Doom Patrol has returned, and its third season is without a doubt the most high-concept, intimate, and intense season of the show yet. After last season’s cliffhanger, Season 3 picks up right where the previous one left off. Jane, Victor, Cliff, Larry, Rita, and Dorothy are all left to eventually pick up the pieces of their lives in the aftermath of the tumultuous events. The dynamic of the group is what’s at the center of this season’s first five episodes. Because of this, we get some of the most emotionally driven and introspective episodes of the series.
With the Doom Patrol at a critical crossroads in their lives, it’s no surprise how introspective the third season is. Each character has important issues they’ve been putting off since the series started. Now it seems moving forward both individually and as a group is necessary for their survival. Cliff’s newfound family comes at a point in his life where he has very personal mental struggles of his own. Larry and the spirit in his body have reached a boiling point in their complicated relationship. Rita’s need for purpose and importance in herself and her abilities have also reached a breaking point. All the while Jane’s underground is going through cathartic and unsettling change.
Watching each episode of the insane series move with precise and zany purpose for each character is incredible. Doom Patrol has a lot of characters and narrative weight to balance and does so successfully. Each character’s given their due throughout five episodes. with plenty of different pairings to keep things fresh.
What’s most impressive in Doom Patrol is its ability to continue to stand out from other comic book properties. Focused on personal growth and mental health rather than battles between good and evil (though that’s in there, too), Doom Patrol knows its characters are what makes the show engaging. The character work on display is heartfelt and feels genuine. Despite being in some of the most incredulous and convoluted situations in a comic book property, the group always keeps things grounded.
Most episodes follow a similar formula of putting the characters in otherworldly, high-concept problems. These new corners of the world being explored by the Doom Patrol will always make for hilarious scenarios. More importantly, it makes each character examine themselves and helps them better understand their wants and needs. Such is the case for characters like Robot Man (Brendan Fraser) AKA Cliff Steele. Cliff’s given time to do what he’s always wanted as a father while confronting his past and trying not to repeat the mistakes of his own father.
Victor, AKA Cyborg, has similar father issues although in a much more prevalent way. Watching Vic try to understand his identity and why he is rather than who is one of the more exciting developments of the season as well. Moreover, Larry’s independence this season has given the opportunity for more darkly hilarious moments in the series.
Of course, Doom Patrol continues to pay tribute to the lesser-known and weirder aspects of the DC Universe. The first five episodes alone feature an array of colorful and odd villains. The cheesy B-movie level feel of some of the looming threats to the Doom Patrol matches our main characters well. They’re only means to an end of character growth, so what little dimension some of these antagonists are given becomes justifiable. They’re merely vessels of character development to help our team of lovable misfits grow together.
There are some issues with the season so far, though. For starters, the overall arching plot of the story seems a bit muddled and unclear five episodes in, which is a bit concerning. The show’s more interested in making characters grow, using absurd situations to do so. However, the way these scenarios are put together as part of some overarching plot feels forced and sometimes confusing.
Overall, Doom Patrol’s third season still manages to keep the momentum from its previous two seasons. A shattering of the status quo has the Doom Patrol closer and more like a team than ever before. Dealing with their personal issues and growing together, the team and chemistry between characters feel genuine. Moreover, the adventures and wonderfully hilarious, fantastical, and ridiculous situations they’re put in will have even the most seasoned viewers say one thing: The f#%$? – Ernesto Valenzuela
Grade – 9/10
Doom Patrol Season 3 Premieres on September 23rd With New Episodes Launching Every Thursday on HBO Max.