Sunday, November 20, 2022

Titans S04E04: Super Super Mart

© HBO Max

Mother Mayhem's origin is revealed.
by Chuck Duncan

Let's Talk About 'Super Super Mart':

  • We meet May in 1996 and see that she already has powers.
  • A man from The Organization invites May to join them.
  • The Titans aren't quite sure what to do with Sebastian or Jinx.
  • In 1997, May and her friend at The Organization, Gina, are invited to meet 'Him', aka Trigon.
  • The Titans return to the site of The Asylum and are surprised to find another building in its place.
  • Rachel and Sebastian are shocked to learn they are more connected than anyone thought.
  • An old foe makes a surprise appearance.
  • Conner is surprised to find out he can bleed.

It was a very busy, action-packed episode of Titans this week that gave us a lot of Mother Mayhem's backstory and has us wondering if the 'Big Bad' vanquished so anticlimactically at the start of Season 2 will be making another appearance (and if so, hopefully they've been able to smooth out the janky movements of that original CGI character).

What this episode serves to do is give us the backstory for Mother Mayhem, or May as she's known back in 1996 when her story starts, working an office job, using her powers to revive a dead plant and fix a copy machine. But she's a woman so she's expected to do someone else's work while he gets all the credit. The guy is a total coked up asshole (he tells her it's just dry skin on his nose and to mind her own business) and when he starts talking shit about her to the boss, she makes sure none of that happens again. From the sound of things, she used her powers to make the guy throw himself out of a window. We don't see it but the sounds and the sight of her concentrating intensely are all we need to picture the 'mayhem' taking place behind that closed door.

Apparently May is fired -- she has an impressive string of firings behind her -- and as she enjoys a drink at a local bar a man approaches her, and he seems to know a lot more about her than he should. He never introduces himself, just hands her a card with The Organization on the front of it. He's got some pitch for her, telling her she's special and they could use someone like her and if she's interested all she has to do is say the three words on the back of the card: Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos. She does but nothing seems to happen, but the mystery man seems pleased.

Her story jumps ahead to 1997 where she has joined The Organization, which seems more like a cult with everyone in a 'uniform' of beige overalls and white turtlenecks. The unnamed man, by the way, is Dr. Adamson (Reed Birney), who we last saw in Season 1's seventh episode 'Asylum' (which, looking back, I didn't even write about because I was so bored by it, and ironically most of the plot of this week's episode directly references the events of that episode!). You might need a refresher of that episode after watching this one. The man makes no bones about who May, Gina and the others are serving -- it's Trigon (he even refers to the flavor of the strawberries they're growing in the greenhouse as 'Trigonic'). For some reason 'He' has taken an interest in May and Gina and wants to meet them face-to-face with the promise of showing them their capabilities. May pipes up that she's in and tells Gina to come with her and she will take care of her.

A month later a group of women at The Asylum are blindfolded, holding hands standing in a circle with their backs to a large hole in the ground. Adamson is trying to get one or more of them to basically do a 'trust fall' into the hole as a sign of their conviction for the honor of 'His' impossible love. Let him catch them. May and Gina take the plunge but from the look of it, they just hit the bottom and then have to climb out of the hole on a rickety ladder. Gina is first but she begins to freak out. May calms her, but Gina was playing, kicking May off the ladder. Gina then finds herself prepared to wed her master but a pretty badly beaten May shows up, impressing Adamson to the point that he says they can both be 'His' brides ... but May had heart, and he presents her with a goblet from 'Him'. She takes a drink, is overcome and drops it, spilling what looks like blood across the floor, then looks up and smiles saying, 'He's here.'

Jumping ahead again to 1998, May is pregnant but when she gives birth there is one little problem -- she has a boy and 'He' expected a girl as it was prophesied. The doctor orders her muzzled, and 18 years later May is in a large cell, chained to the floor, holding something as if it were a baby. A man comes in and has the muzzle removed. She tells the man she has nothing but love in her heart so he doesn't have to worry about her doing anything crazy. She says it's love for her son, he's her strength, but the man tells her that her love wasn't enough to make the prophet. She spits at him that her son is the prophet, but he needs time to grow (so ... she's holding her long dead baby?). The man says this is blasphemy but she can go back and live with the others. May says her son will ascend under the Blood Moon to join his father, his power will have no equal, together they will take the world. She lays on the floor and the man releases a large, black snake (like the one that exited Lex Luthor's mouth) that slithers toward her. She holds out her hands and says 'Sebastian'. Cut to 2019 and the Asylum is in flames, but Gina comes to rescue May, and as they leave May gives her gas mask to the man who unleashed the snake on her.

© HBO Max

Meanwhile, in the present, there is a Blood Moon in the sky and Kory and Dick are unsure of what to do with Sebastian, but Rachel is doing what she can to get information from him. He asks Rachel why they did what they did at the police station, and she says he needed help but he wonders if he truly did. She assures him he did. One thing they find they have in common at the moment is that the Blood Moon is making them unable to sleep. It's giving Rachel bad dreams when she does sleep. Rachel asks Sebastian about the woman at the police station and he tells her how she said she's known him since before he was born and that she'd help him if he'd let her. She asked him to say three words that made him feel something strange. Rachel asks him to tell her just one of the words and he says 'Azarath'. She seems almost compelled to respond 'Metrion' but before he can say the last word she stops him. Rachel tells Dick and Kory what had happened and is sure this has something to do with The Organization, but Kory says there's no one left because the Asylum had burned to the ground (as seen back in that Season 1 episode). Dick also adds that they dealt with Trigon and he's gone (as seen in the Season 2 premiere). Rachel wants them to consider the possiblity that The Organization is back in operation, and while Kory insists that everyone died, Dick now isn't so sure.

So they take the RV, give Sebastian and Tim a Cliffs Notes version of Trigon's story, and head to the site of the Asylum and find ... a Super Super Mart, which oddly does not show up on Dick's GPS. All he can see is a 'black hole'. Gar just thinks it's a superstore, but Rachel points out something is there as they see a large flock of ravens in the air. They walk about the building and find a weird little door hidden between two dumpsters, what Gar assumes is a portal to Hell. Of course they need to go in, but are unaware that May(hem) and Gina are watching. Gina thinks Mayhem is playing with fire, but she says they are all part of the story, except the Tamaranian might not like her part so much. It's already been written, they can't change their fate. Gina reminds her that they did. Mayhem says it was because they were stronger. She says they have old friends who have been waiting for this day and when she says they words they will rise up and fight for them, obviously referring to those who died when the Asylum burned down (which the Titans may have had a hand in). She calls out the Hounds of Hell and says it's time, and the people inside the Super Super Mart start grabbing tools and various other instruments that could be turned into weapons and they make their way to the little door.

Inside the Titans have found the large cell area where May had been chained up, amazed that somehow this place remained intact after the fire. Sebastian says this was the room of the woman at the police station. Kory wonders how he knew that and he shows them a picture he found on the floor on May and Gina, pointing to the young May but he says he doesn't know her. However he does know the other woman and tells her she is Gina, his neighbor from across the hall which makes it clear that The Organization has been monitoring him. But what do they want? Dick says it could be a blood type or genetic marker. Kory finds something else, a book that she calls a 'creepy fairy tale' and they notice that all of the characters in it appear to be them, including one image in which they all appear to be dead. Dick says the fire probably knocked out the security system and Kory believes they were the ones who unwittingly released her.

Tim found a control room of sorts elsewhere in the facility and it was filled with cassette tapes. Playing one, the actually hear the recording of that moment when the snake approached May and she said 'Sebastian'. Which, naturally, freaks him out a bit but Rachel asks him if he has 'the mark' and she shows him the symbol on her shoulder. He, in fact, does have the same mark on his shoulder. Kory says he's the one in the book who makes the hole in the sky. It's part of the prophecy. Sebastian continues to get agitated and says he doesn't know anything about this prophecy, he's nobody. Rachel tells him they want him to be. What, he asks, a killer? Rachel tries to assure him he doesn't have to be. Sebastian says they have to stop this, they saw the book, Kory dies, they all die. Jinx says he's right, they've got to stop it. Unfortunately, her solution is to kill Sebastian ... which no one is on board with, but Gar has some good news -- the Blood Moon is going to expire in about 8 hours, so all they have to do is keep Sebastian safe until then and the prophecy is over.

© HBO Max

But they may not have 8 hours as Mayhem's zombie horde descends into the Asylum's prison, their sights set on the Titans. Nothing seems to stop them as they engage in battle, but Jinx uses her head when she tells the Titans the invaders have to lose theirs. At least one of them is up on her zombie lore. Rachel takes a chainsaw to one which seems to give Jinx great joy, but she can see they are badly outnumbers so she does a little bit of magic to freeze the horde in place. She can only hold them for a few more seconds so time to make tracks. They exit and lock the door behind them but they have another foe blocking their way out -- Deathstroke, or rather a zombie version of Deathstroke. Everyone takes cover when he starts firing and Dick asks Jinx to do something but she says she needs to recharge. 'What are you, a fucking iPhone 7', he asks. Sebastian is feeling some type of way, saying this is all his fault so he's going to take one for the team but the second he steps in front of Deathstroke, he stops firing. Whoever is controlling him does not want to kill Sebastian. Conner grabs him and gets him back to safety as Deathstroke starts firing again, the bullets bouncing off of Coner's back. He tells Dick he's got this and Dick finally allows him to let loose. Conner rushes to Deathstroke and knocks his block off like a 'Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Robot'. Unlike the others, this does not stop Deathstroke as his body strolls over, picks up and reattaches his head. Everyone takes cover with Conner as their last defense, but Deathstroke surprises him with a stab to the gut -- and the blade pieces his flesh. It's not Kryptonite, it's Mayhem's magic doing the damage. Everyone, including Conner, is surprised to see him bleeding.

Dick manages to give the team cover with some tiny smoke bomb balls, allowing them all to leave while Dick goes head-to-head with Deathstroke. Sebastian is also still in the room, perhaps as insurance, but Deathstroke manages to take down Dick ... or does he? As Deathstroke leaves with Sebastian, Dick watches as if he knows there is more going on here than meets the eye. And there was. As Deathstroke is in his van preparing to leave with Sebastian, the voice that comes out of Sebastian's mouth is decidedly not his own. In fact, it's not Sebastian at all, it's Jinx who has used her magic to look like Sebastian. She uses her magic again to freeze him in place and then sabs him in his good eye, which causes Mayhem to feel a dull pain. She's not happy they defeated her ... this time. They all return to STAR Labs and Conner excuses himself as he's not feeling well. He enters a rest room and vomits blood. When he looks in the toilet, there is also a large snake swimming around. It's not clear if he flushed but hopefully he did, or at least fried the snake like he did that other one. Fitzmartin takes the team to a large room they've prepared to keep Sebastian safe. It's stocked with everything he needs, but as the Titans leave Rachel asks if there is room for one more. She stays with Sebastian, and Gar asks Conner if he's okay. He says he is but ... is he?

New episodes of Titans premiere Thursdays on HBO Max.

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