Editor’s Note: Warner Bros Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this entry. The opinions I share are my own.

The Show:

I actually enjoyed the hell out of the first season of Titans. I was really looking forward to seeing what the second season would bring, since Trigon had still only been teased in the cliffhanger ending of the season. I mean, Warner Bros. and DC Universe had cut the series down to 11 episodes in order to carry that surprisingly engaging and building momentum over into the beginning of Season Two.

But…

Titans totally dropped the Trigon ball with the Season Two premiere. What should have been a world-threatening menace that could have taken at least a couple of episodes to really dig into and explore is instead wrapped up by the end credits – well before the end credits, actually – and suffers from inadequate CG. To be fair, it was always going to be hard to make Trigon live up to the comics in live-action. I get that. But what they ended up with on-screen was such a disappointment that nearly all the good-will that Season One had built up was just destroyed.

It didn’t help that the rest of the Titans spent the whole episode running around being “evil” with black eyes until Rachel (Teagan Croft) finally woke up, said something snarky, and made Trigon disintegrate. All he ended up doing was killing some grass and a flock of birds. On the plus side, the final moments of the episode establish who the next big threat was going to be and it was a good one: Slade Wilson, Deathstroke (Esai Morales).

I can only assume that powers that be realized that this would have been a spectacularly disappointing season finale and really hoped fans would be able to just move on with a new episode just a week later instead of the better part of a year later.

We then jump three months into the future (seriously?) and Dick (Brenton Thwaites) is training Jason (Curran Walters), Rachel and Gar (Ryan Potter) how to fight, Hank (Alan Ritchson) and Dawn (Minka Kelly) have retired to a farm in Wyoming (???), and Kory (Anna Diop) and Donna (Conor Leslie) are fighting crime in Chicago. A LOT of stuff happens this episode and it really feels like the actual season premiere in that the quality takes a massive leap forward.

Classic comics villain Dr. Light (Michael Mosley) gets an update, we’re introduced to Rose Wilson (Chelsea Zhang) as she’s brought into the fold, Kory gets kidnapped by a fellow Tamaranean, Faddei (Robbie Jones) who reveals that she’s a runaway space Princess, and we are off to the course-corrected races.

Oh yeah, and we finally meet Bruce Wayne (Iain Glen), which is a controversial casting decision that should be discussed elsewhere, lest it overwhelm this review.

As the season progresses, we get a number of spotlight episodes, “Aqualad,” “Conner,” and “Jericho” being the stand-outs with “Conner” solidifying itself as maybe the strongest episode of the season (Krypto!!). Unfortunately, aside from these highlights, the rest of the season stumbles as much as it struts with Dick going on a bizarrely plotted side quest to prison which is immediately forgotten about, some very forced dramatic conflict between the old-school Titans, and a romantic relationship between Rose and Jason that was hard to really see the point of.

I suppose it was a way of humanizing Jason, but in the end, it’s a plotline that gets tossed aside with very little resolution. As does the appearance of the Cadmus organization and the oddly thought-out supersoldier auction in the season finale. There’s a lot of violence for the sake of being violent without much by way of examining the emotional consequences – or even the legal consequences, since Conner, Gar, and Dick all do horrible things in public that get handwaved away by the end of the season.

All in all, Season Two of Titans was an extremely hit or miss experience. Now and then it could be very good, but the majority of time was spent in a weird morass of mediocrity and occasionally veered over into outright bad. It was never so bad that I wanted to give up on it (although that season opener came close), but it was never so good that I couldn’t wait until next week.

We do finally get Dick as Nightwing, though. So there’s that.

The Discs:

One good thing about these Blu-ray releases, is that they are exquisite transfers. As with the Swamp Thing release from a few weeks ago, the colors are crisp and clean, detail is at a maximum, and where the DC Universe streaming experience was often so dark that it was hard to tell what was going on, on disc, the action is clear and easy to follow. It’s still dark, but not overwhelmingly so. It’s an MPEG-4 AVC transfer with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, so not only does it look great, it sounds great too.

If I had to choose, this would be my preferred way to revisit Titans in the future.

Extras:

Remember back on the Season One release of Titans, how there were thirteen short featurettes with interviews and behind-the-scenes footage? Remember how the Swamp Thing release had zero extras? Well, Titans: The Complete Second Season has one extra, and one extra only: “Jason Todd: Fate by the Fans.”

Yes, instead of anything about the production of the new season, we instead get interviews with former DC Comics editors Denny O’Neil (who was in charge back when Jason Todd was killed in the comics), Dan Didio (the recently ousted co-publisher of DC Comics), and Titans’ Executive Story Editor, Bryan Hill (who grew up loving the Jason Todd Robin), who give us some insight into the origins of the character, fan reactions, and what lead to the ultimate demise of Jason Todd.

For those of you who don’t know, in 1988 O’Neil was instrumental in setting up a 900 number voting system for the readers to decide whether or not Robin would be murdered by the Joker in Batman #428. It was close, but the fans voted to kill of the little shit, and it was a landmark moment in Batman history. The character wasn’t very popular at the time, and while there may have been some shenanigans with the voting, O’Neil stuck to his guns and Robin died. And it almost stuck. This featurette doesn’t go into it, but in 2005, the character was resurrected and given the new identity of Red Hood, an antihero with a penchant for lethal force. He’s much more popular now than he ever was as Robin.

There’s a little attention given to the fact that Titans Season Two, Episode Five “Deathstroke” ended with a cliffhanger where Jason Todd is falling from a skyscraper so DC Universe initiated an online poll to “determine” if he would live or die – despite the fact that the rest of the season had already been filmed and there was no chance that he was going to die. It was an interesting meta-moment that ultimately just felt like fake.

Conclusions:

If you liked Season One and can get past the horrible opening episode of Season Two, Titans has plenty of good to offset the bad, which sometimes given about equal time. All of the characters get interesting story arcs, but most of them also end with questionable resolutions where things just magically work out, or something needlessly horrible happens. Yes, there is a surprise death at the end of the season that literally makes no sense and will likely be fixed in Season Three.

Still, the show has the potential to become something much better than it ever should have been.

The Jason Todd featurette might be interesting to younger viewers who aren’t that familiar with the history of the character, but for me it was all old hat. Really, the best reason to pick up this collection is to see what Titans was supposed to look like with proper lighting and crystal clear sound and video quality.


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