Note: We’d planned to review Doom Patrol as it released episode by episode, but WB surprised us by unleashing the first three episodes at once on June 25, so our reviews will be a little bit out of order.
I’m constantly comparing Doom Patrol to everything I know about the X-Men. It sounds like a bad idea, right? To compare this obscure team of nobodies to a group of heroes that transformed Marvel and spawned dozens if not hundreds of different books for the company. Except that every time I do, Doom Patrol wins out for me. I like weird stuff. Doom Patrol is the weirdest stuff. This week, the analog between the two is all at once impossible to miss and yet less substantial than in many previous episodes. Spoilers follow for Doom Patrol Season 2, Episode 4, “Sex Patrol.” Also, warning for sex words below. Get ready to giggle and blush.
This week is all about what Stewie from Family Guy would describe as a “sexy party.” The Patrol needs to resuscitate Danny the Street, who became Danny the Brick, and then Danny the broken Brick. Out of ideas, Dr. Caulder throws a hail-mary pass and invites the Dannyzens from last season’s awesome Danny episode. All thew weirdoes and freaks that have found safety with Danny after being shunned by society. Like that episode, this one feels like a huge coming-together for many of the characters, where the Dannyzens’ self-acceptance forces them to come to terms with things about themselves.
There’s a great moment early on when Flex Mentallo, the muscle superhero, is using his powers to help prepare the house for the party. He flexes this muscle and lights appear over the windows. He flexes that one and streamers appear all over. Rita goes to put up the disco ball, intending to use her powers to mount it, but her powers won’t manifest. So far, she’s only been able to do it when her self esteem is low or when she’s in a very stressful situation. She has very little control over it, other than not turning into a horrifying flesh blob anymore.
This kicks off two of the interesting storylines this week. Dorothy is in the middle of an existential struggle. She knows her father is dying. She knows she loves Danny. But she’s also realizing that Danny wasn’t simply her friend for the many years she lived within his streets. Danny was her jail. Meanwhile, Rita is realizing that something is stopping her from controlling her powers. Seeing Flex reminds her that the only time she’s been clear of mind is when Flex operated his splenius cervicis muscle, which elicited a very specific reaction from the Patrol.
This is not sustainable
These two storylines expose just how precarious Dorothy is living with the Patrol. She’s stuck not just physically but mentally and emotionally at the age of 11. Despite being over 100 years old, she is quite literally a child living with a bunch of very adult adults.
Dr. Caulder is in an impossible position with Dorothy. On the one hand, if she were to make a wish to the Candlemaker, there could be repercussions of apocalyptic proportions. She’s an 11-year-old in every sense other than her number of literal years on earth, so wishing is just something she’s emotionally predisposed to do. On the other hand, Caulder has been keeping a literal child imprisoned for decades while he searches for immortality to outlast his daughter. I suspect the thrust of the season will be Caulder discovering that there are other options–that the search for immortality has been a decades-long goose chase. We’ll see if that bears out. But Rita’s storyline shows that this situation cannot last.
Flex Mentallo is, in short, helping Rita work her way through some trauma by causing her to orgasm. But if you remember back to season 1, Flex’s splenius cervicis muscle (it’s on the back of the neck, down near the shoulder) is quite powerful, and caused the entire street and all the Dannyzens to orgasm when he accidentally engaged it. Listen, these sentences are as absurd to write as they are to read.
The Shadowy Mr. Evans
The intense, amplified orgasms wake up this week’s monster and summon this week’s heroes, and they literally could not be better than they are. The demon Rita accidentally summons is a sex demon called the Shadowy Mr. Evans, a being that meditates in a temple in the far east. The Shadowy Mr. Evans has a periscope on his head and can dissolve into shadows. Wherever he goes, wanton lust follows, and soon he arrives at Doom Manor to spice up the party.
As if by magic, though, someone shows up to stop him. It turns out that the Shadowy Mr. Evans, if unleashed, could turn the world in a childless, hedonistic playground. The SeX-Men appear with back-mounted gun packs and libidometers. They’re named after the X-Men (by a 12-year-old, probably) and themed after the Ghostbusters.
This pairing sums up the tone of Doom Patrol, something I’m calling a ‘silly nightmare.’ The reality of what could happen is legitimately horrifying, but it’s very silly to describe, and it’s good for both laughs and action alike.
More of this, please
So far, I’m genuinely enjoying this season of Doom Patrol. The showrunners are finding great ways to investigate and develop each character. I’m enjoying Rita’s concerted attempts to become a better person, as well as Vic’s struggles with continuing to be human while living in a body that is A) not is own and B) custom-built for heroism. Jane’s struggles to live at peace with herself are compelling thanks to not just Diane Guererro’s great acting but the other actors who portray her personalities when she’s in the underground.
And Cliff’s struggles would be heartbreaking if he wasn’t so defiant and prone to swearing. He struggles to feel anything while trying to cope with the pain of knowing his daughter has grown up without him while he convalesced in his mechanical body for 30 years.
I’m also glad to see the Dannyzens back and for the show to continue to develop who and what Danny is. Danny is a protector, and everything about Danny reinforces that.
I want to see the show get into the meat of the story, but it’s doing so well with these monster-of-the-week episodes in terms of make-up, set design, special effects and story that I’m not going to complain. Plus, I’m always down for an episode featuring Flex Mentallo, The Muscle Man of Mystery.
Doom Patrol season 2 is airing now on DC Universe.