This week’s episode of Titans delivers a slightly undercooked but enjoyable culmination of Scarecrow’s antics to bring Gotham City to its knees. The flashy Gotham-heavy season continues to improve upon its predecessors, even if it still struggles to fulfill the overwhelming potential of some of DC Comics’ most beloved characters.
The following review contains SPOILERS for DC’s Titans Season 3.
Soon after Red Hood distributed early doses of the anti-fear toxin, disobeying Scarecrow’s orders, the villainous mentor isn’t quick to forgive Jason even if he’s pleased by the blood-soaked events. Benched in a much worse state than he was under Batman, Jason finds himself in a far too familiar position. His reckless decisions already caused the deaths of innocents. But now, the very mob families supporting Scarecrow’s operation have cold feet about the whole thing. Even when Dr. Crane momentarily appeases their worries, it’s clearly done enough damage for at least one head mobster.
At the Batcave, the superhero team has caught wind of what Scarecrow is cooking up. But it’s going to take several avenues to figure out the specifics of the operation. Dick Grayson once again turns to Barbara Gordon for help. This time, they attempt to get the Oracle up and running again. Unlike the comics, the iconic moniker represents a dangerously powerful supercomputer that the government shut down. Deviating from the source material actually works here. After all, it allows Barbara to be commissioner without losing the involvement of Oracle. The intricate production design brings the whole ordeal together in a visually compelling way as well.
Meanwhile, the other Titans leader, Kory Anders, resorts to using her sister’s intel and good ol’ fashioned mobster negotiations to obtain Scarecrow’s whereabouts. It’s always a treat to see Anna Diop shine as the character. And fortunately, she gets a lot to work with this episode. The inclusion of Damaris Lewis’ Blackfire also helps in letting the story be more than just stopping a crazy villain. Their dynamic evolves by the minute as Blackfire teases the real reason she killed their parents. On top of that, she showcases she’s a valuable asset to the team despite her lack of superpowers.
With the help of Oracle, Dick and Barbara track down a van that contains a man with a very familiar bomb attached to his chest. But even with Superboy on the scene, the altered device can’t be disarmed anymore. The victim and the car explode, with the half-Kryptonian taking the brute force of the blast. Of course, he comes out unscathed. However, Dick’s growing ego takes a hit when Scarecrow compromises Oracle. Soon after, Barbara shuts the supercomputer down. Even though doing that is exactly what the villain wanted, she assures Dick they should go analog to find the info they need. Fortunately for them, Starfire and Blackfire have been on the right track having wasted far less time.
On the other side of Gotham, Kory and her sister attempt to persuade Valeska’s son to return to his family before sh!t hits the fan in Gotham. The mobster they met earlier, Valeska, requested something in return for the intel the Titans require. In this case, her own son. But as they soon find out, the criminal mother pulls the trigger on her own child, stating that he was working for the FBI. That shocking revelation leads to Starfire disintegrating Valeska right before she can reveal Scarecrow’s location.
It was the irrational thing to do, sure. But I don’t think anyone is emotionally devasted Starfire made quick work of someone that betrayed her trust. Besides, while Dick and Barbara investigated on the ground, the two sisters got the necessary intel thanks to a poor mobster goon. One of the better moments of the episode arrives when both have a heart to heart in regards to their parent’s death. It’s here that Blackfire makes it clear it was the only choice for survival.
Meanwhile, Dick and Barbara are on the ground figuring out the last pieces of the Scarecrow puzzle. Since the beginning of the season, they’ve made it overwhelmingly clear they want fans to ship them so hard that you’ll forget Dick has been with almost every single breathing female on the series. Fortunately, each of their strengths complements each other, with Savannah Welch and Brenton Thwaites having the on-screen chemistry to back it up. Nevertheless, the dynamic duo finds out that the machine Scarecrow is building to distribute the toxin to the masses is nearly complete, and it’s a race against time for the Titans to stop it.
For the third time this season, the Titans stand together against Scarecrow’s final act. With that, we get a pretty entertaining fight sequence that lets everyone in on the fun. Sure, Dr. Crane’s quick unraveling at the demise of his precious machine comes about far too soon. But it’s still fun to see our heroes do what they do best. Although Beast Boy is continuously being relegated to his human form, Ryan Potter’s fighting abilities are put on display and even outshines Nightwing in his violent dance with the goons. Starfire and Blackfire get to fight in unison for once, symbolizing the ultimate evolution of their tumultuous relationship. It’s also nice to see Krypto get in on the action alongside Superboy for a brief moment, even if it reminds audiences that Titans still suffers from including too many overpowered heroes in the vigilante team.
Despite the series not reaching its full potential, there are still some glimpses of greatness. The move to HBO Max hasn’t allowed them to push the VFX as much as people had hoped for. But the amount of effort put into the entire production still provides fans with enough to latch onto as the series unfolds. The ending of the episode allows the characters to revel in the team’s accomplishments. However, Scarecrow’s early defeat reeks of a false victory for our heroes. – Marcos Melendez
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