Abigail Shapiro as Dorothy Spinner
Photo Credit: Mark Hill/2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

‘Doom Patrol’ Season 2 Episodes 1-3: Reviews and Reflection

The first three episodes of Doom Patrol season 2 have finally dropped, and it’s off to a roaring start.

Doom Patrol is not your average show. It’s not your normal show. Honestly, it may not even be your show, but it is an amazing show. As you can tell, I am a BIG fan. After I obsessed over Season 1, I penned a love letter to the show, explaining why it absolutely needed another season. Soon after, I was granted my wish. Season 2 of Doom Patrol is among us, and god is it great so far. 

Just to start this off, if you haven’t watch any of Doom Patrol, you need to do some things: first, question yourself, and, two, make time to watch it. DC Universe is a very inexpensive app with tons of content, and, currently, the first three episodes of Season 1 is available for free on YouTube. It is also available on HBO Max, which is the same app that will air the new season (DC Universe will also air it). 

Seriously, go watch it now. This article will spoil Season 1. 

Have you watched it yet? 

Riley Shanahan as Cliff Steele next to a race car.
Photo Credit: Mark Hill/2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

You sure? Okay. Here is a Spoiler-Free Review and a SPOILER-Filled Reflection for the first three episodes of Doom Patrol Season 2. 

 

Previously on Doom Patrol

The Doom Patrol finally face Mister Nobody (Alan Tyduck), who had kidnapped Niles Caulder AKA The Chief (Timothy Dalton) in a painting. This painting also housed Danny the Street and Caulder’s daughter, who happens to enlarge Ezekiel the Roach (Curtis Armstrong) and Admiral Whiskers. The two animals have become gigantic and terrorized everyone. By manipulating Mister Nobody, the team is able to execute a plan of action: the Doom Patrol, except for Larry Trainer (Matt Bomer), to get eaten by Ezekiel so they would be protected against Larry’s nuclear blast. The blast kills Whiskers, reduces Danny the Street to a brick, and traps Mister Nobody and the Beard Hunter (Tommy Snider) in the painting. Everything is fine, right? Well, back at the Manor, Cyborg/Vic Stone (Joivan Wade) cuts the team free from Ezekiel, but now everyone is miniature sized. What will Larry do? Also, the team is finally introduced to Nile’s daughter, Dorothy Spinner (Abigail Shapiro).

Timothy Dalton as Niles Caulder and Abigail Shapiro as Dorothy
Photo Credit: Mark Hill/2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Episode 1 – “Fun Sized Patrol”

S2E1 Review (Spoiler-Free)

In the season premiere, the Doom Patrol, minus Larry and plus the Dorothy are still miniature-sized, and it’s been a while. Living on Cliff Steele‘s (Brendan Fraser) toy race-track in the Doom Manor, Caulder tries to find a way to fix everything, their size and the recent betrayal from everyone knowing he was responsible for their misfortunes.The only one that’s positive is Dorothy, who tries to befriend everyone, mainly both Cliff and Jane (Diane Guerrero), who have their own problems to worry about. While all this is going on,  Rita Farr (April Bowlby) wants to finally take control of her body and asks Vic for help in using her elastic abilities for good, yet Vic is dealing with his own demons: the continuous trauma caused by Mister Nobody.

Will they finally find a way to get big again?

Can they ever trust Niles again?

Who and what is Dorothy?

All these and more answered!

Left to Right: Diane Guerrero as Jane, April Bowlby as Rita Farr, Joivan Wade as Cyborg, and Brendan Fraser/Riley Shanahan as Cliff Steele.
Photo Credit: Bob Mahoney/2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Cast

All the actors involved killed it in an important season opener. Each character had different layers and motivations for their shitty predicament, and the cast put so much effort into bringing life to this wacky group of heroes. 

Newcomer Abigail Sharpio is clearly the focal point of this episode, as it’s our first foray of meeting Dorothy. Shapiro, coming from the world of theater, delivers a brilliant performance, showcasing her range and nailing every scene she’s in. Her unflattering positivity (or childlike naivety) is a welcomed addition to a Doom Patrol team that’s constantly made to feel small. My favorite parts with her was when she was talking to her friends (and I don’t mean the Doom Patrol).

Matt Bomer continues to shine in his role of Larry Trainor, and we get some scenes of him without the bandage, which is also a pleasure to watch. I was really big on him and the work he was doing last season, and, from what I can see so far, this season will only further it. 

Matt Bomer as Larry Trainor talking to his son, Gary, in front of his wife.
Photo Credit: 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Vision

Doom Patrol is a beautiful, twisted, and wacky show that can make you laugh, make you disgusted, horrify you, or make you cry. The writing is responsible for the show’s growth, talents, and unwavering magic. In this episode, Jeremy Carver and Shoshana Sachi greatly delivered a properly balanced recap, new danger, and some weeeiiirrrdd stuff. Hats off to you. 

Aesthetically, it was gorgeous to look at. There must have been an increase in budget (partially HBO is responsible) because there were some amazing effects in the premiere. From life-like corpses, prosthetic proficiency, or an improved use of CGI, this show has made it more and more fun to watch.

Takeaway

This show kicks off its second season with a bang. There is so much to address and unpack that I can’t possibly imagine someone watching it and not wanting to keep going. 

Go see it!

 

Brandon Perea as Doctor Tyme
Photo Credit: 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Episode 2 – “Tyme Patrol”

S2E2 Review (Spoiler-Free)

In episode 2, Niles is faced with a ticking clock, now that he has traded his chance at immortality to restore everyone to their original size. Dorothy is processing and dealing with the idea that her father may not be with her forever and wants to enjoy her life. Rita wants to find a way to help Niles find a way so she recruits Jane and Cliff to go on a time adventure to face the Evil Doctor Tyme (Brandon Perea). Jane is dealing with push back from The Underground, as her tenure as the primary personality is being judged. Cliff, seeming to be upset the most by the Chief betrayal, is not doing well with his emotions (more than usual). Vic has left the Doom Manor and finds himself in Detroit, where he goes to a trauma support group. There he meets Roni Evers (Karen Obilom), a military vet that is dealing with her own challenges, showing Cyborg the world isn’t black and white. Finally, Larry continues to confront his past, learning that there is a death in his family. He can’t hide away anymore. 

Will confront Doctor Tyme solve the Chief dilemma?

How will Dorothy deal with this new revelation?

What does life outside the Doom Manor give for our heroes?

All these and more answered!

Left to Rig=t: TImothy Dalton as the Chief, Brandon Fraser/Riley Shanahan as Cliff Steele, Diane Guerrero as Jane, April Bowlby as Rita Farr, and Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk as Larry Trainor
Photo Credit: 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Cast

What I am appreciating about this new season is that the story is giving each actor a chance to shine in the spotlight and show their chops.

Abigail Sharpio continues her turn as Dorothy and is balancing the childlike innocence and hidden darkness well. Her chemistry with Timothy Dalton is fantastic and heartwarming at the same time.

Dalton, by the way, has been putting in the work this season. He is showing increased compassion, regret, self-doubt, and defeat. It’s a side of the Chief that we aren’t used to: human and not in control.

Diane Guerrero is keeping up her stellar work as Jane, and we get plenty of moments of her personality shifts. This character is a tough one for anyone to juggle, but she has been face it head-on.

Brendan Fraser also has a phenomenal monologue that commands the room, in tandem with the physical performance of Riley Shanahan. It will make you want to take a second to realize how powerful these two are when they work together.

The two standouts though are April Bowlby as Rita Farr and Matt Bomer as Larry Trainor.

Bowlby is such a treat to watch: she’s funny, confident, poised, yet gives us the right about of worry, doubt, and struggle. She was a part of the group that grew better and better during season 1 and is the moral glue of the group. In a way, she is the new Chief.

Matt Bomer has been putting in the work, man. The moments he is on screen are perfection and his voice acting throughout is on point. I would be remiss to not also give credit to Matthew Zuk, who is the actor portraying Larry in the bandages. He needs to get more recognition for the amount of physicality Trainor needs. The combination of the two is a contender for show stealer every single episode. 

Doctor Tyme and friends booging.
Photo Credit: 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Vision

April Fitzsimmons and Neil Reynolds teamed up to write a beautiful grounded episode. Emotionally, there is so much to unpack and explore, which makes the few out-there moments a fun and entertaining break. The whole section with Doctor Tyme was extraordinary.  Also, the continued story of Larry and his past has been worth the emotional investment. 

Visually, the episode really benefits from visiting Doctor Tyme, with its funky ’70s aesthetic. A consistent element of this show is knowing that they are having fun making it.  The series should also be recognized by its mastery of framing, as a majority of shows make even a neutral background seem exciting. 

Plus, the butterflies are beautiful.

Takeaway

I am loving the narrative progression. I am willing to invest in every character and see where the stories go from here. Cyborg’s may be the weakest, but not a fault to his own. There were some moments that felt a bit clunky dialogue wise, but I am still all in.

 

Diane Guerrero as Jane, sitting on a bed in the Underground.
Photo Credit: 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Episode 3 – “Pain Patrol”

S2E3 Review (Spoiler-Free)

Misery comes in a three’s, and, boy, does this episode bring the pain. On his personal journey, Larry has been taken prisoner by the evil Red Jack (Roger Floyd), who is using Trainor as a way to get to the Chief. It’s up to Niles and Rita to travel into the mouth of madness to save their friend. Meanwhile, Cliff, who’s been vehemently opposing Caulder at every turn, decides to go visit his daughter in Florida. Jane tags along, but, while her physical body is joining, she’s pulled into the Underground to face the other 63 personalities. Vic, still in Detroit, is continuing to bond with Roni, as they learn about each other and themselves. That leaves Dorothy, alone in the Manor, so she does what any child would do: play hide and seek with her imaginary friends.   

Will Rita and Niles be able to rescue Larry?

Who is this Red Jack?

How will Cliff’s daughter, Clara (Bethany Anne Lind), react to seeing Robotman?

Hide and seek is a harmless game, right?

All these and more answered!

Roger Floyd as Red Jack
Photo Credit: 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Cast

Another stellar addition. You will hear me say this over and over again, but everyone puts in such a tremendous performance, I could go on and on about each of them. This episode, with the theme of pain, shows the characters in extremely vulnerable positions.

Two actors in particular, April Bowlby and Matt Bomer, are putting in career-defining performances. This is not an exaggeration when I say this: Doom Patrol should be put in consideration for the next awards season. The friendship these two display is heart-warming and comforting. We all need that support in our lives, even when we are at our lowest. I wish I could hug them both. The character of Rita Farr has grown the most over the series, and Bowlby is a rockstar. Bomer has provided a truly human element to the character of Larry. Support by Zuk’s physical execution, the detail in tone, emotional range, and pain heard from Bomer’s delivery is masterful.

This episode is also a great highlight for Brendan Fraser. Tasked with the desire to tell his daughter the truth, Cliff drives all the way to Florida to reintroduce himself. The pent-up anger and messy rage Fraser has been displaying finally is rewarded some focus. We are allowed to see Fraser work through different emotions and mental checkpoints, as he has to process everything around him. The veteran actor is being fed monologues and is taking each one with stride. Out of all the episodes, Shanahan’s work really shines in this one. In portraying a robot, the amount of effort in execution and performance may be lost on the casual viewer, but it is respected here.

Diane Guerrero as Jane surrounded by other personalities.
Photo Credit: 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Vision

This episode, penned by Tom Farrell and Tamara Becher-Wilkinson, is one of those examples where the dark and twisted aspect of Doom Patrol is front and center. While Cliff goes on his personal journey, the audiences goes on a tour of torment when being confronted with Red Jack, a villain that has lived for centuries and played the role of terrible killers in the past. As Larry suffers in prison, we were taught the real cost of pain and how we can even consider moving forward.

Visually, we are taken to different places with a dark side to all of them. One is the Underground, where we spend some time with a plethora of Jane’s other personalities. Another is the lair of Red Jack, which fills the criteria of sick, demented Victorian; a gathering place of sick trophies and uncomfortable sadism. The last place is Florida. Enough said.

Oh, and the butterflies. SO. MANY. BUTTERFLIES.

Takeaway

The show has really taken up to new highs in terms of stakes and characters. I really don’t know how many times I can say this, but you need to be watching this show.

 

The rest of this article has SPOILERS.

Brendan Fraser/Riley Shanahan as Cliff Steele sitting on the road.
Photo Credit: 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Reflection (SPOILERS)

Doom Patrol is a show about heart. It’s a show that doesn’t pigeon-hole what it means to be a hero. In displaying a group of misfits that, in their appearances, look completely different than you or me or any superhero we think of, they are actually true heroes.

These characters are flawed. They are broken, battered, and barely themselves. The heroes of stories are characters that are forced to overcome obstacles to achieve their goals. What makes these heroes compelling is that, inherently, they are facing external and internal obstacles. Many can blame the Chief, but they all have their own demons to conquer. Many did their best to confront it last season, but it was just the beginning.

We are seeing two things within the group in response to the revelation of Niles creating the Doom Patrol to find immortality and protect his daughter: serious character growth, and the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance).

Vic is dealing with extra trauma from everything that happened with Mister Nobody, his first real face of pure evil. Just seeing the painting that Nobody is trapped him makes him think that mission to save Dorothy from the rats is a trap. Seeing the situation he is in, he decides that he can’t be in the Manor anymore and leaves for Detroit. He joins a support group to help him get over his experience but instead falls for another member of group, a girl named Roni Evers (the female version of Ronald Evers, an eventual villain for Cyborg). Sure, he has a fun night with her as they hook up, but he constantly comes across situations where he assumes one thing and is proven wrong. Wanting to be a superhero and join the Justice League, he sees the world as either black or white. He shows interest in Roni, wanting more than the one night and is immediately rejected by her. Later in the day, Roni is attacked by a mugger but fights him off. Cyborg calls the police, which brings a negative reaction from her because she doesn’t want him to just be arrested and go through the system. Finally, after he convinces her to go on a date with him, she sends him an email, showing him parts of her past she’s been keeping secret. She has always hinted that her past made her do terrible things, and people should be judged by their past. In keeping with that, she shows Vic her prior history in the armed forces, which includes voluntary manslaughter and a photo of her proud she’s killed many people (her past mistake). She is waiting outside the restaurant to see his reaction, and Vic leaves upset. In a constant mission to be a superhero, Vic still hasn’t learned that the world isn’t just good or evil, black or white. There is a lot gray, and he doesn’t want to accept that. That’s why he is denial.

Cliff is leaving his life like he always has, racing with emotions. Understandably upset with Niles’ responsibility for the car accident, Cliff does not do a good job handling his feelings. Leaning into the cold, robotic body, Cliff is using anger, frustration, and cursing to feel any satisfaction; these decisions lead to consquences that he is forced to deal with. When he is mini, he is killing tons of rats, possibly as payback for Admiral Whiskers. Dorothy had thought Cliff was feeding the rats (the lie Cliff was telling her) and goes to the rats. With her in danger, Cliff has to go save her, and he is confronted with a rat that just gave birth (and eats one of its young). His experience gives him some clarity, and he feeds the mouse family when he is bigger. He constantly chooses to go against Chief’s wishes because he cannot get over the decision to prioritize Dorothy over his daughter, Clara. This leads him to make an impulse decision to go to his daughter’s house and reveal the truth. He also finds out that his daughter is pregnant. Predictably, Clara doesn’t take this well, and Cliff has a breakdown. Though he doesn’t hurt anyone, he destroys parts of the bus he drove down and vents and vents, especially now there will be a grandchild he won’t be able to see. After some hours, he realizes he is ruining the night for his daughter and is not making everything better. Acting without thinking and running off impulse isn’t the way for Cliff, and he has to lay off the gas. Obviously, Cliff is the stage of anger.

Rita, an actress that was showcased of being self-centered and selfish has reversed her course to be extremely selfless and caring. Even after the revelation of Caulder’s betrayal, she still makes continuous efforts to help the situation. Rita is searching for purpose, a meaning, and she wants to stop seeing her situation as a negative; she wants to take her abilities and turn it into a positive. Her three episode arch is 1.) deciding to do better and control her powers, 2.) leading a team and putting her powers to use (which leads to the issue of killing Doctor Tyme and then having to fix her mistake), and 3.) stepping up when it would have been easier to stay back and saving Larry. She is the most positive outcome of finding out of Niles’ revelation. In many ways, she is trying to retake some control and not feel like a failure in the context of Niles’ attempt for immortality. Though she is growing in a positive direction, she does take the stage of bargaining.

Jane is reacting to everything with spiraling. To keep everything underneath the surface, she is shooting up a serum into her arms as if she is shooting up heroin. The process is definitely slowing her down and not making as involved or as loud as she would normally be. The one thing that is driving her is to help Dorothy. She doesn’t want to see another little girl be taken away or locked up again. When she runs out of her serum, she realizes that she is having trouble keeping control over the Underground. This leads Jane to decide to stay with Niles instead of running away and doing things on her own. She believes he is the only one that can help her and doesn’t want any other support. Her other 63 personalities are unhappy with her performance lately as the “primary” and hold an intervention. They plead with her not to keep doing drugs, and, even though Jane does stop, they demand that she leave Doom Patrol because the Chief is her real drug. In her behavior and predicament of not feeling like she has control makes her the stage of depression.

Larry has, in my opinion, the most compelling personal journey because he is forced to face his mistakes over and over again. In pursuing his real love and work, he neglected his family. Now, he is slowly being forced to face those decisions. Without his special bandages, he will harm anyone around him because of the radiation, which he is forced to deal with as a prisoner for Red Jack. We also see that, without his bandages (meaning pre-accident), he also caused harms to others. He failed to appreciate the love and support his son and family showed him, only focusing on things and details that can fact-checked. Because he couldn’t pursue the love he wanted, he wasn’t appreciate the family he created. Once being warned by the Negative Spirit, he finds out his eldest son has died from a suicide attempt, sparked by the long-term guilt of not being enough for his father. Larry, accepting his situation now is due to a failed attempt at immortality, by Niles, goes to pay his respects. There, he runs into his youngest son, who know learns his father is still alive. Larry comes across old letters of his son, Gary, writing to his missing father, telling him he loved Larry. The guilt is too much, making Larry a perfect target for Red Jack, a villain that feeds off the pain of others. After these three episodes, Larry has come to realize that what he needed all along was a support system for who he really was. In his past, he couldn’t see his family as that because they didn’t know he was gay. Now, he gets a support system that includes Rita and the Doom Patrol that sees him for who he fully is. In this lesson and his journey, he has become acceptance.

About Bassam Kaado

Bassam Kaado is a NJ writer that dabbles in screenplays, comic books, poetry, and articles covering various aspect of entertainment. In addition, he is an actor, rapper, and director. You can following Bassam @bkaado on Twitter and Instagram.

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