DC Universe is looking to be something unique. A place where DC comic fans can come to for comics as well as old and exclusive content. We haven’t seen a comic company do anything like this before. Sure, Marvel has a streaming app in the works but that app will be sharing the spotlight with other things Disney. DC finds itself in a unique position to showcase their universe. We know that Titans won’t be the only show that comes across the DC Universe app though. Shows like Young Justice, Swamp Thing, and Doom Patrol have already been announced, which makes episode four of Titans more than just a fourth episode of the season. No, suddenly “Doom Patrol” becomes an episode to further the strong character development of the last two episodes but also to expand the universe a bit and garner interest in the upcoming Doom Patrol series. A risky move that could have easily blown up in the face of the streaming app
On the one hand, you want people to leave the episode wanting to watch the upcoming Doom Patrol series, but you don’t want to showcase them to the point where they overshadow the characters you’re still trying to establish in Titans. Putting something like this in a fourth episode is quite the gamble and luckily for us Titans and the DC Universe pull it off. What easily could have been a commercial for future products becomes an episode that not only introduces a new cast of misfits but uses them as a way to further invest us in the characters we’ve been presented.
The strength of “Doom Patrol” is in the emotion. When we meet Larry, Cliff, and Rita (otherwise known as Negative Man, Robotman, and Elastiwoman) we’re welcomed in by this warm sense of family. Here are a group of characters who have suffered some sort of hardship but are making the best of their lives. Whether it’s a robot who is created to survive a brutal car crash or a woman whose features need a huge carb intake in order to stay in shape, there is something sympathetic and loveable about the gang. They’re intriguing and inviting, but don’t overstay their welcome. It is clear that they are a conduit to bringing the Titans team together, more on that in a bit, but they never feel like throwaway characters. This is largely due to the emotional connections they pull out of both Raven and Beast Boy.
With Raven, we’re given a real opportunity to see her personality on display. For the majority of this season we’ve seen glimpses of her power and learn a little about her history, but as for the girl herself, we didn’t know a lot about Raven other than she didn’t feel like she belonged and she was scared. When she’s with Larry, Cliff, Rita, and Gar we see another side, a side that makes us question if this dark power is all evil. Raven, who is being hidden by Beast Boy in the home of these characters, not only seems like she belongs somewhere for the first time this season but flourishes. Little touches like comforting Rita, a woman she doesn’t know at all, as her skin loses shape. Or larger moments where the dark power takes over and saves the life of the poor woman who is brought in dying, Raven the character steps to the forefront here and no longer is someone who is being chased by the Nuclear Family, the raven tattoo people, or Dick and Starfire, but a character worth protecting.
Gar, Beast Boy, goes a long way in helping with Raven’s transition. Not only is he the catalyst for introducing Raven to the members of Doom Patrol, but he’s the first character to treat Raven like a person and not an object. Everyone we’ve met thus far has used Raven as a piece on the board and has moved her around as they see fit. Gar sees Raven and understands what it’s like to be an outsider and tries to give her something she’s searching for… a family. Granted, this doesn’t work out. The leader of the Doom Patrol, Chief, seems to be a wee bit shady and quickly tries to harness Raven’s powers for his own purposes. Sure, he wants us to believe he’s got the greater good in mind but there’s something lurking beneath the surface here. Maybe it’s his treatment of Gar or how he seems to talk down to the Doom Patrol or maybe, more importantly, it’s how he ignores Raven’s refusal to go along with the experiment, either way, it seems that Chief is being set up to be a strong candidate for villain this season.
Eventually Raven is able to fight off Chief, it only takes Gar being hit with a tranquilizer while he’s turning into a tiger to get things rolling. One dark side vomit outburst later, Chief has a broken back and Raven is losing all emotional control. It’s a strong moment not only for the show but for the character. Despite how strong she is, Raven continues to be emotionally lost and the surge of power emphasizes the fact that this young girl needs something or someone… someones.
Enter Dick Grayson, who spent the majority of the episode on the sideline. After a really violent outburst involving a hunter who last saw Raven, Dick and Starfire find their way to the home of Doom Patrol and it’s Dick Grayson who is able to reign Raven in. This whole time Dick has been trying to steer Raven from making the same poor choices that he did while he was growing up. Not wanting her to throw her faith into someone who can’t return it or ultimately won’t be who she thinks he is which sums up Dick’s current relationship with Batman. Through the help of Starfire, who seems to lighten some of Grayson’s darkness, Dick changes his mind. Talking Raven down from her power outburst is Dick’s first time treating Raven as a person. A person he’s realizing that he cares about. Suddenly Dick Grayson finds himself in the Bruce Wayne role, and if his attitude this season is any indication, then we can assume that Dick is going to do things differently.
As the episode ends our four Titans are finally together. Gar, having been given permission from the rest of Doom Patrol and probably burning bridges with Chief, heads off with Dick, Starfire, and Raven as they begin their quest together. Watching the car drive away I was left feeling that these first four episodes were a bit of a prologue allowing us to see the players in the season ahead. Now that that chapter has concluded we can get to the meat and potatoes. We can now form the Titans.
There you have it Geeklings, what did you think of this week’s Titans? Were you excited to get your first glimpse at Doom Patrol? Are you pumped that the four main characters are all finally together? What does the future hold for them? Sound off in the comments or if you’d like to talk more Titans you can find me on Twitter @iamgeek32. I’ll see you all next week with a brand new review!
Images from WB Television