Doom Patrol episode 2 review: Clumsy heroism could save a town


As the Doom Patrol gains a new member and potentially a new leader, the relocate and save a vanished town and their sanity.

The metal man might be the main antagonist on Doom Patrol, but Cyborg (Joivan Wade) and Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero) stole this episode, along with our hearts. Needless to say, we’re grateful for the Doom Patrol casting (and the fact that a live-action series finally exists); however, “Donkey Patrol” illustrates some of Mr. Nobody’s abilities as well as the team’s development to heroism.

While we’ve yet to see the team explicitly reclaim their well-deserved respect from society or Cloverton, saving the town from Mr. Nobody’s sanity-sapping sinkhole is an implicit redemption arch for the unlikely heroes, who used to be apathetic to gallantry in general. Morden’s powers to manipulate sanity give us some devastating insight into Rita, Victor (Cyborg), and Larry’s origin stories.

The only thing keeping our tears at bay is the knowledge these saddening flashbacks are only precursors to some of the most somber moments in and outside of Doom Maner.

Doom Patrol — Ep. 102 — “Donkey Patrol” — Photo Credit: Bob Mahoney / 2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Balancing apathy and heroic due diligence, Doom Patrol‘s “Donkey Patrol” showcases the clumsy characters as they transition to their rise to heroism. Though unintentional, the team’s segway to their superhero roles shows the complications behind fighting crime. To be fair, their unusual archenemy’s powers amplifies any typical job-related complications. However, the second episode also adds some framework to a new addition to Doom Patrol lore: Victor Stone.

Cyborg might be a more noteworthy member (and leader) of the Teen Titans or Justice League, and though he might not have been written into the weird comic panels of Doom Patrol, Wade illustrates Victor’s agency within a team, as well as his own autonomy. Wade captures Cyborg’s characteristic leadership role as he pushes the rest of the Doom Patrol to use their powers to help the town of Cloverton and the Chief. However, Victor’s determination shines in the concluding moments of the episode, when he tells his falls he wants to stay at Doom Maner because he’s always wanted to bring justice to villains, and Mr. Nobody pushed him to officially act on it. (See, Morden isn’t all bad.)

Then there’s Guerrero, who effortlessly portrays at least a dozen of Jane’s alters in this episode alone. We get it: Jane is Kay’s main alter, but we can admire Guerrero’s seamless transitions between each alter’s distinct personality.

Jane’s Baby Doll alter, who typically loves everyone and everything, is afraid of Cliff Steele’s robot form which preludes Cliff’s extended bouts of anger and depression in the comics. However, we hope his on-screen counterpart can get some closure from his archetypal intermittent frustration. Beyond introducing Crazy Jane’s other alters, the underground (her subconscious), and her and Cliff’s growing friendship, this episode implies that Jane could be the key to fighting and defeating Mr. Nobody.

Doom Patrol — Ep. 102B — “Donkey Patrol” — Photo Credit: Bob Mahoney / 2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Jane escaped the portal out insanity because her psyche is already compartmentalized. Mr. Nobody’s powers work to sap sanity from his victims. Inside the sinkhole that originally engulfed her, it projects use past traumas, insecurities, and narcissistic ideologies to keep the people inside it complacent.

Because Jane has Dissociative Identity Disorder (D.I.D.), her alters protect the real “Jane” (i.e. Kay) from her past traumas and anything that can trigger those traumatic memories by dividing her memories into her various personalities. The doorway of insanity, i.e. the donkey, spit her out because Mr. Nobody couldn’t use her mind against her because, beyond the powers each alter has, her alters are her mind’s best protection.

Even as an adamant Niles Caulder hater, the therapy scenes where Niles tries to help Jane process and cope with her childhood traumas make me appreciate his father figure of Doom Maner. He’s trying to treat her D.I.D., and it does show that his onscreen incarnation cares about the members of the Doom household… even if he does have questionable ways of showing it, which we’ll probably see later on in the series. Speaking of questionable approaches, “Donkey Patrol” showcases the overall messiness of the hero gig, and that’s where one of the many strengths on Doom Patrol lies.

Every heroic team goes through some turbulence, even before their team is officially formed, and thankfully Doom Patrol doesn’t stray from that thematic model. Sometimes heroes do mistakenly make things worse before they get the chance to efficiently save the day. In this case, they sometimes fall into a donkey’s mouth and end up reliving painful memories. Regardless, the series focuses on the clumsiness of heroism, and it works with the family dichotomy and right amount of self-loathing.

The second Doom Patrol episode reiterates the reason this DC Universe original is so successful: because it realizes that superheroes, along with comic fans, aren’t serious or perfect. Heroes are a mess, especially when they first start out. As the second episode starts to align Cyborg as the leader of the team, it also starts to refine the characters into their unwitting roles as unlikely heroes.

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Fighting their internal demons allowed Vic, Larry, and Rita to escape their mental imprisonment. However, the still have to find and free all of Cloverton from Mr. Nobody’s antics. Before the officially check off the heroic milestone of saving the day for the first time, the next episode will likely focus on Larry and his backstory. After all, the ending moments of “Donkey Patrol,” probably focused on Larry for a reason.