Director – Stefan Pleszcynski
Writers – Marcus Dalzine & Chris Dingess
Surreal, bonkers, hilarious with a side order of Mr Kipling. The best way to describe this exceedingly good episode of Doom Patrol. 4 episodes in and the stakes were raised this week to include an end of the world scenario. Not only that, but a injection of chaos and otherworldly magic was brought to the show with the introduction of one Willoughby Kipling. Probably the fastest paced episode of the show to date, it diverted from the main plot for a fun-filled ride.
Whilst some reviews have criticised the show for taking an early detour from the main arc, I welcome it. Taking a divergent path from the main narrative puts more meat on the bone, expanding the universe of the series. What we got here was wacky, energised and fun, thanks in no small part to the introduction of Willoughby Kipling, played by Mark Sheppard. No stranger to many viewers due to his previous stints on Supernatural, Firefly and Battlestar Galactica, he stole this episode from under the noses of the regular cast.
For the uninitiated, Kipling is a Grant Morrison creation brought to the comic pages in 1990. Similarities to John Constantine are not accidental, as Constantine was originally the choice for the book. However, DC Comics’ policy at the time would not permit for the character to be used outside of the Vertigo continuity, so out of necessity the character of Kipling was created. His mission – find a book, stop the Cult of the Unwritten Book from reading this mystery book, summon the Decreator, and unmake the world. He wants to find the book — which is a person — before the cult does. Got that? No, me neither!
It is fair to say that Sheppard made the character leap off the screen, as he was a whirling dervish of profanity and energy. An old acquaintance of Caulder, he bursts into Doom Manor seeking The Chief’s help to stave off the end of the world. Suffice to say, the Patrol are reluctantly conscripted in his absence. It isn’t long before he assumes control, acting as the audience’s gateway into the world of the occult. A welcome addition to the cast, with room left for further appearances, Sheppard is the dominant force this week.
Particular highlights include his use of incantations using backwards Beatles lyrics, his constant heavy drinking, the use of hot sauce as an effective spell ingredient and most bizarre of all, the summoning of a creature named Baphomet. This blue skinned horse’s head employed the gift of song to reveal the location of the episode’s maguffin, a tattooed 18 year old boy that is the “book”. Pure Morrison, the Doom Manor set sequences have to be seen to be believed.
An honourable mention must also go to the debut appearance of Cyborg’s sonic hand cannon. A tried and trusted part of his arsenal for many years, to see it rendered with such devastating effect was a joy, as he teamed up with a flaming sword wielding Kipling to lay waste to numerous demonic creatures. A great action sequence, laced with humour too, it makes for great television to see such diverse characters working in tandem.
One other point of worth to mention is the debut appearance of the realm of Nurnheim in the show. Again, this is something that is lifted straight from the realm of the comic book pages, to glorious effect. This city of ghosts, effectively serving as the HQ of the Cult of the Unwritten Book, is rendered as a stark city, empty and imposing. As Robotman and Crazy Jane find their way there via a path that almost defies description, other than to say it involves a stigmata-stricken priest, all kinds of Ghoulish creatures make their prescence known, including the “parents” of the aforementioned human book. Playing out like a demented hybrid of Labyrinth and Alice in Wonderland, our “heroes” find themselves in a sticky situation that will only get worse for them in next week’s episode.
With this instalment wrapping up with an Eye in the Sky, (forget Sauron, this eye is the real deal), belonging to the Decreator, then it would appear that the end of the world is nigh! A nice way to sign off, leaving a hook for next week that will doubtlessly give us more Kipling, more Nurnheim, more Decreator and more crazy! Will we see the return of Niles Caulder, or will that storyline be revisited once the world is saved? Next week will reveal all, in an episode hilariously titled “Paw Patrol”. Will Chase be on the case? Let us all see next Friday!