Titans season 3, episode 1 recap – “Barbara Gordon”

August 12, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
HBO Max, Weekly TV
3.5

Summary

The death of a major character sends the Titans in a new, darker direction in “Barbara Gordon”, a moody third season premiere.

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3.5

Summary

The death of a major character sends the Titans in a new, darker direction in “Barbara Gordon”, a moody third season premiere.

This recap of Titans season 3, episode 1, “Barbara Gordon”, contains spoilers. You can check out our spoiler-free season review by clicking these words.


Titans is a lot of things, but perhaps first and foremost it’s a show for fans of Batman and his mythos. Never has this been more evident than in the opening of “Barbara Gordon”, its very title redolent with the easy appeal of a simple namecheck. In that opening, Jason Todd, the second Robin and the most annoying by far, is tracking the Joker on the Bat-Computer while Bruce Wayne sips martinis on a private jet, on his way back from God-knows-where. Joker, Jason excitedly tells Bruce, is at an old amusement park, which never, ever bodes well for anyone. Bruce, ever the caring father figure, tells Jason to stand down, but Jason, hopped up on some strange chemical that he huffs through a ventilator, puts on the busted Robin suit, and decides to take matters into his own hands. Which is a mistake, obviously. He walks right into a trap, and the Joker — glimpsed only from behind, and in shadow — beats him to death with a crowbar.

See? Totally for the fans, especially for those who voted to have Jason Todd killed off in the first place during the “A Death in the Family” story arc. And Jason being battered can only mean one thing, of course, though it’s for the second episode to reveal what that is. The savvy comic-readers among us have something to look forward to, though, which is perhaps just as well since none of the Titans seem to.

A nice action scene reintroduces that group, though admittedly missing a few members. Rachel has gone to Themyscira to try and revive Donna Troy, who was killed in the previous season, and Hawk and Dove are both absent from this scene, doing their own thing elsewhere. After busting up an attempt by DC third-stringer Gizmo to steal and distribute a bio-engineered form of Ebola, the Titans are front-page news, obviously on good terms with both the cops and media. Starfire is also on good terms with Justin, that therapist she tried to bang in the second season, who calls her completely randomly after seeing her on TV and starts running game.

The news of Robin’s death is reported on TV, and we take it in from the perspective of Tim, another meaningful namecheck for DC die-hards, though we don’t see anything else of him in “Barbara Gordon”. We do see Barbara, though, shortly after Dick arrives in Gotham. There’s a nice moment — again, for the fans — when Dick asks to see the commissioner and it turns out that Barbara is the commissioner now. There’s history between her and Dick, and her attention is particularly focused on a new serial murderer who has racked up and cellophaned eight victims so far, so she isn’t especially concerned about Jason, his amateur chemistry experiments, or the fact that Bruce seems to be taking his death particularly badly.

Titans season 3, episode 1 ending explained

Nevertheless, because of her history with Dick, Barbara agrees to meet with Bruce, and savagely lays into him about being a user, a psychopath, and a danger to the city he purports to love so much. It’s a truly hellacious verbal beatdown, and one of the most lacerating attacks on Batman as a pop culture symbol I’ve seen in any Batman-adjacent story — here, Titans is making good on its promise to “F*ck Batman” made way back in the first season’s marketing.

And she’s not wrong, something which Dick knows anyway, but is only confirmed for him when he tracks some clues to Jason’s secret loft chemistry lab, and then hacks into the Bat-Computer and finds Bruce’s files on prospective new Robin candidates — all young, vulnerable kids, obviously. Dick lays into Bruce as well, who shows a rare moment of vulnerability when he says he can’t do this alone, but Dick is adamant that in that case, he should probably stop doing it. And he does, in a sense. He goes to Arkham Asylum in the middle of the night and beats Joker to death, depositing the bloody crowbar on the floor of Dick’s bedroom that night and telling him that Gotham is his responsibility now. And into the night he disappears, as usual — this time, perhaps for good.

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