Thank you to Warner Bros. Discovery for providing early screeners to episodes 1-5 for Titans and making this review possible.
The Titans have always been a popular team in DC next to the Justice League and the Suicide Squad. However, only some members of the team only appeared in animated shows like Young Justice and Teen Titans. In 2016, the potential for a live-action series dissipated after TNT pulled while CW’s Green Arrow and The Flash dominated. This would only be until 2018, when Titans made its debut to widespread intrigue. Now in its fourth season, the show returns to its supernatural roots that fans witnessed in the first season.
When I followed Titans from seasons one and two, I’ll admit I fell off the bandwagon. While the first season’s more origin-oriented focus reigned me in (thanks to its story and setup from Akiva Goldsman, Greg Berlanti, and Geoff Johns), I slowly moved back by the middle of the second season. It became more recognizable that the team was figuring out what stuck and what didn’t (who remembers that Dick prison arc?) Luckily, the third season reeled me back in with a clearer picture on Tim Drake, Jason Todd, and the familiarity of Gotham through its villain Scarecrow. This is where the show’s fourth season picks up as we slowly move away from the brooding shadows of Gotham and into the shining light of Metropolis.
Titans‘ fourth season picks up from the team’s escapades in Gotham with Red Hood and their planned road trip back to San Francisco. However a powerful threat has risen up to challenge their presence, which leads the team deeper in a mysterious conspiracy that could change the fate of their world. The show sees series veterans Brenton Thwaites as Nightwing, Anna Diop as Starfire, Teagan Croft as Raven, Ryan Potter as Beast Boy, and Joshua Orpin as Superboy returning with Jay Lycurgo as Tim Drake and newcomers Lisa Ambalavanar as Jinx, Franka Potente as Mother Mayhem, Joseph Morgan as Sebastian Blood, and James Scully as Bernard Dowd.
Visually, the season is much more different than what fans have been use to. Natural lighting reduces the blue filter and replaces it with a red color hue, which saves for special occasions. The set designs have variety even if some of it is reminisce of previous seasons (the Blood room in the trailer is a highlight!) The VFX is alright, if a bit of a downgrade in some cases (some of the Titans’ powersets), but the biggest problem for me has to be its story structure.
Titans continues the route of establishing different character arcs while recentering itself around the present danger. However, the utilization of these arcs range from being incredibly impactful to being short-ended, bearing a small amount of substance. The first episode slowly pulls you in with suspicion about the potential over-arching threat. At the end of each episode, you’ll question why specific plot choices were made as the plot develops gradually. Even then, the minor storylines that are incorporated leave you wanting more. It just makes you wonder what would happen if this show focused on fleshing out its major characters.
Adding on to this blending, most of the writing feels natural. However, there are bits of forced and uninspired dialogue spread around. Some of it is due to the big bad, Mother Mayhem, bearing the “evil mistress” personality. The rest is due to minor cultural references, quips, and certain lines reserved between the Titans to further the story. Episodes four and five are especially driven by this problem even though they are extremely integral to the overall story. With the storyline issue, some fans may be off-put with what the rest of season four has to offer. Luckily, there are still some great things to anticipate.
The principal and additional cast are still just a wonder to watch following their performances from the previous season. Regarding Thwaites and Diop, they continue to highlight their characters in a way that makes their live-action counterpart distinctive. Especially for Diop, as Kory’s more involved, Diop continues to characterize Kory as someone with that internal conflict of fate. Overall, her pairing with Thwaites continues to be great. As for Croft and Morgan, the two are able to create such a sweet, comforting bond through their respective characters. Seeing them grow through their relatability just wanted to make me root for two fighting against Mother Mayhem.
Potter and Orpin don’t really get to show their brotherhood as much as they did previously. However, it’s still great to see them having a strong grasp on Gar and Connor’s personalities like Thwaites and Diop even if we don’t see them interacting as much. The growing chemistry between Lycurgo and Scully fulfills this, albeit mostly reserved for the beginning, as the two do have their chances to shine in the midst of all the gloom. If there’s one problem I have (tying into the main problem mentioned), Tim and Bernard’s intimate relationship feels a bit downplayed. I really wish they did more with addressing their bisexuality throughout the season instead of rushing.
Ambalavanar is surprisingly standout as Jinx, being able to amazingly adapt the sorceress’ narcissistic, yet sympathetic personality from the comics in her own way this season. This is especially highlighted in the third episode, aptly titled Jinx, and her chemistry with Thwaites and Diop was interesting to see play out (hopefully, there’s more of that!) And after watching episode four, Potente’s portrayal of Mother Mayhem allowed for a more in-depth understanding of the character. I was happy to see something new even if her dialogue as the present day character felt a little mundane.
Overall, the fourth season of Titans has a lot to offer in terms of its story and its character development. Unfortunately, there are too many things that it wants to handle, which hinders its potential. Thankfully, its visual designs and performances from the cast are able to make up for these negative aspects. Hopefully, this makes up in the later episodes this season. I’ll be sticking around in anticipation for what this season has to show!
The fourth season of Titans premieres on November 3 with a two-episode premiere. New episodes release every Thursday.