Titans has been forever altered, as the DC Universe series finally integrates the world of Superman, Metropolis and Lex Luthor into its canon. The Man of Steel has enjoyed a minor presence in Titans for quite some time, existing through scant references and a few mentions of the Justice League here and there. More significantly, Titans' season 1 finale marked the debuts of Superboy and Krypto, as the duo broke out of their science lab prison. Since being teased at the end of the first season, however, Superboy had, until this week, been entirely absent from the first half of Titans season 2.
Instead, Dick Grayson and his band of mid-twenties misfits have relocated to San Francisco in their sophomore season, attempting to form a second iteration of the Titans with a younger group of superheroes. After being largely ignored in season 1, the audience have finally witnessed the original Titans in action, including a brush with Deathstroke that took the life of one unfortunate member of the group. Back in the modern day, a desperate Jason Todd falls foul of the resurfaced assassin. Not wanting to put the others in danger, Grayson goes after his Robin successor alone, and things do not go well for either Boy Wonder, with Jason ultimately falling from a skyscraper window.
In stark contrast, this week's offering abruptly returns to Superboy's jailbreak. Now going by the name of Conner, the clone of Superman and Lex Luthor is left to wander the streets and, having only been born in a test tube hours prior, has no knowledge of culture, customs or human interaction. Much hilarity ensures, but Conner's driving motivation is to discover his identity and origins. Due to his genetic makeup being half Clark Kent and half Luthor, Conner has flashbacks to memories possessed by both fathers. This leads the test subject to the rural town of Smallville, but Conner struggles to separate the happy memories of Clark's upbringing from the difficult youth of Luthor.
That dynamic allows Titans to explore both characters' back stories via point-of-view scenes in Conner's mind. On Superman's part, viewers see a young Clark running through a corn field towards his human mother, Martha Kent - a joyous scene that features a semi-Superman cameo in the form of a brief arm shot. Lex Luthor's history is explored in a little more detail. Conner sees a memory of a young Lex being beaten by his alcoholic father, and this reverie replays when Superboy and Lex's Dad come face-to-face. As a fun bonus, the scenes in Lex's house also feature photos of a young, bald Lex and some childhood mementos that scratch the surface of his scientific genius. Papa Luthor also aids in rounding out the history of his infamous supervillain child, revealing that he always knew the boy lacked empathy.
Experiencing Superman and Lex Luthor's younger years via Superboy's inherited memories is an interesting and unique way of exploring two characters with backstories that have been adapted ad nauseam in both film and TV. More interesting than simple exposition and not as complicated as having the characters appear to explain their own backstories, the flashback memories work nicely because they keep the focus firmly on Conner, rather than allowing viewers' attention to turn too much towards Superman or Lex themselves.
With that said, Titans now finds itself in a tricky position. Conner's arc has been established as one of self-discovery. He's determined to find out who he is and what the two men who form his biological makeup are like. In order to bring this story to a natural conclusion, both Superman and Lex Luthor will have to appear in Titans at some point. While this is certainly possible (Batman already featured earlier in the season), it does run the risk of turning Titans into a Justice League story should too many of the senior heroes appear.
Titans season 2 continues with "Bruce Wayne" October 18th on DC Universe.