DISCLAIMER: This recap of the Doom Patrol episode “Dead Patrol” is riddled with spoilers. Proceed at your peril.
Welcome back, residents of Doom Manor! “Dead Patrol” is equal parts heartfelt and humorous, bolstered by solid performances and stunning visuals. While my theory about Madame Rouge potentially helping revive our crew fell miserably flat (she does have a time machine, though), this episode introduces the Dead Boy Detective Agency, so even better!
Earlier this month, Variety revealed HBO Max greenlit a Dead Boy Detectives series. I’m curious to see if Ty Tennant and Sebastian Croft will reprise their roles for it.
Anyway, “Dead Patrol” uniquely crafts the Tunnel of Souls and everyone’s purgatories. This show boasts such richly intricate mythology (with the aid of great comic book source material), and it’s genuinely one of the most innovative genre series out there.
Ready to delve into “Dead Patrol”? Let’s get to it.
We open with Rita (April Bowlby), Vic (Joivan Wade), Jane (Diane Guerrero) and Cliff (Brendan Fraser/Riley Shanahan) on the River Styx. While the ferryman rows them across the river, Vic, Jane and Cliff pass out. Rita notices a slew of formidable, hooded creatures walking toward them as they dock. She puts her Golden Age of Hollywood fainting skills to good use and feigns unconsciousness.
Meanwhile, in Ohio, Larry (Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk) receives four packages, each one containing a member of our currently dead quartet. What a way to find out your friends are gone! Oh, and Negative Spirit is still MIA.
Next, our heroes are bound by their wrists and placed on a conveyor belt of sorts. Rita’s the only one who’s awake. She blames herself for the resort vacation, especially since the Chief gave her an actual key to her destiny.
Cliff appears to be in his purgatory, and his father, RJ (Michael J. Harney), pulls over in his truck. Of course, seeing his son as a robot is a bit bewildering. Vic winds up on a hiking trail with his mother, Elinore (Charmin Lee). Kay (Skye Roberts) reunites with her grandmother (Rose Bianco), and Jane joins them inside for some festivities.
Then, Dorothy (Abi Monterey) arrives home to find Larry has concealed their dead friends with bandages and awkwardly situated them at the dining room table. Sure, it’s macabre, but it’s Larry’s grieving process. Poor Dorothy has lost her parents and her friends consecutively.
While mixing pancake batter, Larry spots Rita’s face in the said batter, calling out to him. Perhaps Rita’s alive in purgatory! Dorothy reveals there are folks they can contact to establish a connection with Rita.
Meanwhile, in London, Charles Rowland (Croft), Edwin Payne (Tennant) and Crystal Palace (Madalyn Horcher) are working on a gruesome supernatural case. Danny appears as an ambulance, and they transport the Dead Boy Detective Agency crew to America.
Edwin and Charles died in 1916 and 1989, respectively, so now they solve ghostly cases with their living friend, Crystal, who’s a psychic medium.
Later, the DBDA arrives at Doom Manor. Crystal reveals they’ll need personal items and a person to act as a conduit. The group chooses Larry since he’s the closest to Rita.
Next, RJ sports a hunting rifle, and he aims it toward the sky. Cliff admires a flying trio of pegasi — that is, until RJ mercilessly shoots one of them. Cliff proceeds to let his dad have it. He lets slip that Clara gave birth to a son, which sparks genuine emotion in RJ.
Then, Jane chats with Kay’s grandmother while the little girl laughs and dances outside. The older woman explains that she did what she could to shield Kay from her abusive father. Jane, in turn, also tells of her experiences protecting Kay. It’s a beautifully nuanced scene featuring Guerrero and Bianco.
Meanwhile, Vic sits with his mom after a hike. Vic apologizes for the fire, but his mother won’t hear it. She reassures him that it wasn’t his fault, and I think Vic needed closure for that. After Vic divulges his sincere feelings for Roni and his mom reveals how proud she is of him, they continue their hike.
Later, Crystal, Larry and Dorothy prepare to communicate with Rita, and they have a personal item for each Doom Patroller on a table. Suddenly, we see two sex ghosts in complete coitus, and Crystal shoos them away by uttering the couple’s safe word: turnip. Every sex ghost in Doom Manor shares this safe word (The more you know!).
Next, Larry calls out to Rita at Crystal’s behest. She hears him while she’s in the Tunnel of Souls. However, someone frees Rita from her restraints, and she flees the scene.
After deliberating about it, Edwin and Charles agree to accompany Larry in the afterlife. He’ll have a stronger connection to Rita that way. And the only way Larry, an alive person, can travel through worlds is if he astral projects.
So, Crystal orders him to focus on a picture while she whacks him over the head with a shovel. Suddenly, he, well, astral projects. Then, Charles, Edwin and Larry walk through a mirror to get to the other side.
Later, we see RJ gut a beautiful pegasus, and it physically hurts me. Cliff’s afterlife portal appears, so he walks toward it after an abrupt goodbye to his dad. However, before he steps into the bright light, he finds a toy car on the grass, and it’s his item from Earth! He wakes up in the Tunnel of Souls.
Meanwhile, Larry, Charles and Edwin stand in front of a tree leading into the afterlife. It sports a door handle that’s suited for Edwin — he must overcome his pain to enter. As Edwin grabs the knob, we see him fleeing a traumatizing scene, covered head to toe in blood.
Jane’s having a grand ole time with Kay and her grandmother. Grandma reveals the dolls she created forever ago, and they look similar to Jane and the other 60-some personalities. Oh, and grandma’s first name is Jane too. Perhaps the dolls were the blueprint for Kay’s personas?
Then, the bright light appears, ushering Jane and Kay toward their afterlife. But Kay finds Jane’s paintbrush, which rouses Jane from her slumber in the Tunnel of Souls.
Next, Larry chats with Edwin about the latter’s potentially romantic feelings for Charles. Edwin brushes him off, citing that he and Charles are only friends. Oh, my sweet summer child, it’s not 1916 anymore. Charles is terrified of the water because he died from hypothermia.
Vic’s light also shows up while he’s talking to his mom. Elinore mentions that Vic’s dad chose to turn him into Cyborg, which is an intriguing word choice, and I’m sure we’ll explore that later. After a tearful embrace, Vic walks toward the light. However, he spots his shoe, which wakes him up in the Tunnel of Souls.
Back on Earth, Crystal catches Dorothy placing a chocolate bar among the gang’s personal effects. Dorothy wants to contact the Chief, and Crystal shares that a demon who possessed her for a year erased her memories of her parents. But Charles and Edwin saved her from the monster, hence why they’re together now.
Crystal encourages Dorothy to contact her dad however she can. Crystal’s vendetta against that demon keeps her fueled and fired up.
Now, Vic, Jane and Cliff attempt to escape their restraints. Cliff goes “angry robot” and bursts through the ceiling, where he encounters a horde of Watchers, the hooded creatures.
Finally, Rita reunites with Larry. Jane, Vic and Cliff are hot on her heels. Everyone’s safe!
That is until Death’s right-hand lady (Ruth Connell) makes her grand entrance. She calls Edwin and Charles by name, and the latter smacks her with his bat. Suddenly, she flings him backward. Rita’s rescuer from before, a mysterious man, sacrifices himself to the creepy spider woman so that our crew can escape.
The gang hops aboard the ferryman’s ferry and narrowly avoids the creepy spider woman’s wrath. Unfortunately, her vomit is unavoidable.
Everyone wakes up on Earth, and all is well with the world.
Later, Larry informs Rita about Negative Spirit’s disappearance. He asks her if she knows the man who saved her, but she doesn’t. It’s fascinating since he knows who Rita is. We see a flashback to right before Samuelson killed Rita when a version of herself essentially condemned her to death.
Cliff and Jane bond over their mutual desire to get help, and it’s sweet.
Dorothy announces she’s departing with the Dead Boy Detective Agency. I’m assuming Dorothy will attempt to contact the Chief, but she asserts she’ll return, though.
Suddenly, a whistling Madame Rouge (Michelle Gomez) waltzes into the kitchen, and she’s got a tea kettle on the stove. When Jane asks MR who she is, the latter has no clue because her memory’s gone.
“Dead Patrol” is action-packed and tons of kooky fun. It brings new characters into the fold and puts Madame Rouge on our team’s radar. Her memory loss will be interesting to unpack in the coming episodes. I’m so glad to have Doom Patrol back in my life.
Line of the day from the one and only Cliff: “Who brought judgy Harry Potter?”
New episodes of Doom Patrol are available to stream on Thursdays on HBO Max.
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