The Doom Patrol have just had everything they’ve ever known drawn into question. Having gone their separate ways, is there any chance they can become real heroes and save Danny the Street? We’re gonna get into it, but be ready for some spoilers ahead.
Okay! Allow me to just say right up front that “Ezekiel Patrol” is hands-down the most bizarre episode Doom Patrol has produced yet, and that’s really saying something. Not all of it works, which we’ll get to, but this episode deserves major props for swinging for the fences in this season finale.
Let’s start with the great: much like the pilot episode, “Ezekiel Patrol” utilizes multiple time frames to great effect. We get to see just how much our characters have evolved, as well as a softer side to Niles Caulder’s machinations. Make no mistake, he’s still done a terrible thing, but we get to see how he grapples with the terrible choices he’s made. Timothy Dalton completely sells Niles’ regret. There’s a sense of pride in his work mixed with a strong dose of self-loathing. You can always see the doubt behind his eyes, even as he speaks in a determined tone.
Seeing how everyone fares on their own is also interesting, because even though they’ve ostensibly split up, they still gravitate toward one another. Larry and Rita share a house while Cliff makes a point to make sure Jane is eating well. The fact that Cliff does this for her without making a show of how generous he’s being, giving Jane the space she needs, also shows how much Cliff has matured over the course of the season. He’s truly doing it for her, not because he wants people to think he’s better than he is.
The subplot involving Jane getting a suppression for her powers was interesting, but brought up many more questions than I think it was meant to. Are her powers gone? Is Jane the prominent personality now? And why is Joshua ageless, as well? Did he partake in the results of Niles’ experiments? The visuals that came of this story line, what with all of Jane’s personalities joining her in her happy place in the Underground, were nicely done, but not much has come of it. I’m hopeful that a second season would explore the fallout of Jane’s decision here.
On another powers-related note, it’s not entirely clear how Mr. Nobody lost his. Were they taken from him by the Chief’s daughter? Or did locking Danny in a pocket dimension cut him off from his abilities? There’s an offhanded line about Danny’s kidnapping leaving Mr. Nobody as a “husk,” but nothing very concrete. Still, the plot moves so quickly that it’s difficult to dwell on this question.
Speaking of the plot, this episode was top-to-bottom madness. While introducing more than a few concepts from the comics that genuinely surprised me, the core of this episode was essentially a kaiju fight that only tangentially involved our heroes. However, this worked in the episode’s favor. This Doom Patrol isn’t much interested in big super-villain throwdowns, so seeing them instead use their enemies against themselves, felt right.
Everyone’s role in this episode felt earned, because of what we’ve seen them go through over the course of the season. Nobody just magically steps into the hero role, but everyone has an important part to play. Rita appeals to Mr. Nobody’s vanity, Cyborg formulates a plan, Larry trusts the negative spirit to take care of business, and Cliff does what he does best – make them so mad that they make a mistake. Most importantly, Jane is finally able to channel her trauma into being able to help another scared little girl, Dorothy Spinner, who in this version of Doom Patrol is the daughter of Niles Caulder.
Even the bits that don’t quite make sense (how does the negative spirit open a portal?) mostly work because of how well the characters are handled in this episode. And honestly, this show has always been much more driven by character than it has action, which is the only way we can buy into a world this bonkers. Occasionally, you’ll just have to roll with a few things that didn’t add up, because the journey has been so worthwhile.
And the character moments in “Ezekiel Patrol” are wonderful, but there are a few that really stand out. The little visual oddities, like Rita and Larry rolling up to Doom Manor on scooters, just feel so right. Silas’ dressing-down of Niles, where we finally see why Silas has been so evasive all season, felt like the perfect cap to his arc from this season. Larry’s pride at his and the spirit’s progress in their training puts a little spring in his step and leaves the audience hopeful for their future as a real team.
There are a few spotty effects, which is somewhat expected for what may be the most CGI-heavy episode of the season. Surprisingly, the giant monsters looked a lot more convincing than the smaller forms we see earlier in the episode. Not to mention, in a show that usually has very interesting set design, the “stomach” set unfortunately looked pretty cheap. Still, it kind of added to the B-movie charm of the show.
So yes, “Ezekiel Patrol” isn’t a perfect episode, but it is a worthwhile finale. What it may occasionally lack in logic, it makes up for in spades with strong character work, whacky set pieces, and one of the grossest scenes you may ever see in a superhero television series. It answers some nagging issues I had earlier in the season, sets up some new questions, and introduces some new characters that will hopefully be explored in the future! The first season of Doom Patrol has been a wild ride from start to finish.
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