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Titans: Why Red Hood & Scarecrow Need Each Other (Are Their Endgames Different?)

Why are Scarecrow and Red Hood working together in Titans season 3, and do they both share the same end goal? With Jason Todd dying and coming back as the villainous Red Hood, it's just another day in the madcap world of Titans. Confirming Dick Grayson's suspicions, episode 4 revealed that Todd is secretly conspiring with Jonathan Crane, the Gotham Scarecrow. Red Hood wreaked havoc on the outside while Scarecrow remained behind bars in Arkham, and the duo then pulled an ambitious prison break, fending off interference from Nightwing. The coalition of supervillain weed enthusiast and tantrum-prone Jason Todd is certainly an odd one, but Titans season 3's fifth episode tells the full story of their partnership.

Todd approached Scarecrow after Bruce Wayne noted his sidekick's rapidly declining mental state and "benched" him from Robin duties. Unwilling to remain on the superhero naughty step, Todd offered information on Batman (who put Crane in Arkham prior sometime previously) in exchange for an antidote to fear - precisely why he picks Crane out of the entire Rogues Gallery instead of, say, Condiment King. But now Jason has his wonder drug and Scarecrow is as free as the birds he keeps away. So why are Todd and Crane continuing as a partnership in Titans season 3?

Related: Titans: Nightwing's No-Flying Rule Shows How Batman Failed Him

Whether it's the top-grade cannabis or Scarecrow loving the sound of his own voice, Crane lays out his intentions openly. The villain wants to instill terror in the citizens of Gotham and take away their costumed heroes. As the city lays consumed with fright, Scarecrow will "swoop in" as the savior to everyone's problems. Presumably, this means offering them the fear antidote designed by Crane and Jason, leaving the frightened city dependent on his drug just for a good night's sleep. Jason Todd is the "enforcer" in this plot - the soldier who breeds that initial wave of fear and removes Gotham's remaining heroes from the board. But Scarecrow also describes Red Hood as a "mirror" for the city, and this explains his earlier tactic of forcing innocents to don red hoods whilst carrying out bombings. Scarecrow will turn the "Red Hood" into a cult-like symbol of fear and anxiety among ordinary people.

But why Jason Todd specifically? The Red Hood concept is clearly Scarecrow's brainchild, but couldn't anyone be under that crimson cowl? Technically speaking, yes, but Jason Todd represents the perfect blend of deadly rage and psychological vulnerability that Scarecrow can exploit. On one hand, Todd has been trained by Batman himself, so knows his way around a fight. As Robin, he also knows the key weaknesses of Gotham's heroes, making Scarecrow's plan far easier. Jason's psyche is a cocktail of teen angst, Deathstroke-triggered fear and Bruce Wayne daddy issues; someone with the human insight of Jonathan Crane can manipulate these traits to make Red Hood perfectly malleable.

Why Titans' Jason Todd remains by Scarecrow's side is harder to decipher, especially since Curran Walters' character knows how to cook Crane's fear antidote on his own. The reasons for his loyalty are twofold - addiction and idolization. Though Jason knows the formula, Scarecrow is clearly the "Walter White" of this operation, and cooks Jason an "extra special" batch of his drug. It's plain that Crane is weaponizing Jason's dependence, and he might even be slipping something into his batches to make Red Hood more compliant. On the other hand, Scarecrow has also replaced Bruce Wayne as Jason Todd's father figure. Hailing from an already complicated family, Jason's trauma was undoubtedly not helped by having Batman as a surrogate dad. Let down by Bruce and then to a lesser extent Dick Grayson, Scarecrow has slyly started playing the paternal idol Jason Todd has been craving.

It doesn't take Bruce Wayne's deductive nous to realize the Red Hood/Scarecrow partnership is doomed to implode. Either Crane will drop Jason when his services are no longer needed, or Jason will realize he holds the power and isn't obliged to suffer Scarecrow's weird dancing any longer. Signs are currently pointing toward the latter. If Jason Todd can shake this dependence on his "Dr. Feelgood," Red Hood could finally become the true enemy of Titans season 3.

More: Titans Season 3's Hidden Gotham & Jerome Reference Explained

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