Director – Dermot Downs
Writer – Neil Reynolds & Shoshana Sachi
After last week’s premier episode, one could be forgiven for thinking that you had just watched the most offbeat hour of comic book oriented television ever produced. Whilst that would have been true at the time of viewing, the ante has been well and truly upped this week with the latest instalment of Doom Patrol. Combining the weird factor with the introduction to the series of Cyborg, one of DC’s flagship characters, “Donkey Patrol” was an episode like no other.
Jovian Wade’s performance as Victor Stone/Cyborg was pitch perfect. Given a lot more material to work with than Ray Fisher had in Justice League, he lights up the screen. A sense is clearly given that this a teenager that gets a genuine kick out of being a superhero, kicking ass and taking down the bad guys. There is a real freshness and vibrancy to his performance, making him such a welcome addition to an already stacked cast. His comic book origins are given full service too, albeit slightly tweaked to fit into the narrative of the show. It is going to be a real treat to see him interact with all the principal characters as the season progresses, as Wade demonstrates a knack for comedy amongst the dramatic heavy lifting that comes with the role of Cyborg. Mentions of Argus and The Flash also have whetted my appetite for more character appearances to come, drawing from DC’s rich tapestry.
A special mention must also go to Phil Morris’ portrayal of his father, Silas Stone. Known to Smallville fans for his portrayal of Martian Manhunter, Morris here returns to the DC fold, playing Stone with no little amount of nuance. Oozing warmth and charisma, with a stern edge, I feel that this character will have a much bigger part to play over the course of the season, as flashbacks show the connection both he and his son have with Niles Caulder. Is Silas more than he seems? Will the show explore their past relationship in greater depth, showing these two brilliant minds working in tandem? We can only hope so, as two actors with the gravitas of Dalton and Morris combined can only make for scintillating television.
And what of our beloved Doom Patrol this week? To explain fully the situation that unfurled in this episode would be to delve too deeply into spoiler territory, but suffice to say that the town of Cloverton, Ohio is not long for this plane of existence, as the vortex summoned by the villainous Mr Nobody begins to ingest all and sundry. A quick word on Alan Tudyk’s superb villain, with a flair for the meta. His deranged commentary is already a highlight of the show, mixing exposition with outlandish remarks. The best line of the show went to him this week, as Caulder questions exactly who he is talking to. His genius reply?
“Grant Morrison fans, Reddit trolls with DC subscriptions, and the three new fans who stuck around after the donkey fart.”
This shows that the showrunners know exactly who they are pitching their show to, and that this show isn’t for as broad reaching a demographic as the CW shows. Nothing wrong with either way of course, it is just that this show is swinging for the further corners of the audience taste levels.
And speaking of taste levels, all kinds of delights were given out this week, from donkeys with anal passages that served as interdimensional gateways, to the grotesque true visage of Larry Trainor’s Negative Man without his bandages in place (part of a sombre finale to the show, set to the tune of David Bowie’s final release, Lazarus), to our heroes emerging bloodsoaked and (un)scathed from their trip to Donkey rectum world. Each character is given a chance to shine, especially Diane Guerrero’s tour de force performance, rapidly switching through a whole host of Crazy Jane’s variant personalities. The versatility she shows in her various guises is a credit to her acting range. What’s more, we have only begun to scratch the surface of her full Pandora’s Box of characters.
I urge all fans to watch the episode for themselves relatively uninformed about what is going to transpire, as the benefits are far greater than reading a spoiler-filled review. Watching it cold allows for a greater reaction to the one-liners, a higher level of revulsion at the grotesque fare on offer and a greater level of empathy for the sadness that permeates our character’s existences. Make this show appointment viewing, it will certainly be worth your while…