Thursday, September 30, 2021

REVIEW: 'Doom Patrol' - Returning From the Afterlife Proves to Have Some Gory Complications for the Team in 'Undead Patrol'

HBO Max's Doom Patrol - Episode 3.04 "Undead Patrol"

The newly "undead" members of the Doom Patrol are inspired to work on themselves. Later, the team is rocked by the arrival of a mysterious woman on a time machine - and a former foe.

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.

"Undead Patrol" was written by Tamara Becher-Wilkinson and directed by Kristin Windell

The past has always haunted the members of the Doom Patrol. Their insecurities and fears are driven by what has happened to them. That informs everything about their internal agency. Even when they believe they have found peace with what happened, they can still be stirred up by new information. That's evident in Vic's mother suggesting that his father actually had a choice when it came to how to save his life. That sets him off on a new existential crisis where he believes he could be alive with synthetic human skin. His father simply made the choice to create Cyborg, a superhero who isn't living up to his full potential by living with the Doom Patrol. He expected the best. And now, Vic's decisions have far-reaching consequences because of the technology that seemingly fueled the ability for a criminal to escape. Now, the show is certainly dragging out the consequences of Vic's feelings for Roni this season. That's probably unnecessary. Plus, all of this should be put in a new perspective because the members of the Doom Patrol were dead just an episode ago. Their return to the land of the living makes them members of the undead. That applies to Larry as well even though he wasn't killed during the vacation at Codsville. The trip to the afterlife was all it took to fuel this transformation. It comes at a time when the manor has been invaded by a time traveling outsider looking for Niles Caulder. They should be focusing their energy towards getting answers from her. They don't particularly care about whatever she wants with Niles. This plight doesn't concern them any longer. They can even detail when in time she should travel that would be most convenient for this conflict. And yet, the story is fundamentally about her learning more details about herself. Sure, it's convenient that time travel results in moderate amnesia. This woman doesn't even remember her own name. She just knows that she wants to hit Niles in the face. That's justified based on the little information she receives about her past. All of this positions her as someone who wants redemption because she believes in her inherent goodness even though that may not have always been the case. In fact, she may have already disrupted the lives of the Doom Patrol. Rita is already skeptical of this newcomer. She sees the clues pointing to someone using her face. She hasn't crafted those relationships. She holds no deeper understanding of the person she wants to call Shannon. Even in the end, everyone is left with more questions than answers. Of course, it's funny to watch as Laura hopes she can just call out "transform" and the process will naturally happen. She is more than just a bird. She can apparently transform into a lot more. That will become more apparent later on. She will probably be in this moment in time for awhile. Niles has nothing but vitriol for her. That will need further examination and explanation. It's not what she believes she deserves. Those instincts can't be lost through a sheer case of amnesia. And yet, Niles knows the threat his family is in. He wants to do right by them even in death. They all have a complicated relationship with him. They mostly seek out his severed head that's been kidnapped in order to actually have those final conversations resolving these conflicts. "Eat me" may not have been the perfect words Jane imagined when agonizing over this final goodbye. It's perfect for her nonetheless. It plays to the overall narrative of the Doom Patrol becoming zombies. They are good for brute strength and craving after brains. It's rather simplistic. But it doesn't describe everything that is happening in their worlds. They still get to be active in this journey. Sure, it means Kipley was very simplistic in his desire for Niles' head. But that playful energy permeates throughout this story. The narrative doesn't want things to get too consequential at the moment. It still suggests major transformations. That's clear based on what Larry discovers growing on his body. It's also focused on deflection as Cliff is once again distracted instead of seeking genuine answers about his health. This episode affirms all those ambitions. It's also simple in its core drive of entertaining. That's not a bad thing. The Doom Patrol have gone on far crazier adventures. The ambitions here may be limited in scope as a result of what the production team could realistically accomplish this year. Plus, the reveal with the rabid butts was a lot of fun the first time it happened. The show tries to go bigger here. It also suggests that one such threat still roams this world. The show likes to do those little teasers of loose ends. Sometimes they are consequential. Other times, it's just an amusing joke. We'll just have to wait and see with this.