SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers for the Titans episode “Dude, Where’s My Gar” as it breaks down Beast Boy’s journey through the multiverse.
So…did any of you know that was coming? This week’s new episode of Titans, “Dude, Where’s My Gar,” focuses on Gar Logan’s journey as he taps into the Red, a powerful force that connects to all animal life in the multiverse. The journey helps Gar deal with the trauma of his past, while he forges an exciting future.
If you’ve been following my work on DC.com, then you know that I love breaking down Easter eggs and this episode contains plenty. However, the sheer scope of it was too big for a traditional breakdown, so I enlisted some help. I had a chat with Titans producer and comic book legend Geoff Johns, who co-wrote the episode alongside Beast Boy actor Ryan Potter.
“It was really a gift to work with Ryan,” Johns recalls. “When we spoke about season four, he said, ‘I would love you to write an episode for me.’ I said, ‘Why don’t we do it together? Why don’t we really explore Beast Boy together? Why don’t we get under the hood of this character in a way that hasn’t been done yet?’
“Ryan and I got together several times in the Stargirl writers room and worked on the story for weeks. Ryan brought so much to it. He brought so much personal emotion and his own journey of self-discovery. It was a really wonderful episode to work on and a great story to break with him. I’m so glad we got to do it together for this last season.”
As Johns points out, the Red has been a big part of DC lore since the 1988 Animal Man series. “It’s all about connection, and Gar refusing to not be connected,” he says. “Refusing to be alone and refusing to give up his relationships for what’s deemed a greater power. If you know those Grant Morrison issues of Animal Man, you’ll see a lot of influence and direct adaptation from those comics.”
Animal Man readers might recognize some of the Easter eggs in this episode. The Parliament of Limbs can be seen, in addition to the lion-bat hybrid. Other heroes such as Vixen, B’Wana Beast and Animal Man himself are mentioned.
Assisting Gar in his journey is Freedom Beast, who was first seen in 1989’s Animal Man #13.
“I have to give massive props to Nyambi Nyambi who played Freedom Beast,” Johns says. “He did an amazing job playing Gar’s mentor and guide through the Red. He’s a huge comic book fan and was the first and only choice for Freedom Beast. When I first met with him about Freedom Beast, he took it very seriously. He researched the accent and found the character. He’s got this great kind of mystery to him and this heaviness.”
Longtime Titans fans will also note that at one point Freedom Beast refers to Gar as Changeling. This is a reference to the codename Gar took during Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s iconic New Teen Titans run.
Later in the episode after Beast Boy and Freedom Beast have fought their way through the animal testing center, Gar finds a memo with devastating ramifications—Dr. Niles Caulder is responsible for releasing the virus that killed Gar’s parents. However, if you pause and read the memo, you’ll also find references to Swamp Thing, the Green, Avery Sunderland, and comic creator Len Wein.
“I wrote every line of that memo knowing that people were going to pause it,” Johns reveals. “It hints at the Swamp Thing appearance to come, and there are so many Easter eggs in there.”
Johns goes on to explain how Gar’s connection to the Red opens up the door to the multiverse.
“The extension of our thematic story is that Gar is someone who longs for connection, and by tapping into the Red he can connect to every living animal on the planet,” he shares. “And then going a step further, he can connect to every universe, and everything within that universe. We really wanted to celebrate Gar as this personification of connectivity with everything and everyone. Stargirl and some of the other cameos were always in the conception of it. They changed as we wrote the script. Some of them got more specific.”
Getting into specifics, Gar’s multiverse journey begins with a collision from the Grant Gustin version of the Flash, who appears via archival footage.
“You can’t have a multiverse explode open without a Flash, so we had to have Grant Gustin, who is an unbelievable hero onscreen and off,” Johns muses.
Next, Gar runs into Stargirl. Brec Bassinger returns as Courtney Whitmore, reprising the role she played for three seasons on the television series.
“I wanted to have Stargirl there because this was also an episode about the importance of family, and Stargirl is the epitome of family,” reveals Johns. “She represents the heart of family, so when Gar is trying to get back to his family, he is drawn to another person who loves and cares about family.”
“Getting to crossover with Titans as Stargirl was such a full circle moment,” Bassinger says. “Geoff Johns wrote the episode, so getting to put my suit on again with him by my side felt right. I had worked with the director Eric Dean Seaton on my very first acting role, so again, it felt very divine.”
“It was fun,” Johns recalls. “All of us were wondering how it was going to work. How are these two shows, which are vastly different in tone, going to intersect? The scene actually changed a little bit on set as we did it. These characters actually fit perfectly together. They’re both a lot of fun. The weirdness of Gar and his disorientation, coupled with Stargirl and the curious Cosmo (Courtney’s staff) made the scene delightful to shoot.”
Basinger agrees, saying, “It was really cool to get to explore the different tone of Titans compared to Stargirl. Beast Boy and Stargirl are SO different, and it was fun to let them interact. I love the DC Universe, so to get to expand and be a part of a wider part of this universe that holds these wonderful characters was epic!”
Johns also shared how this scene would have impacted Stargirl if the series had continued.
“If we had done a season four of Stargirl, we would have referenced this scene,” he reveals. “Maybe we would have kept Gar in Blue Valley for an episode.”
From there, Gar sees images from across DC’s multiverse. Derek Mears’ version of Swamp Thing is shown, via archival footage from the 2019 streaming series.
“We were excited to see the different corners of DC represented,” says Johns. “We wanted to have all four of the live-action DC Universe shows from the service’s launch represented.”
One of the big surprises of the episode was a cameo from comic creator Grant Morrison, who Gar sees in the Red. Morrison tells Gar, “I see you. Do you see me?” which is an homage to an iconic moment from 1989’s Animal Man #19.
“Because I was adapting a lot of what Grant Morrison had done in Animal Man with the Red and Freedom Beast, I thought it would be awesome if Grant themself was one of the people in the multiverse,” Johns shares. “Grant is one of my favorite writers and human beings of all time. Grant is the master of the multiverse to me, which is why it was important to tip my hat to them. It was an opportunity for me to say thank you.”
Johns continues, “I reached out to Grant and asked if they would be interested in shooting the scene and luckily Grant was. We actually had to shoot that in Scotland, because Grant was in the middle of their book tour. We did it remotely, and it turned out great. I was very grateful that they decided to do it.”
Gar then sees his animated counterpart from the Teen Titans GO! episode “Waffles,” marking first crossover between the two very different Titans shows.
“We definitely wanted Gar to encounter his animated self, and it was one of our favorite Teen Titans GO! episodes,” Johns says.
“Dude, Where’s My Gar” also includes a lot of audio Easter eggs, with some voices that might be familiar to many fans.
“A lot of the audio comes from different DC films and television shows,” Johns reveals. “You can hear Harley Quinn in there from the (HBO Max) animated series. You can hear Doctor Fate from Smallville. You can hear Jonathan Kent from Superman: The Movie. You can hear Cesar Romero as the Joker from the 1966 Batman series. Those all kind of came together in post when we started to design the sequence.”
Gar ultimately is found by the Joivan Wade version of Cyborg, which is the first onscreen meeting between the two characters, who share a special relationship in the comics. The scene also sets up next week’s episode, which features more members of the Doom Patrol.
“Greg Berlanti really wanted to see the teams come back together,” Johns says. “(Titans showrunner) Greg Walker and (Doom Patrol showrunner) Jeremy Carver worked on the schedule and the big pieces. I was lucky enough to come in and kind of tee it up with Gar meeting Vic. That to me was the great entry, having these two best friends from comics meet each other in live action for the first time. Everyone on set really felt how special that moment was.”
If you stick around after the credits, there is a brief shot of Cyborg gleefully taking a bite out of a waffle. Not only is this moment an homage to Gar and Vic’s friendship on Teen Titans GO!, but it was completely improvised.
“He did that as a gag take,” Johns recalls. “After he did it, I said, ‘I’m 100 percent using that.’ Eric was laughing. We just thought it was a weird oddball moment, but we wanted to have fun with the episode, and that was just him goofing off. It worked because the episode is a very different and strange episode.”
While it’s undoubtable that DCTV fans will find lots to love in “Dude, Where’s My Gar,” the episode does also mark a farewell of sorts to a small screen multiverse that, while not going away per se, will be less of a focus as we move into the DC Studios era. However, if it’s a goodbye, it’s a celebratory one.
“This was definitely a love letter to this era of DC, and just the multiverse in general,” Johns muses. “It will continue on and grow. That’s what it’s all about. DC is about different takes on these characters and they all exist forever. Your favorites can exist alongside all the other ones. That’s what’s so special about DC. It’s supposed to be that way—that’s what DC was designed for. They will be around forever.”
The final season of Titans is now streaming on HBO Max. Look for new episodes every Thursday.
Joshua Lapin-Bertone writes about TV, movies and comics for DC.com, is a regular contributor to the Couch Club and writes our monthly Batman column, "Gotham Gazette." Follow him on Twitter at @TBUJosh.