Devan Long is back this episode—looks like he might recur the rest of the season in fact—and he’s so good I almost want to watch his other stuff. He’s got the right amount of humor and the right amount of heart for the show. He’s stuck with Matt Bomer, Diane Guerrero, and Robotman (Brendan Fraser—and I may come to regret this statement later—is doing fairly well at this point—and Riley Shanahan) while April Bowlby gets to go and try to provide emotional support to Phil Morris and Joivan Wade.
Again, I know there’s the age difference and Wade’s nowhere near as good as Bowlby, but there’s definitely something more shippable about them than anyone else in the show. Though I guess there’s nothing shippable at all about anyone else in the show. Regardless, lots of good scenes for Bowlby, who’s trying to apply her recent personal growth to being a good friend and… dare I spoil… leader.
It helps she finds a sympathetic ear in Ed Asner, who pops in for an Ed Asner cameo and manages to be exactly what Bowlby needs to act off, which wasn’t a point I wanted to make but it’s definitely one of the things about “Doom Patrol.” There’s not always the actors you need to pull off the scene. Sometimes the other person just can’t carry it—hell, even though Guerrero’s not significantly better like Fraser… being around Long helps her performance. Some of it is definitely just the content—she barely gets anything to do on her own and the stuff she does with Long just suggests whoever cast her didn’t test her with the other actors on the right material—but she’s less bad than usual. She’s bad more infrequently than usual. Whatever doesn’t sound like a compliment and maintains a shade of objectivity.
The end of the episode is some bookkeeping, getting everything setup for the last two episodes of the season, which are probably at least a two-parter given Alan Tudyk shows up and mugs to the camera in full narration, bitching about it taking so long to get from episode one to episode fourteen. They leave Tudyk on by himself too long and you start wondering what it’d be like with an actually dynamic performance in the part instead of just them just feigning it with Tudyk.
The writing would have to be better on the character too… probably wouldn’t work for episodic TV.
The ending does what it can to undue previous successes in the episode, but there’s too much good from Bowlby and Long.
The show also establishes—not at the end—it’s willing to be cruel, whereas the last episode implied there were limits to its narrative cruelness. Here… not so much.