Shake Them Butts!
Doom Patrol: Season 4, Part 1
With the WB announcing that the fourth seasons of Titans and Doom Patrol would be their last (one would assume to make way for the future of the DCU), that meant these series were headed towards their finales, whether they intended to or not when their seasons were planned out. For each show, both of which originated on the old DC Universe app (rest in peace), that meant the creators needed to find a way to write in their finales and give the shows the due ending they deserved.
We're halfway towards the end of Doom Patrol now, with a short break taking place before the show returns, and that gives us a spot to consider where we're headed and how the show could end. Honestly, considering the six episodes available so far for this season, my biggest takeaway is that, despite how much I like these characters and this setting, it's probably about time for the Doom Patrol to ride off into the sunset. This season just feels tired, and that's sad to say.
The show picks up some time after the events of third season with Rita / Elasti-Woman, Larry Trainor / Negative Man, Cliff Steele / Robotman, Kay Challis / Crazy Jane, Vic Stone / Cyborg, and Laura De Mille / Madame Rouge working together as a team. They'd travel back (short distances) through time via their robot head-mounted time ship, defeat some random lesser evil, and chalk another win in their playbook (seven so far). However, when one trip sends them unexpectedly to the future, they meet a reality they never wanted to see: the apocalypse.
Apparently, zombie-butt-monsters took over the world and the Doom Patrol were unable to stop them. Now most of them live as ghosts in their old mansion while the only surviving member, Cyborg, lives a lonely existence. The team decides they won't let the apocalypse happen, and set about stopping the singing, dancing, zombie butts at all costs. Except, the butts aren't the real threat. That comes in the form of Immortus, a demi-god being who wanted to take over the Earth. He has a team of meta humans working for him, all he needs is the longevity that each team member had implemented in them by Nile Caulder. If Immortus gets that then it's "Immortus Will Rise" and also "Bye, Bye Earth."
Obviously, as we're only halfway into the season, with another six or so episodes to go, the show isn't going to give us a definitive conclusion to everything it has setup. It can have the big bad being to rise, it can set various dominoes in motion, but the show can't just kill off the big bad at the halfway mark and let the heroes wander off to have fun, lighthearted adventures for the last six episodes. They can't just go to Six Flags, or adopt some puppies, or put on a singing, dancing revue with talented butt monsters. That's not how shows work.
Except this is Doom Patrol, a show that has been willing to buck every convention set forth so it can tell whatever wackadoo stories it wants. Doing the usual "superheroes battle a rising threat" story is kind of beneath the show, frankly, and that's why this season feels so tired. We expect more from Doom Patrol than the usual blather. A creepy big bad being resurrected by its cultists so that it can threaten all of existence is a page right out of the standard superhero playbook. That's not how Doom Patrol should roll.
You know a show that would absolutely follow that playbook? Titans, and it did in its own Season 4, Part 1 arc. That show setup a big bad, one we didn't get to see but knew was being threatened by its cultists. It had a storyline where one of the heroes (Raven) had their power stolen. It had multiple episodes where the heroes learned about the threat, saw ways to stop the threat, failed to do anything useful, and then watched as the big bad (Brother Blood aka Trigon II) got everything they wanted. And then Doom Patrol went and did the exact same story, to the letter, right afterwards. That sucks.
Oh, sure, there were moments of the same old charm from the show. The aforementioned dancing butts was one such sequence. There was a villain, Codpiece, who battled with a giant gun mounted to his dick (and had an assistant with a gun shoved up his anus). There was Jane getting seduced by sexy fog. There was Robotman having long conversations with a glove mounted on his hand. Those were the times the show found the spark it needed, but those moments all came as tangents to the main plot, not in service to it. The main plot was boring, everything the team was doing around that story was where the show really should have been focused instead.
Well, except for Cyborg. The show really did him dirty last season, having the character give up all his tech to be "normal". That could have been in service to some growth for the character, but the show just doesn't seem to know what to do with him now. He goes off to connect with some friends of his (that we've never heard of before) and he laments a connection he lost with them (that had never been mentioned up to that point). The rest of the time? He's sidelined because he doesn't have powers and the show can't use him. That's just a bad way to treat such a famous character. But then, Cyborg has always felt like an awkward fit on this show even when he had his tech.
What I keep coming back to, though, is the fact that the show really is better than this final season storyline. It did brilliant things in the past with iconic villains and strange settings (and a whole lot of ass). It's not too much to expect that the show could continue that trend, especially as its heads into its last season. The creators have been great about carrying momentum and continuing to explore every weird idea they had in the past, and I really wanted this for this season as well. It seems to be missing, though, draining some of the life from this vibrant show.
Perhaps, with the news that the last six episodes being the last for the show, period, maybe the producers will recalibrate and bring everything to an explosive (and flatulent) conclusion. One can only hope because we need this show to go out with a bang and not, well, like a wet fart.