Titans 4×06 Review – Bad Moon Rising

With Sebastian in the hands of Mother Mayhem, it’s a race against time for the Titans to stop another apocalyptic event. Conner is rethinking his last name and approach to conflict while Sebastian takes a trip down memory lane. Spoilers follow for Titans Season 4, Episode 6, “Brother Blood.”

“Brother Blood”

Mid-season breaks for streaming shows are a rare beast; the only other example I can think of off the top of my head, aside from this season of Titans, is Stranger Things‘ latest season. This episode, then, acts as a mid-season finale for Titans Season 4, and it’s a great place for the show to break. We get some wild moves, a climactic battle, and a great cliffhanger.

Conner Luthor

This episode kicks off with Superboy staring into a mirror before breaking it and taking a piece of the mirror, giving himself a haircut the only way that a Kryptonian can: by shooting eye lasers at his own forehead. If a Kryptonian can cut their hair with their own heat vision, does that mean that they could hurt themselves with it, too? Or if they can’t, why not? Anyway, this marks a huge character shift for Conner–one that I wonder whether it will stick or not.

This whole episode is a frantic dash to stop Mother Mayhem and save Sebastian from her plans, and a big part of that is dependent on Conner accessing his Luthor side. Whether you want to call it his dark side or his pragmatic side, it’s definitely a departure from the Conner we’re used to. If it was almost any other character, I’d even call it cringe-y.

After Conner zaps his hair off, he struts out in a leather jacket, ready to be extremely right all the time. You know it’s going to bite him in the ass, and he looks like a big dork to everyone but himself, but he’s also kind of a baby adult. Having been made in a test tube, he’s way behind on experience compared to his teammates, even if his Kryptonian and Luthor sides both give him a huge advantage in catching up. Of course, he’s going to have an Edgy Teen Phase when he’s a grown man.

The moon above Metropolis is red, and Conner comes up with a novel solution: hack the Lexcorp satellites and have them reflect light from the sun, toward the moon, to overwhelm the red atmospheric shift. I love seeing superhero stories pit science and magic against each other. This subtly points out how little sense using a blood moon as part of a ritual makes, but it’s a novel solution to a pretty classic trope for this type of story.

If it worked, of course, then we wouldn’t have much of a show. In another weird writing move, similar to having Deathstroke show up out of nowhere, Mother Mayhem and her team know instantly why the moon is turning back to its normal color. Not only do they know that it’s being caused by satellites, but that it’s being caused by Lexcorp satellites specifically, controlled by the Titans. How do they know all this? Titans is not worried about that.

Everyone who has wronged me

Meanwhile, we walk through Sebastian’s life in a series of scenes. As a child, he is taken in by a nice woman who gives him the gift of the best handheld gaming system of all time, the Gameboy Advance SP. When she decides to adopt another child, though, she makes him give it up. As a teenager, he points out a workaround in a high school coding course; the teacher is receptive while the students are in the room, but berates Sebastian the second they’re alone for having the nerve to correct him. The worst, though, happens seemingly just a few years back: as an adult, his girlfriend, who clearly adores him, gives him a Gameboy Advance SP (again, the GOAT among handhelds)–an unconscionable insult.

This whole sequence is kind of weird. The teenage encounter is genuinely the kind of thing that people could look back upon and feel frustrated by; the teacher is genuinely cruel. The childhood instance is a misguided attempt at togetherness and sharing, though; it’s not intentionally cruel, it’s just ignorant. And the adult instance is his paranoia and victim complex causing him to push positive influences away. The three instances don’t really seem to line up in any thematic way, and it’s hard to tell if the writers are trying to make Sebastian’s decisions look justified or if they’re trying to make him look like a petty jerk who gets access to blood magic.

None of this really helps us make sense of Sebastian’s Anakin Skywalker-style turn to the dark side. So many of the best villains in these stories are either given a great backstory to help us understand why they do what they do (Kingpin from Marvel, the Dada Sisterhood from Doom Patrol), or that they’re so far gone that there is no redeeming them (Mr. Nobody, again from Doom Patrol, or Reverse Flash from The Flash). Sebastian by comparison comes across as the type of guy who would shoot up a school because of his messageboard friends.

Beast Boy Goes Apeshit

What these things do culminate in, though, is one of the most entertaining battles in the entirety of Titans. After Conner is captured, the rest of the crew suits up and drops in on the Organization’s ritual. Gar shows up as a great ape, and absolutely tears it up–we’re finally getting the Beast Boy we know and love from Teen Titans. He breaks the crystal containing Raven’s powers, and she gets a full glow-up. Jinx is in proper sorceress getup.

The battle is total chaos, but in the right way. It’s fun and loud and it looks great. Despite the heroes’ best efforts, Mother Mayhem impales Jinx, they don’t get Conner free in time to do anything, and Kory isn’t able to do as much as she’d hoped, forcing Beast Boy to teleport them all to that spooky tree he’d ended up at a few times.

Overall, this is a fun episode, even with the poor justification for Sebastian. Fun fights, cool visual effects, and some fun ideas help make up for the places where the episode falls short. It leaves me excited to see what happens when the show comes back, and that’s the best possible thing a mid-season finale can do.