To hell with Titans, let’s have a new Superboy show.
Much like last’s years “Doom Patrol” episode served as a launch pad for the Doom Patrol series, we would believe this week’s episode of Titans, “Conner,” is meant to be a backdoor pilot for a Superboy series staring Joshua Orpin as the Boy of Steel and Genevieve Angelson as Dr. Eve Watson. The premise of that potential show is pretty inspired. A “genetic clone” of Superman and Lex Luthor learns how to navigate life with a flawed, fallible human as his guide. It might only be a 6-episode limited series — and leave us in the same place as this episode of Titans — but it would be worthwhile because Orpin and Angelson excel at these roles. And as an episode Titans, which has built spotlight episodes into its format, this has to be one of the program’s best thanks to the actors and the way it re-imagined Superboy for the show.
The Conner we are introduced to is said to be an infant despite looking and sounding like a young man. His emotions, strengths, skills, and experiences are all completely fresh. At the same time, he contains the memories and training of his fathers. Orpin pulls off the tightrope challenge in playing a fresh-faced kid, Superman’s can-do attitude, and Lex’s unrelenting anger. It may not be the Conner of the comics, but this version of Conner is a genuinely compelling television character we look forward to seeing again.
And Krypto is just the goodest of boys.
Eve, meanwhile, is a wonderful creation for the show. She’s an almost ordinary human type person. True, she is a brilliant scientist, but her gamut of emotions, her fascination with Conner when they first meet, and even her walk of shame through the Cadmus lab at the start of the episode hint at a character worthy of spending time with. And part of that is the way she is presented as more or less unremarkable in Titans’ world of Justice Leagues, aliens, and demons. Angelson breathes life into her and makes you wonder if she could become a better person if she and Conner had more time to learn from one another. Sure, she may not be as bad as she thinks she is — wanting to see a project work is not an inherently bad thing — but even that self-doubt reflects suggest a person Conner could ultimately trust and come to view as a parental figure. At the moment, though, we expect Eve didn’t make it out of the shuttered Cadmus lab in San Francisco alive.
Which is a damn shame. She could’ve been an interesting mentor among the Titans as well.
Meanwhile, back in the main plot, Conner saved the often-doomed Jason Todd (Curran Walters) from his date with a San Fransisco sidewalk. Jason’s genuine gratitude and fascination with Conner in the moment was a new side of the character and one we hope to see again as the Titans attempt to save Conner’s life. It might be enough to prevent his Red Hood fate and take the character in a strange, new direction. And even if it costs us seeing a Tim Drake/Conner Kent friendship from developing on screen, we’d love to see if Jason can go good for a change.
As with Kori (Anna Diop), Conner adds a variable Deathstroke (Esai Morales) has not accounted for. Will Dick (Brenton Thwaites) figure out his tactical advantage before Slade has the time to steal some Kryptonite and the Tamaranian power dampeners?
Titans streams Fridays on DC Universe.