Titans Episode 5 boldly attempts to navigate the mental and emotional spiral of Jason Todd that we know culminates in his adoption of the Red Hood mantle. While some of the series dives into the intricacies of its characters has paid off in the past, Jason’s spotlight here fails to reach the depth it needs to be absorbing. To be fair, the more intimate focus on Jason does give off a flicker of greatness in its examination of the long-term effects of superherodom on an impressionable and flawed teenager.
The episode essentially takes the scenic route to its explanation of how Jason/Red Hood wound up in criminal business with Scarecrow. The supposed reveal that Scarecrow is the mastermind behind the vague scheme is honestly a tad disappointing as it deflates any prowess that Jason at one point seemed to have as Red Hood. And the plan is…something? Turning Gotham into Fear City is certainly on brand, but the rest is fluff at the moment. Hopefully, a more menacing or even meaningful evil scheme will come to the surface, but for now, it’s about as gray as Gotham itself.
The series has plenty teased that Jason was internally scarred by his confrontation and near-death experience with Deathstroke last season. It seemed to play some role in his impulsive and angry departure from the Titans, but it was otherwise left alone. Dedicating this episode to Jason could have been an entrancing look at his festering inner demons. To be fair, the episode had the bones to make it work, but it never hits the right note. For starters, while Titans can be notoriously slow, but this really crawled. For the better part of an hour we watched Jason have a conversation either with the therapist or Bruce. Considering both played essentially the same role in drawing out Jason’s thoughts and feelings, the two felt duplicative. Jason’s revelations mostly felt like a re-watch of the tortured- and traumatized-by-Batman Robin story that still feels like is being played out by Dick Grayson.
The icing (or lack thereof) on the cake is that overall the portrayal of Jason and his troubles in this episode merely felt like it was scratching the surface—there’s depth somewhere that could have been tapped into, but we never get there. Despite this being about Jason himself, it was still hard to pin down his personality or character in general throughout the episode. The best moment for Curran Walters’ Jason came along with Bruce firing him as Robin. Jason more authentically comes unglued and shows the cracks in his psyche. His reaction to what he perceives as another rejection of his Robin encompasses his insecurities in not being good enough which has been well planted throughout the series.
While Episode 5 attempts to recreate some of the series’ past successes with character focuses, it did not quite rise to the occasion. While Jason had his moments, overall the narrative here dragged on slowly with static conversations that felt like Dick Grayson on repeat. Now that Jason is out to prove Bruce wrong, the interesting path would be to see when, where, and why the two former Robins diverge.