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Titans Should Drop the Father-Figure Antagonist in Season 3

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the Titans, streaming now on DC Universe.

The first two seasons of Titans have had a lot of daddy issues. At the heart of the story is Dick Grayson trying to move out of the shadow of Bruce Wayne, while Rachel Roth fights to escape her destiny, and the clutches of her father, the interdimensional demon Trigon.

That theme continued with Slade Wilson's vendetta against the original Titans, whom he blamed for the death of his son, Jericho. In his quest for revenge, he transformed his estranged daughter, Rose, into his pawn. But with Season 3, it's time for the series to eliminate the father figure as antagonist.

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Although it may be difficult to view Bruce as a traditional antagonist, that's certainly the role he's played in Dick's mind. After all, his former sidekick began the series declaring "Fuck Batman" before, in the Season 1 finale, killing his adoptive father as part of a nightmare vision created by Trigon. While Dick made peace with Bruce in the Season 2 premiere, the mentor leased real estate in the young man's mind, becoming a manifestation of the young man's conscience.

Rachel vanquished her own father with surprising ease, but one of the subplots this season is her enduring, sinister connection to him, resulting in her otherworldly powers increasing beyond her control or understanding.

Yet it's the Slade arc that has dominated the season, as his neglect (and manipulation) of his children collided with the Titans, leading to death -- or, well, "death" -- of his son, Jericho, and, later, the weaponization of his estranged daughter, Rose. Knowing now that Jericho has been trapped inside Deathstroke's head for five years raised the stakes dramatically, but it's a relief to see that plot line brought to an end -- by his daughter, no less -- in the finale.

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As the final moments of Season 2 makes clear, Titans isn't about to give up on family conflict: Blackfire has arrived on Earth, in the flesh, and is no doubt plotting to kill her sister, and rival for the throne of Tamaran, Kory. However, we can only hope that Season 3 doesn't introduce a secondary antagonist in a resurrected Trigon, or even Lex Luthor (who is, after all, one of Conner's "fathers").

With Dick finally becoming Nightwing, the series needs to move him fully out of Batman's shadow -- as terrific as actor Iain Glen is, that's enough Bruce Wayne, thank you -- and focus instead on him leading this newly re-formed Titans, complete with Jericho, who's now camping out in the mind of his half-sister, Rose.

Rachel also needs to grow further, even in darkness, to become a fully formed character, not a girl frightened of her powers, her nightmares and her father. It would add nuance, and create a stronger study of someone trapped in a state of duality and perpetual despair.

Most of all, without such all-consuming daddy issues, there first-generation Titans are forced to take on more responsibility as mentors to the younger heroes. Donna Troy may have fallen in the finale, but Dick, Dawn Granger and Hank Hall remain, joined by Kory, with Gar, Rose and Conner now proteges, of sorts. Rachel and Jason will almost certainly return at some point, further expanding the ranks of fledgling heroes.

It's time for Bruce to return to Gotham, and stay there, for Trigon to remain vanquished, and for Deathstroke to, um, stay in the grave. The Titans need to step out of the shadows of their pasts, and focus not on family traumas, but instead on becoming the heroes their world needs.

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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.

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