Doom Patrol: The Story So Far
*Spoilers for Seasons 1 and 2*
To call Season 1 of Doom Patrol (2019) weird would be an understatement. It brought to our screens an egotistical zealot in the form of a talking cockroach and his right hand man -er- rat, Admiral Whiskers, and a sentient street named Danny. It was downright bonkers. However, its ability to pull you in with its portrayal of vulnerable “superheroes” was undoubtedly its most surprising element. Beneath the craziness was a group of misfits simply dealing with shared trauma. This gave the show a sort of method to its madness that pulled you in each episode. Doom Patrol Season 2 continues in much the same way but with our heroes taking some much needed time for themselves.
Doom Patrol Season 2 begins right where it left off: Our heroes miniaturized — except for Larry, who takes care of them by making tiny pancakes and joints. And after last season’s shattering revelation that The Chief orchestrated their accidents right from the get-go, there’s an appropriate air of anger, mistrust, and general dourness. But, of course for The Chief, this was simply done out of a sense of love and duty. Love for his slow-aging daughter, Dorothy, and duty to protect the world from her, which she could destroy with one misguided wish.
No Villain, No Problem
Painfully absent from Season 1 is Alan Tudyk’s self-narrating Mr Nobody. Instead, we’re introduced to the Candlemaker, an ancient horror and one of Dorothy’s imaginary friends who could end the world. It’s heavy stuff, and I loved his design whenever he showed up, but he never felt like the season’s true villain. That honor would have to go to The Chief, Dr Niles Caulder. After the first season, you’d think there would be no sympathy left for him. And yet, while I think he’s beyond redemption, Timothy Dalton does a great job of ever so slightly pulling you back. Niles isn’t as supervillain-y as Mr Nobody was, but his love for his daughter manifests itself in manipulative ways. In fact, before their accidents, the Doom Patrol themselves aren’t written as the best parents either, and that humanized The Chief for me a bit more.
The show continues its trend of showcasing smaller yet memorable villains. From the sadistic Red Jack, the insane Dr Tyme, and the Scants and their Queen, all were interestingly designed and fun excursions from the main plot. We even get a brief return of the Beard Hunter, played by a charismatic Tommy Snider who completely commits to the role. But its Dalton’s unflinching portrayal of Niles Caulder and his relationship with Dorothy that brings a much needed cohesiveness to the season that would otherwise be missing.
The Doom Patrol’s Newest Addition
Though all characters shine, the true star of this season is Abigail Shapiro’s Dorothy Spinner. Some have expressed annoyance, but I found her to be a compelling and sympathetic addition to the cast. And, though it hurt my heart to see the Doom Patrol treat her so coldly, I have to admit it was still hilarious to see Cliff openly express his hatred of someone so innocent and cute. Thankfully, it wasn’t like this the whole season. As it progressed, Dorothy got to experience being a normal kid with Baby Doll and befriended Rita. Even Cliff came around to Dorothy in a sweet bonding moment, showing that he too could become a better father someday. Dorothy’s coming-of-age was by far the most enjoyable aspect of this season.
However, it’s the moment where Dorothy (SPOILER ALERT) finally defies The Chief and confidently stands with her mother that will go down as one of the series’s most iconic moments. Too often does The Chief have a tight grip on everything and everyone around him, so it’s refreshing to see his daughter, of all people, finally take a stand against him. And, though only appearing briefly, her mother’s final appearance really spoke to the importance that a mother has with her daughter. It’s a testament to the strength of the writing team that a new child character can be introduced so quickly and rightfully earn the last scene of the season.
There’s No “I” in Team
While Season 1 dealt with the team coming together as a family and accepting their shared trauma, Season 2 effectively splits the gang up. It’s a great way to reinforce the idea that we all heal at our own rate. This also allows for some much-needed insight into certain characters like Jane and her “Underground” system, of which the ending reveal was absolutely haunting. However, I still found the team-ups to be the most enjoyable aspect of the season. Particularly, Doom Patrol “Dumb Patrol” was a standout episode. Here, we get to see the team deal with a scant infestation that makes them favor dumb ideas over smart ones, leading to some humorous situations.
We also got some great partner-ups. Specifically, I’m talking about the absolutely hilarious Steele & Stone and 1960s The Avengers parody. It’s the kind of humor Doom Patrol is unafraid to commit to, and the cast clearly has fun with these random bits. Plus, it’s great to see the writers haven’t forgotten that the Doom Patrol are a family, and they’re willing to help each other when the need arises.
Doom Patrol continues to do what it does best: Present misfit “superheroes” with relatable flaws while being unafraid to embrace the weirdness of its source material. Unfortunately, it becomes clear that the individual stories are a bit too much for the writers to juggle. Virtually none of the Doom Patrol proper get their stories wrapped up adequately. And since the 10th episode was cut due to the coronavirus lock down, we’ll never know if the season could’ve satisfyingly ended. In any case, Season 2 still feels like it would’ve needed more than 10 episodes to tell its story completely.
Despite feeling less cohesive, Season 2 still has all the best elements that made its first season work so well. That, plus the addition of Shapiro’s sweet Dorothy and Dalton’s excellent portrayal of an irredeemable Niles Caulder make the wait for Season 3 even more unbearable. Doom Patrol remains one of the best superhero shows on air, and it’ll be a shame if we don’t get a third season.
Doom Patrol can be binged on the DC Universe app or HBO Max
Doom Patrol Season 2
- Starring: Diane Guerrero, April Bowlby, Matt Bomer, Brendan Fraser, Timothy Dalton, Joivan Wade, Riley Shanahan, Matthew Zuk, Abigail Shapiro
- Writers: Jeremy Carver, Tom Farrell, Shoshana Sachi, Tamara Becher, Eric Dietel, Chris Dingess, Neil Reynolds, April Fitzsimmons
- Directors: Chris Manley, Harry Jierjian, Glen Winter, Jessica Lowrey, Omar Madha, Samira Radsi, Amanda Row, Kristin Windell
- Studio: Warner Bros. Television