On Thursday, when the first episodes of the Doom Patrol season 2 premiere hit DC Universe and HBO Max, we essentially get the first act of the whole season. Whereas Doom Patrol season 1 ran for 15 episodes, season 2 will only feature nine, meaning six episodes left after the premiere. There is a lot of what people loved about the last time around with the new Doom Patrol, but instead of one clear season arc, the series feels as aimless as the characters feel. Of course, this is by design. Because the “big bad” of the season is not the delightful Mr. Nobody played by Alan Tudyk, but Timothy Dalton’s Niles Caulder himself.
So, instead of the simple comic-friendly plot that drove the first season, Doom Patrol’s first episodes focus how deeply Caulder’s actions fractured the found family. Newcomer Abigail Shapiro plays Dorothy, the perpetually 11-year-old daughter of Niles and Slava, a mysterious woman who lives in the Yukon wilderness. Like Slava, Dorothy has the power to simply imagine something into existence.
Dorothy is a character from the Doom Patrol comic series, yet her origin and Caulder’s are original to the series. That she is related to Niles and seen as a threat changes the dynamic of both characters. This is a hallmark of this adaptation. While they draw inspiration from the comic books, such as with the Cult of the Unwritten Book storyline, they don’t adapt them directly. It’s great because fans who loved the comics get a new story with recognizable characters, and fans of the show can experience an entirely different Doom Patrol in the books.
Of course, there won’t be any plot spoilers below, however there will be some discussions about the characters’ journeys in the first episodes.
The Doom Patrol Season 2 Premiere Is All About the Characters
Image via Warner Bros. TV
Things didn’t end well with the team last season. They rescued Dorothy, faced down the villain, and learned a terrible truth about their most trusted friend. In another deviation from the comics, the team learns that Caulder, who the team calls “Chief,” betrayed them all in what seems like an irreparable way. A lot of the growth within in the team and the individual characters seems undone (but not in a meaningless way).
The person taking this the hardest is Riley Shanahan’s and Brendan Fraser’s Cliff “Robotman” Steele. His anger is taking over, and he’s making rash and irresponsible decisions. While still close to Diane Guerrero’s Jane, his relationship with Dorothy is another example of how his anger changed him. It’s arguably out-of-character for him, but this choice seems to be deliberate and has a purpose. (Including a possible character re-design!) Similarly, Jovian Wade’s Cyborg is feeling all of the trauma he’s been exposed to all at once. As revealed in the season 2 trailer, he leaves the team and to find counseling and a deeper kind of human connection.
Not everyone regressed, though. April Bowlby’s Rita Farr and Matthew Zuk’s and Matt Bomer’s Larry “Negative Man” Trainor are doing pretty great. Larry maintained his bond with the source of his power, a being called the “Negative Spirit.” The mysterious being is still somehow connected to Larry’s memories of his past and reconnecting him with the people from it who are still around. He’s still has traumas to deal with and a lot of pain to work through, but he’s doing it rather than just hiding out in Doom Manor.
Meanwhile, Rita has left the shame of her past behind and actually wants to become a superhero.
What About ‘Crazy Jane’ and the Underground?
Image via Warner Bros. TV
One of the best episodes last season, saw Cliff entering “the Underground,” which is essentially a mental plane where all of Jane’s 64 superpowered personalities live. Since that episode, the team’s most versatile and powerful member has been stuck in despair. She’s taking a serum that dulls her powers and personalities, and in season 1 it looked very much like an addiction to a dangerous drug. Naturally, this is causing some problems with the others.
We get to see the underground a few times in the Doom Patrol season 2 premiere episodes. While this is a very comic book-y concept, the focus is still on the relationship between the characters. In this case, it’s the different personalities, and their shared commitment to their common goal: protecting the girl whose body they all live in. Last year, we thought we learned about Jane’s traumas. Yet, we’ve only scratched the surface, apparently. We learn how Jane’s family reacted to her developing personalities (and before the powers).
For folks looking for their superhero fix in this show, this is a bit of a bummer. By this point last season, Jane and the gang took part in a great bad guy fight. Guerrero’s performance is spectacular, and the story is very engaging. And the entire series really lacks that kind of bad guy brawl action anyway. For the first act of the second season, the storytellers are telling an emotional story about a family losing each other.
What Lies Ahead for the Rest of Doom Patrol Season 2?
Image via Warner Bros. TV
When it comes to season-long arcs, there doesn’t seem to be one big comic book, bad guy plot. Rather, it seems that the show will spend its time showing us more about the characters’ pasts, especially Niles and Dorothy, and whether the team will get back to together. We do know that the team throws a party and a reimagined version of the Sex Men from the comics shows up. (This is likely next Thursday’s episode, “Sex Patrol.”) We’ve already seen Candlemaker, a character from the comics whose storyline seems unchanged.
In fact, save for a handful of short glimpses, most of the scenes in the marketing came from these first episodes. So, where the show is going this year is something of a mystery. Cliff will almost certainly try to connect with his daughter. Some bad stuff goes down in the underground, too. But the most intriguing scene not in the first three episodes features Cyborg and Karen Obilom’s Roni Evers. She’s connected to Vic, and her character’s name is very similar to a famous character from the Cyborg comics. She also says “Booya,” which is a Cyborg catchphrase from back when the word was cool.
Watch the Doom Patrol season 2 premiere on HBO Max or DC Universe starting on Thursday, June 25, 2020. And then tell us what you thought of the show and share your theories about where it’s all going in the comments below.
Featured image via DC Universe.
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.