This season finale of “Doom Patrol” is not perfect because it realizes all my hopes for the season; it’s perfect and just happens to realize all my hopes for the season. First and foremost, it doesn’t play chicken with the network (or, in this case, streaming service) as far as renewal. We get closure. There are open plot threads, with things primarily unresolved for about half the team, but nothing to ruin a binge or rewatch if they didn’t get a fourth season. Not like they did last time, though Rona played a part there.
The episode opens with a resolution to the previous episode’s cliffhanger and a return of the Sisterhood of Dada. Well, at least Wynn Everett, who’s got some strong words for April Bowlby while also working on her low-key seduction of Diane Guerrero (who can exist in Everett’s inter-dimensional fog separate from her host). Everett takes Bowlby to task for everything Bowlby needs to be taken to task about and sets up a resolution for that arc.
Bowlby gets her whole arc this season, ditto Matt Bomer and Matthew Zuk, ditto Michelle Gomez. Brendan Fraser and Riley Shanahan get some resolution, but there are also some open issues. Guerrero and Joivan Wade are similarly in the resolved enough camp. Good enough for a finale. It’s really Bowlby, Gomez, Bomer, and Fraser’s episode, with the show really leveraging Gomez and Bowlby. Gomez “wins” in terms of best performance, but it’s also because she’s got something of a softball compared to Bowlby, who’s still gazing into the abyss.
Especially after Bowlby confronts the villainous Brain, who’s assumed Fraser’s robot body, meaning Zuk gets to go wild with the physical performance this episode. The way the show’s been able to introduce the Brain and sidekick Monsieur Mallah into the main narrative and get them a complete arc in, what, three episodes, is incredibly impressive. It’s not as remarkable as the closure on the Bowlby and Gomez time-traveling stuff, but it’s still fantastic work. The time travel stuff and the layers upon layers of character development running through it are “Doom Patrol: Season Three”’s singular achievement. I didn’t think they’d ever be able to pull it off, and they do. Just right, scene after scene, beat after beat.
Guerrero’s got a reasonably good arc about placating bossy fellow persona Catherine Carlen before getting a nice tense, cliffhanger-ready plotline with Fraser. Wade’s entirely support this episode, starting with Bomer and Zuk, but it’s good support; Bomer’s got to make some big life decisions, which juxtapose nicely with Wade’s recent big life decisions. So while Wade doesn’t get his own thing here, he’s set to have an exciting arc next season.
“Doom Patrol”’s successes here are, obviously, hard to compare to anything else because “Doom Patrol”’s not really like anything else. Even as it plays with the same toys as other superhero media, its character development-driven stakes are entirely different. Not to mention the acting’s mostly spectacular and leagues beyond other franchises.
It’s an actually wonderful show, and I can’t wait for season four. I mean, I can because season three wraps up so nicely—the thing could jump every shark (impossible thanks to the cast, of course), and there’d still be a fantastic thirty-five-episode complete narrative. “Doom Patrol”’s such rare delight.