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‘Doom Patrol’ S01E14: ‘Penultimate Patrol’ (review)

S01E14 — The Doom Patrol enter the Nobodyverse to save the Chief.

Holy shit.

What you are about to read is 100% true and, as I’ve said all season, this show knows exactly what it wants to be, and is not afraid to be whatever that is. That’s a rare thing, when you think about it, because thanks to the internet and social media, fans (even those that aren’t fans) feel entitled to express their disdain for just about everything. Studio execs knees start jerking and they start to second guess themselves and suddenly…everything changes. Now look, I realize that I’m part of the problem, but I’m a small part of the problem. I mean, why am I writing these anyway? Whose opinion is being influenced by me, of all people?

Back to my point, it would be easy for Berlanti, Johns and everyone over at WB to second guess this show and pull back. I can easily hear their excuse being, “Because that’s the way we’ve always made television,” and they’d be correct.

Instead, we’ve been given a gift because someone somewhere must have said, “Yeah, fuck it. Go nuts.”

Because despite the fact that S&P and censors exist on EVERY platform, this show gets away with a lot. I mean, even in the idea of Mr. Nobody talking to the audience and insulting our intelligence…that’s not something TV execs are normally cool with. And if it sounds like maybe these notions are outdated, guess what? Take a look at who runs these studios and makes these shows: The same old patriarchy, honeybuns.

That’s what makes this show special; Its adherence to NOT adhering to the norm. After a pretty standard opening origin of Mr. Nobody (loser vows to not be a loser anymore), we catch up with the team, on the hunt for the Beard Hunter. I had originally thought he was dead (at the end of his debut episode, it seemed as if he was a goner), but apparently, he was alive all this time and living…on Danny the Street.

Danny has given him refuge and Ernest doesn’t do that anymore. Danny reveals that the Chief is in “the White Space,” and what follows is one of the most amazing descriptions of the power of comics (seemingly torn from Morrison’s Supergods book) followed by one of the most absurd uses of an absurd superpower ever.

The White Space, Flex explains, exists at the end of the story, where the content ends. Or, in other words, the gutters of a comic. That is so simple and so elegant, and it is possibly a better way of saying Limbo as I’ve ever heard. Now, being so well versed in what the White Space is, of course Flex would have a way (“a flex”) to get there. Buuuut…he’s a bit out of practice. So, he…uh…

He makes everyone…

…EVERYONE…even Danny…

…orgasm.

Or, as Jane puts it…

Honest to God, this is the greatest moment in television history. You have to watch the whole scene, because the absurdity of it is worth the 9 bucks a month to watch this incredible WTF of a show. And poor Cliff. Remember in TITANS, when he asked Raven to describe food to him? Cliff, so desperate to not be the odd man out fakes one for the team. Classic.

Flex gets it right and the team (Cliff, Rita, Larry and Jane) are transported to the White Space…exactly moments or hours before their lives are changed. This is, of course, Mr. Nobody’s doing. He offers them a chance to replay their lives, with no tragedy, if they stop trying to find Niles. It’s tempting, and they are all weak enough to consider it, but strong enough to know that the greater good depends on them defeating Nobody.

Jane almost gives in, and it becomes a struggle between her and Hammerhead. It’s really quite…sad, really. Watching her internal conflict come to the surface is hard, but ultimately, they all enter the White Space, which is infinite. They are separated, until Rita, ever the actress, realizes that she can change the story, by changing the narrative. They find each other and the final confrontation begins.

Before going further, let’s check in with Vic, who is at his father’s bedside, and finding out that Silas not only manipulated Vic’s memories, and that his father had to choose between saving Vic and his wife.

Silas is remorseful, and you can see it, but Vic is angry…he’s justified in his anger, because he realizes that his father changed his narrative. Vic leaves his father to join his friends.

Back to the White Space. As they get ready to confront Nobody, they are reunited with Niles, and Jane’s Dr. Harrison persona comes up (remember her from Episode 5?).

Both Harrison and Nobody are aware they are in a television show (Nobody even claims he can take over, “…this whole streaming service.”). The team decides not to fight back, when suddenly…

…Vic shows up and blasts Nobody with a “Booyah” to boot.

The team has won. They go home.

ONE YEAR LATER (it’s funny how often DC has used this device)

The team is ready to have a briefing (complete with costumes!!), when an alarm goes off. A giant robot has appeared in a park and the team jump into action.

Again.

And again.

And again.

And every time, they lose to the tune of “Hot Diggity.” They die. It is so reminiscent of the comics. They’re called the Doom Patrol because they are DOOMED.

After multiple deaths, Niles realizes they never defeated Nobody and makes them stop running into action when Vic enters the Manor. The Vic that Booyah’d Nobody…is Nobody.

They never left the White Space. They can’t beat him. They’ll never beat him, but, he says, they can be free of him.

Nobody gets Niles to admit that he has lied to the team.

Since Day One.

“The tragedies that befell you, they weren’t accidents,” he says. “I was responsible for everything that has happened to each of you.”

And Mr. Nobody stands behind him, with the most evil shit eating grin ever.

Smash Cut to Black

Will you watch the next episode?

Last one, baby.

EXTRA POINTS & NITPICKS:

  • Hey, music supervisor! Great use of Iggy and the Stooges, “Gimme Danger!”

NEXT WEEK: S1:E15 – EZEKIEL 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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