If there were any doubts that Doom Patrol would be a different kind of superhero show after its first episode, those doubts should be firmly eliminated within the first five minutes of the second. It is here that our narrator/antagonist, Mr. Nobody, summarizes the events of the pilot and everything we know about our heroes so far before cuing “the pretentious title sequence.”
Once that is over, a nihilistic cockroach named Ezekiel (voiced by Curtis “Booger” Armstrong, of Revenge of the Nerds fame) cheers the destruction of Cloverton, Ohio by a vast sucking hole in reality and calls upon his Chthonian god to bring him to his side that he may rule over the fallen humanity.
He too, is sucked into the hole.
As Mr. Nobody (Alan Tudyk) observes all this while standing alongside Dr. Niles Caulder (Timothy Dalton) and comments upon how the various super-powered patients Dr. Caulder has treated over the years were horribly unprepared to play the role of heroes, Dr. Caulder asks one question.
“Who are you talking to?“
“Grant Morrison fans, Reddit trolls with DC Universe subscriptions, and the three new fans who stuck around after the donkey fart,” Mr. Nobody replies with a mad giggle.
Doom Patrol does not just break the fourth wall – it obliterates the theater as well. And it brings the house down as it does it, to continue the tortured but accurate metaphor. Yet this is not a superhero show, as Mr. Nobody claimed. It is a super-zero show. Most of our protagonists have no desire to save the world and the ones that do really aren’t capable of doing it.
Case in Point: Cliff Steele (Brendan Fraser) spends most of the episode wanting to get to the bottom of the disappearance of Cloverton and trying to get answers out of Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero) – the one person who has any idea of what they are dealing with. Cliff is willing and able to punch whoever is responsible for the insanity around him. He just needs a target. Unfortunately, he is totally ill-equipped to handle coaxing answers out of Jane’s various personalities and even trying to find out how to handle her is beyond him.
By contrast, Rita Farr (April Bowlby) wants nothing to do with any of this. Larry Trainor (Matt Bomer) would like to get involved, but thinks all he’s capable of is making things worse. And Jane… well, nobody is sure what to make of Jane. As usual.
Thankfully, a real hero arrives in the middle of this. Victor “Cyborg” Stone, having grown bored with beating up muggers in Motown and sick of his dad’s micromanaging every aspect of his life as a crime-fighter, shows up after seeing an ARGUS report on Cloverton’s disappearance while scanning various feeds and it’s off to the races as he takes charge of the investigation.
Jovian Wade offers a different but welcome take on Cyborg, closer in line to the classic Teen Titans comics than what’s been seen in the New 52 comics and the movies. Ironically, given that the Doom Patrol has traditionally been about reluctant heroes and Cyborg usually being written as one in the comics, this take on Cyborg is openly enthusiastic about being a superhero. It’s a welcome contrast that helps to define Victor as something different from Cliff Steele, who has a decidedly similar origin story and power set.
With our full cast of characters set and things promising to get stranger by the episode, “Donkey Patrol” continues the high standards set by Doom Patrol‘s first episode. If you haven’t gotten a DC Universe subscription yet, you’ll want to just for this series.
Doom Patrol – Episode 2, “Donkey Patrol”, airs Friday, February 22nd, 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.