Titans season 3 review: DC series finds its footing with a thrilling third season

"Barbara Gordon." Titans season 3. Courtesy of Warner Media.
"Barbara Gordon." Titans season 3. Courtesy of Warner Media. /

Titans season 3 promises a brighter future for the grim DC series. This article is spoiler-free and only references the plot points already known through the trailer and promotional material.

The season 3 premiere of Titans features what may just be my favorite scene from the whole series thus far. That feels like a good way to open this review considering my watch of the third season essentially opened with that thought too.

You won’t find any spoilers here because you’ll know the scene I’m referring to as soon as it crosses your path. What I will say, though, is that it’s everything yours truly has ever wanted from a Teen Titans show, and to feature such a scene early on feels like it’s the show’s way of saying “Finally, we have arrived”. And that pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the season. Though if you know Titans, you’ll know it’s not afraid to play with said tone whenever it wants to.

Titans season 3 steadies the once-unbalanced show

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“Barbara Gordon.” Titans season 3. Courtesy of Warner Media. /

Titans is an odd beast. The original DC Universe series is a show that promised light-hearted fun and goofiness and delivered the exact opposite. It’s a show inspired by life-loving superheroes that instead opted to present us with troubled shells of those characters. And it’s a show that couldn’t fully establish what it wanted to be, often throwing together fragments of too many different potential shows to fully stand out on its own. There were glimmers of brilliance throughout but it was overshadowed by a story that fell victim to too many moving parts and something of a forced edginess.

I’m pleased to report that the third season irons out a multitude of the show’s overarching issues, allowing it to find some steady ground to walk on. That steady ground comes in the form of an adaptation of the Batman: A Death In The Family storyline as the wayward Jason Todd is seemingly killed at the hands of the Joker, setting the stage for the Titans’ arrival in Gotham and season 3’s central narrative.

That right there sets the season apart from its predecessors, because, as the trailer revealed, instead of producing one contrived reason after another to separate its core team of heroes, Titans finds a storyline to draw them all together. This gifts the show with a real chance to live up to its name as an ensemble piece. Of course, Dick is at the forefront early on (which you would expect given both the show’s history and the fact that this season is set in Gotham City) but everything feels much more balanced this time around.

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It also isn’t afraid to play around with some of the dynamics, both in terms of those already established and some new ones too. And all of that plays into giving the show a lighter feel at its core, which is necessary given how dark the material that it tackles is.

Perhaps the biggest reason that Titans season 3 succeeds is its portrayal of Dick Grayson. There’s an irony in the fact that the season 3 trailer teased us with Dick’s “Be a better Batman” arc because the show has finally established that he’s at his best when he is nothing like The Dark Knight. And that’s evident in the third season too because Dick’s new outlook on life as Nightwing imbues the show with a sense of light that both it and its central character was missing for two seasons. Brenton Thwaites has had some gritty and compelling material to work with in the past and he always delivers, but this time he has a real chance to play a Dick Grayson that feels like Dick Grayson and he’s nothing short of wonderful.

If you’re a fan of the other characters, you’ll be happy to know that Dick’s clarity allows for a clearer focus on the show in general, leaving more time to play with other heroes, such as Anna Diop’s Starfire (who simply hasn’t been given the screen-time she deserves up until now). And that’s a good thing because we know she will play an important part this season through the arrival of her sister Blackfire.

A gripping, edge-of-seat thrill-ride

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“Barbara Gordon.” Titans season 3. Courtesy of Warner Media. /

Yes, the central story is dark but what sets it apart from the show’s previous overly grim storylines is that nothing about this feels forced. It comes with the territory when dealing with a character like Red Hood and Titans doesn’t beat around the bush showcasing that when bringing the murderous vigilante into play.

The creative team’s decision to fast-track Jason Todd’s evolution was a concern back when it was announced but the third season manages to pull it off thanks to some compelling storytelling. Curran Walters is a revelation, taking everything he learned from exceptionally playing the first live-action Jason Todd and magnifying it to play the first live-action Red Hood with a conviction so recognisably Red Hood and it translates to the screen really well.

Speaking of exceptional, the show produces one of the most intense hours of television you’ll see all year and, in all honesty, it’s probably the single-greatest hour of Titans ever. A bold statement to make, but mind-blowing would be a generic understatement. And it almost feels wrong of me to say such a thing because I don’t want to undermine the other episodes of the season because each one offers up its own strengths in this intricately-plotted story.

Having now seen the first five episodes of Titans season 3, I can safely say that the show is on course to deliver its best season thus far. Could it all still fall apart? Sure, the show does have a tendency to get muddled as it goes on and there are still some minor issues in the first couple of episodes, but I really hope it doesn’t because I can tell you that I have never enjoyed this show more and I’m rooting for it to succeed now more than ever.

There is a lot to love in Titans‘ third season. From the introduction of new characters like Barbara Gordon and Tim Drake, to the promise of a more balanced show that makes more time for its characters (yes Starfire fans, there is some great stuff coming your way!), the show has never been more enjoyable. And, for the first time in a long time, I can say with total confidence: “Titans, Go!”.

A. <em>Titans</em> finds its footing with its best selection of episodes yet, offering up a compelling adaptation of one of the greatest DC stories ever told. If it can keep this high standard up throughout the remainder of the season, it’s destined to reach the highs we’ve been waiting for it to obtain for some time.. Titans. . Titans season 3

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Titans season 3 premieres on HBO Max on Thursday, August 12.

Are you looking forward to Titans season 3? Let us know in the comments below!