Aka Thank Goodness Patrol. Sorry, just need to acknowledge how everyone was pretty sure MAX was going to delete the rest of “Doom Patrol” off the hard drive without dropping them.
Things pick back up where we left off–the team is in over their heads (again), and the end of the world is neigh (again), and they’re all too mad at each other to save it (again). It’s a glorious return, finally giving Joivan Wade a chance to air all of his character’s grievances in a strong scene. He’s teamed up with childhood friend grown-up Elijah R. Reed; they’re trapped in Orqwith with everyone else, but Reed doesn’t have any superpowers. Good thing drawings become reality in Orqwith.
Out of nowhere (well, almost), Wade blows up at Reed about how much being a superhero sucked, even if it led to Wade being a lousy friend too. Wade—sans cybernetics so long now you have to wonder if they’re coming back—doesn’t have exterior conflicts similar to his teammates, but he and Reed’s arc this episode perfectly showcases why he’s “Doom Patrol” material. It also shows how awkwardly the show is balanced. If it weren’t for Reed, Wade wouldn’t have anyone to team up with.
Diane Guerrero, Brendan Fraser (talking his part), and Riley Shanahan (walking the rest of that part) are also prisoners in Orqwith, except they’re on a different mission. Oh, right. Wade and Reed are trying to rescue Matt Bomer (voice) and Matthew Zuk (bandages). The episode’s got no room for Bomer’s moping, so they turn his rescue into a running joke. But the main stuff is Guerrero and Fraser bickering their way through newly revealed villain Daniel Annone’s Bond villain exposition dump, complete with an alternate-reality digression.
Guerrero needs Fraser to stay strong, except the only thing Fraser’s guaranteed not to do is stay strong.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, Michelle Gomez and April Bowlby are trying to remain calm while enraged at one another. It’s a character relationship episode for them, and it’s so good. Gomez wants to make things work so they can save their friends—she’s on a redemption kick, after all—but Bowlby wants to focus on how Gomez is redemption arcing because she wronged the team. Bowlby especially.
And they have too much to drink.
The cliffhanger finale’s got a deep-cut reveal, and—like the best “Patrol”—is tragically human.
Bosede Williams’s direction is good. Orqwith isn’t the most visually interesting alternate dimension, but Williams finds the drama in all the scenes. She gives all the actors a little more time, which really pays off. Some great Clint Mansell and Kevin Kiner music, as usual; the great thing about “Patrol”’s score is how the show often uses it as a contrast. So this episode, there’s a contrasting energy to Gomez and Bowlby’s arguments. It doesn’t worry about matching the style; rather the intensity of the moments.
“Doom Patrol”’s so, so good. Thank goodness it survived.