A divisive episode digs into Gar’s character and opens up some branches of the DC Universe, but not all of it necessarily takes.
This recap of Titans Season 4 Episode 9, “Dude, Where’s My Gar?” contains spoilers.
I can see “Dude, Where’s My Gar?” being a little divisive, for a few reasons.
One is that it only focuses on one character – in this case, Gar, aka Beast Boy, and although an episode focusing entirely on him is long overdue, it still detracts from the ongoing storylines involving every other member of the Titans.
Another is that it feels “connected” to the wider DC Universe in a way that’s ultimately a bit tokenistic and gimmicky. The much-talked-about Stargirl crossover is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sequence that’s part of a wider effort to explain The Red, a life force that connects and pervades all animals and microorganisms in various DC universes, and to which Gar is powerfully, intimately connected.
Titans Season 4 Episode 9 Recap
Where is Beast Boy?
Early in the episode, we learn through Dominic Mndawe, aka Freedom Beast, that Gar has been pulled out of The Red to a cave at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.
It was Dominic who pulled Gar out of the Red, but he takes some convincing about that and the Red itself, which is understandable since it’s a nebulous concept. Things only become more complicated when Sakutia, or the Green Fever, gets brought up as being responsible for the deaths of Gar’s parents and Dominic’s family.
The episode’s “quest”, so to speak, is to break into the lab where Sakutia was invented, free the apes that are presently being tortured in experiments there and burn the whole place to the ground. It’s as much a symbolic gesture as anything since the entire episode is a way for Gar to better understand his nature and his purpose, tying his present-day role in the Titans to a lonely, frightened boy separated from his parents in a zoo and finding kinship in the captive animals.
Who is Freedom Beast?
Freedom Beast is a protector. His powers are tied to his helmet, which has prolonged his life, given him improved strength and stamina, and a unique ability to fuse two lifeforms together into one super-hybrid.
But his power is inherited, through the helmet, rather than being innate like Gar’s. He believes Gar has a stronger connection to the Red than him or indeed anyone else.
But Freedom Beast is also looking for revenge, a way to patch up his own traumas, and wants Gar to experience what he’s saying in a way that sticks – a simple explanation won’t suffice. So, a good chunk of “Dude, Where’s My Gar?” is devoted to Gar taking a psychedelic trip through various hallucinatory scenarios with Rachel and Jynx that allow him to better comprehend life and death and the way all things are connected through the Red.
Who released Sakutia?
There’s some decent CGI action when Beast Boy and Freedom Beast break into the lab, which is being operated by Dr. Myers but that we subsequently learn really belongs to Dr. Niles Caulder, who released Sakutia deliberately in pursuit of eternal life.
In his modification and reengineering of the virus, Caulder damaged the Red and created Beast Boy.
Titans Season 4 Episode 9 Ending Explained
All throughout this episode, Gar is trying, ultimately, to return to the Titans in their time of need. Dominic thinks his purpose is greater than that – he’s the protector of the Red, connected to all things and various multiverses, but he’s not quite ready to adopt the role yet, even if he claims to be.
Gar traveling through the Red is the episode’s excuse for a whole bunch of DC nods and cameos, including the Stargirl appearance, and glimpses of the Flash, Shazam, and Swamp Thing. The episode even ends with Gar being deposited on the wrong Earth, and being discovered by Cyborg.
I’m not sure all of this necessarily takes. It works much better as an introspective look at Gar’s character rather than an expansion of the DC mythology. The multi-versal stuff feels a bit unnecessary, especially in the final season of a show that otherwise has a fairly coherent overarching plot, and the connections to a universe that is already fractured and uncertain feel a bit wasteful.
Still, there’s really no telling how all of this might come to matter later, so I’ll reserve judgment for now.
You can stream Titans Season 4 Episode 9, “Dude, Where’s My Gar?” exclusively on HBO Max.