Season 2, Episode 2: “Rose”
This feels like the real start to the season. It opens with a time break, beginning three months after the end of the last episode. While the first episode of the season spent its time winding up plots and creating openings for the future, Rose follows what is essentially three plots that actually set up conflicts that will likely take up most of the season.
The first is with Dick, Raven, Beast Boy, and Jason in San Francisco at Titans tower. It mostly feels like a catch up episode with these characters, quickly reminding the viewer who they are and what they are about. It mostly works. You get a glimpse at Dick as the leader and mentor to these younger heroes. The best bit is likely with Jason. Jason was a bit player in the first season, but here he is more closely integrated with the team. Jason is a great character to add to an ensemble because he is such an obnoxious little turd. Not irredeemable, and not always wrong, but he creates friction with everyone. Yet you see Dick pretty expertly manipulate him into buying into the team concept, at least for now.
The other thread the pops up in San Francisco is Rose. She has some criminal misadventures while running from some unknown person or people, which gets her on the news and makes Dick realize that she is just the kind of person he wants the Titans to protect. So he “rescues” her. While Rose determines which is the best path for her, the young Titans do some digging and find out a familial connection for the character that spells trouble. I want to say something about Chelsea Zhang as Rose, but I don’t feel like this episode really had enough to determine anything. She sold the fight scene at the very least. This episode also introduced Michael Mosley as Dr. Light. Mosely is great pretty much everywhere he shows up, but I am not as excited for Dr. Light, a character that is usually either a joke or a gruesome try-hard attempt to prove that the character is not a joke.
The development that seems the least justified is the partnership between Donna Troy and Kory. That is a common pairing from the comics, but I don’t recall them becoming that close last season. Still, their few scenes are effective. They are on a stakeout, looking for a superpowered criminal. Once they get their woman, a figure from Kory’s past shows up and starts another mystery for the season.
The third and easily least effective prong of the episode is Hawk and Dove. They were an awkward fit in season one, and things haven’t really improved much. Hank is out of the game, working to rehabilitate kids with drug problems on a farm, while Dawn pretends to be retired but is sneaking out to fight crime. It would almost be interesting if I was confident that the show was intentionally inverting the usual Hawk and Dove dynamic, with Dove the more violent one to Hawk’s attempts to resolve things peacefully, but it really just reads as kind of muddled. The events of the episode sends the duo back to the team for help, so we’ll see how that develops.
This episode kind of highlights the problem with making the previous seasons finale the premiere episode of the season. That episode was primarily wrap up for last season’s stories, this one is set up for this season’s stories. That makes two episodes that feel a lot like being stuck in place. “Rose” is not unentertaining, and I am excited to see where this season goes, but I am really ready for it to start going there. Maybe I am just spoiled by Netflix’s binge model and now lack the patience to wait a week between episodes.One thing I liked about this episode is that it felt more expansive than any from the first season. Titans season 1 hinted at a wider world of superheroes, of the Titans being a team with a past. This episode feels like it takes place in a world with a history, in a world with other superhero stuff going on. Hopefully the show can use that as a strength going forward.