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Doom Patrol: Done Patrol

"You were the only person who saw me. Right from the beginning. You saw the shitty, fucked up pieces of me, and you... you still loved me. Like I wasn’t even broken at all."

The Doom Patrol comes to its end, fights its final battle, and kicks its last butt.

I was emotionally unprepared for this...

Fun fact: It turns out that it's difficult to take notes on an episode of television when you have to pause it every few minutes to cry.

I mean, I hear. I wouldn't know personally.

Oh, who am I kidding, I literally had to take a second to pull myself together just typing that opening quote.

I think it's probably only right to publicly thank the powers that be at Warner Brothers for letting the producers of Doom Patrol know early that this would be their last season and giving them the time to give the series a proper finale. Because they clearly put a lot of care into wrapping everything up in an emotionally satisfying, if heartbreaking, way. It would be interesting though to know exactly what was cut in order to accommodate all of the emotional closure. I'd imagine that the final epic three-way between Isabel, The Doom Patrol, and the horde of vicious butts would have taken up the bulk of the runtime in this episode, just for starters.

Yes, that's how I'm going to leave that sentence. It's what Cliff would have wanted.

I'd also venture to guess that Dorothy would have factored into the final battle in some way, as opposed to just vanishing after Immortimas Day and never being seen again.

But enough quibbles and speculation about what might have been. Let's talk about what we ended up getting.

We begin right where 'Portal Patrol' left off, with our gang of heroes popping out of the time stream, just in time to greet the confluence of Isabel and the Butts. After a relatively brief but exciting fight sequence, the potentially apocalyptic conflict is resolved and the world is saved through the medium of musical theater. Take that, kids that were popular in high school.

This sequence feels like the primary casualty of the abrupt switch from season finale to series finale. It can't be denied that the big battle does feel a little on the brief side. But there's a lot of cool visuals, and we get confirmation that Jane does indeed now have access to all of the different superpowers that the different alters possess. The final resolution of both the Immortus and Butt problems is kind of brilliant, and I suspect was the plan all along.

Indeed, the entire sequence of events is a triumph of rapidly subverted expectations. Doctor Yu and Timothy race in, and we're expecting them to help fight the butts. But no, they're there to lead the army of butts in a rousing chorus of 'Shipoopi.' Which we expect to get Isabel on their side, but no, she takes that as having focus pulled from her again and gets even angrier. Which we expect to lead to her attacking the butts with even greater force, but instead causes her to launch into her own production number from her role in 'Our Town.' Which we expect to cause some sort of back and forth song battle with the butts, but no. They're not only perfectly happy to join in as backup on Isabel's song, they also somehow know all the words.

I've never before seen a superhero battle sequence get resolved by the entire situation becoming so bizarre that the heroes just quietly back out of the room while no one is looking.

I'm really going to miss this show.

So, with both Immortus and the butts apparently taken care of, the team sits down for a nice breakfast. Only Larry seems concerned that there still seems to be a lot of things unresolved.

I still can't really believe that they killed Rita. Although in hindsight they've clearly been building up to that for a long time. Rouge's scream from upstairs is chilling because we all instantly understood what it meant. Isabel had come back to give them back their longevity, but for Rita it was too late. The show wisely focuses on Larry's grief over her death, as they were the ones that had been together the longest, and man do they bring on the heartbreak. It's helpful that the show has long since established that ghosts and the afterlife are a thing in this universe, because the farewell scene between Larry and Rita's ghost is probably the most moving thing that the show has ever done.

Rita's funeral is handled perfectly, hitting the exact balance between painful loss and fart jokes. Everyone involved hits every beat exactly right, and if you're not both crying and laughing by the end of the funeral, you might be dead inside.

And from there on in it's a long, painful series of goodbyes. Which is not an inaccurate description of life, as well. Cliff and Jane's goodbyes focus primarily on one another. Although I should refer to as 'K,' short for Kaleidoscope now – which is so tonally perfect on every level that I'm never going to stop being impressed by it. Everything about Cliff and K's goodbye to one another is exactly right for who they are and what they mean to one another, and while it didn't make me cry as much as Larry and Rita's, it's certainly going to stick with me for a long, long time.

This leaves the final goodbyes to the rather unlikely pairing of Vic and Madame Rouge/Laura DeMille. Having thought about it, this actually makes a ton of sense. Vic is the most unambiguously 'good' member of the team, while Rouge is the team member whose hold on 'good' is the most tenuous. Their final promise to one another to be there to hold Laura to the line has a beautiful symmetry to it.

What's left but for everyone to part for their final destinations. Rita finding Malcolm again in the afterlife is beyond wonderful. Larry rescues Rama from the bottom of the sea and the two of them plus Keeg apparently merge together and fly into the sun... I think... Whatever literally happens, the visual metaphor of Larry's bandages falling away and leaving him safe and loved is just wonderful. K running away in the spaceship with Casey to paint and enjoy the universe is sweet, although I'm still a little bothered by the way they just dumped Shelley. Vic, who already knows what his future is going to turn out to be, gets to go inspire kids in STEM with his bestie Deric. I am 'shipping them, by the way. And Rouge, bless her ambiguous moral compass, heads straight to the Ant Farm, the place where she spent decades slowly becoming evil, to burn it to the fucking ground. Bless.

Which leaves Cliff to deliver the final, soul crushing, heartwarming finish. It was a good decision on the show's part to have him finally succumb to his Parkinson's Disease. And an equally good one to close the series on his finally having made it home to his daughter before he did. This series began with the lights in his eyes turning on for the first time, and it closed with them going out for the last time.

So well handled. Everyone.

Bits and Pieces to be discussed at length in therapy:

-- It felt a little out of character for Isabel to give Cliff the magic time crystal, but who cares when the payoff of Cliff getting to see the life that Rory has ahead of him is that moving. God bless them for making Rory's life so messy and complicated and beautiful and occasionally despicable and real.

-- It felt odd that we didn't get to see Dorothy one last time. I'm sure it was a result of the reshuffle, but she was missed.

-- I also missed Danny. And Flex. And Maura. And Flex.

-- Lovely little callback to Larry and John's relationship. I love that it was that which inspired him to go find Rama and give love a chance.

-- One wonders how K was planning to pay for her 500 square foot studio apartment.

-- It was nice that they made it clear that K's personalities hadn't integrated. They were just all sharing control.

-- I'm sure that Rory's grandson being named 'Jordy' is a reference, but for the life of me I can't place it. Anyone?

-- I actually thought for a bit that it was a villain disguised as Rita's ghost, using the opportunity to try and trick the group into breaking up. I don't like the concept of 'you're all toxic together, it's time to split up.' But she made a good case for it, and I'm glad that Vic supported her.

-- The final sequence of Rory's life reminded me strongly of the closing montage from Six Feet Under. I can't think of much higher praise.

-- I'm not crying. You're crying. Because shut up, that's why.

-- In case anyone is interested, 'Isabel and the Butts' is going to be the name of my new punk/skiffle band. Tickets on sale in a town near you soon.


Larry: "So, what’s first. Immortus, or butts?"

Rouge: "I’m a selfish coward. That seems to be the one thing I can’t shape shift away from."
Rita: "So why did you come here? Why did you wake me up?"
Rouge: "I don’t know. Just having a bit of a freakout, I suppose."
Rita: "You came here because you knew I would hold you accountable."

Teddy: "Kill them all!"
Isabel: "Oh my God, are those butts?"

Cliff: "Just go with it. Whatever the fuck’s happening, it’s working."

Larry: "Look, I don’t mean to be a wet blanket, but..."
Rouge: "‘But it’s basically my entire personality…’"

Rita: "This. This feels nice. Us. Here. Together."

Isabel: "Hey, besties!"
Cliff: "What the fuck?"

Larry: "See, Immortus gave us these toenails that made us all young again, which… sounds gross, I know, but it really wasn’t that bad…"

Larry: "We can’t give up. Don’t make me give up."

Rita: "We’re screw ups. But that doesn’t make us bad people."

Rouge: "This isn’t just the end for Rita. You know that… right…?"
Larry: "We know."

Rouge: "Do you think someone can be both good and bad?"

Cliff: "It’s OK. I made it home."

I honestly don't know how to close this. This show has meant so much to me over the course of its run. It's made me happy when I was sad. It's made me sad when I was happy. I'm going to miss it terribly.

I want to thank Billie for giving me the opportunity to cover this show, and for those of you that have read these and hopefully found something of interest or at least mildly amusing.

This has been nice. Us. Here. Together. And we aren't broken at all.

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. Wow. Mikey, congratulations on finishing your reviews of this show. I know it meant a lot to you.


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