DC Universe’s Titans season 1 premiere recap


The Titans premiere introduces some of the main characters and is a gloomy, slow start to the show.

Titans is the highly anticipated DC Universe show that brings together a fan-favorite team from the comics. This first live-action iteration of the characters together feels markedly different from their comic book counterparts.

The show is a slow burn and takes itself very seriously – too seriously, in fact. The pilot episode is devoid of any humor but plagued with drama and darker characterizations.

The first episode of Titans opens with Teagan Croft’s Rachel Roth wandering into a circus tent. An unseen emcee announces the arrival of The Flying Graysons, as does an electronic sign.

The Grayson parents careen across the air, while young Dick Grayson waits his turn to join the performance. We know how this will end but the show still has the ‘Flying’ part of the sign flicker off. The rope breaks. People scream. The Grayson parents fall to their deaths.

Rachel’s screams wake her up in bed and her mother comes running in to check on her. She disturbingly tells her mother to ‘keep the door locked’.

As her mother leaves Rachel’s room, we see her door is covered in Christian iconography. This was hinted at in the promotional shot of Raven shared earlier last month. The shot ends with one of the crosses falling off. Ominous!

Raven promotional image (Photo Credit: DC Universe)

We later get brief glimpses – jump scares – of Rachel’s soul-self. It attacks Rachel’s mother in the morning and appears to her on the way to school when she’s bullied by a boy on the bus. When Rachel’s mother is murdered in front of her by Jarreth J. Merz’s character, the soul-self manifests completely, incapacitating the man.

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We now head to Detroit – home of Cyborg. Oh no, wait, he’s not in Titans for some reason. Instead, Detective Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites) is in his car looking through some case files with disturbing images of a young girl.

These images are repeatedly shown throughout the episode just in case we didn’t realize that Titans was dark. There’s a briefcase in Dick’s backseat that he keeps looking at. I think we can all guess what’s inside, but there are no revelations yet.

Also, the camera is spending way too much time on Dick’s face. Get on with it, already.

At the Detroit Police Department (which looks like a generic newspaper house, actually), Dick is greeted by Amy Rohrbach (Lindsey Gort), his new partner. She is a character from the comics, but both she and Dick were beat cops when they worked together in the original source material.

Dick is pretty curt with Amy, but his colleagues explain that Dick was originally from Gotham. They suggest something probably went down with Dick’s previous partner. ‘Gassed by the Joker; who knows,’ they joke.

Night time in Detroit. Dick continues to wrestle with himself as he reviews the dismissed charge of child abuse against Tyler Hackett. Instincts get the better of him and he unlocks the briefcase in his car.

Before we see his next move, Titans includes its first (intentional?) homage to Dick’s mentor. In a dark alleyway, two gangs are exchanging pink drugs for money. ‘The kids love it,’ Hackett says.

The exchange is accompanied by ominous music that sounds straight out of Batman Begins. Dick’s faux-gravelly voice saying ‘I’m only here for Tyler Hackett’, also seems like another homage.

Robin makes an impactful entrance but I don’t know about Thwaites’ delivery. He sounds really unsure of what he’s saying. However, it is hilarious when the gang just ignores him and starts looking up for Batman.

Robin’s brief expression of shock is priceless. One of the gang even says, ‘the little birdie’s alone’. Robin gruesomely takes umbrage to this comment, taking out the entire gang.

Robin takes down a gang in Titans Ep. 101–Photo Credit: Steve Wilkie / ©2017 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved

This is the first time Titans has felt like a superhero show, but it’s so far removed for everything we’re used to from the Titans comics. There is a lot of blood and gore in Robin’s attack, including a pretty brutal send-off for Hackett. But, as much as I want to hate it, I am on Robin’s side here. This Hackett guy was hurting his own daughter.

The trouble is, this reaction is coming from the wrong Robin – we expect Jason Todd to react so violently, but Dick? Not so much. Also, this scene should have been choreographed better – you could see the distance between fist and face, or maybe the trailer has ruined the expectation of the pace for me.

Of course, there’s a gratuitous shot of a topless, banged-up Dick Grayson. He is in his loft doing something we don’t often see in superhero stories – cleaning up the mess. I think this scene is trying to portray Dick’s latent anger, but without proper context, it doesn’t work. Why is Dick so angry?

Similar to the Nightwing: Rebirth run, Detroit wants nothing to do with Robin. Dick’s colleagues are displeased by the vigilante’s presence here and even the Mayor wants Robin ‘to go home’.

Rachel is headed to Detroit – one could say that is coincidental, but I’m guessing it has to do with her empathic connection to Dick. So begins another series of disturbing events. She finds a shelter where a kindly woman offers to take her to a nearby youth shelter.

Her intentions are not noble and Rachel’s soul-self doesn’t trust her. Rachel barely escapes, only to be kidnapped by a cop later on. What is with the child trafficking in this episode? It’s like watching Law & Order: SVU.

The very on-the-nose Tavares song Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel heralds the arrival of Anna Diop’s Starfire. 20 minutes into the show and we are now in Vienna, Austria with a confused Starfire getting out of a crashed car and leaving behind a dead driver.

Just as she spots bullet holes in the car, gunmen arrive and try to take her out. She successfully evades them but doesn’t seem to recognize herself in the mirror.

Starfire in Titans Ep. 101–Photo Credit: Steve Wilkie / ©2017 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved

Starfire finds a passport with her name – Kory Anders (in the comics, it’s the Earth version of her Tamarran name Koriand’r). She also finds the hotel she is staying at, but her lack of memory makes for a humorous exchange with the concierge. Somehow Kory still remembers German.

Kory’s confusion continues in her room where she finds a man tied up. He gives her some answers – they’ve found the girl she’s looking for. She should meet with a man named Konstantin Kovar (not the Dolph Lundgren version from the Arrowverse, this one is played by Mark Antony Krupa).

She has a picture with Kovar on her phone. Interesting. Kory gets what she needs from the man and breaks his neck.

Rachel is taken to the police department where Grayson is asked to speak to her because he’s ‘got that thing for helping kids’. Honestly, that just sounds so weird, especially in the context of this episode.

The moment Rachel sees him she knows who he is – a fact she keeps reiterating to a stunned Dick. She asks for help and finally tells him about her mother being killed. She really should have opened with that.

The Flying Graysons poster in Titans (Photo Credit: DC Universe)

When Rachel reaches out to grab Dick’s hand her soul-self connects them. We see young Dick crying over his parents, being pulled away by the police. A comforting hand squeezes his shoulder and a voice says, “I want to help you.”

This is obviously Bruce Wayne, but Titans isn’t allowed to show him. The montage shows shots of Dick at Wayne Manor and a letter with his name on it. Not sure what the significance of the letter is, but I suppose we will find out over the course of the season.

Rachel wants Dick to lock her away but Dick, being the worst cop on the planet, just leaves the helpless girl on her own. Even without the knowledge of her demon powers, she’s just a 14-year-old child who’s lost her mother. He couldn’t organize a counselor to help before abandoning her?

Dick bumps into Amy, who asks about his Gotham PD partner, whether their differences were because Dick’s ‘sidekick’ was on the take, like the rest of Gotham is known to be. Dick explains that was not the case.

His former partner was considered a hero by many, including himself, but he had to leave because Dick was becoming too much like him. This is one of the best scenes in the episode, working in the layers of Dick and Bruce’s comic book history, while also making the dialogue work in the show’s context.

The scene concludes with Amy declaring that Dick is not really ‘an a**hole’, and Dick finally lightens up enough to say, ‘don’t tell anyone, it’ll kill my rep.’

Starfire wanders around a club looking for Kovar. I am impressed by the restraint shown by the director in shooting this scene – no gratuitous T&A shots or scantily clad women. The occupants of this club are just here to enjoy themselves.

Kovar and Kory obviously had some connection. She has no memory of him but he declares his undying love for her. Then tries to shoot her. It goes badly for him, and everyone else in the room.

We aren’t sure if Kory knows about her powers but once everyone in the room is incinerated, she should have no doubts. She finds the picture of the girl she’s been looking for – Rachel, of course.

Can I just say, Anna Diop is killing it in this scene!

Rachel has been kidnapped by the same man who killed her mother. He says something about Rachel opening a door which he has to close. Of course, it requires a blood sacrifice.

Dick Grayson is useless in this scene – he takes out the guard but somehow can’t get into the room Rachel is being held in. Rachel’s soul-self needs to kill the man.

It’s quite disgusting to watch. When Dick finally gets in, he asks Rachel what happened. She doesn’t know and Dick is left more perplexed.

Turns out Dick has a completely different car ready for demonic road trips. The Porsche is a ‘family heirloom’. A baffled Rachel asks if this is from the circus, and Dick replies, ‘not the one you’re thinking of’. This has got to be the best line in the entire Titans pilot episode. We don’t know where Dick is taking Rachel, but it’s somewhere safe. My guess is he’s going back to Gotham.

Next. Titans: DC Universe show to stream on Netflix International. dark

Covington, Ohio. An electronics store has been raided by a CGI tiger. Why is there a guard in an empty, out-of-hours store, anyway? The tiger has inexplicably stopped in the corridor to fiddle or count the games it has stolen, giving the guard enough time to shoot at it.

It runs off into the woods and transforms, painfully slowly, into Ryan Potter’s Garfield Logan. It took that long for Gar to enter the fray? This is a tonally divergent way to end a dark and gloomy episode. But, I am digging this electronic music by Clint Mansell and Kevin Kiner.