Titans Season 3, Episode 5 recap: Who made Red Hood?

Titans Season 3, Episode 5 - Photograph by Ben Mark Holzberg/HBO Max
Titans Season 3, Episode 5 - Photograph by Ben Mark Holzberg/HBO Max /

In Titans Season 3, Episode 5, “Lazarus,” we learn how Jason Todd became the Red Hood and why. Gotham has a lot to answer for. But so does Batman.

The HBO Max show’s treatment of Red Hood has departed from the character’s comic book origins. And that’s a good thing. DC Comics fans know what made Red Hood. Titans has a brand new take on it.

When last we left Red Hood, he was almost bested by his Robin predecessor, Nightwing. But the win was a fluke—not that that stops Scarecrow from taking credit for it.

Jason’s terrified that Dick will come after him and ruin their plans. What is Scarecrow’s plan? It’s simple—dose all of Gotham with his fear toxin, and then Scarecrow and Red Hood swoop in. Gotham’s new saviors. How we got here is explained via flashback in this episode.

Titans Season 3, Episode 5 – Nightmares

Titans Season 3 Episode 5
Titans Season 3, Episode 5 – Photograph by Ben Mark Holzberg/HBO Max /

Three months ago, Jason was far from okay. Having returned to Gotham from his stint with the Titans in San Francisco, Jason was haunted by nightmares. His near-death experience with Deathstroke was plaguing him. Jason’s screams would even wake Bruce.

But there’s something else about Jason’s nightmares in Titans Season 3, Episode 5. Though he doesn’t see it, Jason’s dreams are visited by Donna Troy (Conor Leslie). In the dreams, she beseeches him not to go, telling him it’s not his time.

Donna’s been dead awhile—Rachel Roth/ Raven has been on Themyscira trying to bring her back. Is Donna watching over the Titans from the afterlife? Did she know that Jason would join her soon?

Obviously, Jason doesn’t see Donna in his dreams; otherwise, he wouldn’t react to Bruce’s request the way he does. Jason’s nightmares are so bad that Bruce asks the boy to see an old friend, a psychologist, Dr. Leslie Thompkins (Krista Bridges).

Jason is incensed at this very reasonable request—granted, he hasn’t had the best experience with shrinks before. But he really needs the help. Bruce has to resort to threats to ensure Jason goes—no more being Robin until Leslie gives the all-clear.

This doesn’t sit well with Jason, who immediately decides to put himself in danger. Jason meets up with Molly Jensen (Eve Harlow), a close friend from back in their days as foster children.

Molly has been tracking missing children, specifically children of color. She may know where the children are being taken from. This is just what Jason wants to hear.

Titans Season 3, Episode 5 – Worst hell

Titans Season 3 Episode 5
Titans Season 3, Episode 5 – Photograph by Ben Mark Holzberg/HBO Max /

Jason and Molly head to their destination in Titans Season 3, Episode 5 and come across the man they’re looking for. Pete Hawkins (Dylan Trowbridge) has been in and out of Blackgate for years, but he’s still trying to kidnap children off Gotham’s streets and hand them over to the Joker.

Despite being Robin at night, during the day, Jason is still just Jason. He confronts Hawkins, who pulls a gun on the boy. Jason has flashbacks to his encounter with Deathstroke and freezes. Hawkins takes the opportunity to take Jason down.

It isn’t long before Jason’s accepting Bruce’s request to see Leslie. She’s gentle and kind, and she understands where Jason is coming from. But Jason is distracted the moment he realizes Leslie knew Scarecrow.

It turns out Jonathan Crane was a promising grad student and friend to Leslie—until he tried to kill her, that is. Scarecrow dosed Leslie with his fear toxin and the experience that still haunts her. Jason presses her about it—and she relents, telling him that it was like living in the worst hell imaginable.

This gets Jason’s brain buzzing. He finds a vial of Scarecrow’s toxin—the last one remaining—in Batman’s trophy room. Jason doesn’t do anything with it, but he does think about it.

Jason keeps up his visits to Leslie—she makes some insightful points. Jason is clearly terrified of not being Robin anymore. That’s the only thing that binds him to Bruce—who has recently started calling Jason his son. Because that worked out so well with Dick, didn’t it?

In Jason’s mind, being Robin is the only good thing in his life—Jason’s a nobody who grew up on the streets. Robin is everything.

Leslie disagrees. Jason Todd is a real, living, breathing human being, someone who is loved just as he is. Molly seems to like Jason—she doesn’t know he’s Robin. On the other hand, Robin is nothing but a construct—a projection of Bruce’s fractured psyche.

It’s a lot to think about, but Jason doesn’t have time to digest it all before Bruce drops a bomb on him. Bruce no longer wants Jason to be Robin—he wants to free his second son from the burden. Bruce saw what it did to Dick—he doesn’t want Jason going down the same path.

But Bruce might as well be talking to himself. Jason is on his own trip—he thinks he’s failed Bruce by being afraid, and that’s why Bruce is taking Robin away from him. The two of them might as well be having two different conversations. As far as Jason is concerned, Bruce gave Dick so many chances, and he’s not giving Jason any. Bruce is going to regret this.

Titans Season 3, Episode 5 – Back from the dead

Titans Season 3 Episode 5
Titans season 3. Image courtesy Ben Mark Holzberg / HBO Max /

From Jason’s point of view, his biggest enemy since San Francisco, maybe his entire life, has been fear. He needs to conquer it, so he makes a very stupid decision in Titans Season 3, Episode 5. He goes to see Scarecrow in Arkham Asylum.

Scarecrow isn’t interested at first—Jason’s a random boy, after all. But when Jason presents the fear toxin, Scarecrow’s interest is piqued. It isn’t long before Scarecrow realizes that Jason is Robin—how else could he have got the vial from Batman?

What does Jason want from Scarecrow? Well, if Scarecrow can induce fear, maybe he can create something that eliminates fear. Scarecrow agrees to try this experiment as long as Robin breaks him out of Arkham. It’s not exactly this Robin who does it, but the plan does succeed eventually.

Jason gets to work creating the new drug—it takes quite a few tries, but he gets the combination right at last. His fear is gone as long as Jason keeps taking this drug.

Scarecrow proposes a test—Jason should go up against the Joker, which is how Jason ends up crowbarred to death by the Joker. There’s a reason people feel have fear, Jason.

Once Jason is dead, Scarecrow organizes his resurrection. Ra’s Al Ghul may not be around anymore, but his mark remains in Gotham, specifically under Arkham Asylum, in the shape of a small Lazarus Pit. This is where Jason’s broken corpse is dumped—quite literally—and he is brought back to life.

Once Jason returns, Scarecrow greets him with a new mission—they will save Gotham together. But Robin can be no more. Jason will now be Red Hood. And his first target? None other than Hawkins.

Red Hood saves the missing boy Molly had been searching for and delivers him to her. Though Jason never told Molly, he was Robin, and he reveals that he’s Red Hood. Jason also warns her that things are going to get worse before they get good. But Jason will make things better. But how?

Final Thoughts: Titans Season 3, Episode 5 is a great spotlight on a complicated anti-hero

Every episode this season has been a great watch. I love the spotlight here on Jason in Titans Season 3, Episode 5. He’s a troubled boy who should have been protected, not thrust into the Robin suit.

Jason could have been a fully functional member of society with a bit of care, but the poor lad got saddled with Bruce Wayne. I’ve really enjoyed his complicated characterization on the show—Jason hasn’t always been treated well in the comics.

What can we expect next week? I have no idea. And that’s just how I want this season to continue!

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What did you think of Titans Season 3, Episode 5? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Titans Season 3 is streaming weekly on HBO Max.