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The Titans return and finally function as a team, but dark magic may tear them apart.
by Chuck Duncan
Cast: Brenton Thwaites, Mame-Anna Diop, Teagan Croft, Ryan Potter, Joshua Orpin, Jay Lycurgo, Franka Potente, Joseph Morgan, Titus Welliver, James Scully, Kyana Teresa, Tim Post, Emma Ho
Let's Talk About 'Lex Luthor':
- The Titans are finally united as a team ... a bowling team. Baby steps.
- Lex Luthor is introduced and he hopes to find more power at the Temple of Azarath.
- A young taxidemist named Sebastian believes he has the power to change the world.
- The Titans are called to Metropolis so Conner can meet his dad, one of them, Superman at STAR Labs, and the rest of the team gets some gifts as well.
- Lex Luthor uses the old high pitched dog whistle trick to summon Conner and friends back to Metropolis yet again.
- Kory shows up on Lex's doorstep instead, hoping to get some intel the group can use but Conner ultimately agrees to stay with Lex.
- People are randomly coughing up blood, and Conner and Lex get a huge surprise.
Here we are at Season 4 of Titans and I can't believe I'm about to write this but ... the Titans are finally acting like a real team. The ordeal they went through at the end of Season 3 has changed them for the better. Past seasons have just felt so oppressive with all the bickering amongst the group but Season 4 feels fresh and new, and best of all they're digging into the comics, bringing a major name into the premiere and introducing more magic into the show. The episode kicked off with everyone glad to be out of Gotham City and heading home to San Francisco. Enjoying a little bowling to bond more -- even though Gar tries to cheat by transforming -- all is good. Until they get a call to make a stop in Metropolis because Superman himself wants to meet Conner. A boy can't say no to meeting his super-dad so Dick makes a U-ie and they head to STAR Labs ... but Supes isn't there because he had to fly off to a distant galaxy to save a civilization from destruction. Because of course he did. But the team also gets some nifty gadgets from the lab.
Gar is given a device that will allow him to transform without having to strip down first but something goes wrong when he gives it a spin, transporting his mind to some kind of dream realm out of Black Panther including a big tree with things hanging from it, while in the real world he's transforming from a gorilla to a velociraptor to an armadillo, destroying the lab in the process. Back to the drawing board. Kory is taken to another area where she uses her power to shatter a rock of the hardest known element on the planet ... because it was cheaper for her to do it than for the lab to pay for it! And in the process she learns she only used 8.1% of her kinetic power. Dick had the lab build Tim something new -- and it wasn't a Robin suit as he'd hoped (Tim, you've been with the Titans for like three minutes, don't be so thirsty), it was a ... retractable bow staff that Dick will teach him to use. But the biggest surprise was a brand new RV for the Titans complete with a compartment that holds a fancy sports car. Not too shabby, but it's time to hit the road again and off they go. Except ...
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Remember in Superman - the Movie when Lex Luthor summoned Superman using a high pitched audio signal only he could hear? Yep, he did the same thing with Conner, asking to meet with him at Lexcorp Tower. Fearing it is a trap, no one wants to go but since Conner didn't get to meet one of his dads he may as well take the opportunity to meet the other one, and back to Metropolis they go. What they don't know is that Lex has been messing around with some dark stuff, hiring a team to locate the Temple of Azarath and then, as Lex Luthor does, screwing over the people who helped him, namely a woman named Miss Bennett. And that may come back to bite him in the ass. Literally. But instead of Conner, Kory bursts into Lex's penthouse apartment and he doesn't seem surprised. In fact he knows quite a lot about her, her sister and everything they went through in Season 3. So he's a fan. Conner, Gar and Rachel are at the Daily Planet going through the archives trying to figure out what Lex wants with Conner, and Dick and Tim are staked out at a building across the street. Kory has her own gadget, a flying USB flash drive, that she releases to hack into Lex's laptop while they make small talk about Conner. But Lex knows Dick is watching and has sent a team of ninjas to the other building to take care of the former and future Boys Wonder. Dick in his Nightwing gear has no time for ninjas and takes them all out. Lex is disappointed because he liked those ninjas, but he wants Dick to let Conner decide if he wants to stay in Metropolis or leave with them.
With access to his files, Dick is able to tell Conner the real reason Lex wants to meet him -- he's dying. Lex had asked for Conner to stay with him for six months to learn how to run Lexcorp, and that is the amount of time he has left on this planet. Going through photos, they notice one man in almost all of them -- Dr. Arthur Holmwood, a leading expert on Kryptonite poisoning, and Lex was diagnosed two years ago. Conner assumes Lex maybe wants a blood transfusion, and while Dick warms him not to get involved, he wants to know from the horses mouth why he was created. Dick tries to play the 'this will hurt our family' card, but Conner chooses to stay. When Conner faces his father, his creator, he tells him that he's only there for himself. He wants to know if Lex is dying and if he wants to use Conner as a cure. Lex says that's a great idea ... but he has an ample supply of Conner's genetic material and it didn't work. Lex tells Conner he's sorry he created him in his own image because people might like him now, but one mistake and they will look at him differently (prophetic words). So then why did Lex create Conner? The answer will determine if Conner stays or leaves. Lex admits that he created Conner to see if his dream of becoming Superman could come true. His dream was for a child to become both man and Superman. He sees, like the world, what Superman has given him, but what Lex has given him is more subtle. Lex doesn't want Conner to become him, but to choose what and who he will be. And Lex has a project that may no longer see death as a final answer, but he fears his partners may have darker ideas than even his own and he may need Conner's help.
Lex may be more correct than he knows. When he screwed over Miss Bennett, she warned that the power Lex seeks comes with a price, someone will have to pay, someone always does. And somehow, Rachel is beginning to have odd feelings, and seeing blood pouring out of different objects. There's also a young man, a taxidermist named Sebastian who believes that he is going to be able to change the world. There are also apparently random killings, first a young couple watching Riverdale and enjoying some Chinese food. Except the food is suddenly full of blood, and there is a large figure in their apartment in a hooded robe, wearing a bird mask. The figure kills the woman. At the same time, Sebastian sees blood pouring out of a stuffed fox's eyes and mouth, while Rachel sees a milkshake turn to blood, but everything quickly snaps back to reality. Now as Connor and Lex are 'bonding', Sebastian begins to cough up blood. He sees his reflection smiling back at him from the mirror. Lex also begins coughing up blood, and Rachel also begins to choke and scream. Dick stops the RV as they try to calm her, but Conner doesn't know what to do for Lex especially as a huge snake starts exiting his mouth. Conner grabs it and fries it with his heat vision, Sebastian's reflection is covered in blood, and Rachel is hysterical but ... she's calm again like nothing happened. Sebastian backs away from the mirror, Conner rushes to Lex but ... Lex Luthor is dead. Security rushes in, guns drawn, Cut back to 'Miss Bennett' who again says out loud to Mr. Luthor that someone always pays.
Something tells me this Miss Bennett isn't the archaeologist Lex thought she was, but how is she connected to Sebastian and Rachel?
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Let's Talk About 'Mother Mayhem':
- A young girls hears a voice say 'Metrion' and suddenly the bird mask man appears and kills her mother, then he comes after her.
- Conner is arrested for the murder of Lex Luthor.
- Kory learns that Lex had been observing her, but why?
- Gar is attempting to train Tim to hone his tracking skills, but suffers another unfortunate incident while attempting a transformation.
- Dick and Rachel try to find out what happened to Lex, and she confirms magic was at play.
- Sebastian tells his mum he's got a meeting about his interactive experience that will change the world, but it ultimately does not go well.
- The Titans assemble as Rachel has tracked the source of the magic -- the house where the mother was killed earlier, and they find a lot more than they bargained for.
- The mysterious Miss Bennett finally reveals herself to the Titans.
The second episode of the premiere moves firmly into the realm of magic. We've already been introduced to the Temple of Azarath and now in the opening scene a young girl hears an ominous voice say 'Metrion' as the power in her house fluctuates and she sees blood dripping down the outside of her windows. Her parents downstairs notice the light in the room turning red as they also see the blood. The girl runs downstairs as the Bird Mask man appears and kills her mother, and she heads back upstairs hoping to keep the creature out of her room. But he's already there as she sees in the mirror.
Meanwhile Tim is out in the woods practicing with his bow staff but he's not quite there when it comes to locating sounds out in nature, as Gar points out when he sneaks up on the trainee. Gar tells him he has to keep his senses open when he's tracking, and then Gar hears a voice from an indeterminate direction ... but Tim hears nothing. Gar's senses become overwhelmed by the sounds and he begins to transform and then collapses.
Conner is still in custody, held in place with Kryptonite and chains, and Kory assures him that the authorities just want to know what happened and he's not in any trouble. Conner fears that people will see him as the weapon Lex intended him to be, but Kory tries to shut down those thoughts by telling him that he doesn't owe anyone on the outside a fucking thing. But for Kory, the question is why was Lex observing her? She makes her way to a Lexcorp facility, easily melting a lock, and finds a man inside trying to access a computer. She tells the man she wants to know what Lex knows about her, and he introduces himself as Nelson Blake. She tosses him to the floor and said that's not what she asked for, and he explains that the whole Lexcorp inner circle died the previous night, choking on their own blood. Perhaps Lex thought that Kory could help them, especially after he became a changed man with his illness. No one ever had contact with him and they believed he was caught up in the occult, no longer fighting the disease but fighting death itself. The man suddenly hears chanting, 'Azarath Metrion Zinthos', but Kory can't hear it and doesn't know what to do when blood starts pouring from the man's mouth, which is accompanied by a giant snake. Kory has no choice but to use her powers and incinerate the both of them.
Dick and Rachel are in Lex's penthouse and have discovered the crime scene has been completely cleaned up, but Rachel says they can't hide things from her, and she in fact confirms that magic was used because it leaves a trace as things in the physical world pass beyond the veil, they leave echoes behind. She can see where Lex died, and touching the floor she goes into some kind of realm but Dick quickly pulls her back to reality. She has seen where the people who killed Lex have been, so Dick calls the Titans together for a meeting and they set a plan of action. First Rachel takes them to the house from the opening scene. Dick sees a bloody apple on the floor, Rachel finds the dead mother, Tim is freaked out so Gar takes him to watch the front door. They hear a sound upstairs and find the girl, possibly having a seizure but Rachel says she's stuck in a dream. She uses her powers to enter the dream and finds herself in what looks like a basement. She finds the girl and learns her name is Aria and Rachel says she is Raven. They hear a sound and see the Bird Mask man pouring blood out of what look like milk canisters (are they in a barn?), then he sharpens a machete and vanishes ... and appears behind Raven. He grabs her and Aria shrieks while Raven attempts to remove the mask. He draws a dagger but Raven uses her powers to get herself and Aria out of the dream state, and Rachel knows the man is not far from where they are. Tim says he's never heard a sound like the one the girl made, but Gar says he has -- it was the sound of dying animals, which suggests that the location of the Bird Mask man is a slaughterhouse.
Meanwhile, Sebastian is seen with his mum in a nursing home, and he tells her he is having a meeting about his interactive experience, and she tells him that he will succeed in everything he does. But the meeting does not go well as the game company execs don't understand his vision, of how the world is full of people smashed up against one another but we're all so alone. All they see is a game with shapes just moving around, it's not competitive. He tries to explain it's meant to build community, and while they appreciate his passion it's not a good fit for them. As his emotions begin to boil, he sees all of the board members with blood pouring down their faces, but in reality they are just sitting there waiting for him to leave. When he returns back to the nursing home, Sebastian learns that his mother has died. But the nurse who gave him the news is not a nurse at all, it's the mysterious 'Miss Bennett', which raises all kinds of questions. She leaves Sebastian in the room while he has an emotional meltdown.
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The Titans are indeed at a slaughterhouse now looking for Bird Mask man, and it is the place Raven saw in Aria's dream. As four go up, Raven goes down. The four members find a horrific sight -- people strung up as their blood is being drained into the milk canisters. And they are still alive, including Aria's father. In the basement, Raven knows the man she's looking for is there but he is able to sneak up on her from behind, knock her down and attempts to stab her again. She uses her power to lift him up in the air and Dick hears the commotion. Raven is trying desperately to remove the Bird Mask but just as she does the man bursts into flames. She assures Dick that she did not make that happen, he did it to himself. She hears more voices chanting, thinking others are there, but the voices stop and she knows they are alone.
They get Aria and her father, and the others, to the hospital. No one will tell Aria what happened to her mother, but she says she knows because she saw it happen. Dick tells her about losing his parents when he was a child and how cold the world felt at that time, but a strong man wrapped his jacket around him and took care of him. Time will make things better, he tells Aria, and he wraps the jacket around her that Bruce Wayne wrapped around him. Aria also knows that Rachel has magic like the 'nightmare man' but Dick assures her it's nothing like his. There is good magic and bad magic, and the good magic always wins (although he may find out that's not sure sooner rather than later).
With Conner exonerated, Dick is certain now that Arthur Holmwood killed Lex. He had promised Lex more than just a cure for his illness but he trusted a madman, and whatever power Lex was buying, Dr. Holmwood wanted to keep it for himself. Conner didn't want to believe what people had always said about Lex, that he could commit such atrocities, and Dick reiterates that Conner is not Lex, no matter how much Lex wanted him to be. Conner says he never wants to come back to Metropolis, so into the RV they go back to San Francisco. Again. As they drive and Dick promises no more stops until they get home, Rachel says they are not alone. And there is 'Miss Bennett', now recognizable as Mother Mayhem, standing in the middle of the highway, red lightning bolts shooting out of her staff, holding up traffic. Kory wants to go home so they need to finish this. The Titans suit up ... except for Tim who still has no suit. Conner is the first to recklessly charge in, taking flight toward the woman, heat vision blazing. Mother Mayhem deflects the rays with her staff, sending Conner crashing into a car windshield. Raven uses her powers but the staff absorbs it, knocking Raven unconscious. Mayhem also takes down Nightwing and prevents Beast Boy from transforming. Tim is pretty much useless at this point, so Kory is the last Titan standing, pitting her powers against whatever Mayhem has in her staff. Kory is almost no match for her but the combined powers causes an explosion and Mayhem is gone. Everyone rushes to Raven and as they try to tend to her the jewel on her forehead vanishes and her hair turns white as snow.
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Mother Mayhem has returned to the temple, her acolytes chanting 'Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos' over and over. She plants the staff in the ground and the jeweled eyes of the twin statues in front of them begin to glow. Has Mother Mayhem collected Rachel's magic in her staff? Elsewhere, Sebastian can hear the chanting in his head as he watches blood bubble up out of his coffee cup.
And that's it for the two-episode Season 4 premiere. I have to say I think things are on a good track for the season. Everyone in the Titans has finally put aside their differences and can now work together, so it will be interesting to see where things go with Mother Mayhem, Sebastian (who will become Brother Blood) and the cult of Azarath. Most of all it will be good to see the Titans back in San Francisco at their home base, and maybe they'll get to battle some other villains throughout the season.
New episodes of Titans stream Thursdays on HBO Max.