Titans Season 3, Episode 1 recap: A brutal change of pace

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

In the Titans Season 3 Premiere, ‘Barbara Gordon’, the Titans are in for a rude awakening when one of their own makes a fatal error in judgment. This could change everything for the superhero team.

Having found a new home on HBO Max, Titans opens with its signature strong language and violence, once again reiterating that this is not the campy Batman and crew that so many viewers once loved.

This premiere isn’t as heavy on the action as it is on character dynamics, and the episode is better for it. We’ve had two seasons to get to know these characters and how they work with each other—now the Titans Season 3 premiere has room to shake things up.

So, what happens in the much-awaited Titans Season 3 opening episode? We break it down.

Titans Season 3, Episode 1 – A death in the family

Titans Season 3 Premiere recap
“Barbara Gordon.” Titans season 3. Courtesy of Warner Media. /

Red Hood has been teased for a while, but we didn’t expect Jason Todd (Curran Walters) to meet an unceremonious end in the Titans Season 3 Premiere. But that’s exactly what happens to the former Titan in the first few minutes of the episode.

Having returned to Gotham City and Bruce Wayne/ Batman (Iain Glen), Jason makes it his mission to take down Gotham’s big bads. When he successfully triangulates the Joker’s newest location, Jason decides to go after the worst of the supervillains on his own.

Where is Batman? Mid-air. Bruce is returning to Gotham from a trip somewhere, and he makes it clear that Jason is not to engage with the Joker. But when has Jason ever listened?

Jason arrives in the middle of nowhere, finds the body of a Joker-fied officer and then runs into the Joker himself. As in the DC Comics, Jason is bludgeoned to death with a crowbar. And the Joker nonchalantly waits till the police arrive and surrenders himself.

In San Francisco, the Titans, Dick Grayson/ Nightwing (Brenton Thwaites), Kory Anders/ Koriand’r/ Starfire (Anna Diop), Gar Logan/ Beast Boy (Ryan Potter), Conner/ Superboy (Joshua Orpin), and Krypto the Super-dog, are hard at work.

Gizmo (Dov Tiefenbach) has got his hands on a bioweapon from Dayton Labs, and it’s up to the Titans to stop him, which they do with some fancy acrobatics, stunning superpowers, and a lot of wits. Plus, Krypto’s super-bark.

And the people of San Francisco love them for it! Police officers thank them and ask for autographs—well, they want Superboy’s autograph, not so much Beast Boy’s. That friendship’s not going to last.

Starfire gets interviewed on live television, and an old flame calls her immediately after. Fans of the show will recognize the psychiatrist (McKinley Freeman) from Season 2. But why is he calling Starfire out of the blue? Is he showing concern for her well-being or hoping for another date?

It’s in the midst of this jubilant moment that Dick gets news about Jason. A death in the family is cause enough to return to Gotham.

Titans Season 3, Episode 1 – The commissioner

Titans Season 3 Premiere recap
“Barbara Gordon.” Titans season 3. Courtesy of Warner Media. /

As Dick makes his way home, Kory, Gar, and Conner mourn Jason. But while Gar and Conner are devastated, Kory is angry. Jason learned nothing from being captured by Deathstroke—he ran into danger again, and this time, there was nobody to save him.

Despite her harsh words, Kory takes a moment to toast Jason. And then finds herself transported to the middle of the road, having visions of a man in a lab coat in an underground facility.

What is this place? And how did Kory end up outside? That’s a mystery that won’t be solved in the Titans Season 3 Premiere. We’re going to have to wait for the remainder of the season for answers.

In Gotham, Dick meets up with the new Commissioner, Barbara Gordon (Savannah Welch), who is on the case of a new supervillain. Dick has serious concerns about how Bruce reacts to Jason’s murder—especially because Bruce isn’t reacting at all.

The Wayne Mansion is a mess—Alfred has been dead for some time, and Bruce is taking care of things in his inimitable way. But he isn’t thinking about Jason at all. He’s trying to go on being Batman.

According to Barbara, this is how Bruce reacts to the deaths of loved ones. He shut down when Alfred died and when Mr. Freeze murdered James Gordon. It’s not surprising that he’s doing the same following Jason’s death.

But this explanation isn’t enough for Dick. He needs to bring Bruce out of his shell, and he needs Barbara’s help to do it. Dick arranges for dinner between the three of them. Of course, it promptly goes off the rails, though not for the reasons one might expect.

As Barbara and Bruce reminisce about Jason, the conversation takes a darker turn. Bruce wants to know about Barbara’s new case, and Barbara and Dick want Bruce to take the night off from being Batman.

Titans Season 3 Premiere recap
“Barbara Gordon.” Titans season 3. Courtesy of Warner Media. /

It isn’t long before all the pent-up frustrations Barbara’s been feeling rise to the surface. She blames Bruce for Jason’s death, for ruining Dick’s life, for putting Barbara in the Joker’s way, which ended up in her getting shot.

Barbara at least took on the mantle of Batgirl of her own accord—the boys didn’t even have that choice. And now Jason’s dead. As far as Barbara is concerned, Batman likes having the Joker out there—otherwise, why wouldn’t he have made sure the Joker remained in Arkham Asylum? Batman and the Joker are no different in Barbara’s book.

The evening ends with Barbara storming out, Dick asking her why she didn’t help, and Bruce disappearing into himself again. Barbara has one request for Dick—go back to San Francisco with his Titans. Gotham has nothing for him.

Titans Season 3, Episode 1– Gotham’s poison

Titans Season 3 Premiere recap
“Barbara Gordon.” Titans season 3. Courtesy of Warner Media. /

The Robins have never been known to leave well enough alone. As upset as Dick is about Jason’s death, he’s sure there’s a mystery to solve here. When he examines Jason’s room and finds a chemistry book, Dick’s interest is piqued. Jason wasn’t big on reading.

After a little more digging through the safe in Jason’s room, Dick learns that Jason had a loft that nobody knew about. The loft is empty, barring a table full of experimental drugs. Dick even apprehends a drug dealer there.

But the drugs themselves are an unknown chemical composition. We have no idea yet what’s in it, but early on in the Titans Season 3 premiere, Jason took the drug before battling Joker. Is it some kind of performance enhancer? Bane’s venom? We still have to find out.

Whatever Dick has found is still much more than Bruce ever knew about the boy living in his home. Precisely what was Bruce doing that he didn’t know Jason was making and taking this drug?

And Jason’s hardly going to be the last of the Robins. Bruce is already searching the streets of Gotham for his next sidekick. DC Comics fans will recognize the names Bruce has identified!

Carrie Kelley was a Robin in the Frank Miller Batman comics. Daxton Chill was a member of the ‘We Are Robins’ group. Stephanie Brown has been Robin, Batgirl, and Spoiler, while Duke Thomas was also part of the ‘We Are Robin’ movement and is more popularly known as The Signal.

Bruce’s quest for a new Robin enrages Dick—especially because he was replaced by Jason barely a week after leaving Bruce. Jason’s hardly in the ground, and Bruce is already on the hunt for a new sidekick?

Bruce pleads with Dick, even asking him to take on the Robin mantle again. Of course, Dick wants nothing to do with it. Throughout Season 1, Dick struggled with being Robin. It took till the end of Season 2 for Dick to finally find himself in Nightwing. He definitely won’t be Robin again.

But we know that a new Robin is on the horizon. Delivering delicious Chinese food from his parents’ restaurant to Gothamites is young Tim Drake (Jay Lycurgo), a super-fan of Batman and Robin. This young man isn’t phased when cops stop him for no reason—he hands them a bag of dumplings.

When Tim returns to his folks and his cousin, who seems to be making money from some nefarious means, the Drakes learn of Robin’s death, and Tim is devastated. I love that Tim’s mother immediately consoles him on his loss even though Tim and Robin probably never even crossed paths.

Before Tim can fall under Batman’s sway, Dick has some harsh words for his mentor and father—Batman and the Joker have poisoned Gotham. And if Bruce can’t protect Gotham without a Robin, then maybe Bruce should stop being Batman.

That night, Dick is awoken by a distraught Bruce, bloody crowbar in hand. Bruce couldn’t save Jason, but he avenged him by doing the one thing Batman should have done years ago—put the Joker in the ground. Bruce can’t be Batman now, not after what he’s done. Dick needs to be the Batman Gotham City needs.

Final Thoughts – The Titans Season 3 premiere is a great start to the new season

As much as I love the Batfamily, I’ve been in two minds about Titans. There are moments and episodes I enjoy and others that have fallen flat. The Titans Season 3 premiere is definitely a highlight.

I loved the character introductions for Barbara and Tim, and I can’t wait to see more of them throughout this season. The tension between Barbara, Dick, and Bruce was palpable, and one could see that Bruce was building up to do something terrible.

I have no idea what to expect from the upcoming episodes. It’s going to be a wild, violent ride, that’s for sure.

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

Titans Season 3 is streaming weekly on HBO Max.