Doom Patrol episode 14 review: Defining villains and heroes


“Penultimate Patrol” features more surprising comedy amid its big reveals and the ambiguity between heroism and villainy.

We finally have the superhero show that Mr. Nobody has been waiting for. Granted, we probably shouldn’t be taking suggestions on heroism from Nobody.

In a series that has managed to heighten our interest amid all its comic accuracy, canon Easter eggs, and a slow build to ultimate team up, “Penultimate Patrol” is finally about superheroes. The second to last episode in the season brings us a definition between villains and heroes — because spotting the difference is more difficult than we imagined.

Starting with some context in Mr. Nobody’s villainous backstory (at least as Nobody), Doom Patrol continues the theme of villains who struggle to become proficient villains. In the same episode that redefines Beard Hunter as someone who never really was a villain, seeing as he was manipulated by the Bureau of Normalcy, the series reveals that Nobody’s motive is heartbreak. Well, that and getting fired from the Brotherhood of Evil and getting replaced with Monsieur Mallah.

Somehow, it’s fitting that someone as insecure as Mr. Nobody would amplify his villainy just because he got dumped. In the full spectrum of weirdness, his ex who was conditionally supportive of his evil career path seemed like a perfect fit in the growing Doom Patrol mythos.

Beyond Nobody’s flashback-riddled doom and gloom (with an emphasis on the doom part), Doom Patrol finds a way to ring in the laughs before breaking our hearts with a big reveal that the entire season has foreshadowed.

As usually, we willingly subject ourselves to heartbreak but it’s all worth it for the scenes at Danny Street, and the wholesome moments leading up to the unexpected street-wide orgy (save for Robotman). The great finishing of Doom Patrol 2019 counts as an orgy, right?

Flex might be a little rusty with using his Muscles of Mystery, and the interesting capabilities of his powers definitely add extra enigma to his brawn. Regardless, it’s the second-best climax in the second to last episode of the season.

Doom Patrol — Ep. 114 — “Penultimate Patrol” — Photo Credit: Annette Brown / 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

This episode pays homage to the team’s journey to becoming superheroes, as well as a family, makeshift detectives, and apocalypse-stoppers. Because of this, episode 14 almost acts as a commemorative recap.

The most refreshing moment is when you notice, behind all the narrative context, that the team has been welcoming and accepting of everything weird. Whether it’s from their growth in the absence of the Chief or the Bureau of Normalcy’s aversion that doesn’t fit their monotype of typical, the Doom Patrol doesn’t make a big deal about anyone, any street, or any meta-human.

It’s almost nostalgic to recognize how far they’ve grown since their earlier days with a sanity-sapping sinkhole — like we’re watching our kids grow up to be the chaotic good the world needs, but doesn’t deserve. Like any heroes, they have to stop the bad guy (even though they probably need to get better at detecting villains, given they’ve been trying to rescue one this entire season).

While Mr. Nobody breaks the fourth wall through a hearty chunk of the first season, watching Dr. Harrison breakdown the villain’s lackluster run at being the Worst Villain of the Month for practically his whole life is a weirdly powerful moment.

We’re not sure what being bad at being… well, being bad says about Nobody. He is still the epitome of terrible, but it recharges our fandom to see Jane’s alter take down Nobody by wielding his inferiority complex as a weapon against him, especially when he’s projected his doubts and regrets onto the heroes most of the season.

Of course, Harrison and Cyborg didn’t actually take down Nobody. They just prompted the twisted villain to put Niles in a living nightmarish Groundhog Dog loop. This brings us to the now-televised moment we’ve been waiting for all season: Niles’ villainous undertones, as well as his evil past that runs deeper than his former affiliations with General Immortus (Dr. Fuchs).

At the end of the episode, Niles admits to causing all of the team’s accidents. This sets up a noteworthy comic arc, plus opinions about Niles’ classic run as a villain acting as a hero, who’s actually trying to sort of become a hero… but mostly just for him.

Yeah, it’s complicated.

But, at least our Niles slander in our all our early coverage of Doom Patrol is finally validated. (That’s right: The Chief is a jerk!)

Doom Patrol — Ep. 114 — “Penultimate Patrol” — Photo Credit: Annette Brown / 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Let’s pivot back to the main villain of the episode for a moment. Nobody really thought the Doom Patrol would play into his BS offer, but his nefarious attempts actually made the team stronger heroes and more confident in their abilities.

Nobody gave them an opportunity to retcon their superhero origin stories, along with their disabilities. However, our favorite heroes realize that their disabilities aren’t inherently something to be wished away, and their old lives weren’t exactly what their memories hyped them up to be. The most heroic gesture they did was turn down an evil man’s offer and reclaimed their origin stories in the ultimate power move.

For Jane, her conflict with Hammerhead shows how survivors realistically cope with trauma and how recovering from trauma often feels like an ongoing and never-ending process. While Jane has made great strides in confronting her traumas and piecing together parts of her memories and identity for herself and nobody else, her argument in her pseudo-flashback shows viewers that it’s okay to have doubt and to still feel vulnerable. It’s an especially critical message during Mental Health Awareness Month.

Jane and Niles’ revelations are polarizing and innately personify the dichotomy between heroes and villains (minus all the complications between the two definitions. However, they don’t have a monopoly of realizations.

Silas reveals that Vic does actually have false memories implanted in him. But it was to protect Cyborg from what he thought was additional trauma. We see why Silas kept the truth from Vic (to a very limited extent), but we’re devastated in the fact that Silas should have realized how much his false memory of the accident weighed on his mental health.

Victor’s rise to his heroic moniker Cyborg might have been built on a lie, but he was always meant to be a hero. His altruistic intentions have never been mistruths, and we’re glad is and always will be a true hero we can look up to. However, any and all future rattling therapy sessions will hopefully help Vic talk through some of his intensified trust issues.

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In an episode that reestablishes the season-long parallels between Silas Stone and Niles Caulder, “Penultimate Patrol” implicitly redefines Niles as the villain and Silas as the hero who’s overall well-meaning intentions led him to hurt his son. While Silas’ decisions are devastating, Niles was the one who created the Doom Patrol for his own gain in a comic accurate act of villainy.

With the season finale impending, we can expect a lot of team-wide turmoil this coming week.