I have long mused that Titans is a show that could be something really great if it just tightened things up a bit, and wouldn’t you know it — I was right. The penultimate episode of the season, titled “Koriand’r”, gives us a glimpse at what a fully-thought out and cohesive narrative looks like for our troubled team; frankly, it’s a far-cry from the over-the-top melodrama that were given for the first half of the show.
Picking up where we last left off (putting aside the fever-dream that was Episode 9), Rachel has just attempted to restore Kory’s memories which seemingly causes the latter to attack the darkness-addled teen. Dick and Donna arrive just in time to save Rachel. From here, the episode separates into basically two long overdue origin stories — one being Kory’s and the other being Rachel’s.
There’s nothing spectacular going on with Kory’s realization of who and what she actually is, and in fact, the payoff is really just a plot-dump to help push Rachel’s conflict to its climax. However, the lead-up is an engaging mystery — sort of like the last 15 minutes before Sherlock Holmes reveals who the killer is — and the sequence has what is probably the best CG in the entire show. Considering what we’ve been given up to this point in that department, that’s not saying much, but it stands nonetheless. Anna Diop does a really good job with the material she’s given, and if you’re not sold on her being Starfire by the end of this episode, well then frankly, you never will be.
Teagan Croft’s performance drifts dangerously close to “corny” this go around, but it and the frequently strained dialogue of the episode are saved by the overall tone. This half of the episode explores Rachel’s relationship with her father and the actual purpose behind her dark powers. Titans has tiptoed into the waters of horror before, with Rachel’s abilities in particular being the source of a few creatively gruesome deaths. This, however, would be more akin to doing a cannonball into the genre. Between Maja Vrvilo’s directing and the intense score, much of the episode feels like it could be a part of October’s annual offerings at your local theater. Nearly every moment in this house is full of dread, and I’ll be damned if this wasn’t some of the most fun I’ve had with the show. Like Kory’s narrative, Rachel’s loses a bit of steam at the end due to time constraints, but it’s still a pretty great setup for the finale.
Episode 10 of Titans feels like it should have arrived a few episodes back, allowing us time to fully explore the impact of Kory’s recovered memories and Rachel’s birthright. The show is clearly capable of delivering some truly great content that entertains and even extends into previously unexplored genres, but it can never quite get the timing down. Better late than never though, I suppose. There’s one episode left for the season, and it’s looking like it could be the best one yet.
Titans is released every Friday only on DCUniverse!