Review: TITANS 4×01 – “Lex Luthor”
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Director: Nick Copus
Writer: Richard Hatem
Starring: Brenton Thwaites, Teagan Croft, Ryan Porter, Joshua Orpin, Anna Diop, Jay Lycurgo, Titus Welliver, Joseph Morgan, Franka Potente
Reviewed by: Joshua Raynor
After Superman requests a meeting with Connor, the Titans travel to Metropolis for exclusive access to S.T.A.R. Labs. But when unexpected complications arise, including the re-emergence of Lex Luthor, Connor faces a tough decision.
The brand new season of Titans starts off wonderfully, showcasing the team as a stronger, more connected unit. We actually get to see them having some fun, being happy, laughing with one another. Last season felt so heavy that I almost forgot what it was like to see them like this, so it was a pleasant surprise.
We then quickly learn that this season is taking us away from Gotham, where we spent all of last season, and will be dropping us into Metropolis. We go from the dark and brooding world of Batman, to the bright and vibrant world of Superman. Even the music playing when they first arrive is upbeat. And that’s where the focus of this episode lies. The Man of Steel finally wants to meet Connor, and he couldn’t be more excited, as was I. The Titans also get to visit the infamous S.T.A.R. Labs. Those of you who read the comics or have watched the CW series The Flash should be familiar with this name.
While at S.T.A.R. Labs, we learn that Superman had to go off-world to help a galaxy from being destroyed, so he couldn’t be there to meet Connor. Even without being there, Superman shows Connor what it means to be a hero like him. At first I wondered if Supes was just avoiding him, but it doesn’t seem that way, so hopefully we’ll actually get to see him this season.
The trip to S.T.A.R. Labs was also a nice way to open up some storylines for multiple other characters, including Gar, Kory, and Tim. Kory learns that the new power she possesses is greater than any of them could’ve imagined. Tim begins his journey to becoming the next Robin (or could they possibly skip over that and just make him Red Robin?), and Dick has the head of the lab, Bernard, make Tim a retractable bo staff so he can start his training. We also get a hint later on that Tim may have a thing for Bernard. I’m curious if that will lead anywhere down the line.
And then there’s Gar, who we saw at the beginning had seemingly gained control over his transformations as he turned one of his arms into a tentacle while bowling, but perhaps this isn’t the case. The lab makes a new suit for Gar so he can transform without being naked every time. I actually really like the suit. It’s reminiscent of the red and white suit from the comics, which I thought was cool. But the first time he goes to transform, he blacks out and has a vision of a creepy tree with a bunch of bones hanging from it. What does this mean? Is it something connected to his powers? Why did it happen when he transformed with the suit for the first time? This is a story line I am eagerly awaiting to learn more about. We then find out that while he was having this vision, he unknowingly transformed into a gorilla (as well as a velociraptor and an armadillo) and completely trashed the lab.
POSITIVES CONT. – LEX LUTHOR
But the thing I was most excited for was the namesake of this episode, Lex Luthor, played by the very talented Titus Welliver (Bosch, Lost), and he is fantastic in this role. He is playing a much darker and more calculated version of this character than we have seen in most other iterations. And he has gotten himself into some real dark stuff as he has located the Temple of Azarath.
Now, as soon as I heard that name, I was ecstatic, as that is linked directly to Raven, and with the limited amount of screen time she got last season, it’s nice to see something pointing toward a deeper arc for her, and after what we see in the episode, it’s clear there’s something coming.
Lex Luthor is obviously seeking to access some dark magic, and we find out later on that it’s because he’s dying from Kryptonite poisoning and all of his previous attempts to stay his ultimate fate have failed. Due to all of this, he reaches out to Connor and asks to meet, which leads to my two favorite scenes in this episode, which happen back-to-back. First, Kory confronts Lex, but not before whooping on all of his guards with ease. During this scene, Lex doesn’t flinch. He knew they would come and he knows he’s in no real danger himself, so he just continues with his meal, unphased by what is happening around him. It’s a brilliant performance.
The other is with Dick, in his full Nightwing gear, and Tim as they are listening in on Kory and Lex’s conversation, while also stealing his computer files. Lex knows he’s there, listening, but whether or not he knows they are taking his files is unclear. Part of me feels like he must’ve known, but just didn’t care because, as I said, he’s dying, and also because he has sent a group of ninjas to attack Dick and Tim.
Now, my first thought when these ninjas showed up was “are these members of the League of Assassins or are they just random ninjas?” We never actually get an answer to that, but it would be pretty awesome if they were. The fight choreography here is impeccable, as Nightwing easily dispatches about a dozen ninjas. The other part of this scene that I loved was how difficult of a time Tim had handling just one of them. It shows that he’s not ready to be Robin and definitely needs training, instead of just him suddenly being able to hold his own in a fight. It’s so much more believable, and gives us something to look forward to seeing in future episodes as his training continues.
We eventually learn that Lex wants Connor to stay with him to learn how to run LexCorp. Later on, when they finally meet, he also tells him that he just wants to help him become who he wants to be. Lex appears to be sincere in this scene, but as a character with his track record, it’s hard to trust anything he says.
One of the other things about this episode that stood out, and will hopefully continue throughout the season, is how it’s tapping into some amazing horror elements, between the blood visions, the masked killer, and the ominous music. But the biggest one was the death of Lex Luthor after he spewed up a bunch of blood… AND A HUGE SNAKE! It was messed up in all the best ways, and it definitely took me by surprise.
POSITIVES CONT. – BROTHER BLOOD
We also meet Sebastian Sangre, who, in the comics, becomes Brother Blood. We don’t get much of him in this episode, as it seems they are going to slow-play his inevitable turn to villainy, which I’m excited to see. We learn that he does taxidermy, which helps add to his creep-factor. He seems very meek at first, but then something happens toward the end that sets up the possibility of a dual persona. We get alternating shots of Sebastian and a masked figure who may or may not be Brother Blood. Then we get a shot where he is seeing a different version of himself in the mirror. Perhaps he is in a fugue state as Brother Blood. I guess only time will tell.
There really weren’t any big negatives for me. Definitely none that affected my score for the episode. The only thing that I was bummed about was not getting to see Superman. However, I understand why they did it this way, and we did get to see a statue of him outside of S.T.A.R. Labs, so at least there’s that.
Overall, this was an incredible season opener, and if the rest of the season continues this way, we could be looking at the best season of Titans yet! Be sure to catch season 4 of Titans currently airing on HBO Max.