Titans season 4, episode 1 recap – who are the Church of Blood?

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: November 3, 2022 (Last updated: February 5, 2024)
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Titans season 4, episode 1 recap


An excellent interpretation of Lex Luthor is one of the few highlights in a season premiere rife with confounding decision-making and a deliberately obtuse storytelling structure.

This Titans season 4, episode 1 recap for the episode titled “Lex Luthor” contains spoilers.

How do teenage superheroes wind down after saving a city? Well, according to the Titans season 4 premiere, “Lux Luthor”, it’s by ten-pin bowling. That doesn’t strike me as the ideal pastime for a vigilante team who can scarcely control their own powers at the best of times, but what do I know?

Titans season 4, episode 1 recap

Anyway, it’s only temporary. Dick has been liaising with Bruce Wayne, and since Conner was interested in meeting his father, Bruce has pulled a few strings. The Man of Steel wants to meet his boy, so the team — enthusiastically, for once — all head to Metropolis to hook up with Supes at S.T.A.R. Labs. I’m not typically a fan of these entirely off-camera setups, but I’ll make an exception to see where this goes.

Of course, Metropolis doesn’t just mean Superman but also the titular Lex Luthor, played here by a fearsomely bearded Titus Welliver, introduced by being presented control of the Temple of Azarath — Azarath is Raven’s birthplace, FYI — and told that once “the ritual” is complete, he’ll have more power than anyone else on Earth. There’s always a ritual, isn’t there? Nevertheless, this is a decent introduction to the character; he’s shown as being ruthless — he fires May Bennett, otherwise known as Mother Mayhem, which will likely not go unanswered — and egocentric, power-hungry, and possibly a bit mad, which certainly rings as accurate to me.

Speaking of introductions we get another one right after this for another new villain, Sebastian Blood (Joseph Morgan), also known as Brother Blood, a mad-scientist inventor-type who tells a stuffed fox — he’s a taxidermist, I think? — that he’s invented something that’ll change the world. The fox seems nonplussed. Again, it’s a functional intro, though perhaps “Mr. Lonely” playing in the background is a touch too heavy-handed.

Blood, the person, gives way to blood the theme, since we see it all over the place; Chinese food reimagined as entrails, a murdered girls claret spraying out of the gash in her neck, Raven’s milkshake spreading and congealing in a deep red — the stuff even pours from the eye of Sebastian’s stuffed fox. This begins a deliberate surrealism and higgledy-piggledy storytelling structure in “Lex Luthor”. When the team arrives at S.T.A.R. Labs, something’s obviously amiss. Superman isn’t there but has left Conner a message saying he’ll see him soon, and when Gar tries on a new gizmo, he blacks out, visits a parched landscape with a giant tree, and then comes to in a lab that apparently he destroyed in the form of a gorilla (and a velociraptor, and an armadillo.) None of the Titans seems to think any of this is especially weird, which is annoying.

The other Titans get some attention in S.T.A.R. Labs too — Starfire gets her new power analyzed, Tim gets a custom-made bo staff, Conner and Dick get to essentially live-stream Superman’s interstellar trajectory on his way to try and repair a collapsing dwarf star — and then everyone leaves, presumably better off, in a retrofitted blacked-out tour bus that has a sports car hidden underneath as a gift from Bruce Wayne for saving Gotham last season. The new bus, though, isn’t proofed against a kind of jamming signal that Lex Luthor beams in so he can instruct Conner to meet him that night at LexCorp.

Conner wants to meet Lex, since if he can’t meet one parent while in Metropolis he might as well meet the other, but Lex never shows his hand, so rather than let him waltz straight in, Starfire punches her way into Lex’s tower and distracts him while an SD card with wings — one of Bruce’s toys, we’re told — hacks into his laptop. Dick and Tim are surveilling from across the street, while Conner, Gar, and Rachel comb through the archives of The Daily Planet to try and figure out what Lex might be up to.

He’s obviously up to something. He tells Kori that he wants Conner to come and stay with him in Metropolis, and he already knows Dick is watching him from the opposing building, despatching ninjas to fight with him for no reason other than to facilitate an action sequence, really. The other kids dig up some information in the archives, such as that Lex has recently started a charitable foundation and has been spending a lot of time with an eerie-looking man, but this whole side quest seems to exist solely to allow Rachel to have another weird vision — she imagines one of the cardboard boxes sagging and leaking blood all over the place — since Dick and Kori promptly stroll in and explain everything anyway.

So, it seems like Lex is dying of kryptonite poisoning, has six months to live, and wants to show Conner how to run LexCorp when he dies. The man he has been spending so much time with is the world’s foremost expert on the kind of poisoning that’s killing him. The working theory of the Titans is that Lex wants to use Conner for a “Radical Mass Transfusion”, which might help to keep him alive. Conner, though, still wants to meet and get a measure of Lex for himself, despite the advice of everyone around him, and since he’s a grown (super)man, it’s kind of his call.

As it turns out, Lex, at least according to him, doesn’t intend to use Conner’s DNA to cure himself — he has actually already tried that, and it didn’t work. But he does want Conner to get to know him, to assimilate some part of his “thesis” so that Conner can fulfill Lex’s dream of being both man and superman. All he wants is for Conner to stay and spend a little time with him and Conner, somewhat naively, agrees. But Lex immediately asks for his help in dealing with some partners of his who may have “even darker ideas” than Lex on the matter of mortality.

The episode ends with a flurry of extremely bizarre scenes. Sebastian spits blood, looks himself in the mirror, and sees his reflection move independently of him; Raven starts to scream and spasm, then suddenly comes to and can’t remember the event; and Lex Luthor cries blood, vomits blood, and then regurgitates a giant snake that Conner disintegrates with his heat vision. Of course, these events are all connected, but before we can even begin to guess how, security bursts through the door and find Conner leaning over Lex’s bloody corpse.

Outside, May Bennett surveys LexCorp with a reminder — seemingly to herself — that someone always has to pay for power. It looks like the price was especially steep for Lex.

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