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Doom Patrol: Doom Patrol

"Have you or someone you know been infected?
Do the right thing."

Well, the Doom Patrol is defintely back, and they're kicking butts.

I'd like to begin our discussion by formally apologizing for that joke.

So, as I mentioned in my review for 'Amends Patrol,' the first three seasons of Doom Patrol really constituted 'volume one' of the program. When we left our heroes they were dashing off to save the world from a gigantic, menacing nutsack. And the way that they chose to open this season really underscores that it was not the nutsack, per se, that was important. It was the dashing off part that was important.

Because the crux of 'volume one' was to take our group of misfits and gradually lead them to the point of choosing to become a team and actively seek out superhero activities. So, now that they're officially the titular Doom Patrol, what's next?

And here's where the show makes a particularly good decision by having brought in Doctor Harrison as the new primary personality for Jane/Kay. I confess, I wasn't a big fan of that plot point in the previous episode, but it really pays off here. By having an outsider who is also (nominally) a psychiatrist it allows her to be the voice that drives the first twenty minutes or so, during which she can just directly spell out where everyone is right now, both emotionally and in terms of plot function.

I liked that a lot. It's a nice, clean way to get everybody up to speed on plot-maintenance details like, for one example, how did Cliff get back into his old body when we saw it destroyed last season? I was worried that we'd have to jump through a number of time consuming hoops to get to that point, but they covered it perfectly well here by the simple expediency of making it a point in Doctor Harrison's report. And as a bonus, having Vic and Silas be the ones who tracked down the parts and reassembled him allows them to show us just how much progress the two of them have made in their often contentious relationship. That was a lovely detail.

I don't know much about Codpiece from the comics, outside of the fact that I know he was in the comics and isn't a brand new character, but he was the perfect level of villain for them to be dealing with while they handle catching the audience up on all the plot and character stuff. Simple to understand, relentlessly juvenile in an amusing way, and a nice action set-piece that's not only entertaining as a 'here's the beginning of the season action set-piece' kind of way, but also allows them to really underscore that this is not the same group of characters we knew in the first three seasons. There's a whole new paradigm at work now. Also, the tech support guy with the ass bazooka? Chef's kiss. No notes.

And did we all take a good long moment to appreciate not only the airbrushed penis mural on the side of Codpiece's van, but also the IT guys enthusiastically brandished sausage T-shirt? Again, no notes.

Once we have the general status quo of the team and the plotline established, we jump into the larger storyline in a nicely organic way. Vic and Silas have made Cliff a new arm which brings with it the sense of touch that he's been without for forty years, and Cliff, being the big softy he ironically is, vows to not feel anything with it until he can hold his grandson so that that's the first thing he touches, which leads to them hopping into the timecraft, getting knocked off course, and ending up in the main plot. Well crafted, show.

And it's at this point that I'm going to have to add a small pinch of negativity. There are two things in the world of television plotting right now that I'm just completely over. Those two things would be 'beginning the show with the aftermath of a cataclysmic event, then flashing back to the present and show how we got there,' and 'zombie apocalypses.'


Neither of them is intrinsically bad in and of themselves, but they've just been done so often recently that I'm just sick to the teeth of both of them. I write this having not yet watched episode two, so I'm hoping against hope that they wrap up the Buttpocalypse story in that one and we can all move on the other things. I'm a bit afraid that that hope is in vain, but I'm hanging on to it.

That said, I do love that they picked up the previously dangling final shot from 'Undead Patrol' of the lone zombie were-butt howling to the distance. At the time I though it was just a delightfully absurd sight gag, and while it worked perfectly well in that capacity I'm impressed by the way they picked it back up and made it the cornerstone of the post-apocalyptic future that the gang finds themselves in. Just... you know... please don't spend a lot of time there.

To the surprise of no one, the chemistry between Michelle Gomez and April Bowlby continues to be the highlight of the show. Rita's desperate need to control every situation in order to avoid losing anyone else she cares about dovetails with Madame Rouge's desperate need to achieve redemption in Rita's eyes in a fascinating and wonderful way. Honestly, I could watch the two of them all day long.

Vic, meanwhile, is struggling to find his place with the team now that he doesn't have his Cyborg powers, which makes the choice to have him be the only member of the team to have survived the Buttpocalypse a good one. Also, the lovingly low-tech cyborg enhancements he's sporting in the future are really great. Oh, and whoever designed that amazing makeup for 2042 Vic in which the real skin parts of his face have aged and the synthetic skin parts have not isn't getting paid enough. The awesomeness of that makeup design and execution is only matched by how wonderfully the show never calls any attention to it whatsoever. So well done.

The only one who really gets short shrift in this episode is Larry, who gets a bit of a handwave towards 'kind of lonely as a single parent,' but other than that doesn't get a lot to work with this week. Which is fine, not every episode has to be a showpiece for every single character. It just stands out against how much more every single other character currently has going on.

Bits and Pieces:

-- The fix to retaining your memory while time traveling is to strap a jellyfish on the top of your head. Because of course it is. This is a wonderful example of a show treating an in-universe logistics problem with exactly as much dignity as it deserves.

-- That said, it's heartbreaking that Madame Rouge is regularly choosing to not wear one in order to get a brief respite from remembering who she is and what she's done. The note on her hand in such cases – 'Do whatever the shrill ginger says' – is priceless.

-- I watch these with closed captions on so that I get the spelling of names correct, which allowed me to read the line – 'Zombie butts thud against the door.' Somebody wrote that. That was what they did for work that day. For money.

-- Apparently Vic trying to have a personal life and a superhero life leads to badness. That seems unfair.

-- The return of Bunburry and Willoughby Kipling! I have no idea who or what Immortus is, nor why his rising is a problem. I'm pretty sure that's from the comics, but I'm not going to look it up until after the season is over.

-- Rita's 'group leader' outfit is lovingly reminiscent of the original team uniforms.

-- Is there any significance to the brief reappearance of Isobel Feathers in the time stream? It was a lovely bit of continuity, and served the plot function of knocking them off course just fine. I'm just wondering if anything more will come of it.

-- Also, Time Goats?

-- What on Earth just happened to Dr. Harrison? Did Kay just kill her? If so, does that change the future? Because it sure seemed like ghost Jane in the future was still being driven by Dr. H. And what the hell is going on in the underground? Is Kay turning into a villain? Because that begs all sorts of interesting moral conundrums.


Rita: "Until then, you’re Robotman. Doctor Harrison is Crazy Jane. Larry is Negative Man. Vic is Cyborg. And Rouge... you’re Dogshit McGivens."

Codpiece: "Not everyone can handle a full load from this big gun!"
Rita: "So juvenile."
Dr. Harrison: "Overcompensating much?"
Cliff: "Gross."

Cliff: "OK. I’m gonna go rip his dick off."

Rita: "The time machine is not an Uber. It is a crime fighting apparatus."

Rouge: "I know her. She likes to watch people pee. No judgment."

Larry: "Vienna sausages and Skittles. Eww. On both fronts."

Future Vic: "Papers called it the Buttpocalypse."

This was a triumphant return for a show that was already on top of its game. A great season opener, a great introduction to the new paradigm that our heroes find themselves in. A great many penis jokes. Everything I'm looking for in an hour of television.

But please don't have the whole season be about the Butts.

Nine out of ten non aging patches of synthetic skin. I'm docking one point just because I'm tired of zombie apocalypses.

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. If you'd like to see his raw notes for this and other reviews, you can find them at What Was Mikey Thinking.

1 comment:

  1. starting a rewatch before the end begins!
    Totally missed the line Larry says to Keeg "Your other dad [meaning the old negative spirit]" which really took me aback!

    They kinda developed the idea of Larry and Keeg as a father son pair last season but Larry's self identification seems like a big jump! And certainly the idea that he and the old negative spirit had a baby! Did I just entirely miss that subtext?


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