Doom Patrol Recap: A Dark, Self-Deprecating, Delightful Pilot Episode
The first episode of Doom Patrol debuts with a level of self-awareness that’s super refreshing—it’s a superhero series that knows that the last thing the pop culture landscape needs is another superhero series. But that’s exactly what makes it stand out. That, and our narrator (the awesome Alan Tudyk, who also plays the evil Eric Morden/Mr. Nobody), a gassy donkey, and tie-ins to escaped Nazis resuming their brutal experiments in mid-century Paraguay. In short: we’re already hooked.
From Paraguay in 1948, we jump ahead four decades to Florida and that sport we can’t help but associate with the state, NASCAR. Cliff Steele is a champion racer and total failure as a husband and father. A terrible crash destroys his body—it’s only later that we find out that the crash wasn’t on the track but on the road with his wife and child. His wife died, but the fate of his young daughter remains a secret from Cliff for years.
Cliff spends his convalescence at Doom Manor under the care of Chief, the benevolent Dr. Niles Caulder, who built Cliff’s clunky robot body and who’s also taken in other misfits. Those misfits include Jane and her 64 super-personalities, Rita—who unwillingly turns to blobby plastic when she’s stressed—and Larry, a former air force hero with an electric personality. It’s 2019 now and no one’s aged (which sounds like the best superpower of all), but the crew is getting a bit bored just hanging around the Manor all day. When Chief has to leave to take care of some mysterious business, the squad decides to hit the town of Cloverton. Mad chaos ensues (duh).
Back home, Chief shows up just in time to reprimand his little family of lovable freaks, telling them that their screw-up has brought some unwanted attention to the town and that their options are to either pack up and run or to stay… and for sure die. Everyone but Cliff agrees to leave Cloverton to its fate. They take off in their short bus as Cliff patrols the town streets, waiting for whatever’s to come. Guilt, however, motivates the others to turn back and stand with Cliff to face the arrival of the man we first met back in Paraguay: Mr. Morden. For a supervillain, he’s super succinct. After informing Chief that his Doom Patrol is most definitely doomed, Morden opens a vortex above their heads and… well, that’s all we know. The episode ends there.
5 questions we have about the series premiere of Doom Patrol:
1. It was Nazi scientist Heinrich von Fuchs that turned Morden into whatever he is now. Will Fuchs figure into any future episodes? What happened to him?
2. What exactly is Morden? What are the limits of his powers and what does he want with Chief and Doom Patrol?
3. As Morden was transformed, von Fuchs had him repeat the phrase ‘The mind is the limit.’ What’s the significance of those words?
4. How did Jane come to live at Doom Manor? We want to know more of her backstory.
5. What kind of super stuff is Larry capable of? We only saw little flashes of who he is now as compared to who he was back in the 1950s.
Check out the full episode below: