It’s been a long road, but Titans Season 3 is less than a week from touching down at its new home on HBO Max.
The transition has been a smooth process, and the look of the show remains a cut above the other superhero shows, so that’s a major positive.
But the transition to Gotham City comes at a huge cost to the tone of the show. The series has typically embraced the darkness, but there has always been a comedic lick of humor that allowing for witty one-liners.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Titans Season 3.
After watching five episodes, they are the darkest in the series’ history, and the drama rarely stops long enough for the heroes to breathe or share a laugh or two. It’s all about moving on to the next plot.
If anything, it highlights the nature of Gotham City to a T, so if you’re looking for a gritty and faithful adaption of the city, then Titans Season 3 might be your favorite to date.
The darker tone is a huge detriment to the overall flow of the show, making some of the characters feel like shells of their former selves.
It’s clear that producers have taken fan complaints on board about introducing new characters without developing those that have been with the series since the beginning.
That’s the best development from these opening episodes, with the well-paced plots moving along quickly, despite the inclusion of excellent characters such as Barbara Gordon and Scarecrow.
As you probably already know, the Titans are drawn to Gotham due to circumstances outside their control. It kickstarts some compelling plots that highlight how the world works very differently in the city.
After the tepid response to the conclusion of Titans Season 2, the series needed to transform to find a way to tell each of the stories without our heroes being relegated to the guest stars of their own story.
Brenton Thwaites continues to kill it as Dick Grayson. However, the first few episodes make it clear that Dick is still haunted by the past, which provides more storytelling opportunities.
Despite not being a particularly good leader, he still takes it upon himself to make decisions veiled as for the good for everyone, but some of them seem more about asserting his power than anything else.
Savannah Welch is the perfect pick to play Barbara Gordon. She brings a vulnerability to Barbara and an edge that fits in with the show’s tone.
Welch quickly emerges as my favorite iteration of the character.
Similarly, Vincent Kartheiser is chilling as this iteration of Scarecrow.
As far as introductions go, Barbara and Scarecrow get decent entrances that don’t detract from everything else going on, which is appreciated.
As for Starfire, Titans Season 3 finds her in an unpredictable scenario that changes her in a way I didn’t think possible.
Her sister, Blackfire, also has a much bigger role this season, with Damaris Lewis getting promoted to series regular after Titans Season 2.
Hawk and Dove, surprisingly, remain very present in the events, even if their relationship remains on thin ice as a result of their different wants in life.
Donning superhero costumes and fighting crime is not for everyone, so props to Titans for tackling that side of things.
As a whole, the change in tone and focus ensures Titans Season 3 is very different from its predecessors. Fans will love that the show manages to pack game-changing twists into every single episode.
Seriously, there are moments your jaw will drop. In that respect, the show might be blossoming into the iteration of Titans it should have been from the beginning, but by the end of the fifth episode, I yearned for some of the more lighthearted storylines.
The fight scenes somehow seem less spectacular this time, which makes me think it might have been a pandemic-related result.
Nonetheless, Titans Season 3 propels the story forward in the first five episodes, and while I’m not a fan of some of the creative decisions, it remains very watchable.
The true test will be in whether the second half of the season can keep up the pace.
Titans launches its third season with a three-episode premiere on August 12 on HBO Max, with every other episode rolling out weekly thereafter.
Check out the trailer below.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.