The second episode of DC Universe's Titans (watch it here) left off with a brutal cliffhanger. With our dynamic duo and their allies at the mercy of the Nuclear Family--a violent unit of super-powered killers--splitting Dick and Raven up and putting them both in vital need of a hero. Luckily for the pair, the beginning of this episode quickly establishes that Starfire is back and she's ready to save both of them and probably the rest of the world. With "Origins," Titans really does a great job of building on the three core characters, crafting backstories and adding nuances that truly make an impact...
WARNING: The following recap contains SPOILERS.
In case you weren't already sold on Anna Diop's brilliant Starfire, the efficiency and brutality with which she swoops in and rescues Rachel proves she's the most badass character on the show, even though she still doesn't know who she is yet. After demolishing a group of local cops in the house where Rachel grew up, Starfire quickly manages to locate the young girl, who's now in the hands of the Nuclear Family. This freaky foursome is still upping the creep level with a terrifying subversion of a family road trip, and their presence appears to likely be the main conflict of the show. But one of the best things about Titans is the way that it consistently flips our expectations on their head. It's paced far more like a comic book than a television show, and when Starfire arrives mere minutes into the episode, incinerating the family's father and stealing Rachel away, Titans changes lanes as quickly as Starfire's vintage ride.
Whilst Rachel and Kory hunt down the mysterious convent where the former was born, Dick is also hunting them; as he's under the impression that Kory has kidnapped his young friend. We also learn Dawn survived her fall from the roof during the attack by the ferocious family, and Robin is clearly cut up about bringing trouble to the door of his old friends. Hank, though, is more worried about the threat to Rachel, and that, plus the fact Dawn survived at all, indicates we'll probably be seeing a lot more Hawk and Dove before the season ends.
Dick's childhood comes into play too, with flashbacks showcasing how he was adopted by the mysterious billionaire Bruce Wayne after the suspicious deaths of his parents. The cold vastness of Wayne Manor, the face of his new guardian always in the shadows, and the clinical cleanliness of the place he is now supposed to call home is in stark juxtaposition with the cheery colors we saw when Dick was a part of the circus. There's something sinister about Bruce and his home, and Dick's memories make it clear he struggled to truly know and connect with the man who took him in.
The pairing of Rachel and Kory is a total delight, shifting the dynamic we'd come to expect from Dick and his young ward. Instead of an unwilling father figure, Kory is a savior, one who chooses to help Rachel with no knowledge of who she is or why she's important, but just because it's the right thing to do. The pair's arc also gives us one of the show's best fight scenes as Starfire decimates some abusive men in a diner where she and Rachel stop to eat. The fact that she does it all to Boney M.'s disco version of "Sunny" makes it even better.
When Rachel and Kory reach the nunnery it seems like they're both about to get some answers from the seemingly kind nuns who're quick to fill the pair--and us--in on a little background. According to the sister who greets them, Kory has been looking for Rachel at least a year, and this was the place that Rachel and her mother hid from her "father" when she was a young child.
As their investigation leads them to an old roller rink and arcade--where they meet Beast Boy for the first time--we catch up with the Nuclear Family, who are being scolded by their apparent leader. His chilling words "we built you better than this" and the the trigger he threatens the remaining three assassins with imply that they're probably not humans... well, at least not as we know them. The sequence also confirms that Rachel's father is the Devil and that the ones hunting the girl are a doomsday cult intent on inviting her daddy to Earth.
As Rachel pigs out on junk food, Starfire investigates the local skating rink, still trying to piece together her own identity as she inspects one of the rink's lockers with a key she's had since the first episode. We also get our first quality time with Beast Boy, as Gar and Rachel bond over some pinball. But things can never go smoothly for the Titans, and, as Dick tries to make Rachel leave with him, her powers take over and cause an explosive reaction that forces Dick and Kory's hand, sending the trio back into the grasp of the convent's sisters.
Sadly for the youngest of our Titans, the nuns have their own secret agenda. After drugging Rachel the sisters lock her away, hoping to contain what they see as the demon inside her. Whilst Rachel struggles to escape, Dick and Kory discover a storage unit filled with information about the pre-teen terror that seems to belong to Starfire herself. Filled with strange paraphernalia, archaic scripture, and a sunbed--which will make sense to fans of the alien princess--Kory starts piecing together who Raven is and what makes her so special--and so dangerous. This is perfectly juxtaposed with Rachel attempting to fight her darker side, as it tries to find a way out of her to help her escape the nuns.
As Raven lets her true power take over, Starfire breathes "she is the destroyer of worlds" and an explosion shakes the Earth. The last thing we see is Rachel running from the smouldering ruins of the convent, separated from the only two people in the world who truly know what she is.