Often times, things like common sense, experience, and emotions like shame and fear keep us from making bad decisions. The same goes for the Doom Patrol, who often make poor decisions, but not outright dumb ones. And even the poor decisions are made with the best of intentions. But sometimes, you just get a bad idea in your head. Spoilers follow for Doom Patrol Season 2, Episode 7, “Dumb Patrol.”
Season 1 of Doom Patrol had a strong throughline as Mr. Nobody narrated the Patrol’s futile search for their mentor, Dr. Niles Caulder. Without a villain whose superpower is literally telling stories and someone to search for, the second season of Doom Patrol hasn’t been as strong as the first in an overarching sense so far. That’s not the worst thing in the world, but with only two episodes left after this one, I know there’s a chance I could leave disappointed with the season even if I enjoyed many of the episodes.
That’s why it seems so strange that episode seven out of nine total is a silly Monster of the Week episode. There’s character development, of course, but I’m left feeling like this season is weaker overall and I’m wondering how much longer the season was originally meant to be. The Coronavirus pandemic apparently shortened the season from 10 episodes to nine, but even that seems short for how much it seems like there is left to do.
The team is separated this week. After Niles kicked Cliff out of his spaceship and into the void of space, the two end up in very different places as Niles touches down in the Yukon Territory while Cliff crashes down through a billboard advertising a tell-all book written by the animal portion of Animal-Vegetable-Mineral man, DC’s greatest and best character. Rita, meanwhile, is practicing for the Our Town play and that has its own fallout. That leaves the Doom Manor crew with Larry, Jane–now operated by Miranda–and Vic and his maybe-girlfriend Roni.
Shortly after Vic and Roni arrive at Doom Manor, only to discover that Niles is in outer space and unavailable to assist with Roni’s medical issues, a crate arrives. The foursome looks at it as pink gas wafts out. They inhale it and immediately start making bad decisions, like opening the crate (which contains a blank canvas that looks suspiciously like the one that once contained Mr. Nobody and the Beardhunter). Except for Jane.
Last week, Miranda took control of the body belonging to Kay Challis, most frequently operated by Jane. Where Jane has a base level of physical, social, and emotional competence that lets her operate in the real world in ways many of her other personalities can’t, Miranda has her shit together. Mysteriously, she’s also immune to the pink gas.
The four idiots do a bunch of dumb stuff. Larry tries to go visit his grandson in the hospital, where the Bureau of Normalcy is waiting, but one of Jane’s personalities teleports him away. Jane and Larry–the Negative Man, referred to as a mummy just a few minutes earlier–put on doctors’ labcoats and try to pass as doctors, and that goes about as well as you’d expect. The team stops just short of attempting surgery on Roni.
Then, the Patrol’s own off-brand Constantine, Willoughby Kipling, shows up to inform the team they’ve become infected with Scants, a minute parasite that feeds its host bad ideas. The Patrol ends up diving into the painting, where they find the Beardhunter, who has painted himself white to hide from the scants. The explanation for why Mr. Nobody isn’t there is one of the funniest moments of the episode and maybe the season.
The team ends up captured by the Scants, where Miranda uses some of Jane’s various personalities to craft a clever trap to take them down while the other members giggle like idiots.
This whole segment seems to serve two purposes. The first and primary purpose is to tell a bunch of silly jokes. Some of them are very good. The Beardhunter is hilarious, and there are lots of other great moments. This storyline’s other purpose is to show how much more composed and competent Miranda is compared with Jane. That part of it feels more contrived. That might just be because I’ve bonded with Jane and miss her. It’s the same actress, but Miranda is impressively different aside from having longer hair. Diane Guerrero is an awesome actor.
Bad Joints and Bee Rants
While the idiots are doing their thing, Rita is off studying for a play. This whole season has had a throughline of Rita trying to get a handle on her emotions and her powers. This week, she’s shadowing a beekeeper for her role in Our Town, which is a play about the first episode of Doom Patrol from the town’s perspective. The actual depth of her role and the level of prep she’s doing make for a good joke on their own, but the conversation that Rita has with the beekeeper is one of those moments where Doom Patrol shines with humanity, giving Rita the chance to have a major breakthrough.
Meanwhile, Cliff is marching through the woods, swearing almost constantly. That is, until his joints give out, leaving him standed, I mean stranded, in the back lot of a warehouse for most of the episode; he gets a phone long enough to call his daughter to rant about how he’s done with her–only to find out that she’s waiting for him at Doom Manor, holding the tape of Niles’ confession. I’m super excited to see how that pans out–but curious how much they can do in just two episodes.
Like that time Darth Vader screamed No
While Cliff is stomping through the woods, Niles is in the Yukon Territory, hoping to contact Dorothy’s mother and his former lover, who died when Dorothy was just a child. Chronologically speaking. He has a terrifying vision of the Candlemaker, but something about the acting here didn’t stick right. Dalton has been a great actor throughout the series, but the screaming he does in these scenes feels really weird and forced.
Really, though, this episode is one of the funniest episodes of Doom Patrol yet, and it’s generally a funny show anyway. I just can’t help but wonder what the show can do with only two more episodes.
Doom Patrol season 2 is airing now on DC Universe and HBO Max.