It’s all about charisma. If you’re going to base an entire episode around a character, that character has to be interesting and likable. What I’m saying is that Aqualad was terrible, and I hated him. And that’s relevant because just two episodes later, we’re doing a whole episode centered around a specific character. But this one I actually came to like rather quickly and found myself curious about where he could grow. Spoilers for Titans Episode 6 follow.
Titans Episode 6: “Conner”
This week’s episode is a very simple one. When we left off last week, Jason Todd was falling down the side of a skyscraper, and this week’s episode is all about getting to the resolution of that long, long fall.
And to do that, we have to go back some time to a facility owned by weapons and scientific development firm Cadmus. There, a naked man steps over the bodies of unconscious scientists and frees a caged dog.
Cue the “Nice Commercial for the Evil Company” trope. Thankfully, this is one trope I never get tired of because it’s just too real. The nude man throws a guard into the TV showing the commercial and finds a pile of clothing; he looks at the name on the shirt.
“Guess my name is Conner,” he says to the dog. Meet Superboy and Krypto.
Boy Meets Failed Clone
The story that follows is fairly straightforward. Cadmus wants its clone back. Geneticist Eve Watson feels a growing sense of guilt as she realized she’s created a living, thinking being. Conner, as a clone of Lex Luthor and Superman, has the memories of both, though he struggles to differentiate the two, and ends up at a farmhouse in Kansas.
The farmhouse of Lex Luthor’s father, Lionel Luthor. A far cry from the 1-percenter family depicted on Supergirl, the Luthor family on Titans is a broken family with the same Smallville roots as the Kents. Lionel lives in his farmhouse, mostly blind and mostly alone.
Meanwhile, Cadmus is pursuing Conner. Lex Luthor’s loyal henchwoman Mercy Graves is leading the charge, and she puts the scientist who created Conner in charge of the hunt. We start to see the way Conner’s epigenetic memories mix together; first, he fearfully remembers the beatings Lex suffered as a child at the hands of Lionel. Then, when Cadmus’ hit squad bursts in and starts firing, we see his instinctual need to protect people as he steps in front of the rounds fired at the elderly man. Oh, and Krypto fires lasers out of his eyes because this extremely serious show is silly enough for that to be a thing.
Conner escapes with Dr. Watson, who tells him of his heritage, warning him of what he’ll have to contend with and just who is after him. She finally takes him to a decommissioned Cadmus facility, where she shows him the failed clones that for some reason haven’t been incinerated at this abandoned building.
As Cadmus closes in, the two separate, and Conner heads out on his own. He eventually finds himself in San Francisco – just in time for one Jason Todd to fall from a skyscraper. Conner’s superhero instincts kick in, and he leaps a tall building in three bounds or so and snatches Todd out of the air–only to be shot in the chest by Mercy Graves, who has Krypto the Super Dog on a Kryptonite leash.
The next Titan?
I liked Conner immediately, and the conflict the show introduces for him is exciting. He has a mish-mash of epigenetic memories from His Two Dads, who sit at nearly opposite ends of the D&D alignment spectrum. He has to learn about the world while navigating these memories that make him perhaps more dangerous and powerful than either of his genetic sources.
The pacing of the story around this episode made me think of some anime; last week, we left off with Robin falling to his death. An hour of TV later, he’s still mid-air. In that time, we got a character’s entire backstory, a new villain, and a laser dog. It halted the momentum of the show yet again, and I can’t help but think that that’s a weird decision so soon after the Aqualad episode. But I like Conner and I liked getting to spend an episode getting to know him. Now I want to see how he meshes with the messy amalgamation of the elder Titans and the Teen Titans (and Dick!).
Assuming Conner heals from his sudden bullet wounds, the Titans are seemingly gaining a half-Kryptonian ally. Deathstroke might not be enough for this version of the team. Next week, I’m hoping we’ll see Conner bandaged up and that we’ll see Rachel and Gar start to come to terms with their abilities; the Titans are turning into a formidable force at this point.