Titans: S01E4 “Doom Patrol”

Hey this is et11robot, long-time sh*tposter, never-time thread creator. I’ve decided to take it upon myself to start the conversation on new episodes of Titans as they hit the DC Universe subscription service, so we all have a place to talk about what we love and/or hate about it, and whether or not the “real” Beast Boy would “actually do that”, how Raven’s powers are “supposed” to work, etc., etc.

In the future, I’m planning to post these on the Friday evening of the day the episode is released, but as you can see this one is coming in a bit late. I hope you have some pent-up feelings about this week’s episode “Doom Patrol.” Here’s the very short version:

Rachel has escaped the convent after her Other Self manifests and blows a hole in the wall. She runs into the woods and meets Beast Boy, who wants to help her. He leads her to his home, a secluded creepy mansion. Before they can settle into a cozy game of Cuphead on his big, rad TV, though, a big, bulky Brendan Fraser bot discovers young Gar has brought an unexpected guests to the house, and he doesn’t think “The Chief” would be happy to find out. This is the home of the Doom Patrol, a group of reclusive medical experiments. They’re people who have all had horrible accidents in their pasts and had their lives saved by Dr. Niles Caulder, “The Chief,” who employs methods that go beyond current medical science.

At dinner, they also meet the charming Negative Man, who looks like a mummy but is actually a former test  pilot (and current damn fine chef) possessed of some sort of “negative energy,” and Rita Farr, a former Hollywood starlet who was exposed to some kind of mysterious fog that made all her cells… unstable… in some way. As for the Brendan Fraser robot, well he was a famous race car driver who was in a tragic accident that destroyed his body. Dr. Caulder saved his brain and build a robot body to house it. Because they are all “conventionally challenged” in their own way, they are forced to live a reclusive life in this big mansion, making a really big deal out of dinner time because time weighs heavily on their hands.

Dick and Cory track down Rachel at the mansion and there’s almost a fight between our heroes and the Doom Patrol, but all those concerned are distracted by the sound of Rachel’s Other Self attacking The Chief, who has taken it upon himself to “help” her by strapping her down and doing experiments on her, which neither Good Rachel or Dark Rachel are at all happy about. Dick is able to talk her back from the edge and convince her to let The Chief go, but not before she breaks his back. Looks like it’s back to the wheelchair again for old Chiefie.

The Titans take their leave, but not before the Doom Patrol convinces Beast Boy he should take off with them. They’re all stuck in this mansion with The Chief, but since BB is so young it seems a tragic waste that he should be locked away like that. Not to mention it seems Dr. Caulder is far more creepily abusive/coersive to Garfield than he is with the others, who are just used to his bullshit.

Stray Observations:

  • You could give this show a bit of flack for being kind of dark, with a violent, traumatized Robin and Starfire burning assassins to death outside of gas stations, but there is still an underlying sense that the people making the show are familiar with the source material and that they kind of cherish it. The depiction of the Doom Patrol here is a good demonstration of that. Not only are their designs very faithful to the comics, but the characterizations too. Cliff Steele is a pretty down-to-Earth guy who badly misses having a human body to call his own. Rita is terribly self-conscious about her body and the changes it has gone through. She was once a star and now she hides because she is horrified at what she’s become. Larry “The Negative Man” is… well, I kind of get the impression that he changes wildly in the comics depending on who is writing, so the TV show pretty much has free reign to do whatever with him and his incarnation of him is fun. “The Chief” is no doubt a brilliant man who saved these people’s lives, but there’s also an underlying menace. He’s too wrapped up in his work to really think about the morality of what he does and that’s dangerous. I’m really looking forward to seeing where the Doom Patrol goes in its stand-alone series.
  • In this episode Rita’s powers don’t really manifest like they do in most comics. I’m wondering if “character that can turn giant and tiny like Ant-Man” is something they’re eventually planning to do in the Doom Patrol series, or if it’s just body horror all the way through for poor Rita. I’d like to see her come into her own and be more empowered to do actual superhero stuff. I guess so far none of them have really done so, as though it hasn’t yet occurred to him that superheroics is something they could do with their various oddities.
  • Gar likes Abbott & Costello. I dunno. I liked this touch. It’s a less obvious “this teen is into classic stuff” example. A teen these days would really have to SEEK OUT Abbott & Costello.
  • The bit with Rachel, Gar and the hunters seemed a bit heavy-handed. And this is coming from someone who doesn’t mind when a superhero show gets all preachy about its morals. Though in retrospect I do think it wasn’t so much that there was a specific “hunting is always wrong” message so much as this was Rachel coming into her powers and being overcome with the fact that she can FEEL the deer’s pain.
  • Did I mention I’m looking forward to a whole season of Brendan Fraser as Cliff Steele?
  • Don’t get attached to this version of The Chief. He’s already been re-cast with Timothy Dalton.