Mr. Nobody has finally managed to exact his revenge, exposing the lies of Niles Caulder – the Doom Patrol’s Chief; the problem is that he’s getting negative reviews from some critics of the show, who wonder if this is the worst TV show ever. Is he truly just some generic, hammy villain with a clichéd plan of revenge? What do viewers and critics alike want to see?! How is a reality-altering villain meant to please anybody these days?! However, remembering several dangling sub-plots from a few episodes ago (and spurred back into action by Ezekiel the cockroach and Admiral Whiskers the rat) Mr. Nobody decides to prove the haters and critics wrong.
It’s irrelevant that the Doom Patrol have gone their separate ways. After all, who cares that Rita is teaching a drama class to ungrateful students, and happily living with Larry? Who cares about Crazy Jane suppressing her multiple personalities while being watched over by the sheltering Cliff? Who cares about Cyborg living like a recluse, solving online crimes instead of being a traditional superhero? Oh… maybe some viewers do. It doesn’t matter though, because The Chief needs their help once again and the call of Chumbawumba’s Tubthumping is the alarm signal for action…
So, it’s the season finale and the question has been asked: Is Doom Patrol the worst TV show ever?
No. No, it isn’t. It isn’t even the worst DC TV show ever. At the end of the day, it’s really good. It isn’t perfect by any means, and this first season has been a rather uneven affair, but it’s certainly better than several other high-profile DC shows at the moment. In fact, it’s one of the best if not the best… depending, of course, on what you want from it. It’s this same uneven, almost schizophrenic nature of the show that’s highlighted in this episode, offering up the best and worst elements for fans and critics alike.
Picking up from the previous episode’s unspectacular and predictable reveal that The Chief isn’t a particularly nice person, we get to see the fallout of this dud of a bombshell. It’s rather nice to see the team having drifted apart without the melodrama of how it all unfolded, and the brief peeks into their lives is fascinating; the same can be said for the flashbacks of The Chief and his work behind the scenes to affect them. It’s solid work, and represents some of the best elements of the show in terms of being a “realistic” superhero drama.
It’s everything the Doom Patrol should be for “serious adult” audiences.
But, as Mr. Nobody would be the first to point out, is that really what the show should be? Just another not-quite-Netflix level deconstruction of the world of superheroes? It’s unfortunate that the knowing wink to the audience – given by the criticisms Mr. Nobody addresses – is a little too self-aware and played too broadly again. The show practically dislocates its own shoulder trying to pat itself on the back at how clever it is; but once more there’s also a grain of truth to the criticisms and to dismiss them entirely would be wrong.
The second half of the episode is a mixed bag of ideas from the comics, and some originality is shown in making them all fit together even if it may offend the hardcore fans by making some massive changes. However, even though it’s completely different in tone from the first half of the episode, it functions as a hilarious off-kilter parody of cliché-ridden superhero/supervillain showdowns. Like the Ghostbusters saving the world by stopping a giant marshmallow man, it subverts expectations by throwing some bonkers ideas and comedy into the mix.
It’s everything the Doom Patrol should be for “noncomformist” fans who want some weirdness and fun.
The problem is that those two halves of the show fit together awkwardly, creating a jarring impression that the production doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. Viewers who want the “serious” show may be let down by the episode’s ending – and the season itself; meanwhile, those who revel in the irreverent, chaotic nature of the Doom Patrol may be disappointed in the beginning of the episode and the plodding pace of the show in general. Some will say it went too far at times, others will say it didn’t go far enough. It was too serious, too funny, too grim, too crazy, too original… or wasn’t enough of any of those things. And when it sometimes tries to plant itself in the middle ground, it lets down both sides.
Doom Patrol has never quite been able to please everyone. It can’t, and by its very nature it doesn’t (and shouldn’t) fit the standard formulas. To audiences it may be the best, it may be the worst, or it may be “meh”. But it is what it is, and credit to the show for at least trying to find its own unique voice. Whether it succeeded or failed is up to viewers to decide.
This episode has flaws. At times some of the dialogue and the performances are lacking, but there are other moments – The Chief’s discussion with Cyborg’s father Silas is a prime example – that are truly phenomenal. The story could have used some work and the battle to save Danny the Street turns Danny into a background character (or, technically, just background), instead of highlighting the high stakes of the conflict. The effects and artistic creativity are lacking at times as well. Yet the characters are likeable and well handled and, in true Doom Patrol fashion, they’re engaging and entertaining enough to keep the fans hooked.
Ultimately, this episode is a solid ending for the first season of Doom Patrol. The show still has a long way to go but, hopefully, it’ll be allowed to continue so that we can follow their greatest adventures.
Doom Patrol - Ezekiel Patrol
A crazy, entertaining ending for DC’s freakiest team.