REVIEW – Doom Patrol – Season 1 Episode 2 – “Donkey Patrol”

(WARNING!  CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR SEASON 1 EPISODE 2 OF DOOM PATROL FROM DC UNIVERSE!)

Do you feel like an jackass for not watching the series premiere of Doom Patrol sooner?  Don't worry, they had one at the end, so the writers have you covered.  In case you missed our review of the premiere episode, you can find that on Episode 252 of the podcast last week.  Now that we're all caught up, let's talk about what happened when we pick things up in "Donkey Patrol".

We get the fallout from last week's episode right away, literally.  The town is being swallowed up, and there is not much anyone can do about it.  In the process, Chief gets dropped down the hole as well.  Right after that, Crazy Jane lives up to her name and jumps down the hole to try to save Chief.  She does succeed in closing the hole, but that's about it.  At that point we are pretty much where we were before Cliff took off.  Rita and Larry want no part of what's happening, and Cliff goes off to investigate.  That's about when we finally meet the newest member of the group.

I'll admit it, I wasn't sure how it made sense to have Cyborg in this show instead of Titans.  Luckily this episode was pretty Cyborg heavy, not just with a quick origin but establishing who he is.  We get to see that, in working with his dad, Victor also forges a bond with The Chief as well.  Chief even brings him a new eye at one point, so he seems at least partially responsible for some of Cyborg's tech.  It also seems like, because of Victor's uneasy relationship with his father, that Chief almost seems like a second father figure for him.  So when Chief goes missing, naturally Victor would want to find out what was going on.  That personal tie to Chief really makes Cyborg's role in the show make sense, and is a brilliant job by the writers and those putting the show together.  Plus he also provides this unintentional arrogance about him like he's better than the rest of the team.  Ok, maybe he is, but this doesn't sit well with Cliff.

The two of them butt heads immediately, and have completely different approaches to how to handle things.  It starts when they track down the donkey, which ends up spitting Jane out somehow.  As they're trying to figure out what Jane knows, one of her younger personalities comes out.  The kid is scared of Cliff, so he leaves Cyborg to talk to her.  While he's away, he finds some sessions that Chief had with Jane and learned about one of her more destructive personalities.  Yep, guess who's about to come out thanks to Cyborg's interrogation?  They end up having to trap her in a room, and that places an even bigger rift between Cliff and Cyborg.  At this point, they kind of split off with different members of the team.

The relationship between Cliff and Jane is really shaping up to be a good one.  Cliff has a soft spot for Jane, likely because of what happened with his daughter.  It's almost like Cliff is acting like Jane is his second chance to get things right.  It also gives him to chance all of the stages of growing up wrapped up into one person.  Jane's ranging personalities make things very challenging, but Cliff sticks with her through it all and it feels like Jane is really warming up to that.  Cliff really opens up to Jane about how he feels, and it seems like their personal connection really grounds her.  We'll see them join the group a little bit later.

Larry and Rita try to get away from all of the fighting, but little did they know that wouldn't work out very well.  As Victor tries to figure out what's going on with the donkey, they find out that the animal is kind of a keyhole.  They have a plan to look inside, but they all end up getting sucked in.  Basically, the town is inside the donkey and now they're all stuck in a twisted world created by Mr. Nobody to torture them.  They all end up trapped in a fantasy designed to make them relive their best moments and twisting it to torture them.  In a way, this actually backfires and turns them into the heroes that they need to be.  Nobody actually forces them to deal with their fears and insecurities head on, albeit in a very extreme way.  So, instead of stopping them, he may have actually created a bigger problem for himself.  It also helps Cyborg realize that he is not as together and in control of his emotions as he thinks he is.  This was a great redeeming moment for both Rita and Larry for me.  It was frustrating watching them constantly not wanting to help, but this made them realize that they can.  Not only that, Larry is the reason that they ended up getting out in the first place.

Now that everyone knows what's going on, the question becomes whether or not they are going to do something about it.  Cyborg's father even shows up to try to talk him in to leaving and going back to simply fighting crime in Detroit.  Silas Stone is pretty cold and very unlikable this episode, but again, that makes it easier for Cyborg to want to stay and rebel from his father's wishes.  Silas even tries to use Victor's mom to guilt him into coming back but that doesn't work.  Victor becomes a leader of sorts for a team that just lost theirs and are in desperate need for guidance.  Even though he started out a bit prickish, it feels like what they all went through changed a lot.

I feel like Cyborg is a great addition to an already great cast, and Jovian Wade is spectacular in the role.  Brenden Fraser continues to be a scene stealer, and this could be one of his best roles to date.  Everything about this show is so meaningful and well done, that it truly does make a DC Universe subscription worth it just for this series alone.  If that's not enough for you, Alan Tudyk's narration alone is extremely entertaining.  I don't want to ruin it, but something he says in the beginning of this episode had me on the floor laughing.  His Mr. Nobody is also annoyingly tough to wrap your head around and seems a bit unstoppable at this point.  Now that the Doom Patrol are finally becoming a team, there may just be hope yet.  I can't wait to find out!

What do you think of Doom Patrol so far?

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