REVIEW: ‘Doom Patrol’ Season 2 Premiere Sets Another Absurd Adventure

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Season one of Doom Patrol was an extremely pleasant surprise for me and one of the bright spots during the initial run of the DC Universe streaming service. Part bizarre, surrealist superhero comedy and part character-driven psychological drama, it’s a series that isn’t for everyone and has never been afraid to lean into its weirdness and absurdity as we follow the titular band of misfits. Luckily for fans, HBO Max and DC Universe have now released the first three episodes of Doom Patrol season two and have given us a strong start to an already promising season-long story arc. So far, everything that I loved about the first season has returned and then some.

The season two premiere picks up shortly after the previous season’s finale and finds the Doom Patrol still shrunken after their run-in with Mr. Nobody (Alan Tudyk), Ezekiel the cockroach, and Admiral Whiskers the rat. If that’s a sentence that either made sense to you or intrigued you then these opening episodes do not disappoint. The team is also trying to deal with the revelation that Niles “Chief” Caulder (Timothy Dalton), the one who took them in and gave them a place to master their various ailments, was the mastermind behind everything that happened to them. They’re all rightfully furious with the Chief after learning that he completely upended their lives in his pursuit of immortality so he can be present for his ageless daughter Dorothy (Abigail Shapiro). Dorothy is the biggest new addition this season and keeping her nightmarish imaginary friends will surely be the overarching threat as we proceed through the upcoming episodes.

For all of the wacky and downright bizarre moments, there are just as many incredible instances of character development. Each character that we were originally introduced to continues to get their moments of depth and growth and each member of the team continues on the path that they started on in season one. The most welcome surprise was the path that Rita Farr (April Bowlby) finds herself on from the offset. She was originally a character that took some time before she grew on me. But I’ve grown to appreciate her evolution into more of a leadership role as she aspires to use her elastic abilities to be a hero under the tutelage of Cyborg (Joivan Wade).

Even while Cyborg is dealing with his issues as he begins visiting a support group to seek help with the PTSD he’s developed through all of the things he’s gone through. His arc feels like it is going to be one that we see a lot more of and I hope his struggles are handled tactfully. PTSD and mental health issues can be hit or miss, but I have faith in Jeremy Carver‘s team of writers to do it justice. Jane (Diane Guerrero) is another one whose story is going to be an ongoing obstacle for her and the rest of the team. Her other personalities that exist within the Underground are trying to oust Jane as the primary since they believe that she is not the ideal choice to be steering the ship.

Unfortunately, Cliff Steele (Brendan Fraser) has the least compelling story this time around. At least in the few introductory episodes. He doesn’t get much to do other than be pissed about the Chief. Everyone else shares these feelings, but they all at least get more to do. His relationship with his daughter, or lack thereof, looks to be a crucial element in Cliff’s story this time around after finding out she was still alive last season. Of course, it’s still early in the season and there’s still plenty more time for him to hopefully get his due.

Alternatively, Larry Trainor (Matt Bomer) has a similar journey to Cliff, but has much more to do and is given some of my favorite moments within the first episodes of Doom Patrol season two. Larry grapples with his absence from his son Gary’s life and is assisted by his Negative Spirit in tracking him down. This was easily my favorite aspect of the premiere and garnered some of the biggest emotional beats of the entire series so far. Larry honestly took some time to grow on me early on, but now he is my favorite character. His turn in the episode “Danny Patrol” allowed him to open up and, maybe even more importantly, accept himself and his past. I adore Larry in this show and his characterization, so I am beyond pleased with how he is already being handled. I’m very much looking forward to seeing where else he goes on his journey this season.

The first episode, “Fun Size Patrol” serves as a reintroduction to the team as well as a refresher for season one while also setting the stage for what’s to come. The crux of which revolves around the team growing back to normal size with the help of some of Willoughby Kipling’s (Mark Sheppard) chaos magic. Kipling was one of my favorite guest characters in season one and seeing him immediately come back was fantastic. Mark Sheppard continues to steal whatever scenes he’s in. It’s as if they took his turn as Crowley in Supernatural and dialed it up to eleven.

Throughout this episode, we see the Doom Patrol voicing their disapproval and sometimes disgust towards Chief’s actions in season one. All the while, they all agree to work together when Dorothy finds herself in danger. Dorothy is immediately endearing even if her appearance is the subject of much ridicule from the other members of the team. But, she is just a child who has never had the chance to have a childhood since Chief had her locked away for decades to protect her, and potentially the world, from what she is capable of creating with her imagination.

Doom Patrol Doctor Tyme

“Tyme Patrol,” the second episode of Doom Patrol season two, is my favorite of the bunch. In the process of trying to grow everyone back to normal size, Chief had to sacrifice his longevity in a deal with Kipling. This results in a madcap time travel adventure as Jane, Cliff, and Rita are sent by Chief to the domain of The Terrible Doctor Tyme to acquire his time controlling helmet that looks like a massive clock. It’s when Doom Patrol leans into its weirdness that it becomes the most fun. The trio ends up in a fluorescent roller disco inhabited by Doctor Tyme and a myriad of different individuals from throughout history rollerskating, such as a samurai and even a few members of season one’s Bureau of Normalcy. This episode was just a lot of fun and had some tremendous laugh-out-loud moments. The outlandish nature of Doctor Tyme and the comedy of errors that ensues made this episode a blast from start to finish. I’m hoping we see more of Doctor Tyme this season.

Rounding out these first few episodes is “Pain Patrol” and it’s, unfortunately, the weakest of the three. It’s a much more Chief-centric episode. It finds him being sought out by the villainous Red Jack. Red Jack has a very striking design but doesn’t amount to much more than being an edgelord with a penchant for torture and mutilating innocents. Jane and Cliff have the most interesting aspects of the episode by far. Jane spends the duration of it stuck in the Underground trying to plead her case to the other personalities that she is the ideal primary. Cliff crashes in on his daughter who doesn’t know he’s alive, with very negative results. It wasn’t a bad episode by any means, but the previous two were so strong and this one pales in comparison.

Doom Patrol is ultimately a show about trauma. The entire cast of characters has endured some serious trials. Even if the proceedings are extremely outlandish and downright absurd at times, their emotional journeys are what make the show truly what it is and it all still manages to be extremely relatable. It’s still a show that is an acquired taste and Doom Patrol season two is primed to expand on what fans of the first season loved. The character development that made viewers fall in love with this cast of misfits is on full display and going in directions that make sense for all of the players.

For better or worse, I’m eager to see where the story and characters wind up in their journey together. While by no means flawless, the premiere episodes manage to effectively set the stage for whatever adventure is coming next. And with Doom Patrol, it’s always an adventure in itself to see what’s on the horizon.

Doom Patrol episodes 1-3 are currently available on HBO Max and DC Universe.

Doom Parol Season Two Premiere
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    Rating - 8/10
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TL;DR

Doom Patrol is ultimately a show about trauma. The entire cast of characters has endured some serious trials. Even if the proceedings are extremely outlandish and downright absurd at times, their emotional journeys are what make the show truly what it is and it all still manages to be extremely relatable. It’s still a show that is an acquired taste and Doom Patrol season two is primed to expand on what fans of the first season loved. The character development that made viewers fall in love with this cast of misfits is on full display and going in directions that make sense for all of the players. For better or worse, I’m eager to see where the story and characters wind up in their journey together. While by no means flawless, the premiere episodes manage to effectively set the stage for whatever adventure is coming next. And with Doom Patrol, it’s always an adventure in itself to see what’s on the horizon.