Doom Patrol: Ezekiel Patrol

"This is the best timeline EVER!"

Well, that all wrapped up pretty much like we were expecting it would, right?

Right?

Let's just start right off the bat with acknowledging how incredibly awesome the opening 'story so far' clip was. Done by Alan Tudyk, in character, in Dr. Seuss-style rhyme, accompanied by polka music. Sometimes there really are no words.

And so, season one of Doom Patrol comes to an end, its villain victorious, the team decimated by the unexpected reveal of their leader's betrayal, and everyone dispersed to live with the aftermath. At which point Mr. Nobody glances at his watch and realizes we still have nearly an hour to kill.

This is just such a great bait and switch, I can't say enough about it. We've spent the entire season being told that the season arc is about The Doom Patrol finding and rescuing The Chief, only to find him, learn that he deliberately caused all of the accidents that made them who they are in the first place, immediately tell him to go straight to Hell and leave without him.

Well, that technically is the story arc resolved. Anyone for a rousing game of I Spy? Charades? Because we have a lot of episode left... Anything we do know is inevitably going to feel like treading water, right?

Well, yes. Because it turns out that's the whole point of the episode; revealing that the story was about Mr. Nobody the entire time. He wasn't the villain of the piece, he was what can only be described as an 'anti-protagonist.' Forgive me taking a moment to be pedantic here, but it's an important point to clarify. He can't really be termed as an antagonist, outright, because the point of the story isn't how his actions affect the journey of the other characters. It's about how his treating of the other characters affect him.

We saw previously how Millie dumping him and calling him a nobody resulted in his transformation into a meta-being who immediately became fixated on proving to someone else that they were the nobody, not him. My layman's understanding of psychology believes that this sort of thing is fairly common, but I'm not sure exactly what it's called. I don't think it's transference, exactly. Any trained psychologists, psychiatrists, or psychoanalysts, please feel free to clarify in the comments below. I'll be happy to respond with thoughts about my mother and my toilet training if that will help.

Where was I... Oh yes, reviewing Doom Patrol.

So, that's why the story of the season doesn't end when Mr. Nobody's plan succeeds and Niles is forced to admit to what he's done. Because the story of the season is about Mr. Nobody succeeding, celebrating for awhile, and then gradually realizing how completely empty and unsatisfying the success was. So he drunkenly hooks up with a couple of previously introduced side characters, forms a new 'villains club,' and claws at the last remaining plot threads to try and build some kind of bigger, better revenge to fill the void. Of course, he's immediately betrayed by his new cohorts, Ezekiel the evangelical cockroach and Admiral Whiskers, gets completely over his head in Danny the Street while Danny is trapped in a painting, and is forced to team up with his former nemeses just to try to survive.

The show is making the same point that the team realized at the end of the previous episode when they decided he was just too sad to fight. Mr. Nobody, for all his swagger and godlike narrator's powers, is, at the end of the day, pathetic. So much so that he even forgets to include himself in the 'group that's being saved' part of the escape plan.

The story of Mr. Nobody isn't the story of a supervillain, it's the story of a man who desperately wanted to prove he wasn't a nobody, and only ended up proving that he was.



Meanwhile, our heroes...

I loved the time jump forward after that reveal and seeing where the team had all ended up a few months after learning the news. Jane's first instinct to take her anger out on Josh, and then to use Josh's gift of what can only be described as 'super-heroin' to numb the pain is beautifully in character, and the image of all of her alters laying down in the field one by one was gorgeously shot. Cliff dedicates his time to buying and delivering meals for Jane to keep her alive was also very on brand.

It really worked that Larry and Rita got a place together and began mutually supporting each other to heal. You could feel the 60-some years of friendship that they've had. Rita's getting out there to teach drama to the absolute worst students ever, while Larry's out doing test runs with the Negative Spirit to see how long they can both remain conscious at the same time. They're all moving on. Great stuff. Although it's probably telling that I have no memory of whether or not they showed us what Vic was up to at this point.

The plot device of Danny being in trouble and summoning them all with the repeated phantom playing of Chumbawamba's 'Tubthumping' was a lot of fun, and it justified enough why any of them would ever go within a million miles of The Chief or Doom Manor again. And the debate over whether or not to go into the painting to rescue Danny and the Chief's daughter was great character work while including a truly herculean number of instances of Cliff using the word 'F*ck'.

Of the resolution to getting everyone off of Danny the Street, all I'll say is that I wish to God there was camera footage of the writers' room when somebody pitched the following exchange:

Writer #1: "OK, so to get out of the painting they nuke the street, and they survive by hiding inside of a Kaiju size cockroach. The only problem is that one of them is trapped in the belly of a Kaiju sized rat at that point, and I don't know how to get him out."

Writer #2: "Well, could he crawl from one to the other if we have the giant rat and the giant cockroach start making out?"

Writer #1: "...Yes. Yes we can."

Yes, that is a Rat making out with a Cockroach.
Do not judge their love.

Bits and Pieces:

-- One legitimate criticism to to temper the above love fest – in order to get all that good stuff in, they really had to skate over a lot of the stuff regarding Danny getting captured and Flex rescuing all the Dannyzens, thus explaining why none of them were there. The latter they literally just covered with a shot of a newspaper headline.

-- I want to know what went through Alan Tudyk's mind when he read in the script that he'd be doing an extensive solo scene drunk on the toilet with his pants down reading negative reviews of the show aloud to himself.

-- For fans of Easter Eggs, if you pause on the review of the series in the magazine that he's reading (which is certainly not Forbes, no sir), it's just the words blah, blah, blah over and over again. They absolutely knew we would pause on that and did it deliberately.

-- We know that, because the following page which Ezekiel crawls over is a lovely and complete piece about the recovery of Animal-Vegetable-Mineral man after he was shot in the minerals a few episodes back. Seriously, you can read the entire article if you care to do so.

-- Jane singing the Valiant Little Squirrel song to coax The Chief's daughter out might be the most subtly touching thing Diane Guerrero has done on this show. I'm not sure, there are a lot of candidates.

-- April Bowlby and Alan Tudyk having drinks together in Danny the Street's bar was a delight. Those two have really good chemistry together.

-- Oh, OK. The Beard Hunter was lured to Danny the Street's Doll Hospital. And apparently whoever lured him there (presumably Dorothy, the Chief's daughter) wasn't malevolent and just let him live on the street. That answers a lot of questions from earlier. Thank you, show.

-- It's disappointing but not surprising that Niles went back to work for the Bureau of Normalcy after the incidents in Canada. He apparently did so to head a project that was trying to find a way to live forever. That explains how he was able to rescue Larry without a problem. It's odd that he never checked into why Flex Mentallo wasn't aging though.

-- Niles was fine with 'killing' Larry even though he had a wife and sons, but killing Cliff's wife as collateral damage was the line too far for him. You'd think he would have provided for Cliff's daughter out of guilt, but I suppose he thought she was fine with Bump.

-- They're home and dry, but everybody but Larry is teeny tiny and Danny's been reduced to just a brick. So.. there's that.



Quotes:

Mr. Nobody: "I strung along the Dumb Patrol
                      Flipped the bus into a hole,
                      Slammed it shut
                      Wait, what?
                      Stuffed it up a donkey’s butt!"

Mr. Nobody: "I’m going to conduct a parade. I’m gonna guest host The View. I’m going to become the next Bachelor!"

Ezekiel the Cockroach: "Be still, you fudger! Be still, I say!"
Drunk Mr. Nobody who by the way still has his pants down: "Did you just call me a fudger?"

Mr. Nobody: "And we shall call ourselves, The Brotherhood of Dangerous Animals!"
Ezekiel: "Hosanna!"
Admiral Whiskers: "Tight."
Mr. Nobody: "Yes, it is tight, Admiral Whiskers!"

Jane: (Regarding Chumbawamba) "You uh… you want to go fuck up whoever's playing it?"
Cliff: "Fuck, yeah!"

Cliff: "So, my timing might be shit here, but I for one am grateful that a disembodied Chumbawamba has brought us all back together."

Cliff: "I’m sorry, what part of ‘fuck you forever’ was in Hebrew?"

Mr. Nobody: "Um, OK. OK, I’m just vamping here. Then... Then Ezekiel noticed Whiskers. I mean, he really noticed him. Why, he had been so busy becoming the architect of the apocalypse and all, that he had failed to see what was right before his eyes, but there he was. Ezekiel’s right hand in the destruction of this loathsome world. Another meek and forgotten creature."
Admiral Whiskers: "I want to spread you like the plague, Daddy."
Ezekiel: "Really? Ohhhh, Whiskers!"



This is just ridiculous. Silly to the point of lunacy. Preposterous foolishness beyond the pale of what reasonable drama can support.

And it's absolutely wonderful.

Nine and a half out of ten bottles of Blue Curacao.

Mikey Heinrich is, among other things, a freelance writer, retired firefighter, and roughly 78% water. You can find more of his work at the 42nd Vizsla.

7 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Congratulations on finishing season one, Mikey!

Polka music. It makes anything hilarious. I'm a new Hamilfan and was just made aware that Weird Al Yankovic did "The Hamilton Polka."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3v0c6smpHSk

Even funnier is Lin-Manual Miranda listening to "The Hamilton Polka for the first time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8kIQ9i1bfY

Sorry for the Hamilton abduction there. The word "polka" just set me off.

Mikey Heinrich said...

OMG, I am also a new Hamil-fan, and the only thing that brought me more joy than the fart noise after 'Peggy!' was watching the joy that the fart noise after 'Peggy!' brought Lin.

Diogo said...

Lovely show, and lovely review!

Btw has it been mentioned before here that Ezekiel the cockroach was originally created for Supernatural, but Erik Kripe couldn't make him fit in in, so instead he transplanted the character to Doom Patrol instead? The funny thing is that he was such a natural fit for the show that a lot of fans were wondering from which particular Doom Patrol comic book issue he had been adapted from.

Mikey Heinrich said...

I think it was mentioned in the comments section at some point, but I don't think I ever got around to mentioning it in a review.

Mixed feelings on that one. On the one hand he's just so good here, but on the other, I can only imagine what Sam and Dean would have made of him. That would have been a hell of an episode.

Makes the choice of Curtis Armstrong kind of sweet. :)

Billie Doux said...

If I ever had the occasion to cast a talking cockroach, I can't imagine wanting anyone but Curtis Armstrong.

Mikey Heinrich said...

That might be the best comment ever posted.

Mikey Heinrich said...

So, here's a thing I've been thinking about doing for a while. When I write these things I usually end up with between 2-4 pages of notes, about half of which make it into the review.

On the off chance that anyone's interested in what the other half is about, I set up a kind of subset blog called WhatWasMikeyThinking, as a place to archive my own notes.

If you're interested, here's the notes for this episode. Enjoy. Or ignore. Follow your heart on this issue :)

https://whatwasmikeythinking.blogspot.com/2020/07/notes-on-doom-patrol-ezekiel-patrol.html