WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the Titans Season 2 episode "Conner," streaming now on DC Universe.
Despite DC Universe's grim "death poll," a wink to the call-in vote set up in 1988 to determine Jason Todd's fate in the comics, it seemed unlikely that Titans was going to kill off Robin 2.0. The question was how he would survive his fall in the cliffhanger of the previous episode. Donna Troy, in a nearby plaza, could spring into action, or Starfire could suddenly display the power of flight, as she does in the source material. Luckily, however, the series is a big fan of coincidences -- how else could Dick and Rachel stumble on to Gar in the middle of Ohio? -- providing Jason with his savior: Conner Kent.
Although the title of this week's episode, "Conner," should have clued them in, viewers could be forgiven for forgetting about the would-be Superboy. After all, trailers aside, the beloved character hasn't been seen since the surprise post-credits scene of the Season 1 finale, which depicted a shadowy figure cutting a bloody path through Cadmus Laboratories in Metropolis, and then freeing a dog with glowing red eyes that we knew to be Krypto.
This week's episode returns to that scene, with actor Joshua Orpin in the role of the Boy of Steel, breaking free of his containment pod, we later learn, in response to the pained howls of Krypto, a fellow test subject. As in the comics, and on Young Justice, Conner (he takes his name from a stolen security guard uniform) is a clone created using the DNA of Superman and Lex Luthor. In the source material, he was intended as a replacement for the Man of Steel following his death at the hands of Doomsday; on Titans, his purpose isn't yet clear.
Child-like in his knowledge and emotions, Conner is drawn by flashes of genetic memory to Smallville -- the Luthor farm, not the Kents' -- and confronted by a special-ops team deployed by Mercy Graves (Natalie Gumede), Lex's ruthless security chief. After defeating his attackers, he's befriended by Cadmus geneticist Eve Watson (Genevieve Angelson), who seeks to temper Conner's anger and, perhaps somewhat reluctantly, answer his questions about who he is.
That, naturally, brings them to San Francisco, which in Season 2 has become the center of Titans' universe (replacing Ohio), and, specifically, the shuttered Cadmus lab in which Conner was "born." Just as in earlier depictions, Conner is the 13th, but first successful, cloning attempt; behind an enormous steel door, he finds the failed experiments, deformed horrors floating, dead, in enormous tubes like display in a museum of scientific anomalies. The discovery triggers another emotional outburst from Conner, but there's little time for that, as Mercy and her team have also arrived in San Francisco, intent on taking him down.
Assuring Conner that he's not a monster, but instead a person, with all of the joy and pain that comes with it, Eve urges him to run and, above all, "don't be a hero," or else risk drawing the attention of Cadmus. Conner, with his signature S-shield black T-shirt, takes with Krypto to the streets of San Francisco, and tries his damnedest to ignore people in need of a hero. But when he, by coincidence, spies a caped figure dangling from the upper floor of a building, he can't resist leaping into the air and catching a falling Jason Todd.
They fall onto the roof of a car, with Conner's body cushioning their impact. "Who the fuck are you?" Jason asks, to which Conner admits he's "not super-sure yet." "Whoever you are, I don't know how to thank you."
However, what's almost certainly the beginning of a new permutation of the Superboy/Robin friendship (Conner/Tim Drake, Jonathan Kent/Damian Wayne) is cut short by the sound of twin gunshots, followed by Conner sliding to the pavement, the victim of Mercy Graves' kryptonite bullets.
Don't worry, though, Titans is unlikely to formally introduce Conner Kent, only to immediately kill him off (although there is precedent, with Aqualad). Still, if DC Universe rolls out another online poll, you may want to cast your vote, just to be ... super-sure.
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.