Entertainment: TITANS Season 2 explores trauma

by Charles Gerian

“Face it. You can't resist a bird with a broken wing.”

The DC Universe Streaming App has begun airing the second season of their live-action drama TITANS, based on the iconic “Teen Titans” that were immortalized by the iconic Marv Wolfman and George Perez comic book run in the 1980s, and given new life with the 2003 cartoon series on Cartoon Network.

TITANS Season 1 aired last year as the DC Universe's flagship series that paved the way for “Doom Patrol” and “Swamp Thing”, and while the series had a rocky and somewhat inconsistent start it gave us a brooding- yet colorful and dynamic- hybrid of Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher's visions of a Batman world, peppered with film-maker Zack Snyder's stylized action and gritty characters.

Season 2 is a brand new ballpark that feels refreshingly different with a familiar face. The writing is still edgy, and everyone has demons, but the sophomore season seems to have lightened just as much as it has matured.

This season starts with Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites who has done nothing but flourish and grow in this role) taking Gar Logan (Beast Boy, played by a charismatic Ryan Porter), Raven (Teegan Croft), and the wild-child Jason Todd aka “Robin 2.0” played by Curan Walters to the old “Titans Tower” high-rise in San Francisco just as an old nemesis, Slade Wilson, rears his head to finish the job he started with the original team in the early 2000's consisting of Hawk, Dove, Robin, Wonder-Girl, and Slade's own son Jericho.

TITANS explores a wide rang of themes early on this season, with the most interesting being the treatment of crime-fighting with masks and capes as an addiction. Donning masks and living by night to do battles against the forces of evil is less of a colorful mission of justice and more of a direct comparison, and literal companion, to substance abuse.

For instance Hawk can't wear his suit without shooting up, needing to amplify his lust for adrenaline with a needle while Dick Grayson is a recovering addict- he burned his Robin suit, forsook Bruce Wayne's teachings, and began to strive to live as a counselor rather than a murderer, something he came dangerously close to in TITANS freshman season where his thirst for blood outweighed his obligations to protecting the innocent.

Early on we're introduced to Slade's runaway daughter Rose Wilson, and her and Raven share a poignant scene in the Titans Tower where they discuss their abusive and deranged fathers (Raven's dad is an inter-dimensional demon king known as Trigon the Terrible) and the scene is meaningful without being overbearing. They talk like teenagers. Young adults. They are survivors of abuse (mental and physical) the same as Dick Grayson and the very real, very unique interpretation of mental abuse that Bruce Wayne aka Batman (Ian Glenn) put the young boy wonder through.

In Season 1 Dick tells Kori (Starfire, played by Anna Diop) that Bruce forged him into becoming a weapon- Batman's weapon- and that's the only life he's known. It adds a weighty layer to this super-hero drama and also enforced Dick's protective personality over the broken birds he has since been collecting.

Of course there's action, and an impressive amount of world building to be had here. TITANS Season 2 is well worth the DCU Subscription.