Titans Season 3, Episode 2 recap: Who owns Gotham now?

"Barbara Gordon." Titans season 3. Courtesy of Warner Media.
"Barbara Gordon." Titans season 3. Courtesy of Warner Media. /

In the Titans Season 3 Episode 2, “Red Hood”, a new threat rises in Gotham City, and it will take all the Titans to win this new war. But do they know what they’re up against?

The HBO Max show is pulling all the strings to make this third season a standout. Following a tight premiere, this second installment has some smart writing and unexpected twists. DC Comics fans may know what’s coming, but there are still surprises aplenty.

There are numerous stylistic throwbacks and story beats inspired by The Dark Knight, which leans into the dark atmosphere of the series. And it’s best encapsulated in Titans Season 3 Episode 2.

With an episode titled ‘Red Hood’, it may seem obvious that the DC Comics villain will make an appearance. But what an appearance that turns out to be.

Titans Season 3 Episode 2 – Gotham’s red underbelly

The Joker’s death has sent shockwaves through the criminal element in Gotham City. Rumors that Batman was the one to do it have them reeling even more. Though it doesn’t seem plausible that Batman would break his one rule, Robin’s murder feels reason enough to send the Dark Knight over the edge.

Disparate crime bosses in Gotham find themselves called to Hobbs Powder House in Titans Season 3 Episode 2. They don’t know who called them, and they don’t care until a bag lands on the table with an unseen voice instructing them to open it.

After some encouragement and an accurate gunshot that kills a henchman, the bag is finally opened—to reveal the severed heads of the crime bosses’ seconds-in-command.

There’s a new player in town—the Red Hood—and he’s ensured the Bat is gone. The crime bosses will answer to him now, and he’ll make sure that they aren’t troubled by any other masked vigilantes. These criminals can continue their business as long as Red Hood gets 40% of their cut. It’s not an offer they can afford to refuse.

Meanwhile, Dick Grayson informs Commissioner Barbara Gordon about the latest developments in the Batfamily. Namely that Bruce Wayne has gone AWOL after murdering the Joker. All Barbara knows is that Bruce’s plane was seen in midair, but Bruce himself never landed.

Bruce has given Dick strict instructions to be a better Batman for Gotham City. It’s not what Dick wants to do. But he’ll have to do something because Gotham is in danger.

Barbara shares disturbing footage with Dick of a regular Gothamite who blows up a bunch of innocent people. The whole thing is caught on an ATM camera—she looks terrified and unwilling. But before she does anything, she slips on a red hood.

When the Joker first began his crime spree, he donned a red hood. Dick and Barbara are certain there’s some connection to the former Clown Prince of Gotham. But they’ll need answers to learn what that is.

Titans Season 3 Episode 2 – Opening gambits

The red-hooded woman is easily caught by Gotham City police in Titans Season 3 Episode 2. Too easily. But it soon becomes obvious that she was doing things unwillingly—her daughter is missing and she was forced to kill to protect the child.

But the woman has also arrived with a note—one that asks to speak to Nightwing. In the interrogation room, Nightwing tries to be gentle and understanding. But the woman literally is unable to speak. From fear or something else?

When she shows Nightwing her arm with a phone number sliced into it, Nightwing and Barbara realise this is serious and messed up. Calling the number only makes things worse—it activates a chemical in the woman’s system that has her frothing at the mouth. And then she snaps her own neck.

Dick and Barbara accept they’re not playing with a regular class of Gotham criminal. The compound in her system is unlike anything they’ve encountered before. They’re going to need more help.

Dick decides to bring the Titans to Gotham. Kory Anders/ Starfire, Gar Logan/ Beast Boy, Conner/ Superboy, and their dog, Krypto make the trip without question. Dawn Granger/ Dove (Minka Kelly), who’s been operating in Washington DC also joins.

Surprisingly, so does Hank Hall/ Hawk (Alan Ritchson). He’s also been in DC as a police officer. Hank can’t cope being away from Dawn, though she’s more than happy to continue being Dove without him. These two and their will-they-won’t-they relationship continues to be amusing.

While the Titans get acclimated to the Batcave and Wayne Manor—requests to see the Bat-suit and Batmobile aside—Dick goes on another errand.

Kory unfortunately has another moment where the world disappears and she finds herself being transported, this time mentally, elsewhere. She storms around Wayne Manor speaking her planet’s language and sets part of the kitchen aflame.

Unsure of what’s happening with her, Kory calls the psychiatrist again. He believes these outbursts could be a response to grief but there’s more here than he realises. Kory is on her own, for now.

The GCPD has been using the services of a consultant for a while now—someone Dick isn’t going to be happy to learn about. Jonathan Crane, aka the Scarecrow (Vincent Kartheiser), has terrorised Gotham for years with his fear toxin. Now he’s in Arkham Asylum helping the GCPD.

Reluctantly, Dick makes the trip to Arkham to speak with Crane about the case. Crane isn’t exactly helpful—he’s more interested in analysing Dick than anything else.

But Crane does tell Dick that the woman in the red hood is akin to the Bird’s Opening in chess—something Crane figured out by looking at the back of the note asking for Nightwing. This is just the first move—whoever’s running this show has so much more planned.

Dick, Kory, and Dawn examine the Bird’s Opening as well as other moves. They end up spelling out ‘Robin’. Realising that the poor woman in the red hood lived on a bird-named street, they search for other streets in Gotham with bird-themed names.

But by the time the Titans reach those homes, they’re already too late. The children in those homes have already been taken and the parents have been sent to commit a terrible crime.

Titans Season 3 Episode 2 – Showdown

It isn’t long before the new Red Hood Gang crime is underway in Titans Season 3 Episode 2. A bank is being held up with hostages inside. Barbara and the GCPD are there and at the ready. But without demands, they haven’t much sway in this situation.

The Titans arrive and Nightwing asks Barbara to stand down. The Red Hood Gang are nothing but desperate parents—the Titans can talk them down from this. Beast Boy and Superboy are looking for the children—once they’re safe, the parents will be free.

Barbara takes Nightwing’s word for it and asks her team to stand down. Inside the bank, the Titans try to reason with the Red Hood Gang before any violence can ensue. When Superboy successfully locates the children, the matter almost seems resolved.

But Beast Boy finds another van with people in it—the parents. The Red Hood Gang in the bank are actual criminals. The Titans don’t stand a chance. The Gang distracts the heroes with a bomb and takes off with $25 million.

Barbara is furious—she trusted Dick and the entire operation was a failure. But Barbara’s angrier with herself than anything. She and Dick were close—we see a picture of them with Barbara’s father, James Gordon, earlier in Titans Season 3 Episode 2. Barbara let that bond cloud her judgement.

From now on, Barbara and Dick are going to keep things strictly professional. But for the moment, Dick really needs to be far away from his old flame.

Hank Hall knows a lot about old flames and takes a moment to make Dick feel better about the situation. Hank also believes that they will find the person behind the Red Hood Gang and bring them down. As much as I love Hank and Dick bonding, they’re in for a rude awakening.

While Hank and Dick are being each other’s cheerleaders, Kory, Gar, and Conner are studying chess moves to figure out what to expect next. Gar finally realises that they’ve been going about it all wrong. The plan shouldn’t be about how the Bird’s Opening progresses, but how to defeat it.

Researching other opening moves, the Titans settle on Hobbs Gambit—the name of the gunpowder operation Batman and Robin once closed down and the setting for the opening scene.

At Hobbs’, the Titans split up to take down the Red Hood Gang. Nightwing finds himself alone, facing the leader—Red Hood. Nightwing and Red Hood are evenly matched—almost too much so. Nightwing just can’t get an upper hand on this guy.

It’s only when Nightwing manages to crack open part of Red Hood’s helmet that all is revealed—this is Jason Todd, either not dead or arisen from the grave. And he’s here to take Gotham for himself.

Final Thoughts – Titans Season 3, Episode 2 is exhilarating, suspenseful, and gory

I am thoroughly enjoying this new season! The story beats are exciting, the character moments so far have been insightful, with some great payoffs. Titans Season 3 Episode 2 had all the suspense of a hard-boiled crime thriller, with plenty of action.

I’ve got to say, I’m loving Hank Hall’s himbo energy. He’s a goofball who talks too much, but he’s got a big heart. A fantastic return to form.

It’s a bit surprising that the Red Hood reveal happened in the second episode but I like that it’s out of the way. The rest of the season can focus on the Titans trying to take Red Hood down or redeem him. Hopefully with the help of a new Robin?

This has been the best start for the series so far and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.

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What did you think of Titans Season 3 Episode 2? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Titans Season 3 is streaming weekly on HBO Max.