Episode Reviews - Divide and Conquer

Episode #01 - Divide and Conquer
Original Airdate - August 2nd, 2003

Cyborg quits the Teen Titans after getting into an argument with Robin, and allowing Cinderblock to escape. Cinderblock returns to his mysterious boss Slade with his prize: a sleeping inmate who becomes the monstrous Plasmus whenever he is awakened.

Review by Steel
Media by Bird Boy
Titans Writers
Written by David Slack
Directed by Ciro Nieli
Producer Glen Murakami
Producers Linda M. Steiner, Bruce Timm
Asst. Producer Kimberly A. Smith
Music by Lolita Ritmanis, Kristopher Carter and Michael McCuistion
Casting and Voice Direction Andrea Romano
Animation Services by Dong Woo Animation C.O., LTD.

Titans Voices
Greg Cipes as Beast Boy
Scott Menville as Robin
Khary Payton as Cyborg
Tara Strong as Raven
Hynden Walch as Starfire
Dee Bradley Baker as Plasmus
Ron Perlman as Slade

Screen Grabs



Compared to the first two fantastic offerings of "Teen Titans" on Cartoon Network, the third installment was as flashy as always but almost completely devoid of any real substance. The pattern that was set up in the intro followed through the rest of the episode: The fights were relentless and engaging and we were hit with a nearly constant barrage of playful humor but everything else didn't click at all. Seeing as this was the first episode in the production order and probably precedes the other two chronologically as well (I'm sure after "Final Exam" they can gather that the individual "pulling the strings" is probably Slade).

The introduction of the episode was handled very professionally as the Titans seem much more competent than in "Final Exam" in terms of the fight choreography. Still, the serious nature of the intro felt like it was about to lapse before it was rescued by the typical comic relief that we have come to expect of the series. It was nice to see a diverse range of musical styles as always like the more metal-esque music that helped the fight feel like it was something that came out of the "Batman Beyond"series. The problems with this episode didn't stem from any flaw in the execution, but from the basic premise itself.

The Cyborg/Robin argument felt completely out of place and their motivating factors were completely nonsensical. Even when the show takes a turn for the wacky or bizarre the essence of human nature and realistic behavior typically remains but that was nowhere to be seen here. While Cyborg has a temper his anger usually stems from dire situations and repeated annoyances, and as the rational, level-headed leader Robin does not seem to be the type to be blaming people for petty things such as tripping over someone else's foot, especially when Robin and Cyborg were getting along more than fine only moments before. The tasteless argument lacks any of the elegance or development that make interpersonal conflicts feel realistic, and seeing as it is one of the core themes of the episode severely undermines it as a whole. Cyborg and Robin's eventual reconciliation is almost as completely nonsensical as the initial argument in the first place.

The only thing that really gives the episode any flavor at all are the fight scenes and the jokes. The fights were all very well constructed, particularly the portion where Robin fights a piece of Plasmus on the conveyor belt when Cyborg makes his expected rescue. While the overall plot arc of the first season has been developed a bit, the weak premise reduces the episode to nothing more than some *very* well crafted action sequences. As Slade's ominous voice gets weighed down with some corny dialogue near the end of the episode, it becomes clear that the episode is nothing more than a half an hour of cleverly structured eye candy. It was a wise move to air this as the third episode even though it was the first produced and probably the first in the order of events of the season as a whole.

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