Doom Patrol season 1, episode 2 review: Donkey Patrol


Cyborg makes his sensational debut, as the team contends with an unusual donkey in the latest episode of Doom Patrol.

In the first episode of Doom Patrol, the viewer met the team’s eclectic cast of characters, the main villain and a flatulent donkey who would clearly be the focus of the second episode, appropriately titled “Donkey Patrol.” The pilot successfully drew the audience’s attention; could this episode maintain it?

This time around, the show focused on the dramatic ending of the pilot, when Mr. Nobody (Alan Tudyk) unleashed a vortex on Cloverton, Ohio. Plus, after providing the origin stories of the main characters in the pilot, “Donkey Patrol” expanded on these backgrounds. By the end of the episode, the viewer can easily connect with most members of the team, especially Cliff (Brendan Fraser,) Larry (Matt Bomer) and Rita (April Bowlby.)

Grant Morrison’s Influence Abounds

Grant Morrison’s run as the writer of Doom Patrol was arguably the most successful in the team’s long history. The legendary writer cranked up the bizarre nature of these characters in a way that fans fell in love with. Naturally, this show heavily borrows from Morrison’s style.

It doesn’t get weirder than a flatulent donkey that has the power to decimate a town. Oh, wait, it does. Several times throughout this episode, the members of Doom Patrol say, “the donkey is a door.” Yes, the donkey is a gateway to another world and another dimension.

But wait, it gets better. To access this alternate world, Rita must use her powers to turn into a blob ,and her teammates use a funnel to pour her down the donkey’s throat. Of course, the camera follows her into its esophagus, and the viewer gets to see Rita’s distorted eye in the donkey’s slimy mouth.

In just two episodes, Doom Patrol is fully embracing its wacky origins, and it’s working marvelously.

We’re not heroes

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It would feel fairly phony if Doom Patrol featured a team that immediately gelled and proved its worth by successfully saving the day. Thankfully, this episode did (almost) the exact opposite. From Mr. Nobody’s delightfully snarky narration to candid confessions by Rita and Cliff, the show hammered home the fact that these characters are not heroes.

Near the end of episode one, Cliff stayed behind when the rest of the team chose to run from the Chief’s enemies. In return for his attempted heroism, Cliff had to helplessly watch as a vortex decimated Cloverton. As the “teammates” stand around and observe the carnage, Larry says they’re the ones responsible for the chaos. “This is what the world looks like when we try to live in it.”

Cliff desperately wants to be the hero of this story, but he later admits that he’s powerless and doesn’t know how to fix the situation. Other similarly disheartening lines show that this team is a far cry from the champions they may hope to be.

Meet Cyborg, potential team leader

Other than the flatulent donkey, this episode is buzzworthy because it features the series debut of Cyborg (Joivan Wade). The show introduces Vic Stone, a young hero who has already established himself as a crimefighter in Detroit. Vic knows Niles Caulder (Timothy Dalton), but the former has maintained a safe distance from the latter’s mission.

That detachment vanishes, here. Vic, hungry for a real mission, investigates the disappearance of Cloverton (as seen in episode one). He meets the Doom Patrol and immediately butts heads with Cliff, which leads to several laugh out loud moments. (The exchange where Vic questions why Cliff is so concerned with the donkey is hysterical.)

Cyborg, unlike Rita and Larry, can be considered a hero. He’s seemingly on his way to a membership with the Justice League. But he still falls victim to Mr. Nobody’s emotion manipulations, while the trio is trapped inside the donkey. That being said, Vic manages to overcome the villain, and when the teammates return home, he’s confident they can defeat Mr. Nobody.

At this juncture, there doesn’t seem to be a more appropriate person for the role of team leader than Cyborg.

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“Donkey Patrol” built on the momentum of the first episode. The show features charmingly offbeat comedy and sympathetic characters and it’s safe to say, with Doom Patrol, DC has a hit on its hands.