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Titans S4 Ep5-6 TV REVIEW: this season's first half starts with a bang but ends in a whimper

Starring: Brenton Thwaites, Anna Diop, Ryan Potter, Joshua Orpin, Teagan Croft, Jay Lycurgo



Titans has a long and windy history of being downright bad. Now, like the prodigal show returning, Titans solidifies into an interesting and fun series in its fourth season. Full of wry references to past arcs, mistakes and all. This candidness gives our heroes a fresh start, a new starting point that no longer concerns itself with being thought-provoking or overly-complex. Instead, Titans season four opts to focus on a comic book-style story — Brother Blood and Mother Mayhem, come on! — that's made dynamic by our characters and their individual struggles. The final two episodes of this season's Part One continue the streak of excellent character focus and story, but ultimately falls flat on a cliffhanger ending that felt rushed and unearned.



Episode 5 sees our heroes mostly confined to S.T.A.R. Labs as they hope to confine Sebastian until the end of the blood moon, thus deterring another Trigon-level terror. This narrative confinement allows for more intimate moments with our characters as they have to stop and process a lot of what's been happening. Gar and Superboy especially get some time to shine, as Gar gets his own mystery to solve in terms of his powers, and Superboy starts experiencing some serious daddy issues. Both examples are explored sparsely but are effective in laying down future story. A lot of threads come together in this episode, interacting while not yet resolving. There's a heavy tension throughout the episode as we know everything will go wrong (as it always does), while our heroes struggle to maintain optimism against a powerful foe.



Episode 6 struggles to meet the expectations of its predecessors. The previous five episodes have teased us with the transformation of Sebastian into Brother Blood, a transformation that insinuated deep and dynamic change to a character that's thus far been empathetic and kind. The milestones to the destination should have felt powerful and paced, yet here they feel nonexistent. Everything is oversimplified and rendered boring as what should be an epic power struggle comes off muted and silly. Ending with a cliffhanger that feels nonsensical and just plain mean, episode 6 seems a haphazardly one-dimensional end to an otherwise stellar half-season.


Though episode 6 rides the coattails of its previous episodes, Titans still presents intriguing possibilities for the latter half of the season. SPOILER SENTENCE AHEAD! I'm willing to forgive, if only because this season gave me Zombie Deathstroke. [SPOILER OVER!]


Titans Season 4 Part One is available in full on HBO Max! And don't forget to do your RECOMMENDED READING! Try out a brilliantly askew take on the teenage team with Jeff Lemire's Teen Titans: Earth One, Vol. 1! Or try something in the mainstream continuity with Cavan Scott's Titans United.


 

Austin Kemp read Batman #315 (Batman vs Kite Man) when he was 5 years old, and hasn't stopped reading comics since. Austin is a college writing teacher and has a masters degree in Comics Studies. Austin and his partner, Savanah, live in Massachusetts with their master, a cat named Chaplin.



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