Titans season 2 episode 6, “Conner”, started streaming on DC Universe on 11 October 2019.
Titans might have it’s up and downs, but the one place it really shines is introducing characters. “Conner” is no exception. In fact, I’m gonna say that it is the best episode this show has had yet.
Conner Kent is a sympathetic character, but also complex at that. Joshua Orpin did a fantastic job capturing his exuberance, confusion, emotional conflict, anger, and honor all at once, leading this affective episode. And we don’t just have a new character this time – we have a dog too! Krypto is the absolute best. My heart melted when Krypto put his paw on Conner’s offered hand.
Conner’s innocence is also very refreshing for Titans. Although this episode did have grotesque moments, it was balanced with plenty of well-written humour and lightness. Everyone on the team has great amounts of angst right now, and Conner can level that out.
Another plus for “Conner” was that the episode wasn’t shy to lean into the Superman mythos. Starting with the silhouette of the Daily Planet building in the Metropolis skyline.
At the rampaged Cadmus Labs, geneticist Dr Eve Watson explains to Luthor Corp security specialist Mercy Graves what to expect from “Subject 13”: the world’s most dangerous infant. The subject would have an emotional age of a 2-year-old, though we’ll later see he has the capacity to learn fast.
Meanwhile, “Subject 13” has named himself “Conner” after the name tag on the uniform he nicked, and is out exploring the world for the first time with his new best friend Krypto. Along the way, he acquires a Superman insignia T-shirt. He starts having flashbacks from memories of his genetic donors, which lead him to rural Kansas.
In this universe, Clark Kent and Alexander “Lex” Luthor grew up together in the corn fields. Sounds very Smallville.
Conner finds Lionel Luthor, Lex’s father. The dinner scene was particularly powerful and ambivalent. Luthor senior was proud of his son’s scientific achievements, but knew Lex was problematic. Lex might have been amoral, but did that justify beating him?
It gives us an insight into Lex Luthor’s background but offers no answers to the conflicts it poses, in part because Graves’ team attack the house. And Conner, despite feeling Lex’s remnant fear of and anger towards his father, protects Lionel Luthor anyway. He and Krypto discover their abilities and kill all the men.
Conner then finds the ops van and confronts Dr Watson. She tells him about his genetic makeup, but doesn’t want to let him meet his “fathers”. Ignoring Mercy’s commands, Eve escapes with Connor. As they drive, she finds he has Lex’s scientific knowledge but also amorality.
Conner’s “Can I call you mom?” was just adorable, though Eve at the time didn’t think so.
During a food stop, Eve prevents Conner from interfering with an abusive boyfriend so they don’t attract attention. However this angers Conner, who’s shouting is forceful enough to set off all the car alarms.
Seeing Conner’s anger and confusion, Eve brings him to a decommissioned Cadmus facility in San Francisco. There, Conner finds the 12 failed subjects before him and realises he is the result of monstrous science. But Eve tells him she is the real monster for letting such science be realised in the first place, and reminds him of his better qualities – the ones he got from Superman: justice, nobility, and kindness.
As Mercy Graves’ new team approach, Eve warns him to run and be careful who he trusts and to not use his powers so he won’t attract attention. She stays behind in an attempt to throw the new take-down team off, but Mercy Graves doesn’t buy it. She’s already prepared her next move and loads kryptonite into her gun.
Wandering the streets of San Francisco, Conner reluctantly doesn’t interfere with some fighting thugs in shady alleys. However, a fallen platform suddenly catches his attention and he looks up to see Jason Todd falling.
Screw not using his powers. Conner leaps up, catches Jason, and then takes the brunt of their fall. Jason lives!
(P.S. DC Universe put out a poll asking users if they wanted Jason to live or die. ‘Jason dies’ initially stormed ahead, but the vote eventually closed at 51% for ‘Jason lives’. I sure did not appreciate the restaging of the original vote that killed Jason in A Death in the Family.)
And then we have the best scene in the episode. Jason, still ever so callous even after just escaping death, turns and exclaims, “Who the f— are you?”
“I’m not super sure yet,” Conner responds.
Then they climb off the car, and things finally start to sink in for Jason, who starts becoming somewhat bashful.
“Whoever you are, I don’t know how to thank you.”
Conner smiles back. “I’m just glad I could help.”
BEST. SCENE. EVER.
First of all, that is so traditional Superman. Also, Super Sons!!! Yes, I know in the comics the super sons are Tim Drake (Robin III) and Conner, and then Damian Wayne (Robin IV) and Jon Kent, but I’m really feeling Jason/Conner.
Infuriatingly, Titans just cannot not have a damn cliffhanger. Just as Jason and Conner look like they’re about to exchange numbers and become good friends, Conner is hit by kryptonite bullets. Dick runs out looking for Jason – finding Robin 2 alive but his saviour now dying.
And there’s the biggest evil this show has done – Mercy takes Krypto away on a kryptonite leash. #SAVEKRYPTO
I am very very excited for Conner’s character. The writing for him was very nuanced, giving him hope and naivety but also turmoil. His search for identity felt very purposeful and was certainly warranted.
The closing moments of the episode (before he got shot that is) were great. I can already imagine the various dynamics he will have with the other Titans. He’ll start the half-good half-evil, need to find humanity club with Rachel. The aliens club with Kory. And I’ve already mentioned an iteration of Super Sons with Jason.
I think Conner might even become my favourite character on this show. (Besides Krypto, that is.)