Titans‘ third season comes to a close, and it largely worked. After several finales and pseudo-finales “Purple Rain” manages to just be a solid season finale that sticks the landing and teases what is to come in the fourth season of this new HBOMAX original.
1. As Far As Finale’s Go
I was kind of dreading this episode as previous finales to a season of Titans have been less than ideal. Original season 1 finale “Dick Grayson” wasn’t even supposed to be a finale. The follow up episode, season 2 premier, “Trigon” quickly wrapped everything up with surprising speed. A speed that would be the hallmark of the season two finale “Nightwing”, where Deathstroke was taken care of by the end of the first act as the show rushed to connect and tease even more stuff. Neither of these episodes were wholly satisfying as episodes of television or as finales, the episodes that are supposed to provide closure. As low as the bar was set “Purple Rain” easily jumps over it for a functional finale. The first act is a little too remincent of previous episodes as things appear to just happen, and the central terror and cost of Scarecrow’s mad scheme is hand waved a way and undone, but overall, as an episode of TV it worked. “Purple Rain” provides the necessary emotional closure for the Titans cast and teases what is to come. It might even have me interested in what a fourth season looks like.
2. Everything is Working Out
I wasn’t so sure I would feel that way at the start of the episode as the show burned through plot reveals and happenstance to push things forward in an extended pre-title sequence. Normally these sequences last generally 3 to maybe 5 minutes, “Purple Rain” lasted nearly 15 minutes. That’s not a pre title sequence, that’s an entire act. Which saw Raven and Beast Boy just appearing out of nowhere from behind the GCPD goons attacking Donna and the Drake family. I went back and checked to see where we left those two, it didn’t seem anywhere close to that location nor did they have an idea of Donna being in danger. This is a scenario not to dissimilar from last week where our duo just came across Dick’s dead body, when in the previous cut they had no idea where he was. Teagan Croft is getting better at doing the Magneto force moves for her digitaly effected magic.
The development between Raven and Beast Boy was preceded by Marguerite V is revealed to be not who you think she is. Her sudden reveal is even more out of nowhere, revealed to be an ARGUS operative working with Roy Harper, but at least fit the spy tone it was meant to imply. V was seant ahead to keep tabs on the supers after it was discovered that Ra’s Al Ghul seeded a Lazarus Pit, the same pit that brough Jason and Dick back, in Gotham as part of early development for an unknown plot. The threat of Ra’s Al Ghul is interesting and sticks to the Titans way of repurposing Batman villains. If they want casting advice they should go with Faran Tahir who recently voiced the Demon’s Head in InJustice, review on Multiversity. The mention of Ra’s and Roy Harper is interesting but ineffectual and unaffecting in the scheme of the episode. Where V’s reveal veers into the wrong path is hand waving away the team’s lack of tech support with the sudden reveal of just entire squads of ARGUS forces.
Mere minutes after all this occurred Dick hashes out a secret plan with Jason and gets a call from Crane who sets off one of his many bombs. The bomb effect itself was solid, the estimation of casualties was kind of absurd 500-2k. It was all so vague, not that the framing of this terrorist attack made you care about the good people of Gotham. Deserted streets have a way of making it look like no one is home as it is. Not that audiences had much time to care about the vaguely mass dead as the Titans come up with a miracle, disperse the Lazarus Pit in a homemade storm. A storm that turns purple … for reasons and gives us our titular rain.
Season finales offer closure, things that must end and, perhaps, work out. Titans has a way of yada-yadaing the plots in need of closure this episode. Those movements where to swift for my liking which in turn reduced the amount of character work these plots could produce. It just so happens none of the threads that had emotional involvement for this season really interacted with any of that. It wasn’t the best but worked out in an agreeable if inelegant fashion.
3. Being a Better Batman
To give the writing team some credit, the development of that Lazarus miacle is part of a moment of realization by Dick that to be a better Batman he must stop playing by Batman’s rules … except for the things that are useful. In a move that makes the repetition of the previous episode feel more coherent, Dick realizes that it’s all just a game to Crane and that he and Barbara are just stand-ins for their parents. Instead of trying to disarm the bombs and save the city, Dick decides to go on the offensive and attack the batcave and take out Crane and the bombs there.
Now to do that he plays the secret Jason Todd trap card and pulls a Batman by omitting that from everyone. Maybe not playing by the rules of the Bat is as easy as it seems.
4. Understanding Selfish Actions and learning to try and forgive
None of the emotional plots this season were really wrapped up in Crane’s mad bomber plot. Maybe Jason’s if only tangentially. The two big emotional questions hanging over this episode was how Blackfire would respond to Connor blowing up her ship and how would Titans and everyone forgive Jason.
The answer to the first question is given surprisingly quick as everyone wakes up after getting blown away. Backfire chooses to not attack or seek vengeance on Connor, displaying character growth. She understands that he acted selfishly and that she would’ve done the same thing in his shoes. That isn’t forgiveness, but it is sympathy that she was never afforded. They too kind of hand wave away this whole blowing up the ship thing in the end as the episode marches to its ultimate happy ending. Though it is justified better due to the statements around Connor’s photographic memory. It leaves Blackfire and Connor in a good place and sets up Damaris Lewis to guest on the show if they need her. Hopefully she does come back, her presence is a much-needed change of energy.
Jason and the rest of the Titans cast is mostly differed. Beast Boy is the only person who ever cared about Jason the man, something no one else seemed capable of. In the end we don’t see any talk or reconciliation between Jason’s interactions with Dick and Garfield. We do, however, see Jason begin to try and mend things with Bruce. A Bruce who has realized his own failings in all of this and his own lack of imperfection. Their scene wasn’t as strong as the one in crime alley, but still functional. Like Demaris Lewis, Curran Walters seems primed for either a spin off show or appearances as a guest spot in the forthcoming season. The arc of Jason Todd has been completed.
5. What’s to Come
Instead of flying back to San Francisco, Dick decides that everyone needs a road trip back in an RV. It is an echo of the end to “Trigon” with everyone driving into SF and Titans Tower.
The show has an expansive cast, and it has effectively written out the original generation of titans, Hawk, Dove, Donna, etc. Donna appears to be joining ARGUS, which could setup guest spots for the rumored casting of Roy Harper. The Titans aren’t entirely down to just four now with Jay Lycurgo coming along for the ride. Who couldn’t use a little bit of Nightwing and Robin in their life?
The strange humor of Titans does hit one last time as their first stop is Arkham Asylum and one last visit with Crane. Who Raven gives all the fear she absorbed from the Lazarus Pitt, a byproduct of its resurrection powers, as a parting gift? It’s a really heroic thing to do in the Titansverse.
Overall, the third season of Titans was the best one they’ve currently produced. It has its flaws and structural weaknesses but by and large it functioned like TV in ways the previous seasons simply did not.