The fourth episode of Titans begins a major flashback, one that will continue into the following episode. It introduces another member of the team, Aqualad (Drew Van Acker), and also relates the first encounters of the young heroes against both Dr Light (Michael Mosley) and Deathstroke (Esai Morales). Oh, and it tosses in Jericho (Chella Man) and Adeline Kane (Mayko Nguyen) for good measure.
Surprisingly, this is a well told episode, despite sounding a little over packed. It even lays out a comprehensible timeline. The flashback is set five years earlier than the main storyline, on the day of Aqualad’s 22nd birthday. Mention is made of Garth having a crush on Donna Troy, Wonder Girl (Conor Leslie), since they first met when he was 12. So the original team was around for ten years, one can assume, with Aqualad, Wonder Girl, and Dick Grayson’s Robin (Brenton Thwaites) as founding members, with Hawk & Dove (Alan Ritchson & Minka Kelly) joining at some point after that.
There are some major twists in this episode, so I need to be very careful about what I say. I will mention a great montage sequence early on that demonstrates just why Deathstroke is so highly valued in his choice of careers.
But I had a few problems with the way Aqualad was dealt with. They did get his costume right, he is wearing the modified version from the 90s, the outfit he wore in the comics before he became Tempest. But aside from that, there is little resemblance to the purple eyed exile who Aquaman took under his wing (flipper?)
This Garth is blond, for one thing, making him look like a young Aquaman. I could have handled that, but when he started using water shaping powers, the abilities that belong to Mera, I was less than impressed. Later he seems to be using some other ability to deflect Dr Light’s beams. It really looks like the way Amazons deflect bullets and energy with their bracelets, even though he wasn’t wearing any.
Garth is also given a long standing crush on Donna Troy, a romance that never existed in the comics. Honestly, I was less bothered by that. It served Donna’s plot thread well, explaining her distance from the team in the present day.
And despite my issues with Aqualad, I found this to be a powerful episode, very moving in some scenes, with a highly uncomfortable conclusion, one that bodes dark events in next week’s installment.