In “Dumb Patrol,” the gang gets zonked by some kind of mysterious mist and starts making some of the worst decisions possible. It’s the best.
“Dumb Patrol” is one of the funniest episodes of the series, no question. All of the cast gets to act either against character or as an exaggerated version of their usual selves. It’s always a blast to see these guys let loose, and it brings out the best in this cast. Between Larry and Flit’s hospital raid and the goofy flirtation between Vic and Roni, there are plenty of shenanigans to be had.
Matthew Zuk gets to portray a more chill version of Larry in this episode. After seeing Larry getting tortured and grieving throughout this season, it’s nice to see him positively gliding his way through much of this episode.
Meanwhile, the continuing plot line of Rita rehearsing for the local production took some interesting turns in this episode. Guest star Avis-Marie Barnes shines as the Cloverton Beekeeper who helps reframe some of Rita’s buried issues. It even leads to one of Rita’s most overtly superheroic moments of the series, complete with an incredible pun.
It’s likewise great to see the return of Mark Sheppard as Willoughby Kipling and Tommy Snider as Beard Hunter. Sheppard gets a great opportunity to play an even more lackadaisical version of Kipling than usual, while Snider clearly has a blast dialing Beard Hunter up to 11. All around, you can tell that the cast had a great time shooting this installment. There’s a happy energy that comes through in even the darker bits of humor.
Speaking of dark humor, can we talk about the one part of the episode that was weirdly super prescient? Production on this season was briefly shutdown due to the Covid-19 outbreak (which sadly resulted in the season being cut by one episode). How uncomfortably bizarre is it to see Miranda telling the others that they’re in danger of being infected by something and they simply don’t buy it? Nicely done, Doom Patrol.
There are also some fantastic Easter eggs spread throughout the episode, including references to other DC shows and the wider DC Universe. In fact, there are a couple of hilarious nods to specific comic book creators. The more meta-leaning humor has been missed this season, so it was fun to have so much of it crammed into this episode.
In addition to all of the referential humor, the script also features plenty of callbacks to earlier plot lines and character appearances. In other words, it plays like a fan’s dream episode in most spots, building off what came before in interesting and entertaining ways.
There are a few issues here and there with the flow of the episode, particularly some of the logistics of how certain characters get from one place to another. Still, those don’t seem to be quite as pressing when the rest of the episode is such a fun time.
The emotional beats in this episode are handled exceptionally well, particularly Rita’s aforementioned speech and the final meeting between Kipling and the Chief. Timothy Dalton wrings every bit of emotional turmoil out of Niles’ awful decision without succumbing to melodrama. Dalton portrays Niles here as a man who has fought and fought until he couldn’t do it any longer.
The musical score for this episode is yet another slam dunk, with Kevin Kliner and Clint Mansell delivering some kooky tracks for the more lighthearted scenes, but also bringing in some truly gorgeous and solemn pieces for the more emotional beats. In particular, the music that plays during Rita’s emotional breakdown brings to mind Angelo Badalamenti’s work in Twin Peaks. It’s somber and otherworldly in equal measure, and I desperately want this score to listen to outside of the series.
Overall, it seems like bringing in some of the weirdest baddies from Gerard Way and Mike Allred’s Doom Patrol run was a great way to deliver a fun episode. It’s a good thing, too. With the way the last few scenes of this episode play out, this may be the last time our team gets to have some fun this season. There are two more episodes to go this season, and you can practically feel all of the characters bracing themselves.
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