NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Doom Patrol” are present in this review
Doom Patrol has hit the end of its prematurely-shortened sophomore season, one of numerous television productions to be compromised by the COVID-19 pandemic. Alongside The CW’s biggest DC dramas, The Flash, Supergirl and Batwoman, Doom Patrol lost several planned episodes to the pandemic, but unlike those shows, it didn’t evidently change its premature season finale to accommodate the shortened episode order. This isn’t so bad in the end though, since, “Wax Patrol” nonetheless proves to be a surprisingly effective season finale for Doom Patrol, despite not originally being planned as the season’s conclusion… Well, mostly. There are still a few awkward elements to the way Season Two is ultimately forced to conclude here, especially if the series doesn’t get renewed (though all signs point to a Season Three renewal being all but assured at this point), but considering the bad hand it got dealt, Doom Patrol’s second season mostly manages to stick the landing, even if it kind of has to pull a Titans in the process.
What I mean by this is, Doom Patrol’s fellow DC Universe series, Titans ultimately cut out its originally planned Season One finale, suddenly reducing its initial 12-episode order to 11 episodes, which resulted in that show’s debut season ending on a rather frustrating cliffhanger. Doom Patrol, similarly, also has to end its compromised second season on a somewhat awkward cliffhanger in the end, with tons of ongoing story elements that remain unresolved at this point, though it’s easier to be forgiving in this case. After all, it’s not Doom Patrol’s fault that its second season got compromised by a pandemic, rather than head-scratching management mandates. In fact, much like The Flash over on The CW, Doom Patrol miraculously manages to deliver a satisfying ending for its latest season, even while being forced to appoint a season finale that wasn’t originally supposed to be the season finale. The fact that Doom Patrol didn’t even need to retroactively tweak anything in this episode either, unlike the premature season finale of The Flash, feels all the more impressive.
“Wax Patrol” obviously picks up after the major development with Dorothy from last week. The Candlemaker is imminently about to be unleashed, driving citizens to flee from the fair, right as Chief and Willoughby end up being helpless to stop the hellish beast’s apocalypse. After the rest of the Doom Patrol then get wind of the situation, courtesy of Herschel, they in turn talk Flit into taking them to Chief’s and Dorothy’s location, with Cliff being the only one to resist this time. In Cliff’s defense however, tending to the latest doomsday scenario on Earth-21 means missing out on his daughter’s imminent wedding. The pushiness of the Doom Patrol feels a little bit forced here, frankly, especially when Larry and Rita of all people should understand the significance of Cliff wanting to be with his daughter on her special day. Regardless, Cliff is eventually talked along to the fair. At this point, a climactic battle of sorts is waged against the Candlemaker, though in true Doom Patrol fashion, said battle is anything but traditional!
Each of the Doom Patrol members end up facing off against an imaginary friend brought to life by Dorothy’s powers, creating a series of character conflicts that feel just as delightfully twisted as they are emotionally challenging. Rita ends up against a cutout of her mother’s eyes that forces her to dance, Vic ends up encountering a Western-themed version of Silas that affirms all of his controversial actions with Roni (who, as I predicted, is left in the wind until a likely third season), and Cliff, in the most hilarious turn, ends up getting into an over-the-top fist fight with a cheap bible camp Jesus! Larry, meanwhile, is the only Doom Patrol member without an imaginary friend, so he’s left to just kind of bumble around, fail to find Dorothy, and witness Willougby being defeated by the Candlemaker in turn. Really? The show couldn’t have done anything for Larry here? That’s pretty lame!
In a surprising twist though, much of this premature season finale for Doom Patrol actually revolves around Miranda. Jane continues to languish in the Underground’s well, but Miranda makes her own stand with the Doom Patrol, even if she’s quickly disabled by the rest of the personalities pulling an alarm. This ultimately summons Miranda back to the Underground, rendering Kay’s body catatonic. Thus, periodically throughout this episode, we see flashbacks that detail why Miranda initially chose to throw herself into the well in the Underground, which begins with her trying to lead an ordinary life in the 1960’s, as a waitress. At this point, Miranda meets a kindly street musician, and the two begin a relationship, even moving in together. This is the point when Miranda insists to the other personalities that they’re finally home, and that she will keep them safe.
Inevitably though, tragedy eventually strikes, when Miranda agrees to host a party for her boyfriend’s friends… Who all turn out to be swingers. This is where Miranda discovers that her boyfriend is bored in their relationship, and wants them to have an open relationship, manipulating the events at the party to force Miranda’s hand, and take advantage of her good nature by backing her into a psychological corner. While this might be a little uncomfortable for viewers who are open/polyamorous in their own love lives, it nonetheless proves to be a brilliant and all-too-relatable conflict for Miranda, who winds up trapped in another psychologically and sexually abusive relationship situation. This is what ultimately leads to Jane taking over, as a defense mechanism. This is also what leads Miranda to throw herself into the well, having ultimately failed Kay, and the entire Underground. It’s smartly, painfully tragic, and eventually leads fantastically into another big twist; The Miranda that has re-appeared from the well is not actually Miranda! We unfortunately don’t figure out who or what, “Miranda” actually is before this episode concludes, but this nonetheless sets up a very exciting tease for a potential third season.
This leaves Miranda as a fake, Roni continuing her super-powered murder spree, all of the Doom Patrol members eventually turned to wax, and Dorothy left with no choice but to engage the Candlemaker alone, against the pleading of her father. Dorothy disappearing with the Candlemaker to cap off this episode and this season makes Chief’s pain feel all too real as well, reflecting the real-world uncertainty around Doom Patrol’s status to surprisingly great effect! Like I said though, Doom Patrol is in no discernible danger of being cancelled. It’s too popular and too acclaimed to adequately tempt the metaphorical axe. Moreover, today’s announcement of the (massive!) DC FanDome guest list has officially confirmed that the Doom Patrol cast members, along with showrunner, Jeremy Carver, will all be present at DC’s virtual event later this month. I seriously doubt that Doom Patrol would be spotlighted to such a degree at DC FanDome, only to be cancelled, especially after the series already inked a lucrative deal to have its second season co-hosted on WarnerMedia’s shiny new streaming platform, HBO Max.
So, while Doom Patrol has not yet been officially renewed for Season Three, all of the evidence appears to indicate that the show is plenty safe. It’s a good thing too, because Doom Patrol’s second season inevitably has to end on a slightly compromised note, one that leaves the vast majority of the season’s storylines currently unresolved. Despite that though, “Wax Patrol” still ends up being a surprisingly strong season finale, despite having to grudgingly take on that role after the season lost several planned episodes to the COVID-19 pandemic. The eccentric battle against the Candlemaker proves to be equal parts funny and clever, and the extended, tragic backstory surrounding Miranda also ends up being brilliantly done. Even Dorothy finally opting to grow up and take on the Candlemaker on her own terms, for better or for worse, proves to be a pretty solid way to end the season, despite Dorothy’s current arc clearly being left unfinished, for now. On the bright side though, all of these unresolved storylines immediately create tons of anticipation around a potential third season for Doom Patrol, one that we’ll hopefully get some news on at DC FanDome, if not even sooner.
- Funny, creative and heartfelt Candlemaker confrontation
- Wonderfully tragic backstory for Miranda
- Dorothy stepping up to face the Candlemaker on her own
- Cliff illogically being forced to miss Clara's wedding
- Larry not getting his own imaginary foe