blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Doom Patrol (2019) s04e02 – Butt Patrol

I’m hesitant to call anything “Doom Patrolling,” a la “Westworlding,” but this episode comes close. The team is recovering from their trip to the future and discovering they bring about the “Butt-pocalypse;” one of the zombie butts from last season has survived to destroy the world. April Bowlby’s all set to lead the team to track down Jon Briddell, the bad guy everyone assumes is involved, but the rest of the team gives her a vote of no confidence.

So it seems like we’re going to have an introspective mansion episode—and we do for a couple characters—setting up a bigger mission they’d be doing if they were regular superheroes. It’s mostly a first-season device, but they’ve fallen back on it a few times over the seasons. It’s a fine device, and there have been great episodes with it, but it’s the second episode of the new season… little soon.

Luckily, it’s not that episode at all. Bowlby and Matt Bomer (and Matthew Zuk) have a mansion episode, with Bomer trying to reconnect with his energy parasite—it’s scared of the zombie butt future—and Bowlby is mad Bomer’s not more supportive of her team-leading abilities. Their arc ends up being the least impressive. The show’s not ready to reveal the future energy parasite information, so it’s more about clearing the air; while Bowlby’s mad at Bomer for not being in her corner, he’s angry she came back from the past last season a different person. Albeit, she came back to the future the long way, living ninety years or whatever.

It’d be excellent acting fodder for Bowlby in particular if it were better. Instead, it’s filler until the rest of the team gets back home. Joivan Wade’s upset no one wants him as team leader, so he’s going to go on his own mission, having tracked down a frozen zombie butt. Diane Guerrero tags along, and they have a decent little subplot. They also get to hash out some of their character drama, setting up nice scenes for the closing montage. Guerrero is doing her best work on the show this season, even back to playing her regular persona.

Meanwhile, Michelle Gomez realizes they just need to snuff out the problem, so she enlists Brendan Fraser (more Riley Shanahan for the body work) to help her. It becomes this exceptionally depressing arc about Fraser’s newfound ability to feel (just in one finger, but still) and Gomez’s muted self-loathing as she finds herself again manipulating meta-humans.

Framing the entire episode are the adventures of Keiko Agena’s linguist; starting in flashback, we see how she went to the Ant Farm to work with the butts before the show started. Agena’s real good.

Outside Bomer and Bowlby’s filler arc, it’s a strong episode; script credit to Eric Dietel.

Plus, singing, man-eating butts. What else do you want?

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