This Doom Patrol review contains spoilers.
Doom Patrol Episode 14
Last week, Mr. Nobody promised a superhero show, and an epic throwdown with a villain. And instead, what we get in “Penultimate Patrol” is a little more complicated. Episode 14 of Doom Patrol reveals how far our characters have come, while offering more about Nobody’s origin, before tearing it all apart in the final, cliffhanger scene.
I don’t know if I expected to see a big fight sequence with Mr. Nobody, but I am pleased we encountered more psychological warfare. Nobody tempts Larry, Rita, Jane, and Cliff with the offer to return to their old lives, before their respective accidents, and let Niles fade from memory.
It seems like a good deal, but each character realizes they’d either slip back into their old ways (Cliff), or that they ruined their lives long before the tragedy (Cliff), or that they have evolved too much to simply wipe it away (Rita). Rita’s choice to not return to her old life is one of the more satisfying, but Jane’s is the stronger moment since she actively must choose her life of mental instability.
Although it is a little disappointing that — even though Rita discovers the power of Nobody’s narration in the White Space, and Jane/Dr. Harrison psychoanalyzes the villain, and Larry burns him with the “basic” label – they can’t really defeat him. Rather, they can only hope to escape by Niles revealing the heartbreaking truth that he caused each of their accidents (which tracks with the Grant Morrison comic run), with the exception of Cyborg. It is unclear if this is what Mr. Nobody has wanted all along, but his motivations are always all over the place, even though I can’t get enough of Alan Tudyk’s performance of him.
Speaking of Tudyk, his scene is great as pre-Nobody Eric Morden, as a down-on-his-luck aspiring villain, just fired from the Brotherhood of Evil. You feel for him as he gets dumped after revealing how he lost his job (because they didn’t think he had enough “zip”), and is presumably replaced by the superintelligent gorilla Monsieur Mallah.
As an aside, Tudyk consistently delivers a balance of evil likeability, vulnerability, and madness so enjoyable to watch that I would love to see his take on a live-action Joker.
Also enjoyable was Joivan Wade’s brief moments as Mr. Nobody. He captures the character’s spirit, and I’d like to see more of Victor having a chance to show more range. The revelation that Silas had to choose whether to save Vic or his mother played well, but it felt slightly out of place in the episode, and may have worked better last week.
I did quite enjoy the brief Doom Patrol Groundhog Day loop, as Niles is forced to watch the team die over, and over again (as they wear costumes similar to the first Doom Patrol, and Perry Como sings Nobody’s murder ballad “Hot Diggity”). The action was interesting because it shows how the idea of these guys being a happy team/family is really just a fantasy, but it was slightly rushed, and could have sustained a longer sequence.
Speaking of a longer sequence, I want an entire episode of the whole team on Danny the Street. And no Larry, you did not mention to them the sentient, teleporting, genderqueer street before. Bringing Danny, Doom Patrol, Flex, and Beard Hunter was a damn delight. These are the moments when this show shines its brightest, combining a tender hug between Flex and Danny’s personification in the Inflatable Tube Man — before the hero flexes the wrong muscle, and causes mass orgasms (except for poor Cliff). Also, I hope Flex doesn’t disappear for too long.