Lots of kids with exceptional parents feel like they have something to prove, and Conner is no exception. Where he is exceptional is that his genetic material comes via Superman and Lex Luthor–two of the most exceptional people on Earth. It’s a lot to live up to. Spoilers follow for Titans Season 4, Episode 11, “Project Starfire.”
It must be difficult to write an ongoing series, not knowing if it’ll be renewed for another season. Do you sprint for the goals you’ve set for yourself to get everything done, or do you keep slow and steady to try to make the best show possible? While Titans‘ quality has been up and down across its four seasons, it has generally shied closer to slow and steady.
Tim Suits Up
Such is the case with Tim Drake, played by Jay Lycurgo since the beginning of Season 3. We knew his destiny right away based on just his name, but the show was awash in Robins at that point, with Dick Grayson having just shed the title and Jason Todd still working through his trauma and frustrations with vigilante life. Not only that, but Tim was just a baby superhero, with some above-average skills with computers and detective work, but not a single punch yet thrown.
And so it’s a little bittersweet to see him suit up as Robin just one episode before the show’s formal ending.
While the Titans are working on plans to stop Brother Blood, Tim is worrying about his boyfriend’s condition. To get Tim out of the house and to get his mind onto more productive things, Dick sends him to Gotham to get information from someone, leaving him with only a suitcase. It’s a very large, high-tech suitcase, though, and Tim’s eyes light up when he opens it.
Tim’s story acts as sort of a final test to see if he’s ready to do real-world superheroics. He runs across Jason Todd, now operating in the city as the Red Hood, seemingly by chance. Todd messes with Tim a little, showing him how relentless any given criminal is going to be in a fight, and how just holding up your steel stick isn’t going to do much of anything. It fits well with where both Jason and Tim are at, and shows a huge amount of maturity from Jason in his treatment of Tim, and Dick in his trust of both Jason and Tim. Tim ends up in a fight scene that might be the best one yet this season considering how magic-dependent the scenes have been this season compared to previous ones.
It just seems like a shame that he only gets to wear the costume for these last two episodes.
Conner lets the Titans in
The other star in this episode is Conner. Josh Orpin has done a stellar job throughout this season of taking Conner through his changes. He began as an inexperienced member of the Titans, and grew into a frustrated and frightened one when he encountered magic–against which Kryptonians are no different than humans–and turned to his Luthor roots to fight back against that fear. Then as he got closer to Sebastian and tried to control that magic, he began to see that it takes a team to handle threats like Brother Blood. He held his Luthor persona up, but Orpin did an excellent job of letting the cracks slowly begin to show in the last couple of episodes.
He’s in full mea culpa mode this week as he stands before Dick and Kory with his hands up and head down. He was never against the Titans, but felt pressure to prove himself to his exceptional parents and himself. And, probably, had a bit of that Luthor ego and Superman burden that made him think he had to do the work alone.
That helps to charge the scenes between these three with a feel of healing and growth springing from initial distrust. He wants to do right, and he sells it. Of course, there’s always the possibility that he’s going to suddenly turn again in the finale, but that seems unlikely, and this character arc has been a really good one for a live-action Superboy that both acknowledges and sets itself apart from its links to the Man of Steel.
I’m looking forward to the finale with the hope that the show can close off loose ends and finish out this story with some good finality, especially for Rachel and Kory, whose stories feel unfinished at this time.