Spoilers ahead for Episode 5 of Titans Season 3, called "Lazarus."
Titans has been moving through plot points in Season 3 at a breakneck pace, particularly when it comes to the death of Jason Todd quickly leading into the rise of Red Hood, without any explanation of how he was still alive... until "Lazarus." This pretty fantastic episode filled in some of the key blanks in Jason's story from the three months since he left the Titans, and it was quickly clear that the Titans version of Red Hood's origin is very different from the famous DC Comics arc. The twists leave me convinced that Titans shouldn't redeem him.
As DC Comics fans familiar with the "Under the Red Hood" arc know, quite some time passed between Jason being beaten to death by the Joker and the Red Hood turning up in Gotham. Part of what motivated his fury in the comics (and in the Under the Red Hood animated movie with Supernatural's Jensen Ackles as Jason) was that Batman didn't kill the Joker to avenge his death, and it was all very much Jason acting of his own volition. Sure, it was twisted due to the resurrection process, but there was no bigger, badder villain manipulating him.
In Titans' take on the story, Jason's death at the hands of the Joker actually came about thanks to Scarecrow masterminding their whole dynamic while Jason thought he had the upper hand. A shot of Jason's face before he was dipped in the magical pool of resurrection juice – a.k.a. the Lazarus Pit puddle that Ra's al Ghul evidently left behind in Gotham – revealed that the Joker definitely didn't hold back with the crowbar, but Jason still wasn't dead for very long before being resurrected and hitting the streets, fueled by Scarecrow's anti-fear drug concoction.
So, if Titans' Red Hood terrorizing Gotham is due to Scarecrow's machinations, why do I think the show needs to not redeem Jason and put him back in his previous standing? Read on for some reasons, after what may have been one of the best episodes of the series when it comes to fleshing out characters.
Redemption Would Be Way Too Convenient
The events of "Lazarus" seemingly went out of the way to provide a reason for the story to eventually clear Jason, ranging from the manipulations of a far craftier villain to Jason's leftover trauma from Season 2 to the anti-fear drugs. Plus, Scarecrow conveniently knowing about a secret Lazarus Pit in Gotham that not even Batman is aware of is a big jump. And I'm still not clear on how Jason Todd, not Robin, had access to meet with Scarecrow on a regular basis at Arkham. After the twist on the origin story to add Scarecrow and the drugs, Titans needs to stick to its guns and commit to Red Hood the bad guy, not fast-forward to redeeming him.
Jason Needs Consequences
Titans may have given Jason a cool motivation with "Lazarus," but that was still murder in the first several episodes of Season 3. "Lazarus" did flesh out Jason's mindset and why he decided to go after Joker that fateful night, though, and I think Curran Walters did an exceptional job showing Jason's slow build up with the help of Leslie come crashing down in reaction to Bruce taking Robin away. But Jason crossed some major lines, people died, and Scarecrow is on the loose with some pretty horrifying plans for Gotham. Jason shouldn't get a reset just because he feels bad, if indeed he does come to regret his actions.
Red Hood Killed Hank
Of course, the real point of no return for Jason when it comes to the Titans was when he set up Hank to die a pretty gruesome death. Sure, Dawn technically set off the bomb after Jason tricked her, but I think fans can probably all agree that Jason should be considered the killer. And even Jason flat out told Scarecrow that Nightwing won't stop coming after them, "not after Hawk." Taking out a Titan – and using some pretty cruel trickery in order to set him up – was a line that Jason shouldn't have crossed if he is going to be redeemed.
Jason Knows What He's Doing
Jason isn't running on Scarecrow's anti-fear concoction every second of every day, and he clearly knows what he's doing and has made his own choices. He wasn't feeling the effects of the drug when he demanded to know Scarecrow's plan and said that Nightwing would still be coming after them, judging by his visible fear. Scarecrow also hasn't exactly forced the drug on him. And now that he's on board with Scarecrow's plan to "immerse the good citizens of Gotham in a world of fear and terror" and then swoop in and save them, it's hard to see a believable way that Titans could redeem him, at least this season.
The Cast Is Too Big Already
On a less plot-related note, a lot of Season 3 has left me feeling like the Titans cast is already too big, even with Jason taking a villainous turn, Hank's death, and Dawn's departure. Dick is really the only Titan who has gotten to be a main player in the A plot of the season, with Kory's story with her sister still going down more on the side than anything else.
Rachel will presumably be back in the second half of Season 3, possibly with Donna as well. Characters like Gar and Conner haven't had much to do, so I'd say they deserve some more substantial screentime before Jason gets a redemption arc, especially since Titans already added some new characters for Season 3. Curran Walters has been great, but there really doesn't need to be any coming back for Jason any time soon.
This Isn't A Batman Show
Even as somebody whose excitement for Season 3 was about as much based on the Titans debut of Barbara Gordon as the actual Titans themselves, I have to admit that this is a show about the their team, not the Bat-family in Gotham City. I would totally watch a show set in Gotham with the Bat-cast of characters that Titans has introduced; that's just not what this show is supposed to be, and adding a redemption arc for Red Hood would really just continue making Titans feel overly batty.
Besides, Titans already introduced Tim Drake, who will become the next Robin, so Jason can't return to his place in the superhero scene even if his slate is wiped clean. What happens in Gotham should probably stay in Gotham, although I won't complain if Barbara starts moonlighting as Oracle and helps out the Titans on some kind of recurring basis from afar, assuming they return to San Francisco... or just anywhere that isn't Batman's home turf.
Red Hood Brings Guns To An Escrima Fight
Finally, to put it bluntly – Red Hood brings guns to an escrima stick fight every time he faces off against Dick as Nightwing. It's one thing (and always fun to watch) when Dick is able to use his superior experience and training to outfight Jason, but the Titans team really doesn't need two superpower-free characters with one of them packing a lot more firepower than the other, especially when guns are pretty taboo for the good guys.
Titans already has to avoid overpowering Conner and Kory so they don't make the rest of the Titans look unnecessary, and Red Hood wouldn't really add anything to the team that needs to be there. And it certainly wouldn't help if he could outfight Dick by using guns. Of course, there are many ways that Titans could try to redeem Jason, and I wouldn't be so much against Jason seeing the error of his ways and wanting to make up for them while sticking around Gotham, as long as he still feels the consequences and holds onto the edge that he gained as Red Hood.
That said, I'm very much against the possibility of Titans using the excuse of Scarecrow and the drugs to wipe Jason's slate clean and reinstall him as a full-time part of any superhero team. I'd miss Curran Walters, but some twists just shouldn't be untwisted, and that's how the Titans take on the Red Hood origin story feels to me at this point.
See what happens next with Red Hood and Scarecrow ready for the next stage of the plan to unleash fear on Gotham City with new episodes of Titans Season 3 debuting on Thursdays on HBO Max. Scarecrow isn't expected to be back following Season 3, so it's hard to guess what will happen next for the bad guys of Gotham City this season.
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Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).