WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the fourth episode of Titans, “Doom Patrol,” streaming now on DC Universe.
Ryan Potter's Garfield Logan has thus far spent much of Titans on the sidelines, appearing only briefly in the first and third episodes. But with "Doom Patrol," available now on DC Universe, the fan-favorite Beast Boy assumes both a more prominent role and a familiar animal form. But it turns out there's a perfectly good reason why he's, so far, only taken the shape of tiger on the live-action series -- beyond, y'know, budgetary concerns.
Written by Geoff Johns, the episode streamlines Gar's backstory, depicting him in flashback as the sole surviving victim of a mysterious outbreak in the Congo. ("A rare disease he contracted from an even-rarer species of primate," we're told, likely a reference to the West African green monkey of his comic book origin.) Left to die by the overwhelmed medical team, the teen is saved by the intervention of Dr. Niles Caulder (Bruno Bichir), founder of the Doom Patrol, and one of his miraculous, and wildly unpredictable, serums.
Among the "unforeseen side effects" are, no doubt, Gar's green hair (and occasional flashes of green skin), and, of course, his shape-shifting abilities. But as we learn in "Doom Patrol," those come with limitations.
"Chief thinks I can unzip my DNA and rearrange it," Gar tells Rachel Roth (Teagan Croft) over dessert with the rest of the Doom Patrol. "It took me a while to figure it out." As to why he, thus far, only transforms into a (green) tiger, "He thinks it's psychological. Tigers have always been my favorite, ever since I was a kid." That explains the green paw patch on his jacket, too.
It's a clever way to address one of the realities of serialized television. Although in the comic books, and in animation, Beast Boy may change from an elephant to a gorilla to an eagle in rapid-fire succession, such a CG display would strain the budget of most live-action series. But with two lines of dialogue, Titans waves off what would otherwise be a shortcoming, while setting up that inevitable moment when Gar assumes another animal form required to rescue the team, or to stop the villain.
Now, the series just has to address where exactly Gar's clothes go when he takes tiger shape. Is he simply leaving them on the ground, and then scrambling back, naked, to reclaim them, when he returns to human form, or ...? That may require a little more than two sentences to resolve.
Now streaming on DC Universe, Titans stars Brenton Thwaites as Robin, Anna Diop as Starfire, Teagan Croft as Raven and Ryan Potter as Beast Boy, with April Bowlby as Rita Farr, Jake Michaels and Brendan Fraser as Clifford Steele, Jake Michaels and Matt Bomer as Larry Trainor, and Bruno Bichir as Dr. Niles Caulder, aka The Chief.