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‘Doom Patrol’ S01E02: ‘Donkey Patrol’ (review)

S01E02 — Following Mr. Nobody’s capture of The Chief, the Doom Patrol investigate the mysterious albino donkey and discover it’s a door to another universe, where Mr. Nobody is in control.

 
First, I want to give credit to Variant Comics’ YouTube channel for their History of the Doom Patrol video. As I said last week, there was a lot here that I knew, but it’s never a bad idea to get a recap.

We open with the hole in the world that we left off on and a cockroach preacher talking about the end of days. To say that we’re getting weirder would be an understatement, but at the same time, there is something very…not mainstream, but classic…in the heroism in this episode.

Namely, Vic Stone/Cyborg. Joivan Wade plays Vic as if he were written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by George Perez. I mean, more than any other adaptation that features Cyborg, this right here is classic Cyborg. He’s not tortured, he’s not brooding, he’s not a “grimdark edge lord; he’s accepted his new-ish (in terms of time within the context of the series) fate and is a famous, if not popular, hero in Detroit.

There’s even talk of him being a possible addition to the Justice League in five years. Phil Morris, who is always a welcome addition to anything superhero related, plays Silas Stone much closer to the comic book version, too, and it works well. I can’t say for sure if the reason why these two are never made to be more like their comic book counterparts is because they need the tension of an emo Cyborg against an apologetic Silas, but whatever that reason may be, they should just lean into the source material because it works.

After Mr. Nobody kidnaps the Chief, Crazy Jane jumps after them into the hole to oblivion.

The entire town of Covington, OH (another show in Ohio? What gives?) is sucked down into the hole, too, and the news reports are what get Vic on the road to Doom Mansion. Seems Vic, Silas and Niles all have a history with each other, which is a nice way of showing that the universe is connected (Jane, later, mentions the Flash as well). Vic has history with Caulder (Caulder even invited him to stay at the mansion), so Vic has some skin in the game, so to speak.

Remember that albino donkey from last week?

Well, turns out the ass (meaning the donkey, not his backside) is a doorway to the realm of Mr. Nobody, i.e., where the hole led to. The donkey spits up Crazy Jane, and the team has more questions than answers. Jane has a bit of a freak-out, and ends up surfacing at least six (more or less) different personalities.

Cliff has some pity and seeks to help her out, but he realizes, after viewing the Chief’s extensive video interviews with Jane, that only Niles can help her.

Vic, Larry and Rita end up going inside the donkey’s mouth (which was straight up hilarious and weird) and confront Mr. Nobody on his own turf.

Things get extremely meta, and I can’t commend the cast, crew and producers enough. TV doesn’t get this…odd, usually. I think it’s because it can turn people off. Maybe an HBO or Showtime show can do it, but CW shows? Fox? I don’t think it’s possible.

Tudyk as the omniscient narrator who isn’t exactly forbidden to interfere will kind of bring to mind something like Deadpool, but I think the show moves that bizarro button a little higher than Doom Patrol.

In the beginning of the episode, Chief asks Nobody who he’s talking to, and Nobody replies, “Grant Morrison fans, Reddit trolls with DC subscriptions, and the three new fans who stuck around after the donkey fart.”

It serves to make Doom Patrol unique, which is good because I’m seeing a lot of people compare this to Umbrella Academy, which is fair, but also not exactly accurate. It’s like comparing Granny Smith apples to Macintosh apples; yeah, they’re both apples, but they taste different and have a different consistency. I think it’s very easy to enjoy both as separate, but equal, things.

My complaint last week about Rita getting kind of a shallow origin gets thrown out the window because April Bowlby has a lot do work with this week. In the closing moments of the show, Cyborg tells her, “You were a star today, Rita.”

Back in her room, looking at the mirror, she says, “Damn right, I’m a star.”

Same goes for Jane (Diane Guerrero) who absolutely makes you believe that she, herself, is channeling all 64 separate personalities with a preternatural ease. She’s doing a similar job as Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black, and if there’s any justice, Guerrero will be nominated for an Emmy. It’s uncanny how well she does.

Will you watch next week’s episode?

At this point, I’m pretty sure that while I was hoping for the best with TITANS, and was reassured with YOUNG JUSTICE, DOOM PATROL is the only reason to get the DC Universe subscription.

EXTRA POINTS & NITPICKS:

  • “I AM A GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINEE!” I love you, Rita.
  • The use of Bowie’s “Lazarus” in the final moments of the episode was chilling and perfect.
  • Not really a fan of the apparent episode naming convention, as in…

NEXT WEEK: S01E02 – PUPPET PATROL

 

Vito Delsante is a comic book writer, graphic novelist, editor, letterer, and the co-creator/writer of STRAY with Sean Izaakse, and THE PURPLE HEART with Dean Haspiel and artist, Ricardo Venâncio. He’s written for DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Image Comics, AdHouse Books, and Simon & Schuster, among others, and his stories have been reprinted in other countries. He lives in Pittsburgh, PA with his wife, Michelle, his daughter, Sadie, his son, James, and his pitbull, Kirby.  You can find him online at incogvito.com and you can follow him on Twitter @incogvito

 

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