Thursday, October 21, 2021

REVIEW: 'Titans' - The Line Between Life and Death Blurs During the Titans' Final Confrontation with Crane in 'Purple Rain'

HBO Max's Titans - Episode 3.13 "Purple Rain"

With Gotham once again at the mercy of Crane's terror, it's all hands on deck for the Titans as they infiltrate Wayne Manor and harness an ancient power that transcends life and death.

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 season finale of HBO Max's Titans.

"Purple Rain" was written by Richard Hatem & Greg Walker and directed by Chad Lowe

This season finale focuses intensely on stopping Crane as he prepares to detonate bombs all across Gotham. These explosions also unleash a powerful fear toxin that basically kills on contact as it is distributed across the air in the nearby area. It's a dire threat. The city isn't a ghost town as it was previously perceived with the corrupt police stomping out various rebel factions. Donna and Tim get his family to safety. In doing so, they unite with more Titans. And yet, Tim needs to remain in the city for this fight. That's something everyone just immediately accepts. In fact, it's also striking just how easily people accept Donna's resurrection as well. The audience has had several episodes to process that development. However, Dick also being killed and coming back from the dead lessons the impact of him reuniting with his friend. It's suddenly no big deal. Their journeys in the afterlife were so different. Moreover, the action purposefully split the Titans up across the city as this threat from Crane grew more precarious. And now, it's relatively easy for them to reunite to launch this final strike against him. That creates the casual nature of Donna just being a regular member of this team again. Hardly any time is devoted to acknowledging the miraculous nature of these events. Instead, the Lazarus Pit just becomes a plot point that other Titans have to utilize in order to save the lives that Crane has already killed. That gives Rachel, Kory, Conner and Blackfire a grandiose mission to accomplish in all of this as well. But again, it's the show being singularly focused on one objective. This season has diversified its interests. It presented various threats and how the main characters dealt with them. That nuance is mostly tossed aside so this one conflict can be prioritized above all else. It was meaningful that Conner purposefully decided to destroy Blackfire's ship. That represented the only way for her to get home and reclaim the throne that rightfully belonged to her. It was a selfish action that highlighted him giving in to the villainous impulses in his DNA. And then, he immediately backtracks. He apologizes and Blackfire is completely accepting. She understands what he did. He makes up for it later on too. All of that basically showcases a willingness to be complicated in the moment without wanting to follow through on any interesting consequences afterwards. That's just weird. It wants to simply present Conner as someone continually struggling with who he is. His actions have no weight because he is so non-committal. Because he doesn't know what path to follow, nothing has any meaning for him because he constantly flip flops. He's never consistent. Here, he is just suppose to serve as a loyal member of the team. He does that. He doesn't pursue a heel turn in the same way that Jason did. With Jason, an attempt at introspection is made. He comes to see both the truth and error of Bruce's ways. In fact, everyone acknowledges that the city can no longer go on by repeating the same patterns. That almost killed Bruce. And now, he is inspired by what this new generation has accomplished. They defeat Crane. They have done so by recognizing the damage their actions can inflict on others as well. They know they can't be forgiven for everything. They may not be able to embrace a life they once had. They still serve as heroes in this situation. That's uplifting and empowering. But it's still at the core directive of Dick. His central arc is still prominent in the decisions everyone else makes. Sure, Barbara and Donna have their own agency and ability to pursue their own paths. Everyone else is mostly along for the ride. Dick dictates that the Titans are returning to San Francisco after saving Gotham. And so, they get into an RV and ride off for a crazy adventure. That comes after the show made a big deal about Tim fighting for the soul of Gotham. He then abandons it because Dick accepts him as part of the Titans. Similarly, Dick asks Gar to turn into a bat because it's a crucial part of the mission. He doesn't consider the impact that has on Gar. Nor does he tell him about Jason being an ally once more. Gar always highlighted Jason's humanity. That's remembered after the fact. All of this continues to showcase Dick's questionable leadership skills. He presents as a person with a fresh perspective. He can't play Crane's game as he dictates. That can't be the way to save Gotham. He has to do better. That means plaguing Crane with the fears and terrors of everyone who has ever been in the Lazarus Pit. That's the fitting form of justice at the end of this journey. It's a complete story. One that holds personal resonance for everyone involved. It's still hollow in a way too. It's a lot of action even though it comes at the expense of character moments that should be more rewarding than they are ultimately given.