S01E15 — The Doom Patrol go their separate ways in the season finale.
Last time we met, I said something to the effect that this show knows who it is and what it wants to be. I should have included that it also knows HOW to be what it wants to be. It sounds vague, almost as if I’m being meta for the sake of being meta (and what a perfect show to be meta with) but truthfully, this isn’t a show for everyone, right? So, how do you make a show for the people that it is for? I’m sure that it’s easy to say, “Stay honest with the source material,” and by and large, that’s true (and especially in this case), but I think you also have to get everyone (actors, directors, show runners, lights…everyone) on the same page and 200% committed to the ideas that are on the page. Another thing I said last time was that it would be extremely easy for anyone making a superhero show, even based on a Vertigo title, to play it safe and either dumb things down or handle the source material with radioactive-proof gloves and just say, “You know, that’s just not how the medium of television works.”
Once you have everyone committed, from the top of the call-sheet down to the accountants, it’s then and only then that you can stand up, walk over to whoever thinks you can’t do it and shove a middle finger down their throats until it reaches the other side. Knowing that you have created something special, and this show is extremely special, means you have to take extreme lengths to protect it.
And I just want to put this show in a safe and forget the combination. I want to hold on to it and keep it protected.
Episode Fourteen ended with a bombshell; Niles Caulder was personally responsible for the “accidents” that befell the team.
All of them. Some were direct (he injected Jane with the drug that gave her powers), some indirect (convincing Silas to save Vic over his wife), and some accidentally (Cliff’s accident was supposed to be on the race track the day before the accident that killed his wife).
His reason? He wanted the secret of immortality that they all possess. This (each members’ immortality) is kept pretty vague but it was alluded to a few times throughout the season. I think I might have mentioned the idea once or twice, as well. As a result of this revelation, the team is…heartbroken, angry and, simply, broken.
One thing you can say for sure is that prior to this moment, the Doom Patrol came to an understanding, an acceptance of who they are and this reveal completely takes the rug out from underneath their progress. Mister Nobody sends them all back to their broken lives, taunts Niles by asking him how it feels to be a “nobody,” and then sends him out of the White Space.
1961 – The Ant Farm.
Niles rolls down the halls, talking to Joshua (Clay, aka Tempest) about a space anomaly that will be intercepted by a test pilot’s flight. It’s during this conversation that the “Immortus Project” is brought up. How this ties into General Immortus (from the comic) isn’t really revealed, but clearly, Niles is after the secret of immortality (it’s mentioned that Rita hasn’t aged since the 50’s) and is testing theories and ideas on people that, he says, “___.” (He says this later to the team, but it’s important to understand now.)
Back in the present (six months later), Rita and Larry are roommates and they are basically Will and Grace. Rita is an acting teacher for a bunch of asshole teens (who hate her or lust after her) and Larry is testing the limits of how long he and the Negative Spirit can be separated.
1976 – Doom Manor.
Best flashback ever. It’s New Year’s Eve, and Rita tells Larry to hurry up or he’ll miss “the booty song” (KC and the Sunshine Band’s “Shake Your Booty”). It’s a cute scene where we see Niles, Larry and Rita ring in 1977 while playing Monopoly…they’re like a family, in a way (which, again, makes his betrayal hurt so much). The festivities are interrupted by Forsythe from the Bureau/Ant Farm. The Bureau has found Jane.
Back in the present, Jane is living on the Doom Bus and has taken a drug from Joshua that suppresses ALL of her personalities, even Kay. She’s a junkie, and it’s extremely heartbreaking to see her fall this far, but there’s a silver lining; Cliff, who is her surrogate father, bringing her food and leaving it at the door of the bus, as he stands back, watching her fall apart, but ready to help her back up.
1988 – Doom Manor
Eleanor, Vic’s mom, has come to visit Niles, who is extremely despondent. He “introduces” her to a brain in a pan and reveals the real plan for Cliff (as stated above).
2014 – S.T.A.R. Labs Medical Wing
Niles and Silas have confrontation about what Silas did to save his son versus what Niles did to Larry, Rita, Jane and Cliff. One of the most well acted moments of the year, as you’d expect from Phil Morris and Timothy Dalton. Absolute perfection.
So, you get the gist of what’s going on.
We’re basically watching the pilot, with the origins, from behind the scenes, so to speak. There is so much packed into this first 30 minutes that it feels as if you watched a whole hour. I know in some ways, that’s a criticism, but here, I just mean that it is a full experience. You don’t feel like it’s an hour, but, because this is TV without the commercials, you get the feeling of a complete experience, of immersion.
There’s one last person to check in on, and that’s Mister Nobody, who, even though he’s victorious, doesn’t feel like a winner.
While wallowing in bottle on the toilet, he meets Ezekiel, the cockroach waiting for the Rapture that we met in Episode One. As the two of them realize there’s one last stone to turn over to have their revenge on Caulder and the team, they bring in one last character; Admiral Whiskers, the rat that chewed up Cliff’s insides. The three call themselves the Brotherhood of Dangerous Animals and put their plan into action.
The plan involves Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping” being played in the team’s heads. The sound is coming from Doom Manor, and Niles reveals that the Brotherhood has:
1. Trapped Danny the Street in a painting and
2. They have his daughter (!!).
They enter the painting only to find that it’s the Beard Hunter, singing the song at the Cabaret karaoke. Danny “tells” them that Flex has teleported the Dannyzens, and, for some reason, Ezekiel is the size of Godzilla.
So, let’s bring it all together; the Doom Patrol have entered a painting to rescue a genderqueer sentient street and a mystery daughter only to find that the Brotherhood of Dangerous Animals has turned on Mister Nobody.
And it gets weirder.
Giant Admiral Whiskers swallows Cliff. Jane goes into the Doll House to find Chief’s daughter. Nobody and Rita are doing shots.
And then, via Nobody’s narration, Ezekiel and Whiskers…
…start getting it on.
Look, man, I’m hazy on a lot of details because, I’ll admit, I was laughing my ass off. Somehow, a nuclear warhead goes off and the team survives because they were inside of Ezekiel (you know, because a roach can survive a nuclear blast). They’ve rescued Chief’s daughter, Dorothy Skinner (!). Danny is now a brick and Nobody and Beard Hunter are trapped in a blank painting.
Well…what did you think of the whole season?
I’m pretty sure I’ve made my feelings clear through all fifteen recap/reviews, but as much as I enjoy the show, I think DOOM PATROL was as innovative an original series as we’ve seen on streaming services, Netflix be damned. If Disney+ is bringing Marvel and Star Wars content, then DC must keep the quality of DOOM PATROL consistent, and raise the bar with TITANS to this level. The question now is what will the next live action shows bring. Will SWAMP THING or STARGIRL be more in tune with the quality of TITANS or DP? Guess we’re about to find out.
EXTRA POINTS & NITPICKS:
- Alan Tudyk should get a lot of credit for being the right amount of weird that the show needed. His recap at the top of the episode is worth watching, so don’t skip it.
- Someone needs to do a compilation of Admiral Whiskers’ quotes.
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