Saturday, February 23, 2019

REVIEW: 'Doom Patrol' - Cyborg Helps the Team Search for the Chief While Confronting His Own Programming in 'Donkey Patrol'

DC Universe's Doom Patrol - Episode 1.02 "Donkey Patrol"

Following Mr. Nobody's capture of Niles Caulder and the destruction of Cloverton, Ohio, the Doom Patrol investigate the mysterious albino donkey and discover it is a door to another universe, one where Mr. Nobody is in control. Cyborg aka Vic Stone, a part man/part machine hero from Detroit who has his own complicated relationship with Niles Caulder, joins the search. 

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of DC Universe's Doom Patrol.

"Donkey Patrol" was written by Neil Reynolds & Shoshana Sachi and directed by Dermott Downs

Nobody positions himself as an all-seeing and knowing narrator. He is the one framing the story with all of the painful details of the characters' lives even including the ones that they themselves are afraid to admit. That's simply a part of his own personality while still presenting as the clear antagonist of the story. He's the one narrating all of this to the audience as well. The way that he tells the story has informed the people watching about how all of these stories connect with one another and shape the plot points that soon develop. But again, it's also apparent that Nobody has that need for control. He has the yearning to be the man crafting the narrative. He is powerful because he can create this alternate dimension in which Vic, Rita and Larry are trapped for a little bit. He makes them come to some powerful realizations about themselves. It's the narrative properly introducing him as the man who can destroy this world and rebuild it just as easily. It's absolutely ridiculous to watch as the donkey is a door to this alternate reality. It's just as outrageous to see the creature vomit the entire town up again with everything quickly going back to normal. This isn't normal. Plus, it's nothing more than a distraction. Sure, it's amusing and even has a talking cockroach. But the Doom Patrol isn't closer to finding the Chief and rescuing him from his enemy. And yet, it's also fascinating to watch as Nobody deconstructs the classic origin stories for the Doom Patrol while essentially giving them a new version that can turn them into a heroic team. The premiere was heavy on the exposition as it explained how these characters were injured and eventually saved by the Chief's wild experiments. It reminded the audience of their humanity constantly. However, it was only scratching the surface when it came to their depths as well. That is still a predominate feature here too. The show is still introducing new characters and their backstories. Joivan Wade makes his debut as Victor Stone aka Cyborg. That's a major DC character who is incorporated here. This version presents as a young hero still beholden to the way his father sees his superhero identity. He is on a five-year plan towards becoming a member of the Justice League. And yet, Nobody highlights the idea that nothing Vic has believed about his life following his tragedy is actually his own thoughts. Instead, it's just the programming given to him by his father. As such, he is breaking free from that narrative as soon as he returns to reality. Sure, it's convenient that Silas Stone is there at Doom Manor so that father and son can have that confrontation. The show really lays it on thick by having the dialogue be exactly the same. However, that also proves just how programmed all of this is for the characters. They are simply too accustomed to life a certain way. Cliff doesn't know how to help Jane because he has never strived to understand how her powers actually work. They forge a new connection here. Meanwhile, Larry has long lived in fear of the creature that lives within him. That creature saves the day by destroying the illusion and bring the entire town back to reality. And yet, Larry has to bare his true soul in order to communicate with this energy mass that has lived within him all of these years. All of this is forcing the Doom Patrol to change. That's very exciting while also proving just how difficult it will be for Nobody to maintain control over his narrative moving forward.