Thursday, September 23, 2021

REVIEW: 'Doom Patrol' - Dorothy's Collision with the Candlemaker Sets the Stage for What Comes Next in 'Possibilities Patrol'

HBO Max's Doom Patrol - Episode 3.01 "Possibilities Patrol"

Dorothy and the Candlemaker finally face off, while the Doom Patrol - now freed from their wax encasings - face troubling side effects. Rita holds the key, but is she ready to answer the call?

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season premiere of HBO Max's Doom Patrol.

"Possibilities Patrol" was written by Tamara Becher-Wilkinson, Eric Dietel & Shoshana Sachi and directed by Dermott Downs

All it takes to defeat the Candlemaker is for Dorothy to convince him to become her friend again. It's a development that happens so incredibly quickly at the start of this season. This doesn't exactly feel like the ending the show had previously planned for its stories from the previous season. And yet, it's all clearly being done with the intent to move ahead with completely new stories. Sure, the fallout of those past events still define the majority of this premiere. The Doom Patrol mourns Niles. He has died. He is never too far removed from the proceedings though. His body is literally decomposing on the dining room table. That's startling to anyone who stumbles upon him. It's certainly not how Vic wanted to tell his father about Niles' fate. That's the reality of the situation though. And yes, the loss of the man who brought this team together should be significant. Of course, it also comes with the confirmation that he isn't really gone. Cliff actually interacts with his spirit. That promises that the Chief will actually continue to haunt the Doom Patrol. They may never escape him. He may always be present. However, the final teaser suggests that Kipling wants more to do with Niles' body. That's an ominous tease. It's grotesque as well. That's how the show typically functions though. It embraces these high stakes adventures while also presenting them with absolute whimsy. The Candlemaker could still be a threat if Dorothy wants him to attack on her behalf. But she also finds peace and balance inside her. That was the true threat that could have destroyed the universe last season. She has been stunted in her emotional growth. And now, she has to reckon with the sudden loss of her father. She was also the only person capable of defeating the Candlemaker. Again, that's a quick development. Moreover, it's clear the show essentially wants to write off Dorothy. Her resolution comes from deciding how to bury her father. She wants Jane to have a moment to grieve him as well. That's why the body is on the table. But she eventually arrives at that moment of peace. Larry helps get her to that point of understanding. It comes at a time when he is still struggling with the past he left behind. In fact, all of these heroes are dealing with some sort of internal turmoil. Some of it is more pronounced than others. It's only in letting go that they are capable of embracing all the happiness that may come in the future. Larry is capable of flying again. He can explore space completely uninhibited. He just has to be willing to give himself over to that adventure. He can't hold himself back out of fear that the team will fall apart or that he can't handle it. Rita isn't that fragile. Of course, grief for her and Cliff presents itself in more physical ways. It disrupts their bodies. Cliff can't feel his newborn grandchild in his arms. And yet, he remembers the feeling and is grateful to be present for the moment. Meanwhile, Rita gets to present herself fully onstage. That may only earn her the scorn of the community. But it's truthful and honest. She is lost and still expected to carry out the wishes of the man she both idolized and blamed for her current self. Some of these developments are absolutely disposable. That's especially true as it pertains to Vic and Roni. That relationship had meaning. And yet, the show just wants to make a clean break with it here. Vic can't save everyone. He learns that lesson. It took a lifetime for his father to reach that same clarity. And so, hope exists for the next generation to better serve the world. Jane and the various identities also find the strength to fight back against Miranda, who seeks to succumb this world to complete darkness. It takes all of them to prevail. They serve as one collective unit. They make sacrifices together. They celebrate together too. The darkness may never leave them. They at least have the awareness of the issue and can better prepare for it in the future when it inevitably creeps back in. The Doom Patrol is going to need all that strength and clarity as well. Part of that comes from the uncertainty in Kipling's plans for Niles. But it also extends from the mysterious newcomer who emerges from the ground in search of Niles. She presents as a shapeshifter who further traumatizes the local community. These people just want to perform about the strange things that have happened to them. And yet, more and more disasters come their way. It's played almost as a twisted joke at this point. The show has a disturbed sense of humor, which is frequently effective.