The last couple of weeks for Doom Patrol have been a little bit up and down. On the one hand, the show seems to have gone all in embracing the weirder aspect of this narrative. Even if that meant kind of shelving the character development for a bit. While it was a fun little arc that opened up the universe, the eye in the sky kind of felt out of place and expanded the narrative in a way that broadened the scope a little too much. Luckily this week’s episode, “Doom Patrol Patrol”, reins in the weirdness a bit and brings our story back to our core group of characters. Turns out there was a Doom Patrol before this up and coming Doom Patrol, and the search for Chief brings with it the reveal of some pretty dark secrets.
Usually, I frown upon the episodes that don’t include Alan Tudyk’s Mr. Nobody but I’m willing to let that slide for “Doom Patrol Patrol” as this episode is essentially one gigantic flex by our series’ villain. For all the jokes and fourth wall breaking, Mr. Nobody has been, if nothing else, a fun and refreshing villain within the DC Universe. Someone not to be taken too seriously but also kind of formative for heroes of this level. I’m not trying to say he’s a second-tier villain but how many of you have heard of him before Doom Patrol? Part of what makes this character so terrific is Alan Tudyk’s performance. He breathes life into a villain we might not otherwise know. That’s why his absence is always so glaring, but I think it might be time that we start to take Mr. Nobody a little bit more serious. This guy is more than just hot air balloons shaped like a butt… yes, I said hot air balloons shaped like a butt.
Planting the idea of Doom Patrol in Crazy Jane’s head was more than just a meta-joke for the audience. This was a way for Nobody to show our characters exactly what they’re up against while exposing Niles Caulder as a bit of a monster and a fraud. All season long there have been hints that Chief isn’t exactly what he’s built up to be. Whether it’s secret interview videos or concealing that someone’s daughter is actually alive, Niles Caulder has already committed some pretty shady actions. While the group is slowly coming to this realization, Nobody looks to blow the roof of the joint by exposing Chief’s biggest failure… the original Doom Patrol.
When Jane, Larry, and Rita travel to the location of the original Doom Patrol they’re met with what seems to be a school for metahumans. My immediate thought was of a certain school run by Charles Xavier, but unlike that upstate New York school, things here aren’t exactly what we think they are. In fact, everything we see is a projection. A false reality created to help ease the suffering of the original members of the Doom Patrol. A group of metahumans who took on Mr. Nobody with the encouragement of Niles Caulder only to have their entire lives destroyed.
The strength of Mr. Nobody can be seen in his ability to make your greatest fear a reality, and that’s exactly what happens with the Doom Patrol. Through all the humor there is a super powerful being fully capable of destroying anything in his path, and Chief’s first group of metahumans didn’t stand a chance. Now regulated to a group of old forgotten heroes distorting reality in a superhero old folks home. Nobody plants the idea of Doom Patrol in Jane’s head so the group can understand what they’re up against. Not just his power but how Niles Caulder doesn’t really care about them. They’re a means to an end and the fact that he hasn’t visited this group that he willingly brought to the slaughter speaks volumes of his character. It would appear that Chief collects metas in the hopes of learning their powers and how they can vanquish his greatest foe. If they’re unable to do that then what purpose do they serve? They just become forgotten toys within the toy box.
It appears that Jane is starting to catch on to this character trait, and considering she already has trust issues, could be the spark that blows this whole thing up. We have a collection of people here that are lost and broken. Larry is struggling with his past and this new power. Rita suffers from a great deal of guilt that seems to be centered on the suicide of someone close to her. How directly she’s involved in that death is yet to be seen, but clearly, there are some deep scars there. Cyborg is desperately searching for a father figure and perhaps his actual father is the one he’s been looking for? And speaking of fathers… Cliff is a mess of a emotions as he tries to cope with the fact that his daughter moved on from her actual father. Thanks a lot, Facehole! If you think for one second that this group of characters is sound minded enough to confront Mr. Nobody then you better open up another old folks superhero home. Chief’s latest collection of outcasts aren’t even close to mentally prepared for the task at hand. At the end of the day who’s to blame for that?
Doom Patrol is at its best when it incorporates the weirdness of this universe but allows the characters to take center stage. “Doom Patrol Patrol” is an excellent example of that. April Bowlby is finally given some rich material to work with and she knocks it out of the park. Rita Farr is an incredibly interesting character who shouldn’t just be shooed away because Cyborg doubts her commitment. The last few weeks have not painted her in the most positive light and I was happy to see things change a bit. Bowlby is adding some serious depth to this character and I think her transformation will be the most significant to the series.
Through all the swearing, and there is a lot, and hot air butt balloons there is a show with a great deal of heart that is about redemption and finding one’s self. “Doom Patrol Patrol” was a return to form that I hope continues for the rest of the season. How about you Geeklings, were you happy with this week’s episode? Were you pleased to see Rita get an actual arc this week? What do you think of the original Doom Patrol members? Is our group of weirdos equipped to take on Mr. Nobody? Sound off in the comments. If you’d like to talk more Doom Patrol with yours truly throw me a line over on Twitter @iamgeek32. Until then, I’ll see you weirdos next week with a brand new episode review!