On the previous episode of Titans, Raven was kidnapped by the nuns of St. Paul’s and forced into a room. She was able to escape and somehow left the convent in flames. As Dick and Kory head back to her after seeing the fire and large flock of ravens, Rachel is long gone running into the woods.
This episode introduces us to the Doom Patrol and their wildly kooky characters. While the tone of this episode is very different and much campier than previous episodes in the season, it is a welcomed change. Overall, this episode was wonderful but the moments without the Doom Patrol fell short. As always, spoilers after the picture.
GAR AND RACHEL:
Ryan Potter is adorable as Beast Boy and captures his optimistic and innocent personality well. However, I do wish his costuming was stronger. Unlike in the comics, this Gar does not have green skin but instead green hair. While I understand the change, I do wish his dye job was stronger.
After the two head to a shed for warmth, they hear gunshots from nearby hunters. Rachel runs out in defense of the deer and Gar, in tiger form, scares them off for good. Rachel comforts the deer until it dies but is overwhelmed from its emotion because of her empath abilities. At that moment he tells her, “There is nothing evil about you,” contradicting the prophecy and her own feelings. Potter and Croft have good chemistry but this line does feel forced overall. As the two leave, the deer’s injuries miraculously heal and it comes back to life giving us more questions about the true extent of Rachel’s powers.
After entering the mansion that he lives in, Gar introduces Rachel to his “nirvana,” a large room full of pinball machines, video game consoles, and various nerdy memorabilia. After noticing a picture Gar tells Rachel his parents died. And the two bond over their lack of parents, Rachel tells him her mother also died. But when she asks who else lives in the mansion with him and Gar hesitates in answering her. Not long after, Cliff Steele, a large robotic man played by Jake Michaels, comes downstairs and Gar hides Rachel in a closet. However, Cliff quickly finds the pair and brings them upstairs.
While the large age difference between Ryan Potter and Teagan Croft concerns me, the two have chemistry and act well together on the screen. I hope the show avoids doing a romantic relationship, especially since Potter is 22 and Croft is 14, and instead focuses on Rachel’s new platonic sibling-like family. Within the comics and even hinted within the cartoon, Beast Boy and Raven have a romatic relationship and currently, it does seem like Gar has a crush on Rachel.
THE DOOM PATROL:
Once upstairs, Rachel and the audience learn who the Doom Patrol are as Gar explains who Cliff aka Robotman is as well as how the Chief, the greatest doctor in the world, saved all of them. Before he can explain who “we” is, Cliffe pulls him aside and reminds him Rachel has to leave. While the two are arguing Rachel goes to explore the house, running into Larry aka the Negative Man, played by Dwain Murphy, as he’s dancing and cooking. This part, with Negative Man in the kitchen, is hypnotic fun and has the best use of licensed music, ACDC’s Thunderstruck, in the show thus far. The scene and the music choice act as a great intro to the character and highlight the funloving nature of an otherwise tragic character.
The next we see them, Gar is walking around the mansion trying to find Rita aka Elasti-Girl, played by April Bowlby. Gar goes to her door and asks she comes down to dinner to meet Rachel but she doesn’t respond. Inside her room, an old Hollywood movie plays while a blob-like figure sits on the bed.
We cut back to the dining room where Larry is placing down dinner for the gang. As Rachel eats her waffles Cliff asks her to describe it to him since he cannot eat. We learn that eating is only one of the things that he can no longer enjoy as a robot. As someone with a gluten allergy, I found this scene hilarious and very endearing to Cliff’s character and his relationship with Rachel.
Rita finally comes down to join them at dinner mentioning she was late because she “had to put herself together,” she is no longer a blob on the bed. When Rachel gives Rita a look for all the food she is taking she explains that her condition forces her to eat a lot. However, during dinner, Rita’s human form begins to melt. Rachel offers her hand and is then able to see some of the trauma she has experienced. Rachel is able to calm Rita and just as Rita puts her hand down to show her the face of Chief, played by Bruno Bichir.
Before Gar can explain Rachel Chief tells them he has a new patient and they all leave the table to rush to the lab. As the Chief tries to save the girl she lowers the temperature of the entire room and becomes erratic. Rachel, now showing her demon form, reaches for her hand and tells the group and the dying girl she can help ease the pain.
After the girl is stabilized, Chief tells Gar how disappointed he is since Gar is endangering the lives of the other members of the household by bringing people in and leaving the mansion. After telling Gar to never disobey him again, Chief goes on to ask Gar what else is Rachel capable of since he just witnessed her heal the new patient.
Now back at dinner, Chief thanks Rachel for saving the young girl but explains that what they are doing must be kept secret. Chief explains the origins of all the members including Garfield who was cured of a rare disease he contracted from “an even rarer species.” Chief goes on to explain they are a sanctuary and what they are doing will push medical science forward by decades. He offers Rachel his help but she gives him a bit of pushback. Bichir’s performance as Chief is very charismatic. He has a commanding presence as Chief and conveys genuine care for the people he has saved but also a mysterious underlying nature that is not yet understood by the audience.
DICK AND KORY:
Dick and Kory in this episode are focused on finding Rachel. As they are hunting down leads on her at the local police station, Dick tells Kory to stay in the car since she doesn’t blend in, because she is wearing the same party dress and coat from the first episode, and she is wanted by the police. The entire scene confused me because Kory has been on Earth for a while and despite the fact she lost her memory, so far she isn’t naive and certainly not stupid. Her insistence to follow Dick into the station was bizarre. Dick speaks to the officer who tells him they recently had a report about Rachel when a hunter shot himself after seeing her and a green tiger in the woods.
THE DOOM PATROL:
Dick and Kory are in the car heading toward the old house they were given a tip about. Kory tells Dick she didn’t know he had it in him referring to the violence and tells him he has to bury whatever is going on or he will explode. Dick admits he went through something as a kid and is trying to protect Rachel from going through the same. Kory tells him that no matter what, no one manages alone.
This statement is immensely odd considering how quickly Kory is willing to steal Dick’s car and leave him and Rachel, effectively managing alone. Also, when we first met her she was working alone. This moment is supposed to be a connection for the two characters but there is little chemistry and it overall feels like they just hate each other. In the comics, I love the relationship and sexual tension between Dick and Kory but unfortunately here there is none. Brenton Thwaites and Anna Diop lack chemistry and considering how bizarre Kory’s character is, it is hard to root for them. Even discounting their comic origins, these two actors at this point just do not work well off of each other and part of that is due to Kory’s bizarre characterization.
The pair then pulls up to the house where the rest of our characters are and break into the what appears decrepit mansion. While they get into the house, Chief is about to start running tests on Rachel. However, Gar begins to question everything the Chief does, clearly concerned for his friend. Chief tells Rachel he can remove what is inside of her but Rachel objects but he continues. Gar is torn. Does he let Chief continue or help Rachel? Gar voices his concern to Chief and tells him no but he continues to tell Gar to leave and do as he, not Rachel, asks. Gar threatens Chief by briefly showing his tiger form and turning green but is shot with a tranquilizer dart.
Rachel now more upset, speaks to Chief in her demon form and attempts to escape her bindings causing the lights to flicker all over the house. A dark smoke-like substance leaves Rachel and wraps itself around Chief and fling him into walls. At this point, Dick and Kory enter the house and the lights flicker out. Rita in her blob-like form whispers “get out” behind Kory just as Cliff and Larry walk up behind Dick. Rachel knocks Chief out and breaks out of her bindings. Dick goes to reach her when she screams as Kory deals with the Doom Patrol.
Kory flashes her green eyes as Larry threatens her. The room with Chief and Rachel is emitting an eery purple glow as Dick runs in. Rachel is screaming into what appears to be a portal of some sort. Dick grabs her attempts to calm her down as she begs him to leave in fear of hurting him. He holds Rachel until she ceases creating the energy in the room. Once she is calmed down, Dick takes with him and Kory. While they are walking back to the car Cliff tells Gar to go with them. The rest of the Doom Patrol stay with Chief while he recovers from breaking his back.
This episode is effectively a backdoor pilot for The Doom Patrol. They look fantastic and while the actors here are not the same as the ones in the upcoming spin-off, I am very excited about what lies ahead for this gang on Titans and the spin-off. The hidden nods to who these people are and how they hide themselves to feel more human were well done.
The Doom Patrol feels like the comedic Addams Family, tone included. The episode was campy fun. Rachel is still the center of the show and it’s strongest moments are in characters personal relationships with her. Gar’s new friendship and Dick brother-like relationship with her shine. Even Kory’s protective nature over her is endearing.
However, the moments with just Dick and Kory were rough. That part of the episode was like watching an entirely different show. The tone was much darker and felt closer to a DCEU movie with Dick almost killing an innocent man in front of his son. Additionally, despite Diop’s best efforts, Kory’s character is not likable.
Episode 4 is available on HBO Max. Doom Patrol the series is also available on HBO Max.