How do you top a first episode that concluded with a donkey farting a message into the sky? Not a typical question I ask myself when writing television reviews but here we are. Doom Patrol is a ridiculous television show with narration that constantly breaks the fourth wall (loved the Grant Morrison comment) and characters that seem right out of a comic book… which they are. The fact of the matter is, I love Doom Patrol for being a ridiculous television show. People often mistake ridiculous as being something that lacks any substance, and that’s not the case when it comes to Doom Patrol. Within the confines of the absurd are some real character moments and emotional beats that resonate, and I would argue that the ridiculous nature of the show allows these moments to shine even brighter. Doom Patrol has a lot of heart and wants us to care about these characters, and we do because they are fleshed out so wonderfully. Just because a character is a robot with a human brain or a failed actress who turns into a blob when stressed doesn’t mean that they can’t be relatable. I’d argue that what they are becomes secondary when you learn who they are. It’s just with Doom Patrol you also have to care about donkeys that fart messages in the sky because life is also bonkers.
With episode two, “Donkey Patrol”, Doom Patrol starts to expand the universe it lives in by introducing a known DC commodity… Cyborg. Most DC comic fans know Cyborg from his time with the Titans and others know him from his time with the Justice League, but Doom Patrol leans on the character to anchor this series to the larger DC Universe. Through Cyborg we get mentions of Bruce Wayne, the Justice League, and the Flash letting the casual fan know that somewhere out there in this world of sinkhole portals, crazy narration, and donkeys are heroes we recognize. That Doom Patrol isn’t just this strange group of outcasts with no tie to the larger DC universe. Where’s the fun in that?! It’s a character introduction that goes a long way in giving weight to our main cast of outsiders. If Cyborg is talking to Negative Man then is it really out of the realm of possibility for Superman or the Flash to come visit Doom Manor too?
A lot of this episode focuses on bringing Cyborg into the fold and does it in a way that sidesteps the overplayed origin story trope. Hell, I’ll say it. The introduction to Cyborg in Doom Patrol is way more effective than the Justice League movie as the show makes a point to explore the conflict between father and son. When we meet Cyborg he already has his powers. He’s bringing down bad guys in the hopes of getting noticed by the Justice League like a high school quarterback looking to get signed to a big school. Naturally, this puts a strain on his relationship with his father who continuously pushes him to do more and doesn’t allow Victor to explore his characters or his new identity. This pushes Victor towards Chief who celebrates these types of powers opposed to the constant pressure his father pins on him. So when Codsville disappears into a sinkhole, Cyborg makes a trip to check on his friend thus bringing him together with the rest of the gang who are going through some stuff.
Chief and Crazy Jane are gone. Negative Man is trying to leave town for a quiet life but his power won’t permit him. Giving up on running away Negative Man returns to the Manor where Elasti-Girl and he agree to stay out of all the crazy. Which is a totally reasonable thing to want but not something likely to come to fruition. When you live in a world like this it’s only a matter of time before someone tries to get you swallowed by a donkey to save a town.
Speaking of that donkey, Robot Man spends the earlier parts of this episode trying to capture it only to be one-upped by the much more animal-friendly Cyborg. Clearly, donkeys don’t love full robots. Shortly after its capture, the donkey throws up Crazy Jane, normal donkey behavior, leading Robot Man and Cyborg with questions. Crazy Jane is having none of it as she taps into personality after personality after personality and one of which does not like to be interrogated. Like at all. Clearly whatever she saw inside the donkey, because that’s where the town now lives, has messed Jane up and she’s running from what she saw there. Turns out that Jane has more personalities then we thought and they are all connected to something dark and mysterious. Diane Guerrero is awesome here as she moves effortlessly in and out of personalities, and I love the relationship being built between her and Robot Man. Here’s a man, a robot man, looking to make amends for being a poor father and he sees a second chance with Jane and spends the majority of the episode staying by her side. Thus far the two are my favorite pair of Doom Patrol and I’m excited to see how their relationship grows.
Cyborg, after striking out with Jane, scans the donkey and finds that he’s a key for something and convinces Elasti-Girl to get all goopy and explore what’s inside. So much for that quiet life. The group of Cyborg, Elasti-Girl, and Negative Man are swallowed by the donkey, I told you this show was ridiculous, where Mr. Nobody tortures them by narrating their every move whilst making them live their greatest fears. It’s a nice touch and adds some depth to all involved. We see Cyborg’s origin and his promise to make his mother’s death worth it. Negative Man is stuck in a failing ship trying to save the man he loves while Elasti-Girl tackles her legacy/relevance. Eventually, the group is able to come together, the donkey explodes, and the town is back in place. Except for Chief, Chief is still being held captive by Mr. Nobody.
And that’s where episode two leaves us. A deepening conspiracy to the personalities of Crazy Jane. Robot Man continues to search for redemption. Elasti-Girl and Negative Man are left shaken from the events inside the donkey but have not run away which is optimistic. And Cyborg, he turns his father away as he remains at Doom Manor in the hopes of finding Chief. With the donkey gone, the town restored, and Nobody seemingly anywhere where do we go from here? I don’t have a freakin’ clue but I’m excited to find out!
There you have it Geeklings, what did you think of this week’s Doom Patrol? Were you happy with the show’s portrayal of Cyborg? How will the group find Chief? What does Nobody really want with them? What’s up with the secret map of Crazy Jane’s personalities? Sound off in the comments. If you’d like to talk more Doom Patrol with yours truly you can find me on Twitter @iamgeek32. Until then, get ready for more weird! I’ll see you all here next week with a brand new episode review.