Thursday, November 3, 2022

REVIEW: 'Titans' - Rachel's Magic Leads the Titans Closer to the Figure Causing Their Bloody Visions in 'Mother Mayhem'

HBO Max's Titans - Episode 4.02 "Mother Mayhem"

In the wake of an unexpected demise, Conner finds himself framed for murder while the Titans try to piece together Luthor's suspicious connection to Rachel's haunting and clear their teammate's name.

"Mother Mayhem" was written by Bryan Hill and directed by Nick Copus

Lex Luthor wanted to conquer death. Instead, he faced the ultimate consequences for his actions. He didn't prepare for that. At first, the season suggested the Titans would be battling Superman's greatest foe. Instead, a significant pivot happens. This episode starts with Conner in custody for killing Lex. He's confined to a prison where Kryptonite keeps him in a weakened state. Of course, he still has his powers. He's aware of what everyone is saying about him. He was warned that the public would turn against him whenever he makes his first mistake. And yet, he didn't do anything wrong. He wanted to know his father. He had questions that needed to be answered. Lex still exists as a mystery too. Kory wants to know why he was spying on her. That makes no sense. They had no previous interactions. It's notable that she met with Lex first before Conner did. Conner has the more obvious connection. Kory seems more prominent in terms of the long-term storytelling. Lex never wastes his time. That was especially true once he received his terminal diagnosis. He had to believe that Kory could help him in some way. That's important. It all connects back to whatever Mother Mayhem and her blood cult are cooking up. However, Kory and Conner aren't the ones hearing voices and receiving visions. Instead, that honor belongs to Rachel and Gar. That also showcases a willingness to play with expectations. Rachel's connection to the supernatural and the occult are more obvious because of the magic she wields. She has complete control over it now. Gar transforms his physical being into any animal. But he too appears targeted by this endeavor. He doesn't understand it. Gar and Rachel aren't killed upon hearing these voices either. That was the fate for the members of the Lex Corp board. No one could escape that wrath. Lex wasn't the only person who suffered. He risked it all. And now, numerous lives are lost as a result of his actions. Again, that's not anything new for the infamy of the character. It's simply remarkable to note that he wasn't the man pulling the strings behind the whole operation. Instead, Mother Mayhem is seen in that position. She has her eyes on the Titans as well as Sebastian. He too is plagued with visions of blood. Moreover, his mother dies and Mother Mayhem is there to hear him scream out in anguish. He dreams of changing the world. He isn't given that opportunity or respect. Instead, he remains confined in his isolated existence. He will more than likely gain more prominence as the story develops. Right now, he's merely a tangential concern. That's perfectly reasonable for the start of a new season. The show never loses its edge in depicting the brutality of this conflict and the way in which it's impacting all of these characters at the moment.

Of course, no matter how badly the Titans want to leave Metropolis it's impossible for them to do so. They have to stay behind to defend Conner. They have to prove his innocence. It was some magical force that killed Lex. Rachel has the abilities to follow the clues that lead back to the killer. However, he too just appears as a pawn in this whole scheme. He's an entity who certainly commits a whole lot of damage. He also exists to further advance the blood imagery. Aria's house is consumed by it. When the Titans break into his lair, he's slowly bleeding his victims to death. Blood is being collected for some reason. The horror still terrifies the Titans. They haven't grown numb to the pain. If that ever becomes true, that's when they should be worried about each other. This violence hasn't become a natural part of their lives. Plenty of people could be cynical about that. They face these unimaginable horrors in the name of protecting people. It does have an impact on each of them. Tim has a different reaction than the rest of the team. That's understandable considering he's still new. He's being trained. Even then, he doesn't appear to be making a lot of progress. Everyone gets distracted when they should be helping him grow stronger and more capable. He still throws himself into battle when the situation requires it. Mother Mayhem makes her presence known to the Titans. She displays her powers and defeats them one by one. Only Kory has the strength to overpower her. Of course, she too is confused by her true strength. She has no control over it. That mystery persists. And yet, the team's attention has to be immediately directed to Rachel. She saves lives thanks to her magic. She has shown Dick how this power can be used for good. He helps inspire others as a result. Rachel is a hero. She has power beyond what she can wield with her mind. She will be tested though. Her abilities may be taken away from her. That may be Mother Mayhem's true purpose. She's building power. She targets the people in this world who typically wield a ton of it. She's dispatching them one by one in service of her own ideals. She has a loyal following willing to lift her up too. She worked with Lex while keeping him blind to her true ambitions. That takes a lot of talent to pull off. He isn't easily fooled. His company can't keep the truth of the numerous deaths quiet for too long either. Conner is out of confinement by the end of the episode. He stands strong with the Titans during their confrontation. However, his wish to escape this brutal ordeal isn't granted. Instead, everyone has to stick around because Mother Mayhem demands so much more from each of them. That's clear even if the direct purpose hasn't quite revealed itself yet.