Despite being one of my favorite shows and a neck-in-neck contender for my favorite thing to come out of the short-lived DC Universe streaming service along with Stargirl, I’ve somehow never found the time to write about Doom Patrol. In retrospect, I think this is because I didn’t think there was much point in reviewing the first two seasons. Much like Legends of Tomorrow, Doom Patrol is a testament to just how gloriously weird the DC Comics multiverse can be. This makes it somewhat hard to appraise objectively; a fact the show was all too aware of, with the second episode containing fourth-wall breaking jokes about how the only people still watching were “Grant Morrison fans, Reddit trolls… and the three new fans who stuck around after the donkey fart.”
The season 3 premiere, “Possibilities Patrol,” brings a swift end to the cliffhanger ending of Season 2 to shift the focus away from climactic superhero battles and back to the individual traumas of the inhabitants of Doom Manor. For Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero) his means facing an enemy from within as the Underground holding her many personalities collapses. For Cliff Steele (voiced by Brendan Fraser, with the body played by Riley Shanhan), this means trying to make up for his failings as a father by becoming a good grandfather. For Larry Trainor (voiced by Matt Bomer, with the body played by Matthew Zuk) this means finally achieving balance with the energy being that lives in his body. For Victor Stone (Jovian Wade) this means dealing with the consequences of his trying to save someone who didn’t want the help he had to offer. For Dorothy Spinner (Abi Monterey) it means coming to terms with growing up. And for Rita Farr (April Bowlby) it means taking charge of the team, such as they are.
In the midst of all this, a new threat emerges; a mysterious time traveler called Madame Rogue (Michelle Gomez). Precisely what she wants is unknown. Even she isn’t sure what she’s doing. This seems symbolic of the meandering tone of the first few episodes, which don’t establish a plotline for the season so much as they remind the audience that this is not your typical DC Comics adaptation with a tightly-plotted storyline plucked straight from the comics.
Case In Point: The second episode of the new season, “Vacay Patrol,” finds most of the team going on vacation at what is promised to be an exclusive and all-inclusive resort. Actually, the resort has seen better days and the only other attendee is Garguax, an alien conqueror who has been waiting for several decades to assassinate someone who has failed to show up at the appointed time. The episode is uniformly hilarious, but the highlight is a dance sequence which would not be out out of place in a James Gunn film. It serves no story purpose, but is deeply symbolic of how these characters come together to create beauty even as the seem to suffer alone.
The third episode, “Dead Patrol,” will be of interest to Neil Gaiman fans, as it introduces his Dead Boy Detective characters into the world of Doom Patrol. Why? Why the heck not? Oh, they have a purpose for showing up, which I dare not reveal. But honestly, two ghostly tween boys and a psychic tween girl solving mysteries is downright mundane by the standards of this show. The reasons they show up, however, are not.
Doom Patrol will not be everyone’s cup of tea. However, the first three episodes of Season 3 show that the series and its ensemble still have that certain quality that will please fans of the first two seasons. If you haven’t already experienced this weird little show, go watch Season 1 and start catching up!