Thursday, September 23, 2021

REVIEW: 'Doom Patrol' - A Conflict Seems Inescapable for the Doom Patrol Even When They Want a Vacation in 'Vacay Patrol'

HBO Max's Doom Patrol - Episode 3.02 "Vacay Patrol"

A relaxing vacation to escape the Doom Patrol's recent loss proves anything but - especially when an unexpected evil lurks nearby.

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 next episode of HBO Max's Doom Patrol.

"Vacay Patrol" was written by Tom Farrell and directed by Christopher Manley

Niles Caulder is dead. The team no longer needs to be beholden to his wishes and desires. He asked a lot of them. But he also didn't require them to be the Doom Patrol saving the world like the previous iteration of the team. He was responsible for each of the incidents that disfigured them and gifted them with their abilities. He has long been open to the mysteries of the universe. He has been accepting of those peculiarities. They were seductive to him. That was the path he followed. The team doesn't have to honor him by continuing that legacy. Rita was gifted a key that unlocked a secret compartment. When the phone was ringing, she was incapable of answering it. She was afraid. It wasn't fair for Niles to ask that of her. Nor is it easy to grieve while they are all still living in the house that serves as one big reminder of his presence. Vic questions why the team needs a vacation. They don't exactly do anything. They basically go from aimlessly wandering around one house to a different one. Strange mysteries still follow them around. The Secretary couldn't remove that from her search when booking this trip for the team. But it also allows each of them to confront some of their insecurities. They don't do so in many healthy ways. In fact, they may all continue to fall apart. They are still targeted. People are still carrying out orders from conflicts decades ago. The war between Niles Caulder and the Brotherhood of Evil is still waging. Those complications still exist. A conqueror of worlds has been waiting for seven decades for Rita to walk into the resort. Once she finally does arrive, he no longer sees the purpose of this mission. Niles is dead. These scenarios are still playing out. It's as if the universe is robbing people of their own agency. Some of them have loyally followed missions in the past. Their strength and abilities were a point of pride. It's hard to reckon with the idea that things change as time goes by. Not many of these characters have been physically altered by the passage of time. Niles tried to delay the inevitable for as long as he could. Even then, death isn't the end of his story. People refuse to let him die and stay buried. They can't provide him with that peace. Meanwhile, Vic can't walk away from being a hero. He always believes that's what Niles wanted from this team. They could finally live up to that potential. They have saved the world before. Their powers are immense and incredible. But the Doom Patrol isn't a team of superheroes. They have no desire to be that. They shouldn't have to be that just in order to fit into some preconceived notion of what's expected. Sometimes, they just want to dance. That is freeing in a way as well. It allows them to grieve while expressing their joy once more. Jane so often feels the burden of being the caretaker for the other personalities in her body. And yet, Kay is now trying to look out for her. The relationship is developing into something it has never been before. That's scary. It's freeing too. It must be embraced. This team can fall apart and come back together. Their concern for each other has to be genuine. That also means accepting and calling out each other's flaws. Vic needs to be a hero. He has no identity outside of that when he is forced to lay low. Cliff doesn't want to admit that something is going on in his brain that may limit his physical capabilities. Rita backsides into believing that none of the identities she has tried have been fruitful whatsoever. Life is meaningless and hopeless. Of course, Larry finds some beauty. The Negative Spirit shows him the majesty of space. But then, it's right back to being opaque questions of what is meant to be found in all of this. Larry is left adrift. Meanwhile, the Doom Patrol is locked in the grand room when they are attacked. They are targeted for their association to Niles. That continues to plague their lives. It makes no sense. They try to reckon with that. They try to embrace what personally satisfies them. It's hard to make peace with that. The clarity seems just out of reach and with friends who are too busy in their own drama to help. It's artful and distinct in these profound ideas. But it's also fundamentally a silly superhero show where aliens and shapeshifters aim to do the team harm. Those threats are real and terrifying. The internal turmoil is just as captivating. The aimlessness has purpose even for a team of misfits who struggle with who they want to be in this messed up world where so much is constantly taken away from them.