As surprisingly fantastic as DC Universe’s live-action Titans series is, it hasn’t really had a chance to spend much time with its titular team as a team, given that they’ve all been gradually finding their ways into one another’s orbits…all while trying to survive the apocalypse.
This week, though, that all changed, and it was fantastic.
After last week’s Doom Patrol-centric episode, this week’s “Together” feels like a return to form despite the fact that at this point the Titans don’t really all know each another.
After Rachel breaks out of the orphanage and spends some time bonding with Garfield, though, the team is finally ready to come together as a unit, and it’s incredibly satisfying to see — especially considering that the first thing they do together is sit down and figure out what one another’s powers are and how they work.
Oftentimes in superhero-focused genre fiction, “getting to know you montages” come across as being equal parts unnecessary fan service and an easy way to kill time in lieu of an actual plot. But, in holding this sequence back until Dick, Kory, Rachel, and Gar have had a chance to exist on screen as people first rather than just superheroes, their decision to demonstrate their powers has an emotional significance that makes it feel much more important.
Rather than just showing off, each of the super-powered people is revealing their inner strengths and their deepest weaknesses — making themselves vulnerable in a way that telegraphs the import of the bonds they’re forging together. More than that, though, the exhibition is also a reflection of the kinds of emotional turmoil each character is in.
For Kory, the exhibition is the simplest. Even though she still doesn’t exactly know who or what she is or where she came from, she’s resolute in the current mission she’s committed herself to protecting Rachel. That’s at least part of what makes it so easy for her for her to manifest her fiery abilities, but also to speak about them thoughtfully.
Gruesome though Beast Boy’s transformations are, they’re also a kind of process of emotional release. Despite all of the pain and loss Garfield’s experienced, in the moments when he transforms into a tiger (his preferred animal), he’s able to break free of all that and revel in the raw strength and power that comes with being an animal.
Rachel’s turn to flex understandably goes awry because, out of all the Titans, she’s perhaps the most confused and scared by her powers, which have still yet to be properly defined. There’s an essence within her that they all recognise as being mighty, but it’s something she’s not at all able to control. Still, when Rachel loses control, Kory’s able to snap her out of her trance, which, in a way, is another reminder that the Titans are better off because they have each another to rely on.
Of course, Dick’s turn to show the squad what he’s capable of is…well, sidestepped at first, because the man’s got no real superpowers. But rather than going for on the low-hanging joke fruit of Dick’s undeniable humanness, “Together” instead leans on some of the Teen Titans’ most interesting lore.
After retiring to a local motel where Dick reasons that they’ll be relatively safe, Kory takes it upon herself to go in search of some liquid truth (tequila) in hopes of opening Dick up and getting him to actually talk to her about the inner demons he’s fighting. She, like most everyone else on the team, knows that Dick’s grappling with something he refuses to share with them, and while he’s initially hesitant to be frank with her, by the time the two of them are in bed getting hot and heavy, it’s kind of a non-issue for her.
In DC’s comics, Starfire is able to immediately learn the whole of a person’s language by kissing them on the mouth and, in a way, Titans’ Kory comes to see Dick in a somewhat different light after they hook up. While Dick and Kory are busy playing house, Rachel and Gar briefly have the opportunity bond in their own right before they’re interrupted by Titans’ take on the Nuclear Family, who are still hellbent on capturing Rachel.
Between a (potentially) alien pyrokinetic, an animalistic shapeshifter, Batman’s protégé, and a harbinger of the apocalypse, the villains stand no chance, but there’s a greater significance to seeing the Titans duke it out with the enemy.
Like the Nuclear Family, the Titans are becoming a cohesive unit whose true strength lies in their connections as a group. It’s a none-too-subtle promise of what the Titans are eventually going to become, and a promise that Titans is only getting stronger.