We’re nearing the end of Doom Patrol–hopefully only for now–but “Dad Patrol” continues the slow pace of this season that sees events ramp up towards the end of most of these nine episodes. Last week was a bit of a reprieve from that trudge but once again we have an installment densely packed with plot points. So here’s five thoughts on “Dad Patrol” and, remember, beware of spoilers.
1. Are you there, God? It’s Me, Dorothy
If Dorothy Caulder matures she may very well bring about the end of the world. It’s not exactly a thinly-veiled metaphor for puberty but “Dad Patrol” makes a pit-stop to a gas station restroom to talk about periods. Honestly, I can’t think of another instance of a show like this tackling such a topic with sincerity but Doom Patrol pulls it off well. The scene where the attendant helps out Dorothy is heartfelt and humorous but never feels flippant or tone-deaf. It serves to make Dorothy all that more real of a character as we connect with her struggle and forget for a moment that this may be signaling something far more terrifying than a stain on a well-worn dress.
2. The Stinger
I want more of these 70s-style TV intro parody/homages, damn it. “Beekeeper and Borg” is nearly as good as “Stone and Steele” and I would watch a half-hour block of either of these. Inserting Vic and Rita into a referential sequence of the old Avengers (no, not that one) intro is entertaining as hell, and makes me lament how late we are into the season having only two of these moments so far.
3. Cliff’s Finger-Lickin’ Good Pancakes
Don’t ever ask a robot-man to make your breakfast, especially one as emotionally-stunted and absent-minded as Cliff. “Dad Patrol” serves as a title to not only highlight Niles and Dorothy but also Cliff and Clara, but the latter’s story and interactions feel a bit heavy-handed in their delivery. I just don’t feel the connection between the two and there simply isn’t enough runtime here to delve into their reunion. But Doom Patrol never misses an opportunity for a quick joke and Cliff accidentally frying the severed finger he saved in with the sausage links did give me a chuckle here.
4. Well, Actually
The Underground has provided some of the more intriguing world-building this year in Doom Patrol and there’s a lot to parse out with “Dad Patrol.” We get an explanation of exactly what the well is and what it represents and more reason to distrust Miranda towards the end. Jane’s collection of personas worked well last season being mysterious and unexplained, but the dissection this year never feels forced or obtuse. I expect the resolution of this to be explosive, rather than slowly drowning in its own exposition.
5. Burning the Candle at Both Ends
Candlemaker feels like an antagonist that could so easily be mishandled. Thankfully, the thing is downright terrifying. While the CGI may not be perfect any scenes involving it are deftly execute the sense of dread it should inspire. Regardless of what happens next week, this drippy skull-monster is sure to haunt my dreams for some time. “Wax Patrol” is sure to be a messy, but solid mass that probably won’t come out of the carpet of my mind.
It’s difficult to believe how quickly we’ve run through the admittedly shorter list of episodes for Doom Patrol this year but here we are, one week away from the finale. I’ll keep time by a candle’s flame until next we meet.