Dumb Patrol: Miranda helps protect the Doom Patrol after a mysterious package arrives at the manor. Rita’s visit to a beekeeper leads her to confront her past. Niles travels North to find Dorothy’s mother.
Warning: This review contains mild spoilers, with the discussion of key plot points from the episode and series so far.
Well, it had to happen eventually: not only did the series have to have an episode that wasn’t that great, but it was also inevitable that some of the ideas from Gerard Way’s run as writer of the Doom Patrol comic would turn up in the show. In this case, it’s the Scants acting as Monster-Of-The-Week (just as they did in the comic) and the ensuing events being too bitty and indecisive. Not that it’s bad, or that a comedic episode is out of place in a show that specialises in smiling in the face of darkness. Just that it’s not that great.
The A plot of the episodes is, as you’d expect, The Scants: a curious creature that lives off Bad Ideas, so decides to pig out on the members of the Patrol in the mansion. This time around it’s Larry, Vic, Roni (who has come over to meet the team and get help from The Chief), and Miranda (replacing Jane as the current primary personality of Kay Challis). The Scants arrive via a box marked “Do Not Open”, and proceed to remove all common sense from the team, leading to a run-in with The Bureau of Normalcy, a little, light experimental surgery, and then Kipling turns up to make things worse.
The whole narrative is a series of skits and riffs off the team being dumb and leads them to find the Queen Scant in the painting that had Beard Hunter and Mr Nobody trapped in. There is something about a deadline before infected individuals go permanently stupid, but there isn’t really any tension due to the comedic bent of the proceedings. The team prosper, the day is saved, and everyone carries on as before. The only big impacts are Roni’s storyline being progressed in a dark direction and Miranda being dodgy as all hell.
It’s hard to say what’s up with Miranda, other than on the surface she appears pleasant, likeable, and is level-headed when dealing with any problem so she is suspicious as all hell. In the Underground, that suspicion is confirmed, as Jane finds out that Scarlet Harlot and her station have gone missing. When or how all this will play out isn’t clear, but something dramatic is building up for Jane and the rest of the personalities.
The B-plots are a mixed bag, with one dramatic but under-developed and others comedic and positive. Cliff finally makes it back to Earth, landing in Somewhere, America in a crater. He then proceeds to swear a lot, even by his normal standards, and be very angry at the Chief for kicking him out of the spaceship last week. There is some minor skittery when his system seizes up, but the great bit is at the end of the show as something from episode 3 pays off. Yes, as ever, it’s the long game that wins in this series.
Rita is also out of the mansion, spending the day with a bee-keeper to prepare for her up-coming two-word part in the local play, “Our Town!”. This turns into a therapy session, and then into Rita’s first part of practical super-heroics. Although she manages to maintain an air of dignity and respectability, which makes for humour and humility in equal portion in this simply-shot and perfectly-performed outing. It’s the complete opposite to The Chief’s trip into the Yukon, where he goes off to yell at The CandleMaker in full CGI mode and remind us that Dorothy is a ticking time bomb of destruction. Dalton, as ever, does the best that he can with what he’s given. It’s just that nothing happens, despite incredible scenery and effects.
Other than that, there are Easter Eggs aplenty for both fans of the show and the comic, and a general sense of things gearing up. It would be unfair to call this episode “filler”, because you need some space to lay the groundwork and the main concept is solid. But it doesn’t get away from being another case of “bad thing turns up on the doorstep” combined with more interesting things happening away from the main arc. Maybe we’re spoilt at this point, as the rest of the episodes have been solid 5 star rated. The Scants adventure absolutely has some glorious moments, even if the final act is a bit sudden, and it’s likely that the side stories would have been weaker if extended. But it’s not that great, “only” really good.
Doom Patrol is released every Friday on dcuniverse.com and HBOmax.com