HBO Max’s Titans has been one of my most anticipated releases this year. After they saved Gotham in the previous season, I can’t wait to see what’s next for our heroes in season four, episode one, “Lex Luthor.”
The episode opens with the Titans in a bowling alley. Dick (Brenton Thwaites) and Kory (Anna Diop) look on as Rachel (Teagan Croft), Gar (Ryan Potter), Tim (Jay Lycurgo) and Connor (Joshua Orpin) bowl. As the bowlers tease each other, Kory and Dick share a moment of reflection.
A call from Bruce Wayne interrupts their conversation. The team feels as though their relaxed bubble is about to burst. To everyone’s surprise, Superman wants to meet Connor, and S.T.A.R Labs also wants to meet with them.
In Metropolis, Lex Luthor (Titus Welliver) is on a quest for power. With the promise of the Temple of Azarath and the completion of a ritual, he will have more power than anyone else on earth. After hearing the progress and final steps, Lex fires May Bennett (Franka Potente), the woman responsible for the discoveries and research.
In a taxidermy shop, Sebastian Sanger (Joseph Morgan) practices a world-changing speech about his invention, and in three separate instances, the vision of blood appears. An unsuspecting couple sees blood in their takeout, along with a figure brutally murdering one of them, while Sebastian sees blood dripping from the eyes and mouth of one animal in the shop. Last, Rachel, spilling a milkshake, briefly sees the ominous sighting of blood.
The Titans arrive at S.T.A.R. Labs, meeting the director of special projects, Bernard (James Scully), who gives Connor the upsetting news of Kal-El being called away.
The S.T.A.R. Labs team provides Gar with a device that will allow him to shift forms without stripping naked. Gar wakes from an unconscious state to find the lab wrecked, learning he turned into many animals without memory of it. In another training room, Starfire (Diop) tests her own abilities. She learns that when she drew from the energy source within to destroy a block of promethium, it only scratched the surface of her new kinetic abilities.
While at the lab, Bernard gifts Tim a rokushaku bo, bo staff. Dick’s gift is a new car and a makeover and retrofit for the RV, compliments of Bruce Wayne. Back on the road, the electronics in the RV glitch, and Connor experiences an excruciating ringing. Lex Luthor’s voice sounds in his head, requesting Connor meet him. Dick and Kory disagree with the plan to meet but agree to let Connor decide what’s best. On a quest to meet his parents, he agrees. Dick plans to enter on their own terms.
Starfire takes out Lex’s security, interrupting his meal, though Lex is unbothered by the commotion. The two exchange witty quips while Tim and Nightwing (Thwaites) listen in from a building across the street. Besides listening in, Starfire uses discrete tech to give the pair access to Lex’s computer. Surprisingly, Lex requests Connor live with him and eventually become his legacy at Lex Corp. He reveals he knows Dick is listening just before ninjas attack. Nightwing takes the group out just as more approach. This time, Tim joins in the fray with his new bo staff.
Gar, Connor and Rachel look more into the Daily Planet’s record of Lex Luthor. Rachel strays from the group, having another vision of a bloody case file box. She tells Gar of her feelings of impending doom. Kory and Dick join them, explaining to Connor Lex is dying of Kryptonite poisoning, which is why he wants Connor to stay with him. Dick cautions Connor on his decision, but he insists on spending time with Lex in order to find out more about himself. He makes his decision final.
Back on the road without Connor, Kory expresses her understanding and concern for Connor’s decision. Honoring his request, Connor meets Lex Luthor and introduces himself. He presses Lex for answers to his own questions. Lex reveals he attempted to use Connor for his treatment, but it failed. With Connor’s promise to stay, Lex asks him for help, believing those who helped him research the resolution to his death unlocked something more sinister. He can’t finish his request as he spits up blood. This is parallel to Sebastian in the taxidermy shop, coughing and spurting and Rachel’s own choking and screaming in the RV.
A bloody serpent slithers from Lex’s throat, only to be destroyed by Connor’s heat vision, and the split image of Sebastian, one bloody and one cowering from the sight, comes into view. Security rushes into Lex’s office, taking in Connor’s bloody hands and Lex’s lifeless body. Rachel’s screams silence, and she has no memory of what just happened. The last image we see is May Bennett looking up at Lexcorp, echoing the sentiment that “someone always pays.”
What an episode! I loved every minute, from the lighthearted moments when the group was together or the moments when they each face tough decisions. I truly love how, even with their concerns, Kory and Dick allow Connor to decide for himself. The subtle foreshadowing of images of blood throughout without explanation truly raises intrigue for what’s to come and what this means for Lex and Connor, Rachel, May and Sebastian.
I cannot wait to watch the next episode!
You can watch Titans every Thursday on HBO Max.