Brief Thoughts On Doom Patrol Season 1, Episode 2
by Erik Amaya
And then Cyborg (Joivan Wade) entered the fray.
One intriguing element of Doom Patrol is its decision to play fast and loose with the meta-commentary. In the first episode, we had our narrator/villain Mr. Nobody (Alan Tudyk) openly discussing the existence of “yet another superhero show.” This week, he more or less tells The Chief (Timothy Dalton) that his narration is for the benefit of the viewer at home and, specifically, “Grant Morrison fans.” Considering Morrison lifted Nobody from Silver Age obscurity to a leading force against the Doom Patrol, it makes sense he would tip his hat — er, face — to his patron author. But it also speaks to the freedom the show has to comment on itself and the format. That Nobody’s abilities offer him a way to do this in and out of the story is one of the best elements of the show.
Indeed, he uses his role as the narrator to bludgeon Larry (Matt Bomer), Rita (April Bowlby) and Cyborg once they enter his domain via the donkey. And, in may ways, it is one of the most effective villain attacks on a television show at some time. Since he’s fully aware of his opponents, he weaponizes their origin stories to break down any psychological defenses they may have. Larry is forced to confront his dual life before the crash, Rita once again faces the moment she was transformed, and Cyborg is forced to question the very core of his being.
Which, as far as introducing Cyborg goes, is pretty interesting. From the standpoint of the series, he’s the only real superhero present. He patrols Detroit and, along with his father, is building a portfolio for an eventual Justice League candidacy. Keeping with the meta-commentary, that stated trajectory mirrors Cyborg’s own transformation from Teen Titan in the 1980s to full-fledged League member by the early part of the 21st Century — though some may note his inclusion on later seasons of Superfriends suggests he was always destined to a Leaguer. But on Doom Patrol, it takes on a sinister edge as Nobody plants the idea that Vic’s very origin story may have been made up by his father to justify experimenting on his own son. The accident which claimed the life of Vic’s mother and seeded the promise he made may all be functions of programing. It’s an unusual spin on the character and his beginnings, but slots perfectly into the tone of the series; which both questions and reaffirms the essential elements of the characters. In Vic’s case, he is able to stand up to Nobody’s questioning and assert his wish to be a hero comes from his core self. Nevertheless, there is a lingering doubt, which leads Vic to stick with the Doom Patrol and not return to his father.
Larry and Rita are also able to compose themselves and work their way out of Nobody’s other-dimension phantasm. But as this is merely the first salvo in Nobody’s plan, it remains to be seen how he will use their apparent victory against them. Well, we’re presuming he will continue to do so. The character is sort of an off-beat therapist in his relations to the others even if he has a real beef with Caulder. They have some sort of history and considering The Chief’s squirreliness, it is likely some of Nobody’s ire is deserved.
Just, y’know, his methodology goes beyond the pale.
Doom Patrol streams Fridays on DC Universe.