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DOOM PATROL EPISODE REVIEW S01:E03

Doom Patrol Season 1 PosterWhen last we left the residents of Caulder Manor, they were without their Chief and without a clue. Luckily, Cliff Steele is able to find a slim lead – a picture of the albino donkey that ate Cloverton, Ohio in Paraguay among The Chief’s files.

It’s not much of a lead but it’s something. Unfortunately, Paraguay is a long way off and Cyborg has been cut-off from his usual resources thanks to his stage-dad’s disapproval over the quest to find Dr. Caulder. This leaves our heroes with one bus, two weeks of driving and the worst road trip ever.

Throw in Larry losing control of the energy being inside him, the bus breaking down and everyone getting on everyone else’s nerves and it’s a wonder one of Crazy Jane’s personalities didn’t snap sooner. Unfortunately, once it happens, the teleporter Flit takes herself, Larry and Cliff on a one-way trip to the world’s greatest Nazi-run theme-park.

No, not that one!  They go to Fuchtopia – a magical land where the men are all rugged, the women are all strong and superpowers are for sale… for a price. It’s a mighty big temptation for Larry and Cliff but there’s something about Fuchtopia that stinks besides the all-you-can-eat sauerkraut buffet. And it lies at the heart of the most boring yet simultaneously most utterly disturbing puppet show ever conceived. 

Doom Patrol in Tourist Trap

There’s something slightly off about “Puppet Patrol” – the third episode of DC Universe’s Doom Patrol. It isn’t the core idea, which is brilliantly executed and avoids the easy Disneyland gags that one would think would come up in a story involving a theme-park full of animatronics devoted to the life’s work of a Nazi mad scientist. Yet “Puppet Patrol” avoids such obvious targets, even as it runs riot with every other cliched gag about road trips and tourists, such as the easily excitable fellow who winds up sharing the Fuchtopian experience with Jane, Cliff and Larry.

The lion’s share of the episode is devoted to Larry – both his efforts to tame the creature inside him and several flashbacks to his life before he became a radioactive abomination that could kill everyone around him. That irony is thick as we see how Larry spent his last night as a normal man and how he interacted with his loved ones. Matt Bomer delivers a fantastic performance here and these scenes can’t be described as anything less than heart-wrenching.

Doom Patrol Larry Trainor and his wife

I think that may be the problem with “Puppet Patrol.” While earlier episodes balanced the ensemble cast very well, there’s not much for Rita to do but complain and Cyborg doesn’t get much chance to shine either. The bits in Fuchtopia, however, are phenomenal, and perfectly portray the weirdness that Doom Patrol is famous for. This episode isn’t bad by a long shot, though it is a bit slower and more thoughtful than the first two. That’s not a bad thing at all, but the mix seems just a little bit off. Still, there’s nothing bad with being good rather than great and this is still the best thing to come out of DC Universe so far.

8/10

Doom Patrol – Episode 3, “Puppet Patrol”, airs Friday, March 1, on DC Universe.

Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

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