REVIEW: Titans, S2E2 – Rose

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“Rose” represents a true Titans premiere, and is consequently a much stronger episode than its predecessor. Between introducing its eponymous new character (played to perfection by Chelsea Zhang) and settling its characters into their new missions, the episode is firing on all cylinders.

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Rose is a welcome addition.

The camaraderie between Dick (Brenton Thwaites) and his fledglings is a treat to witness, especially as the writers have added a touch more levity to their interactions. Rachel (Teagan Croft) is less haunted and thus able to loosen up, Jason (Curran Walters) is maturing into a possible leader, and Gar (Ryan Potter) is keeping the others on their toes and cracking more natural-sounding jokes than last season. The newfound family they have cautiously built up is immediately thrown into disarray by Rose, on whom Dick goes full Batman-adopting-strays mode.

Rose is a commanding force, and everyone’s varied reactions to her makes for a solid episode of Titans. The sense of sibling rivalry is strong, the addition of new powers and a new mystery is fun to watch, and the excuse to get more advice from Bruce Wayne is as seamless as it gets. There isn’t much of Esai Morales’ Deathstroke this week, but his shadow looms over the episode as well as all of Rose’s interactions with Dick. The scenes are still literally too dark, but the unbearable weight of living has been lifted from the team’s morale – something Rose helps with immensely. Hopefully the introduction of Jericho, which is close upon us, will be as successful.

If there’s a misstep in “Rose,” it might be the villains of the episode. Doctor Light has no significant backstory or memorable characterization aside from the powers he’s named after. His only real purpose is to move the characters’ chess pieces, such as visiting unnecessary tragedy on Hank (Alan Ritchson) and Dawn (Minka Kelly) so that they feel compelled to return to Titans Tower.

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A dynamic duo.

Speaking of the not-so-happy couple, the road to recovery for them is actually rather touching and they feel more like an established albeit world-weary couple than ever before. The fact that it’s now Dawn who hasn’t quite adjusted to a life without heroics is rather compelling, especially when Hank points out that’s an addiction in and of itself. It’s just unfortunate that their attempts to help teenagers with drug problems were horribly waylaid for the sake to giving them back the status quo.

The other villain is Shimmer, who is little more than a placeholder for Kory (Anna Diop) and Donna’s (Conor Leslie) activities. Not to mention that it provides an opening for Roy Harper to be name-dropped, which is a tantalizing tidbit for fans of the original Titans. The ladies have an excellent rapport, but just as it seems like they might make for a fun duo, Kory gets kidnapped by a mysterious inhabitant of her home planet. A search for Starfire actually sounds like a great plot, but it further begs the question of why Kory needed to separate from her team in the first place if they were just going to forcibly remove her later. That being said, it sets the scene for an exciting rescue and a powerful Titans reunion if all goes well.

Titans drops new episodes every Friday on DC Universe’s streaming platform.