Holy murderous Batman, Titans! That finale was absolutely insane on every level. And for an episode that literally only takes place over the course of maybe 30 seconds at most, there was a lot to unpack and so many questions that need answering when Titans returns for its second season.
The hour kicks off as we see what Dick considers to be a happy life five years down the line—or is it what Rachel's father Trigon believes Dick would think makes the perfect life based on his memories. Who knows? Whoever dreamed it up isn't too far off the mark: Dick is happily living in sunny California, tanned and content with a pregnant Dawn as his wife, one cheerful son and another baby soon on the way. He's left Gotham and Detroit and all that darkness in his rearview, and everyone else in his life seems to be all the better for it. Rachel and Gar are off at college, FaceTiming Dick and the family every so often. Even Kori is doing great, living as a human working for the FBI. Maybe life does get better…
And life does get better…that is, for everyone except those living in Gotham. Jason Todd, wheelchair bound after finding himself on the wrong side of the Riddler's bullet, delivered the news to Dick himself: Alfred's dead, Barbara's missing, Commissioner Gordon was killed in brutal, sadistic fashion by the Joker and Batman officially broke. He was about to cross the line, throw away his one rule and kill the Joker in revenge. Dick was the only one who could save Batman and stop him from destroying everything.
So back to Gotham Dick went, and man, has that city seen some better days. It's like the Purge rolled through town and never left. While Dick was trying to stop Batman from doing the dirty, he was too late. Not only did Batman try to kill the Joker once (eliciting quite the somber callback to the pilot with Dick exclaiming, "F-k, Bruce.") but he came back to finish the job when the Joker survived the first attempt. And we actually saw it all!
If you didn't get chills watching Batman kill the Joker, then you must not have been watching the same show I was. I'm pretty sure this is the point where my brain melted.
Yes, I know this was all a simulation in Dick's head. It had to be. I knew it from the very first scene when the episode didn't start with Dick entering the house and immediately seeing Rachel and Trigon. We had clues the entire hour, from the shifting time to that weird blue light, and we knew the last thing Dick did before this "happy life" came to be was running into the weird shimmery light surrounding the house that Trigon was in. But even armed with that knowledge, the vision of Batman killing the Joker, and everything that came to pass after that moment, will forever be seared into my memory.
Because Batman didn't stop there. The carnage he left at Arkham Asylum—leaving bloody bodies of patients as well as doctors, nurses, guards and the warden—was next level disturbing. At one point, as Dick was surveying the war zone that Arkham was now, I started to wonder why he didn't realize all this was merely in his head. He knew Bruce would never cross that line, even if he had.
But perhaps that's why this episode was so affecting. Batman has always been just one small step away from this kind of violence and brutality. All it takes is losing the small support system he's allowed himself to have to push him over the edge. Look at all the violence and death his protégé, Dick, struggles with holding back on a daily basis. He's just the student. We don't have to imagine what the master could unleash, because this episode laid it all out for us in grisly detail.
That's why watching Batman losing control and Robin being driven to kill his former mentor (which is a sentence I never thought I'd write, but here we are—2018 sure is a trip!) is so terrifying, even though we knew it wasn't real. It really *could* be in real life.
Of course, my theory was proved correct in the next moment—this was all in Dick's head. Trigon just wanted Dick to finally accept the darkness and become an agent of destruction for him. Looking at the past season of brutal violence and destruction that Dick left in his wake while still putting forth an effort to hold onto his conscience means that without it, we're about to see some really messed up stuff. Just that shot of Dick's face, eyes all blacked out, was nightmare-inducing. How long will he be under Trigon's sway? Hopefully Rachel is able to pull him back soon.
But you have to wonder, did the hallucinations serve a greater purpose for Trigon aside from turning Dick dark? The small smile on his face when Dick revealed the secret entrance into the Batcave, the one Bruce wouldn't expect an assault from, is pretty telling. He was probably also using the simulation to gain as much knowledge about Batman's identity and defenses as possible for when he tries to "eat the world." Knowing everything about the enemy takes away any element of surprise they may have, and he now has the weapons required to take out Batman—he knows his secret identity and how to take him out in his secret lair. That is definitely not good.
Another lingering question that Titans left by the end of the finale: What happened to Gar in between the time that Dick entered the house and the simulation ended? We don’t see him at all and he wouldn't stand idly by while Dick turned dark. The tears in Rachel's eyes might not have just been for Dick. Seeing as how we still haven't met Kid Flash or Cyborg on Titans, maybe temporarily losing Robin and Beast Boy forces Raven, Starfire and Wonder Girl to find and team up with Kid Flash and Cyborg, finally bringing the Teen Titans to life in full force. Wouldn't *that* make for a dope second season opener?
And did you make sure to keep watching past the credits? If not, go back and watch it right now, because Titans made sure to end its first season with the most insane mic drop ever.
"Somewhere in Metropolis," an experiment gone wrong at Project CADMUS revealed none other than the debut of Superboy aka Kon-El/Connor. Now that's how you end the season!
The naked "Subject 13" that escaped his cloning tube seems to be a genetically-engineered Superman clone, which has to be Superboy. That barcode S symbol tattooed on his shoulder definitely supports that theory, as well as "Subject 13." (Superboy was the 13th experiment in the comics and the first successful one.) Plus, Krypto! If we don't get a full season of Krypto the super dog doing amazing things, then I'll eat kryptonite.
All things considered, what a perfect way to end the first season of Titans, even if most of it wasn't actually real. Huge shake-ups for the team, coupled with the potential for more team members to arrive next season as well as the promise of Superboy and Krypto mean that Titans is only just getting started.