Doom Patrol review: Exercising some interesting storytelling


“Flex Patrol” exercises a lot of tragic storytelling, but it breaks up the turmoil with some comedy. (Which we’re grateful for.)

We’re proud parents. Over the last 13 episodes, we’ve watched our angsty but lovable children grow into a somewhat official superhero team. Our scrapbook is teeming with a lot of memories from our kids’ years as infant heroes.

From Cliff taking his first steps in his new body to Jane and Rita rediscovering their power in their own distinct ways, we’re cataloged it all. Okay, you’ve got us. It’s less of a scrapbook and more of a folder of hundreds of screenshots, complete with our have a dozen covert stan Twitter accounts.

We just want to be supportive parents and brag about our family, after all. Some people parent actual babies, furry or scaley babies, or succulent saplings. For us, we have the Doom Patrol. In our latest adventure on our proud parent saga, the Doom Patrol comes closer together amid some grippingly devastating stories, but not every message is without fault.

Tragedy is the theme for this episode. However, “Flex Patrol” treats us to some wholesome content and underlining narratives between the harrowing sprints. Interchanging saddening stories with comic relief has become habitual for the Doom Patrol writers and directors, and episode 13 is a wonderfully heartbreaking testament to that.

Imagine a comic television show universe where all our years crying through the latest Batfam drama, sniffling at all the death in DCeased and Heroes in Crisis, and sobbing about Harley and Ivy being adorable girlfriends were leading up to the ultimate try not to cry challenge (comic media edition). Doom Patrol is the final test.

In short, we cried a lot this episode, mostly courtesy to Larry’s almost-self-sacrifice, Dolly becoming a plot device, and Jane and Cliff genuinely empathetic heart-to-heart. However, it was worth it to see Cliff Steele brief acting reel and the related comedic effects this week.

Doom Patrol — Ep. 113 — “Flex Patrol” — Photo Credit: Mark Hill / 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Doom Patrol builds up Flex Mentallo’s giddy charismatic personality, and in the same episode, it took away his light: Dolly. We knew that Victor’s arc from last week wouldn’t be the most saddening moment this season. Acknowledging that did nothing to prepare us Perhaps we like this kind of cruel punishment because, although we’re not over anything, this week creates the perfect revenge arc and it brought the heroes closer together in the process.

Episode 13 is a testament to endurance… our endurance. Oh, devastating episode sure does build up Mr. Nobody’s villainous repertoire though. However, the Bureau of Normalcy might have overshadowed Morden’s spotlight this week thanks to their dusting that would make Thanos jealous.

Building on last week’s devastating conclusion, this week’s episode ends on another tragedy but it serves as a purpose to bring the team closer together. The cost of the vengeful bonding session? A woman in a refrigerator. This time Dolly was the woman in the refrigerator who’s disintegration inspired Flex to align with the Doom Patrol and track down Mr. Nobody.

The almost bittersweet melancholy in “Flex Patrol” is the muscle of the episode, but there are a few areas that could have benefited from additional training. Namely, a slur for Romani people slipped through Flex Mentallo’s reminiscent retellings of his favorite television show. Given the ongoing violence against Romani communities on a global scale, it’s upsetting to see that word in an episode of a successfully healthy and progressive series. Likewise, there are some concerning implications in Rita’s heartfelt monologue about her past.

Doom Patrol — Ep. 113 — “Flex Patrol” — Photo Credit: Mark Hill / 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

We’re elated to see Rita grow as a character and hone her strength and her autonomy over herself, grief, and her past. However, part of her monologue to the then-disguised Mr. Nobody was troubling. While Rita finally opened up about her triggers about babies, she implicitly conflated her disability as a punishment for her selfishness in the past.

Disability by no means is a punishment. Still, we’re hopeful that the series will use this adverse scene as a way to explore Rita’s internalized ableism so that she can better accept her disability and her body. After all, Doom Patrol focuses on disabled superheroes, disabled issues, and mental health, and we hope the series will extend this dialogue in Rita’s continual character growth.

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We’ve rallied the legion of Doom Patrol fans and we’re building an army to help protect our favorite dysfunctional family from Mr. Nobody. Sure, they probably don’t need our help, but after Victor’s internal distress and fridging Dolly, we’re ready for a fight. Speaking of Cyborg, what’s next for him not that he’s taking a hiatus from the team?