DC Universe’s Titans tied up its freshman run on Friday with not its 12th episode of the season (as once planned), but No. 11.
In the dark-n-twisty hour, Trigon (played by Seamus Dever) lured Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites) into a dreamscape where his idyllic suburban life in Los Angeles — with wife Dawn (!) and their family — was interrupted by Jason Todd’s warning that Bruce Wayne aka Batman has gone off the rails in Gotham, and means to kill the Joker. Dick returned to Gotham just in time to find the Joker face-planted on a car windshield after being lobbed off a rooftop, and yet the colorful criminal had some life in him yet. Batman, however, returned to finish the job by visiting Commissioner Gordon’s killer in his hospital room and plunging a Bat-blade into his chest.
A Batmanhunt followed, with Gotham PD being lured into a bloody and brutal turkey shoot inside the Batcave. But when bombs blew the mansion above to smithereens, Batman wound up pinned down by debris. Finding his mad mentor compromised, Dick stomped the life out of Bruce for good. And with that deadly blow, we saw Dick, inside Angela’s farmhouse, literally turn dark, his eyes matching how Rachel’s get during her very worst times — all as Trigon gladly watched.
TVLine invited Titans showrunner Greg Walker to reflect on Season 1 of DC Universe’s flagship live-action series, as well as weigh in on what we saw happening in a little place called Metropolis….
TVLINE | Looking back at this first season, you seem to have enjoyed a lot of freedom as far as superhero comic properties go, with who and what you can use. Did you know going in that would be the case?
No, and it was due to having the collective brain trust of [fellow EPs] Geoff Johns, Akiva Goldsman and Greg Berlanti. I was kind of going, like, “Well, what if we put this person in there?” And then Geoff — because he had written the Titans books was always really excited about taking some of the characters that he had either worked on or created and merging those with Marv Wolfman’s world — made things happen. To be honest, I think we started with a much smaller group than we ended up with, because we kept on going, “Wouldn’t it be cool if this character was going to come in?” “What if we brought this character in?” You’ve seen the finale, so you know we end up having an unexpected character arrive at the end of that show who was not planned, and that we weren’t planning on having at all. It’s a phone call or a series of phone calls and to see — Is this character cleared for TV, is there a movie? — but having Geoff so close to the decision-making process at that time, because he was a DC executive, really helped us cut through a lot of what would’ve been red tape.
TVLINE | Some of the Arrowverse EPs were telling us a couple of weeks ago how back in the Smallville days, you couldn’t even say Gotham. You couldn’t allude to Batman. And here you are in the finale showing us the Joker, dead.
We went for it. We really pushed it towards the end of the season. I think with each episode that came, we got a little braver, pushed it further and further. We were able to introduce characters at a much higher rate of frequency at the end than we did at the beginning, and it shows in the work.
TVLINE | The actual premise of the finale indicates that Trigon knew exactly what buttons to trigger with Dick, and that he knew all of his secrets. Is that just because he’s some sort of all-knowing being?
It’s because he can tap into your dreams and know what your story is. You still have free will in those dreams, because I think you have to make the choice to go dark in order to do that yourself — meaning, he can’t just make you dark. He doesn’t have, like, “the dark touch.” What he can do is give you a choice where he thinks the odds are stacked in his favor, and I think that’s what he did. And he only let Dick through [the outside perimeter] in order to turn Dick, and that has a lot to do with what his plan is for Rachel.
TVLINE | I covered Castle for the site, so I’m waiting all season long for Seamus [Dever] to show up. Meanwhile, I’m envisioning Trigon as some scary-looking menace. And then Seamus shows up as Trigon! Was that casting decision made to go against expectations?
I think it’s exactly that. It’s about playing around with notions and depictions of evil and what you traditionally see as something that’s dark. And especially in the world we live in right now, evil doesn’t always present itself as such. I also believe that Trigon should have — and what I really liked in Seamus’ performance that you’ll see more as we go into it — is a seductive element to it. He’s not this blood-dripping-from-his-fangs beast from the underworld, but someone who can talk you into your darkness. Someone like that is much more viscerally connected to the real world of evil, rather than a depiction of a monster.
TVLINE | Do you have a favorite moment or sequence from Season 1?
Oh, man. I mean, I certainly love the Jason Todd/Dick showdown, about “Who’s Robin?” and the nature of Robin. I certainly love Dick burning the suit. I love some of those moments with Rachel and the circus early on, which had these dreamlike qualities. I love Hawk being hung up and the cigarette being put out [on his skin], that kind of humanity that exists underneath the suit. I just love about everything that was Hawk and Dove throughout the season, including the standalone episode.
I think that Kory in Europe, with that whole Bourne Identity quality going on, was a movie that I wanted to watch hours of — I never wanted it to end. And then there’s the stuff with Gar and his playfulness, it was a really surprising performance from Ryan [Potter], because there’s not a lot of film on him to see what he could do with that character. But that moment where he and Rachel are sitting on the bench outside the motel and there’s a confession about how alive you feel when you have a power, that was one of the coolest pieces of writing, from Bryan Hill, of the whole season.
TVLINE | Was there a particular bit of CGI or special effects that you’re most proud of?
I thought they did a great job with Gotham, didn’t they? I mean, that’s pretty amazing. And I love where we ended up with the Rachel powers, whether it’s the breaking glass or the swirling ravens or the whole depiction of her darkness. And it’s not CGI, but I loved our fights. I think we pushed the bar for “superhero fighting” and what we thought it should be. It’s more violent but not for violence’s sake but as an expression of character and of someone’s problem.
TVLINE | As far as CGI, I felt like the most recent transition that Gar did, from tiger into human, was surprisingly fluid.
Oh, man. There were hours and hours and hours and hours of debate about the actual tiger quality to it, how much green, how much would be in the tiger…. You would laugh if you knew how much time we spent on it, but it certainly makes me feel good that time was well spent.
TVLINE | The recent “Hank and Dawn” episode landed close to the finale but was very standalone-y. And I was “with” you, because I figured you were activating those characters to play a part in what was to come next with the Big Bad — especially when Dawn said, “We have to find Jason Todd.” But then the finale came and went and … we didn’t see them. So I’m curious, in part because the episode count changed from 12 to 11: Did your original finale turn into the Season 2 premiere?
A version of that, yes. We’re cannibalizing some of the stuff from Episode 12 [for the premiere]. We thought it was such a good cliffhanger at the end of 11, and we wanted to go for an even bigger, better Season 2 opener. We had a big idea, and our friends at DC bought it.
TVLINE | That’s what I figured — you were watching a cut of 11 and once Dick’s eyes went dark, you decided, “Hey, we could just end it here,” and then Season 2 is about what happens next.
Yeah. It’s really fun to be able to you know where we’re going to go with it. We’re going to also use [the Season 2 premiere] to launch a new villain, and because Trigon’s role in canon is so huge, we felt like we really needed to give him a really big episode, the kind you can launch a season with.
TVLINE | What do you want to say about who we saw in the bonus “Metropolis” scene? Between Cadmus, the insignia on his shoulder and the faithful pup, I’m of course guessing Superboy.
I think I’m going to go with everyone’s best guess for now, but you know I respect our fans and their ability to decipher those little Easter eggs. They’ve been pretty good so far, and I will just say that there’s a good chance we’ll see that character again next season.
TVLINE | Whoever you got as a stand-in for that scene was super-jacked. I was like, “Is that a thigh or his waist?” I don’t know who you’ll end up actually casting in the role, but…
I know. He was an impressive human being, that’s for sure. That’s something you would grow in a lab!