Episode four of Titans season two ‘Aqualad’ gives us the answers we’ve been looking for—what really happened to the original team.
Season two of Titans has been running, where its first season crawled, and it is more obvious with episode four, ‘Aqualad’. We have already been introduced to villains Deathstroke (Esai Morales) and Dr Light (Michael Mosley), and now we know why the remaining members of the original team Titans are so hellbent on taking them down.
We look at what went down in ‘Aqualad’ and how it fits into the Titans universe that we know. Major spoilers ahead.
Turns out vengeance is the name of the game in Titans season two. The original Titans don’t just want to take down Deathstroke and Dr Light because they’re bad guys—five years ago, these villains took away one of their own.
Aqualad (Drew Van Acker) had been teased in the trailers for Titans season two, and we finally see him in this titular episode.
Five years ago, Aqualad had joined the Titans, and though he had only been with the team four months, he had more than made himself at home. With almost everyone except Donna Troy/ Wonder Girl (Conor Leslie). The two had history, and unrequited love, but being from different worlds—Donna from Themyscira, and Aqualad from Atlantis—they couldn’t quite be together.
Plus, Donna had to go back to Themyscira to become a warrior—there’s no point starting a relationship at this point. But Aqualad didn’t seem to care, making himself available at every opportunity.
But it is only when Donna has made her mind up to return that the two get together. She doesn’t tell Aqualad that she’s leaving—Dick Grayson/ Robin (Brenton Thwaites) has to do the honours.
However, in typical Hollywood movie style, Aqualad finds Donna at the airport and makes her realise that he can be her destiny.
And then, in typical Titans fashion, he is shot through the heart by Deathstroke.
Titans season two has been far more subversive than anyone expected—Dawn Granger/ Dove (Minka Kelly) being the badass stealth superhero, instead of Hank Hall/ Hawk (Alan Ritchson) has been one of the major highlights so far.
And Titans: Aqualad continues that trend with the romance between Donna and Aqualad.
Superhero stories have long suffered from the fridging trope—where a female character is introduced as a love interest, often for the duration of one comic or episode, only to be killed at the end as motivation for the male protagonist.
‘Aqualad’ turns that trope on its head. The episode introduces the titular character with the sole purpose of romancing Donna, and then he dies in order to progress Donna’s story.
Aqualad is little more than a plot device for viewers to understand why Donna stayed behind instead of heading back to Themyscira, eventually leading her to shed the Wonder Girl moniker to become a journalist and secret agent in her own right.
I’m genuinely surprised, and thrilled, at this turn of events—superhero shows are in the best possible position to subvert outdated tropes, and it is good to see Titans taking the lead in this area.
The Surprising Twist
Losing one of your own is always hard but the Titans take Aqualad’s loss particularly badly. Dawn is the hardened warrior in the group—but she is also the conscience. When she says or does something, the team follows. And her words to Dick Grayson in ‘Aqualad’ rouse them to take the kind of actions that have dire consequences.
If there is one thing Titans has made clear to us is that the Bruce Wayne/ Batman of this world isn’t the greatest mentor, or the best hero. He definitely isn’t something that his ward Dick wants to emulate.
So much so, that Dawn actually tells Dick to not be Batman, just Robin. This gels with what we saw in season one, where Dick repeatedly asserted his desire to not be Batman, or like Bruce. And he even gave up his Robin mantle to cut ties with his mentor.
But by the end of ‘Aqualad’, circumstances have changed. Aqualad is dead, and the Titans are on their own to get revenge. Dick manages to find the perpetrator—they have clearly never met Deathstroke before this episode.
And then Dawn declares the zinger—“Be Batman”.
We’ve known for a while that Chella Man will be playing Jericho and we got the barest glimpse of him in Titans: Rose, plus confirmation that he had been killed by Deathstroke.
Aside from that, there has been nary a mention of Jericho, one of the most well-known characters associated with the Titans.
We finally get to meet him in Titans: Aqualad—he is a young man, living with his mom, who clearly adores him, and vice versa. But they are also living in fear of being found by Deathstroke—who we know has already found them.
But Jericho’s importance becomes clear near the end of the episode. An excited Jericho is looking through vinyl records when he is found by a friendly Dick Grayson—one week after Aqualad’s death. They bond over their shared love of music, but as Jericho turns away, Dick’s kind and friendly demeanour drops. He has an ulterior motive.
Having watched this scene, I can’t help but wonder whether Rose Wilson’s statement that Deathstroke killed her brother is entirely accurate. Or did the Titans have something to do with it?
It seems that, at Dawn’s behest, and to avenge Donna’s lost love, Dick has gone full dark Batman—finding Deathstroke’s son and possibly using him as leverage against Deathstroke.
We now have to ask whether Deathstroke even killed his son. Or was he protecting his son from the Titans? We can’t wait to find out these answers!
Titans: Aqualad answered a lot of questions but it is also making us rethink what we know about our heroes. Are they even heroes at all? Let’s see what happens next week on Titans.