“Titans,” DC’s live-action adaptation of a grim, dark take on fan-favorite superhero team “Teen Titans,” returns with its fourth season on HBOMax. Often criticized for its edginess, convoluted character writing, and plot, the series, however, managed to bring several iconic DC heroes and legacy characters under a roof. The previous season saw the team warding off the threats of the villainous duo Scarecrow and Red Hood from Gotham City. This season picks right from the ending of last season as the team makes a return journey to their base in California.
‘Titans’ Season 4, Episode 1: Recap And Ending
“Titans” celebrate their victory in Gotham City in a bowling alley en route to California. As the rest of the team have fun, two senior-most members, Dick Grayson and Cory Anders, reflect on the team’s topsy-turvy journey up to this point. In the middle of the conversation, Bruce Wayne calls Dick to request them to pay a visit to Metropolis, as Superman himself has expressed his willingness to finally meet Superboy, aka Conner Kent, and that the STAR Labs would also like to meet the team.
Elsewhere, supervillain Lex Luthor enters a secret hideout that turns out to be a Temple of Azarath. It seems like in his desire to achieve the strength to match his arch-nemesis Superman; he has resorted to ancient occult. After gaining acquisition of the temple, Lex promptly fires May Bennett, the archaeologist who had researched and excavated the site. Feeling aghast and bitter at this gesture, Bennett leaves the site stating the kind of power Lex wishes to wield takes a cost, which someone will have to pay, foreboding a sinister future.
Presumably, in Metropolis, an eccentric, lonely taxidermist named Sebastian Sanger practices his speech in his shop about his recent discoveries/inventions about changing the world. Almost at the same time, a couple gets brutally murdered at their home by a bony-masked killer. Three major blood imageries appear before that in three different places. The takeout dinner at the unnamed couple’s place, Raven’s beverage at the bowling alley, and a stuffed animal at Sanger’s shop momentarily start dripping blood all of a sudden, hinting at something sinister at play.
“Titans” arrive at STAR Labs at Metropolis and are greeted by the chief of special projects, Bernard. He informs Dick and Conner that due to some urgency, Superman had to leave and couldn’t meet Conner, but he wrote an apology letter to Conner. In the process of testing a device that allows him to keep his suit intact even after transformation, Garfield Logan, aka Beast Boy, receives a vision of an ominous wasteland. Upon waking up, he learns in an unhinged state; Gar has destroyed a laboratory in the STAR facility. Corey discovers a new kinetic power of her own that contains immense potential. Even Tim Drake, who is the newest member of the team, receives a Bo staff from STAR labs at Dick’s request. As a sign of gratitude for the past events in Gotham, Bruce Wayne gifts the team an expensive set of wheels. Tons of upgrades for the team, it seems; I wish storytelling reflects the same this season too.
As the team resumes their journey toward home base, Superboy feels a cerebral attack. The reason for the attack is revealed to be Lex’s usage of telepathic technology to communicate with Superboy. Lex expresses his wish to meet Superboy, to which Dick and Kory strongly disagree. However, they let Conner decide. To meet one of his biological parents (the DNA of Superman and Lex was used to create him in that sense; they are his biological parents) and to know the purpose for which he was created, Conner wishes to meet Lex. Dick and Kory agree, but they decide the meeting will happen on their terms. Eventually, Kory pays Lex a visit and sneaks Bruce’s gadget, microdrone Superbug inside Lex’s technological rig. Gar, Conner, and Rachel visit Daily Planet and are assisted by Jimmy Olsen to have a look at Lex’s recent records, where they find his recent activities to be unusually philanthropic. Dick and Kory join them to reveal their recent findings from the spyware that Lex is dying of prolonged kryptonite poisoning and, at best, has only six months at hand, which is why he wants Conner to stay with him. Despite Dick’s repeated warnings, Conner insists that he wants to stay with Lex to know more about himself.
Conner meets with Lex, remains adamant in his willingness to know his purpose of creation, and asks whether Lex wants to meet him to use Conner as a medium for recovery. Lex appeals to Conner’s softer side and states he created Conner in an attempt to see himself as an equal to Superman. He wants Conner to know him for who he truly is and not use others’ perceptions to judge him. It seems upon being forced to face death; Lex is trying to turn a new page in his life and trying to be honest after all. Conner hesitantly agrees to stay. Lex states he suspects his accomplices, who helped him in his quest to defeat death itself, might have ulterior motives in their minds, and he needs Conner’s help regarding that. Just as Lex is about to disclose the names, he starts vomiting blood. In a parallel sequence, Sebastian Sanger starts coughing blood, and Rachel starts shrieking. Sebastian sees his reflection as a separate self, bloodied and maniacal looking. A snake comes out of Lex’s mouth, which Conner destroys, and Lex passes away. Rachel wakes up from her fit and seems to have no recollection of the event. Lexcorp security arrests Conner on suspicion of murder. The last scene of the first episode shows May Bennett standing underneath Lexcorp, and she states what Lex had replied to her earlier, that someone always has to pay.
‘Titans’ Season 4, Episode 2: Recap And Ending
The second episode opens in a family home with parents and a daughter as members. The warm, loving feeling associated with the family quickly gets rude shame up in the form of ominous blood imagery as the bony-masked hooded killer assaults the parents. The daughter tries to run to safety, but it is hinted the hooded assailant catches up to her after brutally murdering her parents. Elsewhere, Conner is incarcerated on suspicion of Lex’s murder and is held in Kryptonite laced cell. “Titans” get to know about this and make their return trip to Metropolis. Dick and Kory assure Conner that they are looking for his early bail as he is being held captive only due to circumstantial reasons. Dick reveals to Kory that the Superbug data revealed that Lex was spying on her and to better know the reasons Kory visits one of Lex’s offices. She finds a member of Lexcorp’s inner circle, and upon questioning him, she learns that the entire Lexcorp inner circle died the previous night by choking on their own blood. She also learns that to defy death, Lex had resorted to the occult. Before he can disclose further, the member dies in a similar way Lex did. Dick brings Raven to Lexcorp’s office, where Lex died, as they want to discover the connection there might be with dark magic. Rachel investigates the site and receives a vision of the place where the killer might have visited earlier.
Garfield and Tim are training in the forest when Garfield hears distant ominous calls. He keeps chasing the unseen source and suddenly faints. Tim wakes him up, and none of them can identify the reason. Dick calls them back before they can venture further to investigate. Kory visits Conner to share the updates regarding Lex, who deduces that whatever Lex was planning with the occult, Kory might have been an integral part of that. Being able to hear people badmouthing him for his origins, Conner becomes skeptical and depressed. Kory tries to instil some hope in him by reminding him of another father he has, Superman. The rest of the team locates the home Rachel saw in her vision, the one where the family resided. They discover the gruesome murder scene and the daughter, who seems to be trapped in a psychic stasis. Rachel enters into the kid Aria’s nightmare and rescues her from the hooded killer.
Sebastian Sanger is seen aiding his old mother and promising her he’ll have a turn of fortune if investors fund his interactive gaming project. During the presentation, Sanger’s earnest attempts fail to impress the investors. He once again sees the bloody imagery surrounding the investors and almost flees from the office. Upon returning home, Sanger learns that his mother has passed away. An already despondent Sanger breaks down frantically.
Following the clue from Aria’s home, “Titans” visit a slaughterhouse where they find live victims are being blood-drained by being hanged. Rachel confronts the hooded killer, and as she is about to reveal the mask to disclose the perp’s identity, the killer seemingly dies by self-immolation. Aria’s father is found alive among other victims, who are then hospitalized. Grayson imparts some wisdom to a traumatized Aria as he shares his own past with her to console the kid. Conner gets released from the charges, and Dick shares that he believes Lex’s former accomplice Arthur Holmwood who is revealed to be the masked killer, might have also murdered Lex. Finally, once and for all, the team, along with Conner, begin their return journey to California as they try to keep the sordid experience in Metropolis in the past.
Unsurprisingly, once again, their journey gets halted as May Bennett, now attired as Mother Mayhem, provokes them into a fight. The team is quite easily taken down by her, except for Kory, whose newfound powers prove to be an equal match for the villainess. After their respective energies clash, an explosion removes Mother Mayhem from the scene, and an unconscious Rachel’s appearance changes. Her dark purple hair turns to white, and the Trigon gem at her forehead vanishes. Mayhem retreats to the temple of Azarath, where she has put up her own cult. Together they start chanting Azarath, Metrion, and Zinthos in unison, which is heard by Sebastian from a long distance.
Much like every previous season, an initial couple of episodes of the fourth season gave “Titans” a strong start. The horror and slasher vibes might remind viewers of season one, but the overall ominous, occult ritualistic background is pushing the season to utilize the genre with more freedom in an even bolder way. Speaking of season one, Rachel Roth, aka Raven, has come a long way from her tortured self of the first season. Her comforting Aria almost mirrored Richard helping her through nightmares in the first season. Kory and Dick being the senior most members, and minding their responsibility by taking care of other members and leading the way feels very proper. Superboy, aka Conner Kent, seems to be in a conflicted state given how much he had to already go through in a span of mere two episodes, being called an aberration, witnessing the death of one of his biological parents, and being wrongly accused of the murder. He’s suffering from an identity crisis, which was hinted at in the first episode, none other than the Man of Steel himself can resolve. Among newcomers in the show, Titus Welliver’s Lex Luthor stole the show in the brief amount of screen time he was given and sold the calculative, calm, egomaniac billionaire with a rounded performance. Even though his appeal to Conner felt genuine, we can never be sure of his true motivation or whether or not he faked his own death, given the fact the person in question is Lex Luthor. The father-son dilemma of Lex and Conner will also remind fans of Young Justice. Joseph Morgan aced a neurotic, painted portrayal of Brother Blood and the split bloody self scene; he channeled his inner Norman Osborn expertly (Spider-Man 1 transformation). Franka Potente’s May Bennett is equally diabolical as her alter ego, Mother Mayhem. This season will heavily deal with Raven’s origin as the temple of Azarath in comics is the birthplace of Rachel. However, this might get translated differently in the series as in comics, the temple of Azarath is heaven-like interdimensional space. This season might also bring back the first enemy of “Titans,” Trigon, as Brother Blood in comics is closely associated with the demon. Azarath Metrion Zinthos is Raven’s spellcasting, emotion-controlling chant in comics, and its mention in the series, along with Raven’s appearance turning to her strongest form White Raven, can assure that this series will give the character the biggest glow-up on screen.