The pilot episode of DC Universe’s Titans — the service’s highly anticipated first scripted drama — introduces us to three of the main characters in a solid 50-minute premiere. Opening with Rachel Roth dreaming of the murder of Dick Grayson’s parents sets the tone for what’s to come; an emotional look into the psyche of Dick and Rachel as we see where they both are in their lives at this point and what brings them together.
Titans Season 1 Episode 1: “Titans”
Originally Aired: October 12, 2018
Written by Akiva Goldsman and Geoff Johns, Directed by Brad Anderson
Rachel, a confused and frightened young teenager, has frequent dreams about “the boy from the circus” waking, screaming to a terrified mother who locks her daughter in her room at night and covers her bedroom door with religious artifacts. Rachel is convinced her mother knows more about the “evil” inside of her than she lets on and she pushes for answers only to release the other personality inside of her. Feeling sad and alone she goes to school, but when she arrives home, what she finds is her mother being held at gunpoint forced to tell Rachel the “truth”; she is not her mother. The assailant shoots her mother and Rachel evils out again, sending him crashing into a wall and her running horrified out the door. Instinctively, she chooses a bus ticket to Detroit where coincidentally, the boy from the circus currently lives.
Dick Grayson has made a home in Detroit, Michigan working on the police force as a Detective. He keeps to himself and isn’t keen on making friends or being overtly welcoming to his new partner. We find out he’s only been in Detroit for about a month and later on in the episode it’s mentioned that Robin hasn’t been spotted in Gotham in a little over a year. This gives us an approximate timetable of how long it’s been since Dick seemingly left the side of his mentor/father figure, Bruce Wayne.
Grayson is investigating a man accused of child abuse that has been set free by the court, taking matters into his own hands, he suits up as Robin and intercepts a drug deal between the abuser and some other men. He cautions them to leave and when they realize its Robin, they look for Batman. With precision and accuracy, Robin dispels the extras, takes the drugs, and threatens the abuser. Here’s where the infamous “Fuck Batman” gets dropped and for those up in arms about the whole thing, it’s really just a reaction to the situation, nothing to get all bent out of shape over. Back in his apartment, Dick seems exasperated by his actions, cleaning the blood off his suit and heading back out in street clothes.
Rachel arrives and heads to a homeless shelter where a nice woman offers to bring her to the youth shelter. Her inner persona warns her off the woman and she runs down an alleyway straight to a police officers car. She throws something at the car to get their attention and they bring her in to the station. Another officer asks Dick, “you got that thing with helping kids, right?” and we have our first meeting of future Titans.
Rachel immediately recognizes him as the boy from her dreams and is convinced everything has led her to him. She pleads with him to help her and when she touches his hand, she sees a memory of Dick’s from the night his parents died. She sees a hand touch his shoulder asking to help. When she pulls back, you can see that she evoked the memory in Dick as well and he quickly leaves the room. It’s evident that Rachel’s plea struck a chord, especially when she says she has no one, and reluctantly he will be drawn to help her.
While Dick is waiting for confirmation that Rachel’s mother was in fact murdered, he has an interesting conversation with his new partner. She figures he had a falling out with his old partner back in Gotham; maybe that guy was on the take. Dick assures her that is not the case stating, “He was a hero to a lot of people, including me, stop at nothing guy who solved everything with his fists. I admired him at first, what he did, or was trying to do, but eventually I had to walk away because I was becoming too much like him.”
Here we get some more insight into the frame of mind that Dick currently inhabits. He’s searching, for a different life, a better way. You can sense he still has deep respect and love for Bruce, but this is the moment where he’s beginning to carve his own space in the world. Rachel is drawn to him and he is drawn to her. The way that Bruce helped him once, Dick can now help Rachel, if he lets himself.
A dirty cop convinces Rachel to leave the station, he’s “transferring her”, and brings her to an abandoned building where Dick eventually catches up. The man holding Rachel captive has her bound to a chair surrounded by cauldrons and candles. He’s going on about “you are the doorway he would walk through… I have to save us all”, implying that Rachel will be the vessel through which “he” will come. If you know anything about the Teen Titans or Raven, then you know who “he” is, if not I won’t spoil it for you.
Rachel feeling threatened by her kidnapper once again evils out and attacks, leaving her chair, she transforms into a black demon cloud and enters the mans body, killing him from the inside out. Dick hears this but cannot get into the room. Once the man is dead, the demon cloud leaves his body and Rachel is back, tied in her chair. Dick releases her, she’s hysterical and shaken, having no idea what just happened or how, she begs him to help her. It is in this moment; Dick makes a choice to help her.
Thirty minutes in to the Dick and Rachel story, we meet Kory Anders, waking from a bullet riddled car accident outside Vienna, Austria.
She’s disoriented and taken aback but has no time to react as a car approaches showering her with bullets. She runs into the woods and straight to a gas station. There, she rifles through her purse and discovers her passport and a key to a hotel room. Once at the hotel, Kory coyly gets some answers from the Concierge before heading straight up to her room. Inside she finds a man tied up in her closet going on about how she fooled them all over “some girl”.
They fight and Kory discovers her intense strength when punching the man clear across the room. He leads her to Konstantin Kovar, the man in charge that she’s apparently been deceiving, where she attempts to get more answers. He’s a vile, disgusting man, spitting venomous words towards her in a futile attempt to frighten her. Kory lights him and his minions up when he shoots at her, burning a whole room of hateful men. It cements her badass status in the best way possible. Finding a photo of Rachel, Kory heads out the door.
A small cap at the end of the episode gives us a brief glimpse at Gar Logan as a tiger stealing a video game from a store. We’ll have to wait to see more of our future Beast Boy.
The premiere does a good job of establishing Dick and Rachel, while touching on the fierce, force that is Kory Anders. Anna Diop’s performance stands out above the rest as we watch Kory’s expression change from confusion, to disbelief, to determination as she wades through trying to figure out whom she is and what has happened.
Teagan Croft carries a lot of this episode as Rachel drives the story, quite a lot for a newcomer, but she handles herself well. Brenton Thwaites fits the role of Dick like it was made for him; you immediately feel like he’s worn the burden of the “R” for a large part of his life and you sense the conflict within him to continue or forge a new path.
It’s important to note none of the characters except for Robin were referenced by their “superhero” name because this is an origin story and neither Rachel or Kory are Raven or Starfire just yet, but from the feel of this episode, it’s going to be an interesting and intriguing journey.
Songs from the Episode:
- Nathaniel Ratliff & The Night Sweats “S.O.B.”
- Tavares “Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel”
- Donna Summer “I Feel Love”
DC Universe’s first original series, already picked up for a second season – from Weed Road Pictures and Berlanti Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television – airs original episodes every Friday on DC Universe Streaming Service.
For more information, visit DCUniverse.com.