“Troubled Water” finds Gotham in chaos and the Titans held responsible as things go from bad to worse.
This recap of Titans season 3, episode 10, “Troubled Water”, contains spoilers.
Since last week’s episode spent almost all of its runtime in the afterlife, “Troubled Water” wastes no time in reminding the audience of the stakes here. Dick is still having visions. Gotham’s water supply has been heavily contaminated by Scarecrow’s anti-fear toxin, and since over half the population has been infected, chaos is erupting everywhere. There are murders on one corner, robberies on another; rows of warehouses on fire. Almost immediately, the whole city is shut down and quarantined, nobody in or out.
Just another day in Gotham, I guess.
Titans season 3, episode 10 recap
For Scarecrow, this is all just a marketing push. Using Edward Bernays and Sigmund Freud as examples, he explains to Jason how it isn’t the product, really, but how you sell it. And how Scarecrow chooses to sell it is by announcing to Gotham that this is all Bruce Wayne’s fault and that Red Hood will be their savior from his oversight. He’s giving the fear of Gotham’s people a target in Bruce and the Titans, and a hero in Jason. Whether you’re selling bacon or chaos, the principle is the same.
But chaos is harder to deal with. When regular citizens are foaming at the mouth and running around with knives, how brutally do you take them down? (There’s a funny moment when Conner knocks a rioter unconscious using his forefinger, just to be safe). Of course, thanks to Scarecrow’s propaganda, the Titans are public enemy number one, so their attempts to help all backfire. The people don’t want to be saved — not by the Titans, anyway. Even those who haven’t had the contaminated water are against them. Dick, monitoring from the Batcave, immediately orders them off the streets. They’re going to need a new approach.
Meanwhile, Donna arrives back in Gotham — almost, anyway. She’s forced to get out of the taxi and walk the rest of the way thanks to the bridges all being closed, and on the way, she’s accosted by Lydia, who has followed her all the way to determine what, and who came back from the dead. So, she’s thrust into a sepia-tinted woodland, a simulation, where she’s to earn her passage to Gotham by undergoing a series of trials to prove her worth and reckon with her own dual heritage and history. Classic Amazon business, really.
Barbara and Dick at least find time for a drink and a chat. Both are running out of ideas. Dick’s is to turn himself into the GCPD as Nightwing, to put the city’s trust back where it belongs — in Barbara. After, he’ll post bail and work in the shadows, with the Titans. You can see the logic, though the fact he’s using shots of absinthe to fuel his bright ideas is worrying. Then again, so is everything else.
Scarecrow, too, is watching. He’s so smug about the carnage in Gotham and the Titans having retreated that he’s underestimating the response; not to mention Jason’s loyalty. Robin #2 is becoming rightly disillusioned with the whole scheme, and Scarecrow’s grandiose posturing most of all. All this talk of ascendancy and legacy doesn’t hold much water, troubled or otherwise. But Scarecrow’s adamant that the final chapter in Gotham’s history will be titled “Red Hood”. The more compelling voice in Jason’s ear is that of Molly. He has started answering the phone to her now, actually listening. She might be proposing unlikely trips abroad, but it’s a start. She knows Red Hood isn’t who he really is, and she’s the only one willing to remind him. The question is whether or not he’ll listen.
He doesn’t — at least not straight away. And neither, as it happens, do the GCPD. When the Titans go to turn themselves in peacefully, it’s a disaster. There’s pushing and shoving and aggression, and before long a bullet has been fired directly at Conner. He swats it away, of course, but the ricochet buries itself in Blackfire’s guts, leading to carnage. Conner loses it and starts tossing cops left and right. Gar goes full tiger. Even Barbara is forced to shoot a colleague when she spots him aiming at Dick. Eventually, everyone is able to escape, but this is hardly going to do much for the team’s public image. Scarecrow’s plan is working on every level.
And things only get worse. Starfire attempts to heal her sister, but in the process, Blackfire takes all her powers. And that leads to a bit of a disagreement. Starfire thinks she did it intentionally; that this was her plan all along. Blackfire claims otherwise. It’s hard to know who to believe, which is the point. But Blackfire’s demeanour does change a little when she has the upper hand. She claims to have “unfinished business” of her own, and now, given how powerful she is, that strikes as much more of a threat than it should.
As Barbara is arrested, the camera ventures through Gotham, taking in the words “No Hope” graffitied on the walls, the wanted posters with the Titans’ faces on them, the citizens dabbing bleeding wounds with rags. In the span of one episode, Donna, who was dead just last week, has become the city’s only hope, so when she bullies her way through the military checkpoint at the city limits, you can’t help but smile. It’s the same when Rachel tracks down Gar, who is waking up from an anaesthetized stupor. Everyone’s back — except Dawn — and in the same place, for the first time in the season.
But, as Dick says, the Titans’ number one priority is to stay hidden. Gotham, at least for now, is on its own, which is how Scarecrow and Jason can stroll into Wayne Manor and make plans to redecorate. The first thing to come down is the family portrait of Martha, Thomas, and Bruce Wayne. All Jason’s frustrations come back to him as he sets about the canvas with a knife. Scarecrow watches on, sipping Bruce’s expensive liquor straight from the bottle. “Welcome to Crane Manor.”