Doom Patrol has been a very unique DC property. When the show first premiered it felt like a breath of fresh air. I wouldn’t go so far as to say this was DC’s Guardians of the Galaxy but it was hard to not catch those vibes. Doom Patrol made it a point from the jump to let us know that this was going to be a weird series that would try and normalize things like farting donkeys, Nazi puppets, human brains in robots, giant eyes in the sky, and random dance parties. In that regard, Doom Patrol succeeded. The show is definitely weird, but after a while you need to be more than just weird. There has to be some depth to the content. It can’t all be floating unicorn heads and characters that turn to goo when stressed. That’s one of the things that eventually turned me off to Family Guy. Offensive jokes are great and all, especially when laced with social commentary, but when those jokes become offensive for the sake of offensive the product becomes stale. I was worried that after five or six episodes that the weird factor of Doom Patrol was become exhausting and was starting to lose its charm a bit. Something needed to change or at the very least be reined in. Last week we got a more character-driven story that still allowed for those weird elements, and it worked much better. This week’s episode, “Therapy Patrol”, reins back the weirdness even further and gives us an excellent episode that finally starts to explore the depth of our cast as they begin to become less and less one dimensional.
Seven episodes into this first season and Doom Patrol looks as if its starting figure out the algorithm of the narratives it wishes to tell. The first couple of episodes introduced the cast and the season’s central conflict, the next built the universe showing us how strange things can get, and these last two look to finally reveal who these characters are. All season long we’ve kind of danced around the issues with inhabitants of Doom Manor, but “Therapy Patrol” allows us to not only explore these issues but attach emotion to them. All season long we’ve seen Cliff/Robot Man struggle with being a failed father and wanting to fix that, but it’s not until we see him go crazy that we actually get the emotional impact. Rita has been a character who has been built to be selfish and easily pushed to the side, but watching her struggle this week to regain composure (literally) revitalized the character with another strong performance from April Bowlby.
For the first time, this season Doom Patrol showed us our character’s pain opposed to just telling us and the results were quite excellent. This might be the series’ best episode since the pilot and I hope that they’re able to continue to build on this balance of character work, narrative, and weirdness. “Therapy Patrol” is not without its weirdness, looking at you Admiral Whiskers you adorable monster you, but it’s enhanced by how emotionally invested we’ve become. Thus proving that you don’t just have to randomly throw a pair of giant eyes in the sky to maintain the integrity of your strangeness. Sometimes subtle works better and in the case of Admiral Whiskers, it brings levity to what was a pretty emotionally intense episode.
Brendan Fraser’s voice work as Robot Man continues to steal the show, but it’s Jovian Wade and Matt Bomer who add to the heavy lifting this week. Watching Cyborg learn how far his father has distanced him from living was both humorous and heartbreaking. The dating app was a great touch that showed not only Cyborg’s age and charisma but also grounded him in the reality of his predicament. A predicament that makes him a bit of a celebrity freak, despite his known heroics, as he searches for the lost identity of Victor Stone. It’s hard to find that identity when it’s smothered by the fact that Victor Stone is responsible for killing his mother. That’s if his father didn’t program him to believe that’s the case and is covering up his own deeds.
Getting Larry out from underneath the bandages went a long way in guiding us through the internal pain he’s struggling with on the constant. The relationship between Larry and the force inside him is one of the show’s most interesting, and as the two come closer and closer to an understanding, we get to see the more vulnerable side of Larry. His lost relationship and his struggle with identity, and sexuality, make him a compelling character going forward.
“Doom Therapy” not only shows the continued growth of the characters but Doom Patrol as a series. I’m becoming more optimistic about the remaining episodes of the season. This journey has to be more than finding Chief and weirdness. These characters need self-discovery as well as a second chance. That’s the driving point of the entire series, a group of outcasts banding together to form something bigger than their parts. That’s the rooting interest and Doom Patrol looks to be finally exploring this by allowing the characters to shine.
What did you think of this week’s episode Geeklings? Were you happy to see a more character-driven episode or do you prefer the weirdness? Anyone else kind of want to see Admiral Whiskers again? Sound off in the comments. If you’d like to talk more Doom Patrol with yours truly you can find me on Twitter @iamgeek32. I’ll see you all back here next week with a brand new review. Be excited!