Thursday, December 1, 2022

REVIEW: 'Titans' - The Titans Craft a Plan to Rescue Sebastian Before He Completes the Blood Moon Ritual in 'Brother Blood'

HBO Max's Titans - Episode 4.06 "Brother Blood"

The Titans race against time to save Sebastian before the Blood Moon ritual, while Conner's new hardened personality rears, and Gar is presented with an ominous choice.

"Brother Blood" was written by Richard Hatem and directed by Jen McGowan

The season to date has mirrored the journey of the first season. The purpose of doing so provides a back-to-basics feel for the drama. The storytelling harkens back to the material that made the audience fall in love with the show in the first place. Of course, that also requires the audience to remember all the intricate details of that specific plot. Time has passed since then. The characters are no longer the same either. Revisiting it now also provides a glimpse into whether the characters would make the same decisions. Kory came to Earth to prevent Trigon from bringing about the apocalypse. She was raised on a prophecy. This was her destiny. She took control over the narrative. And now, she is once again told that she only delayed the inevitable. Trigon had another child who could start this destruction. Kory opted not to kill Rachel when she had the chance. She is proud of that decision. She arrives at the same choice with Sebastian. She refuses to kill him to honor what her ancestors tell her is for the best. She has been lied to so many times about her identity. She can't trust anyone. Of course, the narrative would rather suggest internal turmoil and uncertainty amongst these characters instead of offering any concise developments. In the premiere, a test revealed Kory was only tapped into eight percent of her potential. She now has access to over eighty percent of her powers. That's a huge achievement. She has no clue how she got there. The audience doesn't know either. That's stressful and anticlimactic. It provides no real effort. It's simply a fact to put out into the story. The same is true of Gar connecting with his animal side. Forces have been reaching out to him to warn him of what's to come. He could only prepare so much. And yet, that disruption has only made his life less certain. He was clear when it came to transforming into a virus to save Conner's life. When it comes to cryptic warnings though, he doesn't know what to do. It's probably good that he was swept away to The Red during the final moments that saw Brother Blood wipe out the Titans. It still makes it feel inevitable instead of characters making decisions in the moment and having to live with the consequences. The plan is already in motion to undo all of this hard work. That's frustrating when it pertains to Sebastian. He chose to surrender himself to his mother instead of letting her hurt anyone else. And now, his motivation has to completely flip so that he ultimately makes the choice to embrace his destiny as Brother Blood. It's seemingly achieved through May showing him moments of his past where he was denied his strength and learned to always doubt himself. It's clearly all manipulative though. The audience can see it transparently while Sebastian is apparently in so much agony he just wants it to stop. It's not completely earned.

Moreover, Conner has embraced the Lex Luthor side of his identity. He receives a dramatic makeover both in appearance and demeanor. However, Conner has always struggled with how to exist in the world. This is simply another extension of that identity crisis. He doesn't suddenly behave more responsibly when he dresses up as Lex. He still flies into a confrontation with Mother Mayhem believing he's powerful enough to stop her without the help from the Titans. In fact, his selfish actions disrupt Dick's plan. That means the Titans have to stage a rescue mission instead of retrieving Rachel's powers and stopping Sebastian from completing the ceremony. The episode very much wants a lot of action during the concluding minutes. Everything happens very suddenly. No one has any time to think. They simply have to react. Getting to that point though, the show wasted a lot of time trying to explain the mechanics of teleportation. That never really factored into the rescue mission whatsoever. It allowed Jinx to provide her input into what needed to be done. And yet, she was better served in helping Rachel trust herself and her powers again. Of course, Rachel's powers inevitably change. That provides even more mysteries that go unsolved. It's not necessary for the show and the characters to have everything figured out at this stage of things. However, it can't be the same central journey with every character. They are all struggling even though they have plenty of moments to celebrate too. Everyone is happy for Tim and Bernard. Meanwhile, Kory wants to know why Dick never told her about the vision of their daughter with a red balloon. These characters don't want to believe their fates are set in stone. They can write their own destinies. But the narrative wants the audience to believe in this glimpse of a happy future. That's the destination everyone should want to happen. That's the only way these characters can have a satisfying conclusion. That needs to be how they end up. That being known now provides some complications for the journeys. It creates tension between Dick and Kory. That distracts them only briefly. They remain laser-focused on the mission at hand. They have to do so. They have to unite the team behind that common cause. That still leaves Conner isolated because he is adamant about doing things his own way. This story has played out numerous times. It's even baked into the Lex Luthor mentality of it all. It offers nothing new. It's a disruption meant to indicate development. Ultimately, it's much more thrilling to see the characters fight to save the world even though their plan goes awry. It's devastating when May stabs Jinx and when Sebastian ultimately pushes them all away. That moment has power even though the plot beats getting to that point were very bumpy.