Last week the denizens of Caulder Manor were recruited to help chaos mage Willoughby Kipling save the world from The Cult Of The Unwritten Book and stop them from summoning their god, The Decreator, and reveling as it slowly unmade all of reality as we know it.
They failed. Miserably.
It was a daunting task and our heroes weren’t up to the job. Not even close. The whole effort – if you could even call it an effort – was rather embarrassing all around.
Now, with a giant eye in the heavens blinking people and objects out of existence at random, things have become so bad that Mr. Nobody (who is somewhat bitter about not having been in the last two episodes, thank you so very much for asking) has agreed to a temporary truce with his sworn enemy Dr. Niles Caulder so that they can address the problem of the universe coming to an end. After all, its a little hard to continue your decades-long shadow war if you don’t exist.
Unfortunately, as a man of science and a reality-altering lunatic who thinks he’s the narrator of a critically acclaimed superhero show, the two nemeses aren’t really equipped for the job of countering an army of religious fanatics who want the world to end. Thankfully, they have it within themselves to create their own army of religious fanatics who want to save the world at any cost and all it requires is a little manipulation of the narrative and recruiting the right version of Crazy Jane at the right time. Oh, and entrusting the future of all causality to a bunch of drug addicts and basket-cases.
There’s also going to be a dog. Because people like dogs.
After last week’s episode, I was afraid that Doom Patrol might lose its edge and regress into faithfully adapting storylines from the comics with no thought of being its own strange beast. I’m not often glad to admit that I’m wrong, but this time I was. “Paw Patrol” is as gloriously strange as anything to come out of Doom Patrol to date. While it does borrow somewhat from the Doom Patrol #31 comic that inspired last week’s set-up, the ending of this storyline is vastly different from the books.
There’s a few touches here borrowed from the more recent 2017 Doom Patrol comic, but for the most part this episode is all original, taking the random flotsam of the DC Universe and blending into a vast pot of spiritual jambalaya. And for those who care about pesky things like character development and plot, we also get some insight into Crazy Jane’s background and get some fleeting glimpses of just how and when Jane developed her super-powered personalities. This is all beautifully played by Diane Guerrero, who turns in her best performance to date – no small accomplishment, that.
The only real flaw to this episode is that you do need to see the one that came before it to fully grasp what is going on and appreciate the insanity of all the little subplots, such as Rita Farr trying to reach out to the boy destined to doom reality and every sarcastic response Mark Sheppard delivers as the wizard Kipling gives up all hope and elects to start emptying Niles Caulder’s liquor cabinet before he stops existing. Here’s hoping we might see a team-up between him and Matt Ryan’s John Constantine somewhere down the line. Reality might not survive, but at least we’ll die laughing.
Doom Patrol – Episode 5, “Paw Patrol”, airs Friday, March 15, 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.