Things get complicated when you split up the party, as any D&D player knows, and the party is very split up as we come back from our mid-season break of Titans Season 4. Conner is embracing the Luthor parts of his DNA all by his lonesome. Dick, Kory, and Rachel go off in search of information about the impending prophecy with Tim Drake and Bernard in tow, but Tim and Bernard end up separated from the others. Meanwhile, the other three managed to get separated from each other under the worst possible circumstances. Gar, meanwhile, is missing completely. Spoilers follow for Titans Season 4, Episode 7, “Caul’s Folly.”
With so much going on, there’s not a whole lot of character development going on here. The small town of Caul’s Folly is central to the episode, and is one of the more fun elements. Caul’s Folly is magically protected, and it messes with Dick, Kory, and Rachel’s heads in different ways as they try to wrap their minds around the small town and try subsequently to escape.
As they try to leave, the town’s exit seems to get further and further away, with the camera morphing into a fisheye view to disorient us and the characters alike. Caul’s Folly has those classic creepy small-town vibes, but nothing is what it seems, with the cult of Trigon trying to control it and some of the townspeople alternately trying to assist or resist that.
The bulk of the character development is left Bernard and Tim outside Caul’s Folly, and Conner Kent on his own. Unfortunately, the development here isn’t particularly interesting.
For Tim and Bernard, it’s mostly about the simmering tension between them as Bernard tries to stay professional and Tim acts like a cringe-y kid. When the two give up on making contact with the others and head to a motel for the night, we’re treated to the two characters pacing in their adjacent rooms as Bernard denies his feelings and Tim tries to work up the courage to talk about his openly. Even the music here feels like the most stereotypical “romantic tension boils over” kind of music that you’d expect from a drama about attractive people.
Conner, meanwhile, is playing at being a Luthor. Kudos again to Josh Orphin here as Conner. With just a haircut–he doesn’t even change his Superman shirt–he changes his look and feel completely. Where Conner Kent seemed quiet and stoic, a stone pillar standing up straight, Conner Luthor has the always-forward motion of his dad, looking to keep moving, keep planning, and keep scheming. Despite being the same person, one of them is a lot more reassuring to be around.
The trouble is that the clear dichotomy between his Kent and Luthor DNA feels like an oversimplification of what he’s going through. The show doesn’t really let us into Conner’s head during any of this, so we don’t see the conflict or the conscious choice to behave as he’s doing. It feels more like “because my dad was a jerk, I’m biologically a jerk, too.” The result is that he feels pretty childish without the show acknowledging it.
The Caul’s Folly segment saves this episode from being a wash, but having to split up the storytelling so many ways makes it feel disjointed and rushed. With just five episodes left, I’m hoping that Titans can get back on track and clinch the show in its final hours.