The Donkey Holds The Key
Given the way Doom Patrol set itself up last week for a dramatic follow-up, it was always going to be interesting to see if DC’s latest superhero show would match the intensity of its pilot episode. Despite a slightly rocky start full of swearing, Doom Patrol quickly settles down and delivers an impressive episode that somehow surpasses what’s come before. With deeper characterisation, some clever narration and a self-contained story nestled around the overarching plot, Doom Patrol continues to be one of the biggest surprises this year.
The story picks up right where it left off last week. The giant sinkhole continues to consume the town and, as we’re told by our narrator, there’s little the heroes can do to stop it. With the Chief watching helplessly on the bus, Mr. Nobody slides the bus toward the hole, intent on consuming him. Jane fruitlessly tries to stop this from happening and consequently winds up sucked into the abyss along with the bus and 99% of the town. As the hole fades and our dysfunctional group of heroes are left watching helplessly, an average donkey may hold the key to saving everyone.
While we chew over the dramatic events that took place during the opening quarter of the episode, we cut to Detroit to see our first glimpse of Justice League’s missing component, Cyborg. After understanding a bit more about his backstory and seeing his powers up close and personal, he stumbles upon the news about the town and decides to go investigate, leading him right to Doom Manor and mixed up in the antics of the Patrol.
After several humorous sketches, including Larry trying to leave on a bus and Cliff chasing after the donkey, the bulk of drama here comes from two sources – Jane’s mysterious “underground” network of personalities and the donkey. The latter sees Rita, Larry and Cyborg all sucked into a parallel dimension where they live out their wildest dreams (and subsequent nightmares) while Mr. Nobody narrates their misfortune. The former sees Cliff remain at the manor, trying to understand Jane’s personalities.
All of this culminates in a little more understanding around our main characters’ darkest desires and nightmares via the visions they experience as well as a future vision of what’s to come, courtesy of one of Jane’s paintings.
The biggest thing Doom Patrol has going for it right now is the element of surprise. I have to admit, the opening segment of the episode did feel like it was trying too hard, with a prophetic cockroach and a tirade of swearing making up the bulk of content here. Once the sinkhole closes and we get a closer look at each of the characters, Doom Patrol slots right back into that quirky, witty humour with a dramatic, tense story for boot. All of this poses a particularly interesting question going forward – how do you top this?
With Cyborg now entering the fray and the battle lines drawn, all of this looks set to explode in a flurry of action and drama going forward. Both episodes have featured some pretty impressive special effects and the fight sequences we’ve seen so far have been well choreographed too. Doom Patrol is one of the most interesting shows on TV right now and a lot of this is thanks to the element of surprise it’s somehow managed to conjure up two weeks in a row. If it can continue this through to the end without falling into the formulaic trap so many other superhero shows succumb to, we could be on to a real winner here. In the meantime, Doom Patrol is certainly worth its weight in gold and well worth checking out if you haven’t already.
Provisional Season Rating