Each member of the Doom Patrol suffered a horrible accident that gave them superhuman abilities, but also left them scarred and disfigured. Part support group, part Super Hero team, the Doom Patrol is a band of superpowered freaks who fight for a world that wants nothing to do with them. Season Four opens with the team unexpectedly traveling to the future to find an unwelcome surprise. Faced with their imminent demise, the Doom Patrol must decide once and for all which is more important: their own happiness or the fate of the world?
It’s hard to believe we’re already half way through the fourth season of Titans, but that midseason break means it’s time for the return of one of my favourite shows, Doom Patrol! Much like it’s former-DC Universe roommate, the fourth season of Doom Patrol beings with a two-episode premiere this week before rolling our a further four episodes weekly.
Over the course of its run to-date, Doom Patrol has done a wonderful job of mixing off-the-wall super hero hijinks with some incredible character work. That’s in no small part down to the outstanding cast. Season 4 continues with the same mix seen in season 3, with the brilliant Michelle Gomez now a full time member of the team.
Across the first six episodes of season 4 the relationship between Gomez’s Madame Rouge and the team is vital. Rouge is seeking atonement for her actions and that has huge consequences for Rita (April Bowlby). At the end of season 3 Rita had taken the role of team leader and Rouge’s mere presence challenges that. The two butt head often, creating some of the season’s best scenes. The two actors have ridiculously good chemistry and it sizzles whenever they share a scene.
In opening episode “Doom Patrol” the team come up against the z-list villain Codpiece. Rita leads the charge in what is a very typical episode for the series. We now have the added wrinkle of time travel and that brings with it even more laughs but generally “Doom Patrol” is an episode which serves to reset the playing field for season 4. Codpiece is typical of the series’ villains, he’s hilarious and incredibly un-politically correct. It quickly dispels any misconceptions that the Doom Patrol are now rivalling the Justice League in their successes. They’re just a dysfunctional as ever, but now they have a leader to blame when things go wrong.
Rita’s sense of responsibility is a wonderful through line across the six episodes I’ve seen. Moving in to episode two, the ramifications of their missions against Codpiece finds the rest of the team questioning Rita’s leadership. That, of course, shakes her confidence and once again provides Bowlby with some incredible material to perform.
Bowlby is certainly a de-facto lead amongst the ensemble. Many will argue that Matt Bomer and Brendan Fraser are bigger names but it’s clear how much Bowlby commands the screen whenever she is present. In fact, in episode three (“Nostalgia Patrol”) Rita is largely separate from the team but still remains the focus as the rest of the Doom Patrol regret some of their prior actions. If that leaves no doubt that Rita is crucial factor in season 4, then a huge emotional turning point in episode five (“Youth Patrol”) certainly will.
There’s plenty for the rest of the team to tackle in season 4. Cliff (Fraser), returned to his normal-sized robot body after the season 3 finale, is given a gift by Vic (Joivan Wade) and his father (Phil Morris) that serves as both poignant character development and a source of great humour. But this being Doom Patrol, his gift is quickly flipped on its head after a side mission which pairs him with Madame Rouge. Despite the limitations of the Robotman costume, both Fraser and on-set performer Riley Shanahan milk the new season for all its worth.
The complex nature of The Underground inside Crazy Jane’s (Diane Guerrero) head takes a little bit of a back seat early in the season. Rather than focussing on the dysfunction between her various personalities, season 4 instead allows Jane a moment to be selfish. Having resurfaced Jane is exposed to a number of scenario she has never faced before. These moments encourage her to explore her feelings and pose a very interesting question: whose body is it? It is Jane’s? Kay’s? Do Jane’s feelings really matter if it isn’t her body to begin with? There are no definitive answers within these first six episodes, but the lingering questions could potentially lead to some very exciting developments in the back half of the season.
Larry (Bomer and Matthew Zuk) are still getting to grips with new passenger, Keeg. There are interesting things going on for Larry but to talk too much would be to invite spoilers. Suffice to say his relationship with Rita and his own internal struggles do continue to captivate the episodes I’ve seen.
Likewise, Vic (Wade) is coming to terms with being “only” human after being separated from his Cyborg parts. It’s clear that Vic is struggling with being de-powered, particularly as Rita no longer trusts him to be in the field. Being relegated to IT guy leads him to attempt to reconnect with old friends and takes the character on perhaps his most honest and emotional journey so far.
The team faces the looming threat of Immortus. We simultaneously learn a lot and very little about the latest big bad as these six episodes rattle on. Much like Brother Blood in Titans, Doom Patrol is saving its biggest reveals for when the season returns. In the meantime there are plenty of zombie butts and personal issues to overcome.
The production on season 4 remains perfectly in tact. There’s a very classic Hollywood feel to Doom Patrol and carries perfectly throughout these episodes. Set designs are quirky and special effects feel just a little hokey on purpose. These special touches all work together to bring the show back in its most perfect form. I only hope this isn’t the end for the team…
In its first six episodes, Doom Patrol season 4 continues the series’ incredible track record for strong writing. The characters have never felt more complex. But it’s also some of the funniest, zaniest and most bonkers work they’ve ever done… and I love it!