Titans – Lazarus review S3 E5
Pacing has been a problem with Titans before, but it’s never been as apparent as it was with Lazarus.
Just two weeks after killing Hank, the writers are already trying to rationalize and make sense of Jason’s actions. This is fully a fault of the writers of course.
Had the bomb been a gag or did anything short of killing/maiming Hank, there was a path of redemption and forgiveness for Jason. Instead, the writers want to have their cake of creating this incredible foil for the Titans and lick the last bit of frosting by coming up with a way to end the season with him back in their good graces.
Lazarus is an extended flashback to explain what drove Jason to become The Red Hood. That’s complicated as Jason’s heel turn has some credibility while in other moments, episode writer Bryan Edward Hill asks viewers to just go along with it to get to Jason as The Red Hood.
Three months ago, Jason was having nightmares involving Donna. Coupled with his own still traumatic experience of nearly dying while facing Deathstroke and Jason has some issues. How serious? So serious that even Bruce notices and orders him to see his friend/psychiatrist Leslie Thompkins (Krista Bridges). Pending Leslie’s clean bill of health, Jason is grounded as Robin.
Before seeing the good doctor, Jason hangs out with an old childhood friend, Molly (Eve Harlow, Trigger Point). Molly’s friend, Diego Martinez, has likely been kidnapped by a known associate of The Joker named Pete Hawkins (Dylan Trowbridge). Somehow, Robin is easily beaten down and pistol whipped by one of Joker’s low-tier thugs. No wonder Bruce benched him.
Jason figures he needs his edge back and meets with Leslie. He’s fascinated with the picture she has with herself and colleagues including Jonathan Crane. Leslie says they were very tight friends until he tried to kill her. Leslie clearly is taking the mentality of reminiscing of the good times too far. If someone tries to kill you, it’s perfectly reasonable to not keep their picture up in the house.
Back at the Batcave, Jason admires Bruce’s small trophy case of memorabilia including Catwoman’s goggles and whip, Two-Face’s coin, Joker cards, Mr. Scarface and Scarecrow’s mask. With Alfred dead, who’s dusting this cabinet?
Jason asks if Bruce and Leslie ever dated. Bruce avoids by saying he’s got a conference with Metropolis as Luthor’s up to something. Not gonna lie. Just the tease of some Justice League action was cool.
Recognizing his fear is becoming debilitating, Jason visits the expert of fear in Arkham. This felt like a stretch in many ways. Jason is too proud to reach out for help even in his tough guy façade. Bruce would know he’d talked to Crane and one of Batman’s toughest Rogues should be the last person Jason should seek advice from in this situation.
Crane immediately starts working on Jason’s impressionable mind as Jason starts coming to grips with his fear. Bruce takes Jason to Crime Alley and tells him he’s done as Robin, but pledges to be there for his “son.”
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Titans’ portrayal of Bruce Wayne/Batman has largely been very weird, but this scene showed Bruce to be completely sincere and appropriately emotionally checked in on Jason’s needs. This also makes it harder to buy Jason feeling so betrayed.
He starts toying with the formula provided by Crane in exchange for some juicy tidbits on Batman and some of his fear toxin. Now Jason is able to make himself fearless and promptly gets killed by The Joker setting in motion Joker’s death and Batman’s retirement.
Crane has one of his men on the outside bring Jason’s body to one of the remaining Lazarus pits to resurrect him. This sequence really expected viewers to be well aware of everything with the Lazarus Pit. The episode doesn’t show the always mentioned side effect of making the resurrected person go mad. That’s something even Arrow included when the Pit was used so it’s interesting that Jason comes out completely sane.
If the show needed an out to restore Jason, Lazarus Pit madness was a pretty solid one. Crane immediately starts getting Jason dependent on his anti-fear toxin. It’s interesting how in this setting, Jason is playing out a storyline that would make sense of a modern-day interpretation of Roy Harper. Becoming addicted to the anti-fear toxin squarely makes Jason a pawn of Crane, who’s seen every domino he envisioned toppling over. Now Jason can be his weapon to instill fear in Gotham.
Crane’s terrorize Gotham plan has some holes in it though. Jason goes after mob bosses and significantly depends on the Titans coming from San Francisco to help Nightwing. If they stayed in SF and Nightwing handled everything on his own — like he normally does on Titans — how would Crane’s plan have played out?
It seems like the easier path would be for Crane to keep feeding Jason’s insecurities about not being as good as Dick prompting a showdown between Bruce’s former sidekicks without involving the Titans.
For some unexplainable reason, Crane decks Jason out as the Red Hood armed with guns he never learned how to use.
Jason’s first target is Hawkins, who he kills after finding Diego’s location. The timeline felt a little wonky here as well. Did Hawkins just keep Diego on layaway for when Joker needed him? Otherwise, Diego probably should have been dead long before Joker got killed.
Molly figures out Red Hood’s identity easily enough and Jason tells her things are about to be a lot worse before they get better.
Lazarus took the fast forward approach to explaining Jason’s turn to becoming Red Hood. Some parts worked better than others though it all could have worked if this rolled out through the course of a season instead of the first five episodes.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Photo Credit: HBO Max
Grab the McFarlane Toys Nightwing vs. Red Hood figure set from Amazon.