NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Doom Patrol” are present in this review
Doom Patrol got a chance to have some fun last week, bringing in an especially ridiculous set of villains-of-the-week, even as the situation surrounding Dorothy and the Candlemaker grows ever more dire. This week, that situation finally hits a climax, as Chief finds himself hesitating in the mission to kill his growing daughter, before the demon within her threatens to destroy the world. “Dad Patrol” thus returns to a more poignant, emotionally heavy tone this week, as many of Doom Patrol’s lead characters aptly deal with their daddy issues, whether received or generated. That is, except for Vic and Rita, who find themselves on the trail of a deadly new turn for Roni.
Once again, as interesting as the Roni storyline is, it feels like the most obvious victim of Doom Patrol’s second season being shortened after the fact, on account of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We’ll just have to hope that Doom Patrol gets renewed in order to likely see how this plays out, especially considering the promising prospect of DC villain organization, The Quorum joining the Doom Patrol universe. Because the Quorum is clearly being saved for next season at this point, Vic and Rita thus end up with the lesser storyline this week, as they impotently try to investigate Roni’s murder of a Quorum vice president. Rita’s new superhero identity as The Beekeeper is almost intentionally shoved to the side, even if somewhat for comic effect, and even after a confrontation between Vic and Roni turns heated, it never really goes anywhere interesting. This is of course on top of the fact that Vic and Rita break from this episode’s pattern of centering around daddy issues, ultimately saddling both of them with pushing forward a plot that Doom Patrol’s current season can’t properly explore anymore, and little else.
Fortunately, outside of that nitpick, the rest of Doom Patrol yet again continues to soar this week, making the best of a bad situation, and continuing to prime the series effectively for a climactic battle against the Candlemaker during next week’s premature season finale. Even outside of the Candlemaker conflict, some other interesting storylines unfold with the rest of the Doom Patrol aside from Vic and Rita this week, including Cliff, now that he’s finally been able to build a father/daughter relationship with Clara in earnest. Cliff ends up with another B-plot this week, but his turns out so much better than Vic’s and Rita’s subplot. Cliff’s enthusiastic reactions to Clara’s news of marrying her longtime female partner, Clara being weeks away from giving birth, and Clara finally agreeing to invite Cliff to her wedding, all make for a fantastic change of pace for Cliff’s character. It’s all very well-earned, considering that Cliff has been (justifiably) miserable all season up to this point, and finally finds himself achieving something of a win, now that he finally has the chance to build a real connection with his estranged daughter.
On the opposite end of the father spectrum, Jane finds herself inhabiting one of the larger storylines of this week’s episode, naturally dealing with the scars left by Kay’s abusive father once again. After Jane raises an alarm among Kay’s personalities that Scarlet Harlot, and now Lucy Fugue, have gone missing, Miranda appears to assuage fears, suggesting that the lost personalities have simply, “Moved on” from the Underground. Miranda’s suggestion that Kay could be healing from her past trauma, thus eliminating her many alternate personalities very gradually, leaves Jane facing an interesting new obstacle, namely the prospect of disappearing soon, and returning Kay’s host body to her. This leaves Jane desperate to prove herself useful to Kay and the other personalities, ultimately talking Larry into following her to Arkansas, so she can take care of some unfinished business for Kay.
It’s here that many more elements of the Underground begin to make sense as well. Apparently, when Kay was a child, for example, her father would punish her by lowering her into a well and leaving her there all night, which eventually leads to Kay losing her stuffed animal companion, Harry. Jane has thus become determined to find Harry, which she eventually does, after discovering that Miranda left Harry, alongside a note for her father, after running away during one particular night in the well. This forces Jane to confront the realization that Miranda possibly knows what’s best for Kay more than she does, leading to Jane admitting to Miranda that she was right. In a pretty solid twist however, Miranda responds to this by throwing Harry and Jane into the well within the Underground! This leaves Jane screaming in an endless sea of water, seeing the bodies of the fallen personalities around her. So, yes, as it turns out, Miranda is indeed bad news for the Underground. Like Jane says though, the Underground is a construct of Kay’s mind, so maybe there is still a chance that Jane and the other personalities could be saved?
Easily the highlight storyline of this week however belongs to Chief and Dorothy. Because Chief is being forced to kill his daughter, he decides to take her on one last perfect day, before having to let her go. In the process though, Dorothy ends up menstruating, being coached through the process by a kindly gas station attendant, before deciding not to tell her father that she’s maturing. Dorothy then decides to go to the fair with Chief, which does present a nicely fun and uplifting series of scenarios, even as Chief himself is rapidly declining, ironically not telling Dorothy about his condition either. As Dorothy is haunted by visions of her mother and the Candlemaker throughout the day as well, Willoughby ultimately arrives too late to stop Dorothy maturing enough to unleash the Candlemaker, who now refuses to heed Dorothy’s orders. The episode thus ends here, setting up a fantastic season finale device for next week (even an unplanned one), while beautifully capping off what’s possibly the best Chief/Dorothy storyline of the entire season, one that sees both of them trying to protect the other from their pain and uncertainty, and finally attempting to just be a straightforward father and daughter.
“Dad Patrol” delivers another fantastic slice of poignant emotion for Doom Patrol, nicely spreading out the storylines so that Dorothy and Jane can achieve excellent dramatic milestones with their fathers, while Cliff occupies a more light-hearted take on the subject with Clara. Larry ends up merely being a tag-along for Jane in this case, but even Larry gets some pretty solid dialogue this week, as he becomes Jane’s source of comfort, while continuing to confront his own failures as a father and grandfather to the various Trainor family members. Vic and Rita are sadly the storytelling casualties this week, by contrast, being stuck dealing with a filler subplot that predictably pits Vic against Roni, now that Roni has consumed the Scant Queen’s jelly to cure herself, and become extra powerful. Like I said, it’s inevitable that the Quorum storyline has to be saved for next season now, but fortunately, the full-on rise of the Candlemaker nonetheless gives the Doom Patrol plenty to do during next week’s season finale. Hopefully they can still prevail while being down a couple of members too, especially since Jane likely isn’t going to achieve a straightforward route of the Underground’s well!
- Heartfelt day at the fair for Dorothy and Chief
- Jane resolving Kay's trauma, only to be betrayed by Miranda
- Cliff finally getting somewhere with Clara
- Vic/Rita/Roni subplot is too undercooked