This Doom Patrol review contains spoilers.
Doom Patrol Season 2 Episode 9
“Let the past die. Kill it if you have to. It’s the only way to become who you were meant to be.”
Kylo Ren’s quote in The Last Jedi could just as easily apply to the Doom Patrol season 2 finale, “Wax Patrol,” as the team not only confronts toxic imaginary friends from their childhoods, but Jane uncovers Miranda’s own buried past – and Dorothy is forced to leave her life behind as Niles’ innocent little girl.
Still, despite being a good episode, “Wax Patrol” feels more like the setup to a finale, rather than the finale itself. And there may be good reason for that. According to Insider, the season was supposed to have 10 episodes, but production was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
That abbreviated schedule also explains why the story begins focused on Miranda’s past, rather than Dorothy’s big confrontation with Candlemaker.
As for that past, after seeing Jane floating in the Underground well – dispatched by Miranda — the 1969 flashback introduces a younger Miranda working at a Wisconsin diner, and meeting a folksy boy who sings like Bob Dylan. It is a sweet scene of courtship, even though the boy triggers Miranda’s memories of Kay’s abusive father. Still, we eventually learn that the two move in together. Miranda looks in a mirror to tell her other personalities she’s doing it for all of them. But is she really seeking to move forward for Kay, or is this all about Miranda’s autonomy?
The couple doesn’t remain happy very long before Miranda learns her folksy boyfriend, now a company man, has arranged a sex party in their home. Considering her own traumas, it’s no surprise that things get dark when the boy convinces her to sleep with his co-worker. Doom Patrol has featured sex before, and typically in a positive light, but the orgy scene is creepy, and disturbing (and its participants call to mind the restless sex ghosts from “Sex Patrol”), especially in light of Kay’s PTSD.
Thus, we learn how Miranda lost the job of Primary; she not only failed to protect Kay, but she let down the entire Underground. But with her “death,” Crazy Jane is born, and proceeds to rebuke the boyfriend, and the orgy-goers.
It should be noted that Diane Guerrero continues to deliver an amazing performance with her nuanced portrayals of Kay’s personalities. After Miranda faints at the party, there is no mistake that it’s Jane who gets up.
But the twist is that the “real” Miranda has been dead all along, buried under silt in the well. Kay, who is more active in the Underground than we’ve seen before, is on the case to find Jane – but who is it that’s now playing the part of Miranda?
Although this moment feels like the big reveal of the episode, there’s still quite a bit happening at the carnival with Candlemaker asserting his power.
But we also see the team come together as a family for the first time all season. Vic is able to pull himself away from being heartbroken about Roni going super villain (and away from The Cure). And Cliff, who finally made amends with his daughter enough to score a ticket to her wedding, has to run away from her once more to save the world. Surprisingly Larry steps up to lead the mission and give the “We’re all we have” family speech.
Sadly, when they flit into the wax-covered fair, they are dispatched rather quickly when Candlemaker takes the form of each of their imaginary friends from childhood. Even formidable drunk wizard Kipling is easy dragged away by his pretend playmate from the 16th century, a Punch and Judy puppet.
Each of the team’s confrontations feels spot on here. Larry was so repressed that it makes sense his imagination was too tightly controlled to allow for one. And of course, Vic’s affirming pal Dr. Cowboy would wear the face of his father and exist just to pat him on the back. Rita’s is a paper doll with her mother’s eyes; abandoned once Rita saw with her own what mommy dearest did to secure her breakout role.
Cliff’s imaginary friend being a Southern foul-mouthed, roundhouse kicking Christ is an especially genius surprise. Both Robotman and Jesus know what it’s like to have complicated relationships with their fathers, and imaginary Jesus has serious abandonment issues after Cliff dumps him following one summer at Bible Camp. Following some messianic butt-kicking, it’s heartening to see Jesus and Cliff hug it out, but the former ultimately shows he is Candlemaker and blows the latter to a pile of waxy spare parts.
Similar to Miranda’s failure to keep Kay safe, Niles has failed to keep Dorothy safe, and is reduced to crawling in the wax. Slava returns in corporeal form to encourage their daughter to assume a warrior stance, along with warrior boots. Only Dorothy can defeat Candlemaker at this point and considering the pretty bad-ass souped-up Mjolnir weapon she conjures, she just might do it. Niles’ little girl is gone, but is she strong enough to fight this entity? Her confidence makes it appear like it’s possible … right up until Candlemaker absorbs her, and the episode ends.
With the episode snuffed, the season ends, and we have a cliffhanger until Doom Patrol (hopefully) returns.
It is unfair to give the show too much grief because the finale feels incomplete, but it does highlight that we still don’t know a whole lot about Candlemaker’s motives, or exactly what his deal is – other than being connected to Slava’s tribe. However, Jane’s story has gotten a whole lot more compelling.