Doom Patrol arrived last year bringing its own brand of quirky, bizarre, inexplicable humor mixed with serious character development, trauma and issues plaguing our leads. It was an oddball combination that had its share of deterrents but for the most part, it worked surprisingly well. Doom Patrol premieres now in its Season 2 and intends to continue following that same formula while introducing new weirdos to the mix while maintaining a tight narrative.
Right off the bat, Doom Patrol sets off a premise that sprinkles in dozes of character issues that our gang could find themselves grappling with in the rest of the season. Showrunner Jeremy Carver takes the reins along with writer Shoshana Sachi to ensure that everyone has enought to wrestle with. Thus, where Cliff has lingering issues with his father from the past, which hint at being subconsciously responsible for his own infidelity, Larry has trouble reconciling with his son in his dreams, his visions haunting him for having been too harsh on him. Rita struggles to master and use her elastic body without triggering any stress while Jane’s other personalities vie for some surface attention and emergence. Cyborg battles his nightmares that continue from his dark origins.
Fueling all of this anger is last season finale’s reveal that the Chief was directly or indirectly responsible for the physically damaged states they’re in. In his own quest for immortality, Niles Caulder unwittingly ruined the lives of the current Doom Patrol. Feelings of resentment, hate and borderline disgust harbor the minds of the team, some of which transfer to Caulder’s child Dorothy, brought over into the gang but struggling to be wholeheartedly accepted.
Dorothy Spinner, played wonderfully by Abigail Shapiro is a mix of man and beast thanks to Caulder’s circumstantial romance with a nomadic woman in Season 1. She’s a great twisted spin on The Wizard Of Oz and has three imaginary friends that seem like monstrous versions of The Scarecrow, The Tin-Man, and The Cowardly Lion (though not exactly) and even dresses up like her 1939 counterpart. Much of the episode involves her trying to win the hearts of our Doom Patrol who appear miffed by her mere presence, as she inadvertently motivated Niles to recruit the Doom Patrol and ruin their lives.
DC’s streaming service shows have continued to maintain excellent production values and this aspect shines in Doom Patrol. The fact that Larry has shrunk the gang in a science experiment gone wrong produces more VFX complications since the team has to be rendered small for a considerable amount of time. The sets are built to scale to ensure some of those shots can be done without VFX but for the most part, the combined effort holds up and rivals movies having dealt with similar miniaturization issues, most notably Ant-Man.
The writing continues to hold up alongside the direction, offering a mix of humor with seriousness but never letting one outweigh the other. It’s fascinating how, despite uncovering so many layers from each of the characters, the writers still find enough material to peel through and dig deeper. There’s always more to know about them and the show doesn’t shy away from frequently using flashbacks and time jumps to return to the pasts of these people and explore them from new angles. This is most notable in Larry and Cliff’s scenes and it also gives Matt Bomer and Brendan Fraser an excuse to keep returning to the show.
After a great Season 1, we’re already aware of and on board with the journeys of the characters. That only makes the prospect of Season 2 more interesting. Plus, with the inclusion of Dorothy to the mix supplemented by Abigail’s fabulously heartwarming performance, this Season has just the right ingredients to be as powerful as the first one was. Sure, Alan Tudyk is sorely missed as Mr. Nobody but it remains to be seen if that continues as Season 2 progresses.