blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Doom Patrol (2019) s04e03 – Nostalgia Patrol

This episode leaves the butts behind—had to—and gets going with the other big bad of the season. The season premiere had special cameo guest star Mark Sheppard explaining he and the other wizards knew the Doom Patrol would have to fight the butts this season, but they’ve also got to fight someone or something called Immortus. This episode slowly introduces that villain to the team while letting everyone work through some unresolved issues.

Things pick up immediately after last episode; April Bowlby’s mad no one wants her to be team leader, Matt Bomer can’t convince his alien energy baby parasite to trust him, Michelle Gomez is sad she’s making Brendan Fraser be a super-powered weapon and not a person, Diane Guerrero’s floundering, and Joivan Wade wants to go hang out with old friends. He couldn’t before when he was Cyborg because… well, even though half the episode’s character development is in Wade’s subplot (Gomez gets the other half, everyone else is having a quirky superhero episode), the show passes the buck on letting Wade explain himself.

After his accident in high school—ten years ago—he ditched his friends and hasn’t seen them since. “Doom Patrol” has always had problems with years. Most of the regular cast literally sat around the mansion for decades, waiting for the show to start. Wade hanging out with pals Elijah R. Reed, Zari James, and Moses Jones at an early eighties sitcom pizza parlor (where they go on to play LaserTag), it feels more uncanny than the team trying to save Bowlby from being trapped inside her old movies.

Where the episode stumbles with Wade, it excels with Gomez. She’s the new team leader, and instead of being a ruthless hard-ass, she tries to be more empathetic, which disappoints the gang. Then things go wrong on the mission, and Gomez is forced to become a leader right fast. Unfortunately, she drinks her way through instead, leading to a phenomenal drunken monologue from Gomez. Kristin Windell’s direction is solid throughout, but that scene with Gomez is spectacular. Great editing from Brian Wessel too. And then Gomez. So good.

Despite ending on a precarious cliffhanger, lots of the episode is for laughs. Given the amount of f-bombs throughout, they could’ve called it Phucked Patrol instead of Nostalgia. The script, credited to Tanya Steele, is good, with some of the Wade stuff a little thin, but then leading in hard on the f-bombs—at least one cast member a subplot (save Wade) gets to do an f-bomb string. It’s hilarious, especially since Bowlby complaining about the cursing was a plot point in a previous episode.

The quirky superhero action is good. Guerrero, Fraser, and Riley Shanahan are trying to find Bowlby in a sixties horror movie while talking about Guerrero’s out-of-nowhere potential romance (or potential for romance). Shanahan has some excellent humor body work while Fraser’s making Guerrero (and the audience) uncomfortable with his willingness to discuss her love life. Then Bomer and Matthew Zuk make a new friend in the old movies while not paying enough attention to the warning signs.

Sendhil Ramamurthy—a returning DC Comics adaptation actor (he was on “The Flash” one season, and terrible)—plays the new friend. He seems like he’ll be back, along with some more new characters.

It’s a good episode. Lots of showcases for the cast—Bowlby in the old movies is great—and it’s too bad they couldn’t crack the Wade storyline. It’s just too forced. But, otherwise, “Doom Patrol”’s sailing smoothly into the season.

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