Doom Patrol S3 E4-6 TV REVIEW: Were-Butts, Time Travel, & Existentialism help our heroes heal


We are well under way on our journey into Season 3 of Doom Patrol, and it has everything you could want from a show about DC Comics’ mashup of misfits. Time travel, the afterlife, and were-butts (yeah, you read that right) are but a few of the delights in store for those who are committed to the insanity of this series. Behind all the insanity lay the true draw for this show, the flamboyantly beating heart at the center of it. I laugh and cry in equal measure during any given episode, swept away by how down-to-earth the emotions of these fantastical characters are. As this series moves forward, so too does this family; they’ve grown as one unit and as individuals in their own right.


I do my best to avoid explicit spoilers, but they still pop up like a bad penny, so treat this as your warning: HERE THERE BE SPOILERS!


Episode 4: “Undead Patrol”

We pick up where Episode 3 left off, and Madame Rouge has nothing but questions for our titular team. Niles is gone, however, and the only hope for answers lay in the secret key that Niles left to Rita. This causes one thing after another, ending with Madame Rouge discovering her real name, an old film of her dancing, and the fact she’s a bird (I don’t know what to make of it either). We also get a taste of what’s to come...the Sisterhood of Dada. A twist on the Brotherhood of Dada from Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol comics, the Sisterhood of Dada is wrapped in mystery throughout this episode, though the ridiculousness of these antagonists in the comic books has me on the edge of my seat. This show loves to top itself, so engaging with these “abstract concept” villains excites me more than a were-butt during a full moon.


The Brotherhood of Dada, from Grant Morrison's run

The Doom Patrol finds out in this episode that there’s nothing like coming back from the dead to get the ol’ juices flowing. This episode establishes the beginning of many character arcs to come in Doom Patrol. While in the afterlife, the Doom Patrol encounter people they’ve lost, who make them question their motivations and identities. These encounters leave seedlings in the minds of our heroes, thoughts that are becoming solid character arcs and coloring the team in a different light. They bring these insights back to life with themselves and address them in their own ways. Cyborg finds that his dad could’ve saved Vic with synthetic skin rather than bold cybernetics. Jane creates a doll of Chief, an avatar for her to vent her frustrations on and get some well deserved closure. Cliff finally consents to see a doctor for the neurological issues he’s been experiencing. Rita seeks to find purpose through Madame Rouge, and Larry believes himself to be dying after the Negative Spirit leaves him (if this is all too vague, then WATCH THE SHOW).


...talk about putting butts in seats

My opinion of this episode is of the highest order. A lot of solid and emotional work is conducted throughout this story and still manages to garner laughs as the zombified Doom Patrol fight a horde of were-butts to rescue the resurrected head of their dead, despised leader...this show is wild with equal measures of absurdity and humanity.


Episode 5: “Dada Patrol”

Talk about an identity crisis! The Sisterhood of Dada makes an appearance in this episode and it is magnificent. It seems each member of the Doom Patrol has a counterpart in the Sisterhood, and these counterparts are definitely more secure in their skins than our heroes. This presents a unique problem: how do you combat existential terror? In their one-on-one encounters, each Doom Patrol member is sunken low with questions about who they are, digging deep into the insecurities we’ve spent 3 seasons watching these characters hide. These invasive encounters really set our characters on some interesting paths.


What is Cyborg?

Cliff is careening down a path of reckless medication use and internet addiction. I’d be sad for him if it wasn’t so hilarious. Jane is given the thought of a future without dependence on her other personas, an idea that intrigues me, and proves a really sweet direction for the character in her future interactions with Kay. Larry is sporting a “tumor” that moves about his body and sometimes makes him puke blue sludge. Blah blah blah. You get it. Each of our heroes meets a counterpart who is one part enemy and another part inspiration, an interesting negative space for good and evil to meet. Aside from Cliff (who I worry will always be just a charming failure), we are seeing growth and forward momentum that has been earned with subtle pacing and outlandish backdrop moments.


The Fog meets Crazy Jane

Episode 6: “1917 Patrol”

Through a series of events that you’ll have to watch to understand in detail, Rita has travelled in time and landed in 1917 without any of her memories. Brought in to work for the Bureau of Normalcy, Rita discovers an air of discrimination between who I’ll call “normies” and “metas”. Amidst the jeers of “freak” tossed her way, Rita stumbles into a wonderful friendship with...get this...the Sisterhood of Dada. Through Laura DeMille, Rita experiences joy for the first time (her words, not mine) and friends that exist outside of the societal norm, a box Rita has spent her whole life trying to escape. The heart in this episode speaks to anyone who struggles with acceptance and feeling different, a theme this show is always expanding on in such great ways.


The bonding between these two has become one of the highlights of the show

While Cliff falls further into depravity, and Larry has a one-on-one with his newly recovered son, it’s Jane that steals the show for me in this episode. In an unheard of course of action, Jane allows Kay up to the surface. Though Jane's other personas are strung out with fear, it was a beautiful sight to behold. Kay has been locked away for her own protection and now it seems the personas themselves have forgotten what they’re directive is. Holding Kay prisoner rather than helping her heal will put them in direct confrontation with Jane, an arc that will probably break my heart and also elicit a Breakfast Club fist pump, all at the same time.


Kay finally gets to stretch her legs "up above" in the real world

I love this show through and through. An absurdist take on the superhero genre, HBO Max’s Doom Patrol boldly goes into the pandemonium of the fractured mind in such hilariously heroic ways. As someone without much comic background with this team, what I have read of Grant Morrison’s run is great, though I’m hard-pressed to remember any heart-felt moments that come near to rivaling those on this show. I hope you check it out and enjoy it as much as I do! If you’re interested, there's Recommended Reading below for those looking to dive into the Doom Patrol world! These titles can be picked up from Comixology, or (my personal favorite) your LOCAL COMIC BOOK SHOP!!!


RECOMMENDED READING:

Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol (Vol 2, #16-63)

Gerard Way’s Doom Patrol (Vol 6)


 

Austin Kemp read Batman #315 (Batman vs Kite Man) when he was 5 years old, and hasn't stopped reading comics since. Austin is a college writing teacher and has a masters degree in Comics Studies. Austin and his partner, Savanah, live in Massachusetts with their master, a cat named Chaplin.

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