REVIEW – Doom Patrol Season 1 Episode 4 – “Cult Patrol”


What could possibly make our team stray from their mission to find Chief?  How about the end of the world?  This week, Doom Patrol takes a bit of a detour when a friend of Chief shows up with a doomsday proclamation.  Let's find out what this cult has in store and what makes this so important.

To cut right to the chase, the team gets a visit from Willoughby Kipling who was looking for help with a cult trying to bring about the end of the world.  Doom Patrol comic books fans will be very familiar with Kipling, and yes the Constantine vibes are not an accident.  Best to just focus on the fact that we have magic on the show now, and Cyborg is not happy about it.  We'll get to him in a minute, but right now we have to focus on the Beatles singing blue unicorn that's going to tell them what's going on.

There is something called the Cult of the Unwritten Book.  Turns out this book is literally a teenage boy named Elliot with writing on him.  Let's just say his 18th birthday wasn't exactly a happy one.  How would you feel if you found out your entire life was a lie and your mother was more of a twisted librarian?  Luckily, Kipling opens up a portal and the kid is brought to Chief's house by Cliff and Jane.  Kipling says the only thing they can do is kill the boy, but the team will have none of that.  From here you probably figured out that the vast majority of the story now focuses on keeping the boy safe.

First, Cliff and Jane are off to try and keep the portal to Nurnheim (where the cult resides) from opening.  That doesn't go too well, and they get sucked in instead.  It kind of looked like Wonderland with tract housing.  Turns out that mom and dad are sitting on their oversided clown behinds waiting for the end of the world.  The only thing we really get out of this is seeing Cliff and Jane having to face their perceptions of themselves and each other.  This further develops their characters, and their connection to one another.  Well, at least Cliff's connection to Jane anyway.  We also get to see how afraid that Jane really is, and how she sees all of her personalities.  I was already a fan of both character, but this just provided even deeper meaning to that.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Cyborg is still being a complete jerk.  Someone really needs to get him a few books on leadership or something.  Maybe he should be asking Grid for those instead, because it's starting to get annoying.  I know we are talking about a young and inexperienced Cyborg here, and he's not ready for this, but he's lucky they haven't thrown him out a window at this point.  Once again, he belittles an already fragile Rita to the point where she might actually leave this time.  We do get to see Rita step up in a couple of ways in this episode, and it's about time.  Not only does she stop Elliot from killing himself, but she also eventually stops Kipling from doing the same by using her powers.  This is the first time we have really seen her control her powers, which could be a significant development going forward.  I can see where you might want to give Cyborg a bit of credit for pushing her, but that clearly wasn't his intent.

Speaking of Cyborg, he and Kipling butt heads from the very beginning.  The whole science versus magic thing makes sense, but it just gives you another reason to be annoyed with Cyborg.  When the cult minions finally make their way into the house, we do get to see Cyborg in action.  The sonic cannon was legit, as was the grenade that he used to eventually safe himself.  We saw some impressive effects in Titans, so I'm not surprised to see more of the same in Doom Patrol.  We have seen plenty of that in previous episodes as well.  Kipling's flaming sword was pretty cool too, I must say.

The only part of this episode that really dealt with the continuing story is what was going on with Larry.  His Negative side keeps wanting to show him therapy sessions of when Chief first brought him there.  Turns out, Chief actually had a device that could communicate with the Negative side until the device was destroyed.  It seems like they both want to understand each other, and Larry may finally be getting some answers as to what is going on in his own body.  It also seems like the Negative side is trying to make him deal with his own personal demons.  It's yet another compelling individual story in a show that has an entire group of them.  You can pretty much take your pick as to which one is your favorite.

All in all, we do get a few good things out of this episode.  Still, for a team that was so focused on finding Cheif and stopping Mr. Nobody, this seemed like an unnecessary veer off of the main storyline.  I'm not saying they shouldn't try to save the world, this just seems like something they could have saved for a future episode or even future season.  It's also hard to see how they would be able to handle a massive villain like the Decreator with their limited experience and cohesion.  That's the cliffhanger that we're left with, and I'm really hoping that they find a way to give us a payoff very quickly.

After laying the groundwork for a solid, linear story, I don't know why you go away from that (especially after last week's episode.)  There is still a lot to love about this cast, and the Kipling character is definitely entertaining.  If this can all be wrapped up after the next episode, and provides a bit of an assist to the search for Chief, then I think I'll feel differently about this episode in the grand scheme of things.  Only time will tell if that actually happens.

What did you think of this week's episode?

(Photo Credit: Warner Bros. TV/DC Universe)