Saturday, March 23, 2019

REVIEW: 'Doom Patrol' - Jane, Larry and Rita Visit a Group of Superheroes from the '50s in 'Doom Patrol Patrol'

DC Universe's Doom Patrol - Episode 1.06 "Doom Patrol Patrol"

Following a clue left by Mr. Nobody, Jane, Larry and Rita visit a school where Niles' previous team of heroes, the original Doom Patrol, has retired. Meanwhile, Cliff and Vic tenuously bond over their mutual "father issues."

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.

"Doom Patrol Patrol" was written by Tamara Becher-Wilkinson and directed by Christopher Manley

This show absolutely runs the risk of treating its characters as mysteries that need to be solved instead of as multi-dimensional human beings the audience cares about. That is evident whenever some character proclaims: "You know Niles likes to keep his secrets." This season is fundamentally about the Doom Patrol learning everything about their pasts and how their accidents have shaped them into the people and potential heroes they are today. Of course, they haven't taken up the moniker of the Doom Patrol just yet. That's just the shorthand that is convenient for referring to the main team as a whole. But now, that becomes an actual plot point in the series. Apparently Niles did create a version of the Doom Patrol back in the 1950s. He assembled a team of individuals with metahuman abilities who were sponsored by the government to tackle some of the most dangerous threats to the world. Mr. Nobody sends the new team on a quest to figure out what happened to the old ones. It's the show essentially delving into more of its history. However, it's also mostly explaining why Niles acted the way he did with his new team without trying to force them into becoming superheroes. He has known Cliff, Larry, Rita, Jane and Vic for decades now. He was taken everything slow with them because he didn't want to push them into confronting something they weren't ready for. Of course, that led to them being curious about the outside world which invited Mr. Nobody into their lives. He promptly kidnapped Niles. And now, the team is forced to confront all of these ugly realities in the hopes of uniting to save him. It's an understandable main mission for the first season. However, it's much more compelling to see the cost of this war that has already played out in past generations. Niles assembled this first Doom Patrol after the experimentation that created Mr. Nobody. He sees himself as being hunted by this powerful villain. The show even teases that Nobody was a part of his own team of metahuman individuals. They just used their powers for evil. That too could have informed why Nobody wanted the team to find the original Doom Patrol. Steve shows off all of the trophies from his past battles to Rita. Nobody could be looking for something from that room. However, the show spends all of its time constructing this illusion only to immediately dismantle it. Jane, Larry and Rita want to know why Niles founded this school and never told them about it. Jane wants to know why she was suppose to be abandoned here but sent to Doom Manor instead. And yet, the show is mostly just teasing that something is wrong with this reality and all of the details aren't quite lining up. That's because it's just one big illusion created by Steve in order to cope with the crippling defeat at the hands of Nobody. These humans are broken and have to be looked after by their caretaker Joshua Clay. Rita, Jane and Larry disturb that reality for a moment. But Rita is able to fix everything. All of this serves as her own reality check. It may have taken several decades but she is learning who she wants to be moving forward instead of holding onto her past glory. However, this episode is mostly setting up some mysteries that could be intriguing later on. Cliff learns that his best friend replaced him as father to his daughter following the accident. Joshua has powers but doesn't like to use them. Larry thinks he recognizes Joshua but doesn't quite know from where. And Jane is threatened by a flood of puzzle pieces which may connect to the initial trauma in her past. These details can be fun. They just feel like little teases at the moment without significant enough emotional payoff in this particular hour. The new Doom Patrol won't stop looking for Niles even if seeing the former team was suppose to deter them from doing so.