Why does it always have to be snakes? The Titans are trying to protect their new friend Sebastian from Mother Mayhem, hoping to avert the apocalypse in the process. But snakes get in the way. Spoilers follow for Titans Season 4, Episode 5, “Inside Man.”
At first, this episode looks like it’s going to be one of those bottle episodes where the characters are all trapped in one place to cut down on costs; with Mother Mayhem and the cult of Trigon searching for Sebastian, the Titans retreat to Star Labs in Metropolis to hunker down and batten the hatches for a few hours until the red moon passes. It’s never that easy, though, and there are complications all over that keep the heroes from doing their job.
And that’s kind of the core of the episode–the way different members of the team are hampered by their own feelings.
At the center of it is Conner, still limping from Deathstroke (Deadstroke?) stabbing him with an enchanted blade. When a Kryptonian is wounded, though, it’s never just a wound. Josh Orpin, who plays Conner, gets to stretch his acting muscles a little bit here. Conner is normally a pretty reserved character made anxious by both his Kryptonian powers and the knowledge that his mind–Lex’s mind–was used for lots of evil.
Here, that nervousness causes Conner to hold off on telling the rest of the team, and by the end of the episode, Mother Mayhem is able to speak through Conner’s mouth to Dick. He gives Rachel a break from sitting with Sebastian and almost escapes with him, forcing Rachel and Kory to take Sebastian off-site. They end up back in that mystical diner that they’ve been to a couple of times throughout the series, and Kory meets her mentor there. For Kory, the limitation is her destiny. She knows that Sebastian is dangerous, but she doesn’t want to give in to anything referred to as her destiny.
Tim, meanwhile, is frustrated that he can’t patrol with the rest of the team and is, instead, stuck watching monitors–despite the fact that this gives him more time with his crush, Bernard. Tim almost misses the first snake, and then almost lets the second one attack Bernard.
The Gar Virus
Like last week, there’s another weird, inexplicable moment in this episode. However, instead of seeming like a totally random pull, this one feels like the writers took a huge shortcut. Gar turns into a virus to get into Conner’s body and attack the magical infection with some special ingredients provided by Jinx. They give us the explanation that he can rearrange his DNA into anything he wants, but it brings up a few questions.
Can Gar transform into something so basic that even he can’t be recovered? How would he take anything with him when transforming into a virus, especially a physical object? Can Gar manipulate space and mass to that degree as well? While he’s zipping around in Conner’s bloodstream, Gar has to find and replicate inside of the infection to kill it.
After he’s successful, Bernard is able to recombine the DNA to bring Gar back in one piece. First, how? The show never bothers to tell us even in comic book gibberish how he might’ve done it. Second, and worse, how do we know this is even the same Gar? He literally replicated himself as a virus. That’s two identical Gar viruses. Gar might be dead inside the snake that was writhing around inside Conner (which is as gross as it sounds). The show doesn’t deal with any of these super obvious questions at all.
What’s going on?
With the team split into two or three parts throughout the episode, it’s hard to find a throughline in this episode. There’s a lot of extremely serious superhero stuff happening, but even after a few episodes with him we’re not given much reason to be sympathetic to Sebastian. He’s a bit of a sad sack and feels designed to be a sad sack. We don’t get any real insight into his internal life other than that he’s devastatingly lonely.
When Mother Mayhem puts him in front of her chanting cultists, he strains to contain his smile–the attention he’s waited for all his life is finally happening. And we don’t have a single reason to care from his perspective. Like, it’s the end of the world and all of that, but it’s also a TV show. We need to have enough investment in a character to care that he’s turning to the dark side, but here he has even less reason than Anakin.
The episode wants to throw the heroes into chaos, but it ends up feeling chaotic for us, too–haphazard, despite some fun performances and effects. It’s still enjoyable so far–this is nothing like Season 2 where it was just Dick Grayson making himself miserable. But it still feels just a little bit lost.