is given that time and focus while Rachel just randomly shows up after Gar has been hit with a tranquilizer. That may state that the creative team just finds Donna as a more interesting character worthy of further development. Rachel has largely been discarded this season. Even when she returns here, it's all about the disarray the Titans currently find themselves in. That's largely a result of the inability to learn from the past and grow from it. Deathstroke wanted to show the world that the Titans are no heroes. He was determined to break them up before they could determine what justice looked like in this world. And now, Crane is essentially following the same playbook. He frames them for poisoning the Gotham water supply. The public at large believes it too. It doesn't take much convincing. The people who consumed the tainted water are foaming at the mouth and dangerous. The city is on edge. Meanwhile, the action is more interested in pretend accountability for its heroes. It's an odd story. It would only work if the show had previously showcased them taking responsibility for their actions. They aren't responsible for this central disaster. And so, they are basically putting on a show in what they believe the public needs to see in order to appease their worries. The Titans were celebrated as heroes in San Francisco. They came to Gotham to hopefully make a difference. And now, the city has turned against them. Barbara hasn't lost hope. But she too has no awareness of what's happening within her ranks. It's easy for Jason and Crane to buy the police off. That disrupts the video of the Titans surrendering themselves to the authorities. Instead, it comes across as an attack on the force meant to protect this city. It's all corrupt and amoral. That's typically at the heart of every story told in this location. It's what several characters have always feared. They were haunted by the depravity Gotham forces them into being. But again, that's the traditional story. It doesn't feel challenged enough. So instead, uncertainty comes from whether or not Blackfire can be trusted. Kory tries to heal her sister after she is injured. In the process, her powers are transferred to her. It further illuminates how their loyalties differ as it pertains to the team. The Titans are family to Kory. With Blackfire, it's mostly just something for her to do. It doesn't mean anything to her. She wants her sister to trust her. That may never ultimately happen. It presents Kory as fallible. She isn't perfect. She always fears the worst with her sister. That may be warranted considering the show's overall tendency to always operate in support of its heroes. Every attempt to previously paint them in an unflattering light hasn't ultimately been genuine. All of this could be one big deceit. The narrative is simply waiting to reveal itself fully. And yet, the season is nearing its conclusion. The audience should feel as if all of this has been coming to fruition in a satisfying way based on the development of the season. That's just not present. It was always dangerous for Crane and Jason to remain loose in Gotham. The Titans lost that agency. It's difficult to have sympathy for the chaos that now consumes them. It feels self-inflicted. That's why it's more engaging to see Donna and Rachel as wildcards in all of this. Their inclusion simply has to wait yet another episode.