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Doom Patrol: Hope Patrol

"I hate to break it to you, but if people want to love you, there isn’t really anything you can do to stop them."

The End is coming, and there's still so much more we could do.

You may ask if that's the plot of this episode, or the real world situation. The answer is 'Yes.'

Shortly before the time of writing, the announcement came that we all had been both dreading and expecting. Doom Patrol is coming to an end. The current season, when it resumes later in the year, will feature the last six episodes of Doom Patrol that we'll ever get.

Maybe the best way to think of it is to reflect on how astonishingly unlikely it was that we ever got any episodes of this show at all. And we got 46. I choose to go glass half full on this one.

The reason that it's worth taking a moment to think about that as we begin to talk about this episode specifically is that the show's awareness of its own mortality is clearly baked into the mix of the story. Just as surely as the characters' awareness of theirs is. And as a result, we come to this episode like a stair on the staircase that rises just half an inch higher than we were expecting. The connections between this episode and the previous one are just that tiny bit more disconnected because there's so much more that they want to get to. So many more things we want to see and hear. And our time is running out.

The main way that this issue manifests is the uncharacteristic amount of clunky expository dialogue that we get. There are several instances of lines that only exist to cover the connection between where this episode starts and where the last one left off. 'I was driving and then my brain re-aged, so I went back and found you as a baby in front of the community center and the sight of an abandoned baby really underscored my current relationship with my grandbaby, and THAT is why we're opening this episode with me fixing this car so that I can leave it behind for him as a gesture of love. How have you been?'

Obviously, that's not exactly verbatim what Cliff says to Jane in the opening scene, but it's not too far off from it. And, sure, exposition happens, but that's not really what this is. This is using a line of dialogue to cover a plot development that isn't relevant to the story but needs to be explained away with some sort of in universe handwave so that the viewer can watch the scene without being distracted by wondering how we got from abandoned Baby Jane in the closing moments last week to adult Jane in the back seat of a car this week.

It's dialogue spackle; a term that I have just coined and will be copywriting. And there are similar moments for Rita and Rouge, Larry and Rama, and for Vic and Deric. It stands out here because the show is usually above that kind of thing. But hey, as Cliff points out, being aware of your rapidly approaching mortality can really make a show act in some strange ways.

Another example of something rushed that would otherwise get a lot more screentime – apparently the forces of Immortus killed Bunbury and the rest of the Knights Templar offscreen. I'm sorry, what? The whole closing moments of last episode were about establishing the Knights T as a serious force in the struggle against Immortus, left nicely vague as to which side that they'd be fighting on, and now we just casually hear that they've been wiped off the map? That feels like a cut for time.

As a disclaimer, it's entirely possible that Willoughby was lying, and we're being misdirected about what's really happening with the Knights T. It's certainly something that this show would do. But there've been so many moments prior to this that we've glossed over in the interest of time that it's hard to trust that this isn't just another example.

Some other moments that might have been fleshed out if we weren't fighting the clock:

-How did Jane get to Shelley's candy store?
-How did Cliff and Jane get to Orqwith for the big final cliffhanger?
-When did Rama decide to change sides? Because he's done a complete 180 on Immortus here. He tells us he's changed his mind, but we never really spend time seeing the mechanics of how it happens.
-The Scissormen just walk on screen with Larry as hostage. They never get any kind of proper build up or dramatic reveal, they just sort of wander in.
-How did Rita and Rouge get to the Ant Farm and break in so easily?

The important thing to remember on all of these points is that the answers don't remotely matter. They're just indications of a plot that's rushing along as fast as it can because it only has a little time and a lot to get through. For the record, the answers in order are:

-Who cares. Jane and Shelley are adorable together as a couple. Shelley gives off the most amazing and wonderful queer energy. And Jane's struggle to allow herself to want something that's just for her dovetails beautifully with both the theme of making the most of the time we have, and the ongoing plotline of her trying to redefine who she is without being solely Kay's protector. All wonderful stuff. How she got there couldn't matter less.

-Also couldn't matter less. The final confrontation needed Cliff to be there for the rug pull of Vic and Deric's robot not working to work, and the final cliffhanger was great. Let's just say Willoughby got them there somehow. It's entirely possible that he did and I just missed it.

-Rama chose Larry over evil. That's all we need to know. And they're very sweet together as a proto-couple. Seeing his personal character growth in more detail would have been interesting, but just jumping to the end of it works fine.

-This one I do kind of fault them for. It wouldn't have cost more than a couple of seconds to do a proper establishing shot of a menacing Scissorman and give them a proper sense of threat.

-Rouge and Rita needed to get there to find that their path was leading them to Wally Sage, because they're just at the very beginning of healing the unimaginable fracture in their friendship, and Wally Sage is at the very core of what fractured it. Being forced to confront him at this moment is the dramatically right thing to do, and oh my Lord does it pay off from the moment that Madame Rouge is first forced to admit to Rita that Wally is the one who has the information they need.

So we see, in every single instance of a pedantic plot detail being skipped over, we find that they've skipped over it for the sake of getting to the huge, dramatically satisfying stuff that we really want to see. Would we want to have lost the scene of Madame Rouge in Wally's cell for the sake of one with her and Rita figuring out how to take an Uber? Of course not.

So, what we have here is an episode absolutely packed with fascinating plot developments, great character work, and a fantastic mid-season cliffhanger, all pulling together to underscore the theme of how you react to the news of your own imminent death. Which also bears the hallmarks of a writing staff who knows they don't have much time to do all those things.

I do want to say a word about Vic and Deric. I've come around a bit on that front and am now 100% on team Deric. He's such a positive influence for Vic here, constantly having to push back against Vic's 'You stay out of this, I'm a superhero and you're not' bullshit. Not only does he repeatedly point out to Vic that he's not, in fact, still a superhero. He also adamantly sticks by Vic, not to protect him, but so that they can protect one another. Not to mention that any representation of non-toxic male friendship is always welcome, and the way they two of them were clearly gigantic geeks back in the day and can't help themselves from relapsing into it at regular intervals couldn't be more endearing. If Vic gets to be on the team, so does Deric. I'm calling it.

And so, all the plot threads are converging in Orqwith for a better than average mid-season finale. Immortus has four out their fuve plot coupons, with only Cliff's longevity remaining on the to do list. I can't wait to see where this goes.

Did this set give anyone else Labyrinth vibes?
Bits and Pieces:

-- And the Buttpocalypse is back on, solely due to Cliff getting distracted and forgetting to close the freezer door on the one remaining Butt before being pulled into another dimension. I like how that tied together.

-- Future Keeg apparently told present day Keeg that he'd had to kill Larry by throwing him into the sun, and present Keeg is hoping that by helping Immortus he can prevent that fate. That's naive of him but feels believable. He is just a kid, after all.

-- Is Oven Mitt Rory a hallucination on Cliff's part, or what? Still very, very funny either way.

-- The friendship between Cliff and Jane was always the heart of Grant Morrison's run on the comic and the show hasn't really focused as much on it since the first season. They more than made up for it with the scene in which Cliff showed her how much she meant to him by having her be the first thing he touched.

-- That last point sounded incredibly skeezy out of context.

-- You saw the episode. You know what I'm talking about. And his line to her about not being able to stop people who want to love you is pretty high on my list of 'I wish I'd written that.'

-- As a side note, apparently the name of the thing pretending to be Miranda last season was 'Trauma.' Had we ever established that before? It makes total sense, but I don't think it had been said out loud.

-- So, what did, exactly, happen to Wally Sage here? Was one of them not the real guy? Had he drawn a duplicate of himself to remain behind and get squashed by Rita? I hope we get a little clarity on that later on.

-- Major points to Deric for buying, putting on, and changing Vic's diapers while he was a baby. Outside of immediate family, I can think of two people in the world I'd be willing to do that for. Maybe three.

-- It would be nice to believe that we don't live in a world where people would just ignore abandoned babies on a bus bench, wouldn't it?

-- Now that I think of it, why was Wally a prisoner? He was trusted enough to check out the Immortus file back in 1955. It's not like the Bureau would have punished him for killing Malcolm. His being locked up doesn't entirely track. Is that a clue to something?

-- Still no sign of Dorothy and Casey. How long a drive could it have been?

-- Cliff's T-shirt for the last couple episodes reads 'Crawling from the Wreckage.' That was the title of the first storyline of Grant Morrison's run on the comic. I don't recall if the Scissormen were in that storyline or the next. It's been a long time.


Cliff: "I’ve been big for hours. Sorry. That sounded weird."

Rouge: "Well, evidently, we turned into babies before the bus came. So, either we were too small for the bus driver to see us, or the human race really is lacking in any common decency."

Larry: "I feel like I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but when a bone temple spontaneously sprouts from the ground, it’s not usually a good sign."

Jane: "Why does everything have to be so painful? Why does everything have to be such a fucking battle?"

Cliff: "Please tell me we’re not adopting another supervillain."

Cliff: "Wait... am I sensing sexual tension here?"
Larry: "What? No. I mean..."
Rama: "We haven’t crossed that bridge, but..."
Larry: "There’s a bridge?"

Deric: "Less than twelve hours ago I was changing your diaper. In case you forgot."
Vic: "I didn’t forget. And I’d appreciate it if you never brought that up again."

Willoughby: "God Speed, you irascible fuckwits."

Cliff: "Which one’s on our side."
Jane: "My money’s on the bot. He’s outnumbered, and it sounds like he has a HUGE stick up his ass. Sounds like a kindred spirit."

So much good stuff. So much good stuff we could still have to come. I don't have it in me to blame them for the moments of this one that are a little awkwardly rushed, given the circumstances. They almost certainly either knew that this was the end or had a serious inkling. In many ways, this episode is the Car, and we the viewers are Rory. Accept the gift in that vein.

Nine out of ten moments of gratitude for all the wonderful things this show has given us.

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. Mikey, I'm so sorry your show has been cancelled, but glad that they have six more episodes to wind things up. At least you got four good-sized seasons. :(

  2. Thanks :) I'm trying to stay positive about it. What we did get was so much cooler, so much stranger, and so much better than I ever could have imagined we'd get. I'm focusing on being grateful for that


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