April 19, 2024

Gabbing Geek

Your online community for all things geeky.

Doom Patrol “Done Patrol”

Series Finale

OK, I’ll say it right here:  Doom Patrol was a much better show than it had any right to be.  Given how silly and often outright ridiculous it often was, I probably shouldn’t have been emotionally moved as much as I was by a superhero series with an obviously lower budget than most shows of this genre usually is.

In many ways, this is a show that ended the way that was most appropriate.  The team, even with Laura wheeling Rita in at the last minute, confronts Isabel/Immortus and may be doing actual superhero stuff for the first time ever.  Or some of them are.  Jane, now Kay/Kaleidoscope, can use all the powers at the same time while Vic is back to full Cyborg mode.  Keeg even helps when Larry lets him out.  Granted, Cliff seizes up, and Rita is mostly there for moral support, but they’re trying.

Then the were-butts show up, and their rogue members remind them all that they love musical theater.  And so does Isabel.  Cue time warp that, I dunno, maybe saves the day?  I mean, Immortus and the butts are no longer threats.  The Doom Patrol can celebrate the fact that, once again, they managed to kinda defeat a threat that they also were kinda responsible for.  None of what happened would have happened if they weren’t there at all, and that realization is  something that Rita takes to heart since she then disbands the team.

Of course, she dies first.  Good thing ghosts are a thing on this show.

Now, I was somewhat prepared for this show to kill most if not all of the team off.  The original comic book series had the entire team–Rita, Cliff, Larry, and the Chief–all sacrifice their lives to stop Immortus from destroying a town full of innocent people.  And they were really dead.  Cliff and the Chief did come back–Cliff, as a human brain in a robot, is kinda hard to kill–Larry came back later just before Grant Morrison’s run that introduced Crazy Jane, and eventually, Rita returned, but this was a Silver Age superhero team’s death.  That sort of thing doesn’t really happen, does it?

However, this is a different sort of story, one where the heroes were more mentally and emotionally unhealthy people who needed help and were not particularly competent superheroes.  They mostly had to save themselves, not other people.  This show was silly and bizarre, taking more inspiration from the Morrison (and beyond) era of the comics, so killing off the entire team was probably out of the question.  Instead, its more about the individual members of the team finding some measure of inner peace, and that means two of them do end up dying, with Rita’s death coming just before a somewhat repentant Immortus arrives to give them all their longevity back.  For Kay and Larry, no problem.  Cliff, well, he still has his Parkinson’s.

Rita, then, has the indignity of a funeral cremation when it is clear her teammates had no idea what things she really valued since most of them laid down make-up items or booze to burn with her body.

But honestly, most of them got something of a happy ending.  Rita found Malcolm in the afterlife.  Jane hooked up with Casey for a quiet life of painting while exploring the stars.  Larry and Keeg found a safe place for themselves with Rama.  Vic becomes a teacher.  Laura torches the ANT Farm with a flamethrower after Vic promised to make sure she never went too far.  And then there’s Cliff…

Cliff does find his daughter and grandson, but he realizes he didn’t go home to live but rather to die (a good line), and the show spends the most post-Immortus time with Cliff Steele finding some measure of peace in his final days.  He alone was given a second gift from Immortus, a crystal of some kind, and while he and Clara are trying to fix his muscle car, grandson Rory sitting next to him, Cliff looks into the crystal hanging from his rearview mirror and sees Rory’s future, seeing the boy will have a rather mundane life that is a mirror of Cliff’s own (save becoming a champion race car driver and then a brain in a robot body), a life that shows Rory growing up, having a wife and kid, abandoning the wife and kid, Clara’s aging and death, and finally Rory’s going back to see his own grandchild as he tries to make things right.  For Cliff, that’s all he really needed to know, that his grandson was going to be more or less OK.

And then he shuts down, and I felt myself crying.

Over the freakin’ Doom Patrol!?!?!  

It makes sense that the series would end with Cliff.  It began with him too, and he was always the one most resistant to, well, doing whatever the others wanted to do.  He didn’t want to sit in Doom Manor like Cliff, Rita, and Jane.  He didn’t want to give up on group therapy (mostly because was his idea).  He didn’t want to give up his human body when Immortus gave it back.  He didn’t want to split the group up, holding out the longest.  At the same time, he maybe wanted a normal life more than the others.  He was the only one who had any real connection to his biological family (Larry tried, but it didn’t quite work out), and he was both the biggest pain in the ass but also the one who arguably felt the loss of his former life the most, possibly because outside of Vic he was the youngest.  He was probably the one who changed the least (Rita changed the most), but he maybe didn’t need as much growth.  He was impulsive, prone to heavy swearing, and the one that was quickest to point out that life crapped on him the most (debatable).  He was ignorant and proud.  He really just needed his daughter and grandson.  He got that.  And then he died.  All he really needed to do in the end was what he did without really trying all that hard:  he had to slow down.

Damn, that was good television.  I never would have expected something like that out of what started as a DC Comics streaming service that eventually became just a place to read comics.

10 out of 10 talking cockroaches that are never really explained.

OK, I need something else.  Well, The Boys will be back soon.  I should probably watch the spin-off.


Fridays is apparently the day for genre TV.  And if that young woman is manipulating her own blood, I found something to scratch the superhero and horror genres at the same time.