WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the Titans Season 2 episode "Aqualad," streaming now on DC Universe.
We've known, effectively, since the second trailer for Titans Season 2 that Deathstroke was responsible for the death of Aqualad, which led to the disbanding of the original team. However, there have been indications there is more to the story, and this week's episode, the appropriately titled "Aqualad," goes a long way toward filling in the blanks -- while raising even more questions. Chief among them is whether Slade Wilson's intended target was Garth ... or Donna Troy.
Played by guest star Drew Van Acker, Garth is an easy-going, beer-drinking bro who has carried a torch for Donna (Conor Leslie) for a decade. The flashback episode, set five years earlier, goes to great lengths to try to make viewers quickly like the doomed young hero so that we feel his loss as greatly as his teammates do; whether it accomplishes that is highly debatable. Still, we at least feel a little sorry for him as he pines for Wonder Girl, who's apparently on some kind of Amazon Rumspringa before she returns to Themyscira to embrace her destiny as a warrior, and hesitant to become further attached to Man's World. Intent on avoiding a long goodbye, Donna sleeps with Garth rather than reveal she's leaving early, which any horror-movie fan knows marks him for death.
Well, not really. It's actually Deathstroke (Esai Morales), who, after assassinating attorneys, witnesses and a judge involved in a high-profile trial in Chicago, accepts an "unusual" job that his associate Wintergeen assures will nevertheless be easy, "in and out." That not only draws Wilson close to his estranged son Jericho (Chella Man) and ex-wife Adeline (Mayko Nguyen), but also the Titans. However, there's little indication any of them are his target.
Sure, Deathstroke drives by Jericho and Adeline's apartment, but that appears to be only because he's in the neighborhood, and perhaps wants to send a message that he knows where they are. And if he wanted to take down all of the Titans, he surely could have confronted them as they investigated a bank robbed by Doctor Light and his henchmen, or, later, when they battle the supervillain at a military facility. Instead, he lies in wait at an airport, where Donna is about to board a private jet for Themyscira.
When Donna meets earlier with Jillian (Ann Magnuson), an Amazon warrior turned museum curator who seems to be a chaperone of sorts, she's given an option to return home in two weeks, when Jillian's traveling exhibit ends, or in six months, as previously agreed upon. Apparently spooked by her feelings for Garth, Donna instead moves up her departure, leading Jillian to hastily arrange a nighttime flight. It's only because Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites) tells him where Donna is that Aqualad is even at the airport.
It stands to reason, then, that Deathstroke was actually targeting Wonder Girl, and Aqualad simply got in the way. It's certainly unlike Slade Wilson to miss his target, but that he fires again, after Garth is already dead, lends credence to that. It's only through the swift reaction by Jillian, who knocks the bullet off-course with some sort of Amazonian throwing star, that Donna escapes her fate.
It's certainly possible that Deathstroke was contracted by a mysterious client to take down the Titans. However, if that's the case, then he failed miserably in his task, murdered only one-fifth of the team, and, worse, alerted the others to the threat he poses, allowing them to prepare a plan of their own. That seems horribly out of character. But if he were aiming for Donna and instead hit Garth, it's a little more forgivable.
No matter which Titan was his target, we're left with the question of who might want that hero dead, and why.
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.