Titans season 3 continues to be Breaking Bad with superheroes, with the latest episode giving Jason Todd one of Walter White’s greatest and most memorable lines. Currently streaming on HBO Max, Titans brings two new influences to the table in season 3 – one considerably more unexpected than the other. On one hand, Titans has remixed a bunch of ideas from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy; on the other, the introduction of Scarecrow as Jason Todd’s mentor has sparked some surprising parallels to Breaking Bad. Scarecrow joked about “taking an RV to the desert,” and his drug manufacturing partnership with Jason is a self-aware homage to Walter White and Jesse Pinkman’s Breaking Bad meth business.
In season 3’s “Troubled Waters,” Scarecrow’s plan to destroy the Late-Twenties Titans reaches its final stage. Crane corners the heroes into handing themselves in, but bribes a cop to start a brawl, turning the Titans into public pariahs. It’s Jason Todd – dressed in full Red Hood regalia – that Scarecrow sends to drop a big bundle of cash to the crooked cop. Meeting in Gotham’s least popular bar, Red Hood emerges from the shadows to make the deal, and it’s here he borrows a cue from Bryan Cranston’s iconic Breaking Bad character.
As the cop takes his bribe, Red Hood demands, “say it… say my name…” to which the terrified officer timidly replies, “… Red Hood.” This scene is a direct lift from Breaking Bad season 5’s “Say My Name,” where Walter White meets Declan, a competitor from another state looking to do business. As Cranston’s criminal mastermind negotiates terms in his favor, he tells the rival kingpin, “say my name.” In similarly scared fashion to Titans‘ GCPD officer, Declan murmurs, “you’re Heisenberg.”
As one of Breaking Bad‘s most legendary scenes, there’s zero chance Red Hood’s Walter White reference is accidental. And as the second explicit Breaking Bad nod in season 3, it’s clearer than ever that the Titans writing team had Walt and Jesse’s misadventures playing in the background while penning Jason Todd’s Red Hood arc.
Intriguingly, Titans‘ “say my name” moment carries a completely different meaning compared to Walter White’s original scene. In Breaking Bad, Walt was so supremely confident in his reputation, he told Declan he was Heisenberg without telling him. The command was a display of dominance and ego, but also demonstrated the respect Walt had earned among his fellow criminals. Jason Todd’s “say my name” doesn’t have quite the same gravitas… since he’s actually wearing the Red Hood costume at the time. Walt didn’t need Heisenberg’s trademark hat and sunglasses to make his presence known, but Jason clearly doesn’t possess the same confidence. His “say my name” line comes from a place of insecurity – a fragile desire to pretend he’s a big deal, despite merely running Scarecrow’s errands.
Nevertheless, Titans season 3’s latest episode does highlight one thing Jason Todd and Walter White have in common – using larger-than-life personas to deal with frustrations in their regular lives. For years, Walt’s scientific genius went untapped as a high school chemistry teacher and unassuming family man, but “Heisenberg” allowed him a more exciting existence. Gearing up as Red Hood lets Jason Todd escape the trauma he felt after almost being killed by Deathstroke in Titans season 2, and transform into a fearless, unfeeling warrior like Batman. Walt’s transformation didn’t end well in Breaking Bad, but he died without regret. Will Jason Todd’s time as Red Hood end the same way?