What defines a hero? Most would say that it’s someone who helps others and puts their needs ahead of their own. Yet some people are forced into that role through no choice of their own, and in the world of science fiction and comic books, having superpowers often leads to someone becoming a superhero. Doom Patrol, which is currently airing the back half of its final season, presents a twist on that concept, following a team of people with undesirable powers who have no choice but to become heroes despite them usually wanting to do anything but help other people.
Summarizing the events and characters of the show for those unfamiliar with it is not an easy task, but the second half of season four finds the Doom Patrol facing their latest enemy, Immortus, who has the power to rewind time and transform everyone’s world. This isn’t the first time that they’ve fallen victim to someone who is able to manipulate their perception of what’s happening around them, though Immortus is far more terrifying than their first foe, Mr. Nobody, even though this immortal being takes the form of Isabel Feathers (Charity Cervantes), a local actress whose eagerness for attention becomes all the more deadly and terrifying when she summons a literal storm every time she feels like someone else is hogging the spotlight.
It’s also an important moment of reflection and decision-making for each member of the Doom Patrol, who each wonder whether living in blissful worship of Immortus in a gratingly perfect reality is better than what they actually know to be true. Cliff (Brendan Fraser) yearns to touch his grandson and to connect with him in whatever limited way he can in his robot form. Larry (Matt Bomer) sees the possibility of an emotional connection with Mr. 104 (Sendhil Ramamurthy) that might be able to transcend his body being covered with bandages to keep his radiation in. Rita (April Bowlby) contends with having to age for the first time, while Madame Rouge (Michelle Gomez), Vic (Joivan Wade), and Jane (Diane Guerrero) all battle their various internal and external demons.
For a show that deals with such serious matters, it’s also remarkably funny. The interactions the characters have just with one another make the show, yet each bizarre scenario in which they find themselves is also fully worthwhile. Cliff in particular always leans towards the immature, while Jane is foul-mouthed and perpetually prickly and furious. Rita and Rouge are the sensible ones, yet they engage in their share of bickering, and it’s nice to see Larry and Vic in a lighthearted context also. The team meetings that no one ever wants to attend remain a standout of each episode.
The show’s recurring cast is also excellent, highlighted in season four by Cervantes, Ramamurthy, and Abi Monterey as the returning Patrol-adjacent Dorothy. Madeline Zima is also wonderfully optimistic as Space Case, who is well aware of how her identity and existence has been written by others but seems eager to take charge of her life for the first time. It’s typically fun and strange to see the entire cast engage in a musical episode that brings the usually unseen Fraser and Bomer in as they prepare for Immortimas, a Christmas-like celebration that never ends to honor the one and only Immortus.
It will be near impossible for new viewers to start watching without catching up on what’s come before, but the forty-six total episodes that make up this series are well worth the time. It is a DC property, one that initially launched on the short-lived DC Universe streaming service before moving over to HBO Max, but it feels distinctly separate from everything else. For fans of Peacemaker and The Boys, this show also achieves that balance of pitch-black humor with rather brutal content, and those two highly-acclaimed shows have never featured anything quite as wild or magnificent as the Buttpocalypse. It’s hard to imagine where so much of this show came from given the astonishing creativity of its storylines, and it will be sad to see it go when it signs off after four fantastic seasons.
New episodes of Doom Patrol premiere weekly on Thursdays through the series finale on November 9th.