The beginning of Season 3 Episode 8 of Titans might make you briefly reminisce about the first few minutes of Episode 1 of the season where the Titans were a successful team popular with the San Fransisco public. That was a decent concept at the time as they were finally an actual team. Now, though, they have a Titans Signal in Gotham after the fact that they just celebrated that they won the whole Gotham situation with one tiny fight, and any happy memory is pretty marred by the pretentiousness of it all now. The episode does deliver some likely unintentional irony by the end of the episode when it is the Titans who actually cause the ultimate problem the season has been leading up to.
I would love to skip over it, but the episode certainly did not and it’s a hard pass on the Conner-Komand’r romance arc. Superboy has the acknowledged essence of a very young and naive boy, while Blackfire is supposed to come across as a hardened, elitist, dominating badass. Neither really lands so it comes across as overly cringe and it’s not what Gotham deserves right now. Also on a Tamaranian note, Kory is once again back to having visions she can’t control and that whole deprivation chamber nonsense is coming to the rescue again. The show seems determined to never give the woman a fair shot at being much more than a confused person waking up in random places and sometimes shooting fire out of her hands.
The Red Hood plot has had yet another rapid-fire turnaround. Jason declares to Crane that he is done with him and is done being used. Did that not happen two episodes ago? Either way, the episode seemed to commit to making Scarecrow the true villain at this point. We get the scenes with his overly horrible mother, his increasingly angry rants, and his increasing violence (see: dead mother), which classically hint that the man is approaching his final evil form as this absolutely insane and puppet master mastermind. Crane definitely makes you uncomfortable, but the character is still portrayed as entirely too casual to be particularly threatening or even plausibly pulling such intricate strings.
Episode 8 does deliver some good news by making it clear Titans will continue throwing a growing number of Robins at every problem, causing intra- and inter-Robin problems, which makes the original problem much worse. Dick is very harsh at times with Jason, telling Barbara for example that he essentially plans to execute Jason when he gets the chance. Later, he offers Jason a chance to come home if he gives up Crane—I assumed he was bluffing, but he apparently means it and the real kicker is that many of the Titans now absolutely hate Jason and would, I guess, prefer Dick kill him.
Jason seems repentant once he is cut off from the anti-fear gas, which is emphasized by the creepy scene where he goes to role-play apologizing to Hank and Dawn to exhibitionist sex workers. So while Jason is struggling with his actions stemming from his downfall from Robin to Red Hood, Dick (after being hit by a car) is now having visions reflecting his struggles with his Robin to Nightwing journey.
Enter Tim Drake. Honestly, he’s sweet, he’s likable, and he just wants to help. Unfortunately, he also wants to be the next Robin and there is absolutely no indication that he will not get to be that in the near future considering Titans. While he will probably get to be the next sacrificial lamb for everyone to say, “Wow, the Robins really are problematic!”, at the moment he sparks a glimmer of joy. Does he get (presumably) fatally shot at the end of the episode? Sure. But there’s always Episode 9.
To be fair, Episode 8 ends with a major Scarecrow victory as all of Gotham City’s water supply is dosed with the chemical. While this plan, like much of the Gotham lore this season, is unoriginal and stale, it did finally come to fruition. Maybe the Titans will be kicked into more action and at a quicker pace as a result. Maybe the interpersonal relationships—between the Titans or Dick and Barbara or everyone and Jason—will be put to the test and come out with more complex understandings of themselves. But then again, there are still a considerable 5 more episodes left to stretch it all out.