Titans Season 3 Review: An Emotional Roller Coaster Ride Well Worth Taking

Titans is adapting one of Batman's most popular stories for Season 3, as fans will see Jason Todd finally become the Red Hood, and in the process cause seismic chaos for not just Bruce Wayne and the Titans, but all of Gotham as well. With such a beloved story, the pressure is on to capture the essence of this well-known narrative while also delivering it with a Titans flair, and, at least 5 episodes in, they've more than succeeded. Titans Season 3 takes everything you've loved about the series thus far, refines it, and grounds the larger-than-life concepts with poignant moments that convey how difficult and heartbreaking this superhero life can be, and it's a roller coaster ride well worth taking.

While the Titans move from the sunshine of San Francisco to the gloomy skyline of Gotham, the team's delightful energy brings some welcome brightness to Gotham's dour landscape. The cast conveys a sense of confidence and ease in regards to their characters, and the pieces fit together brilliantly. You buy this group not as just a team but as a family. That gets used as a tagline quite a bit in Hollywood, but it's an apt description in Season 3.

In Season 1 and Season 2, there were still pieces of the team coming together, but thankfully in Season 3 we get them as a team right from the start, and it makes a considerable difference. Seeing them work together and play off of one another's skillsets and personalities is a delight throughout, though Ryan Potter's Gar Logan and Joshua Orpin's Conner are especially hilarious together. Meanwhile, Anna Diop feels effortless in her delivery as Kory, and she shines in every scene, though her sequences with Gar are some of the best sequences in the show.

The strength of the cast is the show's biggest highlight, and Season 3 capitalizes on that on several fronts. Minka Kelly's Dawn Granger is once again the grounding presence along with Brenton Thwaites' Dick Grayson, and Alan Ritchson's Hank Hall injects every scene with that lovable gruffness we loved in Seasons 1 and 2. That said, nothing about Hawk & Dove will go as you expect it to in Season 3, and their story will leave a lot of people floored.

None of this works, though, if the Red Hood storyline doesn't deliver, and the weight of that mostly falls on Curran Walters' shoulders. He proves more than up to the challenge and delivers some of the show's most touching and heart-wrenching moments, though not necessarily in the way you're always expecting. He's believable as the lethally efficient Red Hood, and the show doesn't hold back in the brutality department to send that point home. That said, the reason you're invested in Jason's journey is more about the moments outside of the mask, as flashbacks reveal a young man who just wants to be believed in and loved by his pseudo-father, and those are the moments that leave the biggest impression.

I've been mixed on Iain Glen's Bruce Wayne in the past, and some of those same mixed feelings still linger in Season 3. However, Glen's Wayne finally did click when opposite Walters' Jason, and about midway through the season these two have several scenes that remove the superhero facade and showcase a father and son who truly love each other yet don't quite understand how to express or communicate it properly. Walters delivers an exceptional performance in these sequences and throughout the season, with several lines feeling like absolute gut punches in his steady hands.

Speaking of exceptional performances, Vincent Kartheiser's Jonathan Crane and Savannah Welch's Barbara Gordon also shine, though they might take an episode or two to get a proper feel for. Gordon's shining moment happens in a meeting with Bruce and Dick, while Crane's comes a little later in the season. In both cases, once it clicks, it really clicks, and both characters add new dimensions to the series and this rather dysfunctional Bat-family dynamic. As for Blackfire, there's potential in Damaris Lewis' character for sure, but I didn't see enough to form a real opinion on her just yet.

As for the action, it's as hard-hitting as ever, and there are several sequences that will impress. Sometimes they don't quite look as fluid as you'd hope, but other times they surpass your expectations, so it just changes from fight to fight. Overall the effects look great, especially in regards to Beast Boy and Connor, but what will probably surprise people most is how the series does not shy away from death. Granted, the show has never been unicorns hopping over rainbows, but there are some shocks in this show that I truly didn't see coming, even with that reputation.

Now, if you didn't like Titans' slightly darker and more mature approach to the DC world, Season 3 isn't going to suddenly make you a fan. It does a far better job of balancing the heavier subject matter with lighthearted moments, but things still get pretty dark, and our heroes fight their own flaws and inner conflicts as much as they do outside threats. Still, that's why we've become so attached to this crew, so it works both ways.

Titans Season 3 maximizes its stellar cast to tell a compelling and emotional story of loss, love, fear, and family, refining its formula to deliver the best season of the show thus far, so if you've been waiting to dive in, now is the perfect time.

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Rating: 4 out of 5

Titans Season 3 hits HBO Max on August 16th.