Titans season 3, episode 9 review: Souls

Teagan Croft in Titans Season 3, Episode 9 - Photograph by Ben Mark Holzberg/HBO Max
Teagan Croft in Titans Season 3, Episode 9 - Photograph by Ben Mark Holzberg/HBO Max /

We finally see the return of Rachel Roth a.k.a. Raven and Donna Troy in the ninth episode of Titans season 3. Meanwhile, Tim Drake comes across familiar heroes in the spirit realm.

In a shocking outcome in the eighth installment of Titans season 3, Dick Grayson/Nightwing (Brenton Thwaites) and his super team of heroes led a charge against Dr Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow (Vincent Kartheiser) and Jason Todd a.k.a. Red Hood (Curran Walters).

Having learned of Crane’s plan to plunge the city of Gotham into madness with his new fear toxin, the Titans intervene to put an end to the fearsome villain’s scheme but one miscalculation from Starfire/Kory Anders (Anna Diop) cemented Gotham’s imminent descent into total chaos while Tim Drake (Jay Lycurgo) gets caught in the middle of the drama between Todd and Crane.

And now, on Titans season 3, episode 9…

Inside a castle off the coast, Bruce Wayne (Iain Glen) remains in his self-imposed exile after killing The Joker. He has put together a will and tied up some loose ends in regards to his business affairs with his butler Charles MacFayden (Derek Moran).

Elsewhere in Themyscira, with Donna Troy (Conor Leslie) still dead, Rachel Roth (Teagan Croft) endures training while blindfolded with Myrrha (Tenisha Davis). Even after over a year and a half of learning the ways of the Amazons, Rachel is still unable to resurrect Donna from the dead and insists she can do a lot more than just basic sword-fighting.

She wants to use her supernatural abilities to assist the Amazonians in reviving Donna but Lydia (Valerie Buhagiar) disapproves and believes she is not yet ready. Rachel also is quite ignorant of Themyscira’s ideals and culture despite her training.

Meanwhile, on another plane of existence within a never-ending train, the spirits of Tim and Donna reside, embarking on an eternal journey to… the great beyond? Tim, lost and confused about his surroundings, is eager to return to the land of the living. Donna consoles the younger, active spirit about seeking the path of acceptance, which is to get to the other side in the afterlife.

Conflicted and Soulless Journey…

Waking into the spiritual world, Tim refuses to accept that he is on this journey and fights against the angry conductor before exiting the train.

Donna pursues and catches up to him through the woods with her super-speed and discusses their trip to the afterlife just when ghouls appear. These ghouls attempt to drain their souls. That is when Hank Hall (Alan Ritchson), the late and former Hawk, shows up in a car playing Bon Jovi. Donna and Tim enter the vehicle and drive off.

In the meantime, Rachel gets caught using her powers to revive Donna in the living world. She is then put on trial in front of the Council for interfering with their ritual and accuses the Amazons of being cowards. Lydia then takes it upon herself to discipline Rachel in their ways.

Back in the spirit world, on the way to the “Twilight Hotel,” Hank explains to Donna about the ghouls’ existence and how these creatures steal your soul and drag you to Hades. Tim, whose spiritual self is weakening and feeling disorientated, just remains quiet in the car. Donna is more concerned about how Hank died – to which he explains it was Jason Todd (in his new Red Hood persona) that killed him.

Back at Themyscira, Rachel follows Lydia into a chamber where, instead of being under strict punishment, she is given the assignment of putting together a mysterious stone artifact – something that would effectively prepare Rachel in putting a soul back into Donna intact (and to restore the balance).

The Bridge to the Living Realm

Meanwhile, Hank converses with Donna about a potential “loophole” enabling him, Donna and Tim to return to Earth. Donna insists there is none until Hank mentions a bridge. Though Hank discovers she does not want to go back.

Bewildered, frustrated and hell-bent on payback, Hank calls Donna out for her apparent status of acceptance on the list of stages of grief and reckons she is not done being a hero. The rest of the Titans need help in defeating both Red Hood and Scarecrow, which Hanks reminds her about. He calls Donna on her bluff of moving forward and not getting revenge against their foes, especially when she once pushed Dick to avenge Garth a.k.a. Aqualad for his murder.

Tim, who listens in, wants to search for the mystical bridge and believes it is worth it, explaining that he died on his path to heroism by tailing Red Hood and Scarecrow. He criticizes himself for hesitating and expresses his wish to become a hero. Hank and Donna agree to join him on a quest to find a path back to Earth after defeating a set of ghouls.

30 minutes in the episode, after several attempts to restore the stone artifact (first with her hands and then with her abilities), Rachel’s most recent attempt is successful only for a moment, until it collapses again, potentially signifying Donna’s fate.

In the end, though, Donna and Tim manage to make it across the mystical bridge, while Hank stays behind to fight the ghouls. However, there is an unexpected Hawk and Dove 1.0. reunion as he spots his little brother Don “Donny” Hall, with the two vowing to bring back Hawk and Dove in the afterlife.


Before getting into what worked and what didn’t, this ninth chapter of Titans season 3 served its purpose by allowing the characters Donna and Rachel to make their long-awaited return.

Conor Leslie’s Donna and Teagan Croft’s Rachel have been greatly missed and it was great to see both of them featured in “Souls”. However, while Titans season 3 finally explores the connecting story arc between Donna and Rachel (and the term “arc” is pushing it) in a peculiar and interesting way, it is too little too late at point in the season.

The afterlife, ghouls, Hades and the stone artifact on Themyscira are all interesting concepts within the DC Universe that could have been explored by now, but instead, they come too late in the game and leave plot elements dangling for much too long.

Overall, the episode fulfills its purpose by bringing the pair back to the show and getting these characters to a destination within this narrative. There are some great moments and themes explored, such as Rachel being snarky towards the other Amazons; Donna expressing her honest moment of heroism, Hank’s return and explanation about Jason’s descent into darkness, and the exploration of dying before you have had the chance to make a difference.

However, it feels like the high standard of the season set by the opening episodes is beginning to dip, with some of the recent episodes struggling to hold onto that quality. The same could be said here because, even with some real solid moments (particularly the quieter ones between Rachel and Lydia, and Donna, Hank and Tim) and plenty of interesting concepts, this one suffered from coming too late in the game. It also felt like the script of this ninth episode suffered by treating the characters as plot devices.

Titans season 3 streams new episodes on HBO Max on Thursdays.

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What are your thoughts on this ninth episode of Titans season 3? Are you pleased with both Donna Troy’s and Rachel Roth’s return on Titans season 3? Did Hawk have a good send-off? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!