WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the Titans Season 2 episode "Conner," streaming now on DC Universe.
From the moment Titans Season 1 teased Superboy (Joshua Orpin) escaping CADMUS, fans knew a major DC figurehead would soon follow. No, not Superman, albeit that's an educated guess and still possible. We're talking about Lex Luthor, the man whom Superboy shares half of his DNA with. And come second season episode "Conner," Lex's presence is felt, even though he doesn't make a physical appearance. However, his shadow looms intimidating and sinister as ever, setting him up to come knocking to get his "son" back in due time.
"Conner" picks up where the Season 1 post-credits left off, with Superboy escaping CADMUS, Krypto in tow. He takes a coveralls, with the name "Conner" on it, and heads out of Metropolis with memories of a farm. And while it appears he's heading to the Kent farm due to the rest of his DNA, as well as memories, coming from Clark Kent, Superboy doesn't end up meeting the Earth parents of Kal-El. Instead, he meets a half-blind Lionel Luthor (Peter MacNeill) sitting on his front porch.
As Superboy is given the tour of the house, he realizes his mind is fractured, but doesn't fully grasp he's the product of two people. Not just yet, anyway. As Lionel begins to mention his son, he beams about Lex, with Superboy thinking that maybe this is the man who's actually his father. Lionel takes pride in Lex, mentioning his super genius in school and how he grew from a rural farm boy to a master of industry. As the camera glosses over trophies and medals, Titans then shocks fans by showing an image of a young Lex (apparently an only child) with his family, looking as cute and innocent as ever.
But as his dad goes on about his intellect, Superboy gets even more flashbacks, of Lionel drinking and being abusive towards his boy. This leads to a confrontation with Lionel revealing while Lex was destined for greatness, in his eyes that greatness was "evil" -- something he had to beat out of the kid. It's why he was violent, not because he hated Lex but because he knew there was something dark lurking inside, and to him, aggression was the only way to get it out. Little did he know he'd be creating a monster. The exchange is eventually broken up when CADMUS soldiers come gunning after Superboy.
The Boy of Steel jumps in front of bullets Smallville-style to save Lionel's life, and then he takes the soldiers out and confronts his creator, Eve Watson (Genevieve Angelson) in a van outside. The scientist feels compassion and sympathy for Conner, and they run away together. She subsequently takes him to a decommissioned lab, where the truth about his fathers comes out. Eve makes it clear she's just as twisted as Lex for conducting this project, of which Conner was Subject 13, but she's trying to make amends by urging him to stay out the public eye. That's because Lex is the biggest monster she knows and he'll do anything to get the young man back. However, with Mercy Graves (Natalie Gumede), Lex's ruthless security chief eventually finding and shooting him with Kryptonite bullets, we don't know just how fatherly Lex really is, but what's for sure is he's all about tying up loose ends.
"Conner" leaves fans anxious to see how Lex will be depicted when he officially appears in Titans. Will he be quirky like Gene Hackman and Kevin Spacey? Or maybe weird like Jesse Eisenberg's version? Others are hoping we get a very strong-willed villain like Michael Rosenbaum's take or something in-between like Jon Cryer on Supergirl. Either way, seeing as Lionel's been shaped as an alcoholic just like the comics where he descended into alcoholism after being kicked out the Legionnaire's Club by Vandal Savage, one has to think Lex's story with him isn't done as well.
Their relationship will surely be driving Lex's main theme this season of fathers and sons. It's made all the more interesting when you factor in that, while Lionel isn't manipulating Lex for self-gain like John Glover's version on Smallville, the older Luthor has still driven his son to a point where he wants to make weapons of mass destruction. Interacting with Lionel will most likely influence how Lex views Conner and, ultimately, their dynamic will help define Superboy's place in the universe, provided he survives Mercy's assassination attempt.
Streaming now on DC Universe, Titans Season 2 stars Brenton Thwaites as Dick Grayson, Anna Diop as Kory Anders, Teagan Croft as Rachel Roth, Ryan Potter as Garfield Logan, Curran Walters as Jason Todd and Conor Leslie as Donna Troy, with Minka Kelly as Dawn Granger, Alan Ritchson as Hank Hall, Joshua Orpin as Superboy, Chelsea Zhang as Rose Wilson, Chella Man as Jericho, Drew Van Acker as Aqualad, Esai Morales as Deathstroke and Iain Glen as Bruce Wayne.