Doom Patrol season 1, episode 4 review: Cult Patrol


Doom Patrol dives into the supernatural with the latest episode of this weird series. Minor spoilers for Doom Patrol season 1, episode 4 follow.

While continuing to search for The Chief, the Doom Patrol is suddenly conscripted into a fight to stop the world from ending by chaos magician Willoughby Kipling.

In order to save the world though, the Doom Patrol must actually act like the heroes they are so desperately trying not to be.

Welcome to the supernatural

So far in this series, Doom Patrol has been extremely weird, but has still managed to keep a grounding in science and reality, somehow. Here though, that grounding is pretty much thrown out the window entirely with the introduction of magic into the world. Magic manages to make a weird show even weirder. Once a singing blue horse head appears out of a penny with blood on it appears though, it’s obvious the shows going all in on the weird factor though. Yeah sure, there was a goat fart that spelled out a sentence in the first episode, but this is ten times as weird.

The oddities though that magic brings to the table for the series though are also fascinating. There’s pretty much an entirely new mythology that is crafted in this episode alone and, honestly, said mythology feels like it could fit into the Fables comic mythology.

As for the introduction of Willoughby Kipling, he just feels like a discount John Constantine. British? Check. A drunk? Check. A complete jerk? Check. Really, it feels like a missed opportunity to either introduce a new Constantine into this universe or bring Matt Ryan in as the character. It’s possible they could be waiting until Swamp Thing to introduce him, but it’s a distracting part of this episode that Kipling isn’t Constantine.

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Character reigns supreme

As has been the case which much of Doom Patrol, plot takes a backseat to character in this episode. That a lot is the way of reaching a conclusion of character arcs in this episode, other than some great character work with Rita, but that’s ok. This episode focuses more on forcing these characters, especially Cliff, who has some hilarious lines in this episode, to look much more introspectively at himself.

Even a guest character such as Elliot gets some solid character work in this episode. His character work ties in really well to Larry and Rita’s arcs, but it feels separate enough to feel like the characters isn’t simply for a prop for Larry and Rita to use as stepping stones.

The best character work in this episode though are Cliff and Jane’s though. These are two characters who very purposely never look at themselves introspectively, so by forcing them to be at odds with each other, thus forcing themselves to look at each other and themselves differently. A lot of the character work with these two is subtle, but it’s done in a great way.

The search for The Chief halts

The biggest issue with this episode though is the complete shift in story. This episode, with its cliffhanger ending at all, makes the series feel like it’s losing focus from the endgame, which is more than likely a fight between them and Mr. Nobody.

By bringing in an entirely new problem and story into the fold, it completely halts the overarching season story being told. Could this story lead to a continuation of the main season story? Sure, but right now, the show feels like it lost focus slightly.

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With the introduction of the supernatural, Doom Patrol continues to be an entertaining, weird, and heartfelt show, even if the overarching narrative of the season takes a backseat.