Review: DOOM PATROL 1×15 – “EZEKIEL PATROL”
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Director: Dermott Downs
Writers: Tamara Becher-Wilkinson, Jeremy Carver, Shoshana Sachi
Starring: Brendan Fraser, Matt Bomer, April Bowlby, Diane Guerrero, Joivan Wade, Hannah Alline, Timothy Dalton, Alan Tudyk, Riley Shanahan, Matthew Zuk, Mark Sheppard, Phil Morris, Bethany Anne Lind, Charmin Lee, Tommy Snider, Stephanie Czajkowski,
Reviewed By: Ari Bard
After hearing devastating news about The Chief, the Doom Patrol is left to go their separate ways. That is, until Mr. Nobody’s lack of fulfillment and general incompetence brings them back together in order to rescue an old friend and an even older secret.
People overcoming circumstances. After fourteen episodes, Doom Patrol’s core theme rings loud and true in “Ezekiel Patrol”. Our heroes have spent time overcoming circumstances related to their abilities, identities, mental health struggles, and more, but in this final episode they have to overcome the truth. The episode opens with many of our heroes having gone their separate ways. Rita and Larry may be living together for convenience and to hold each other accountable, but they aren’t truly invested in each other’s lives as they once were. Rita, Larry, Cliff, Jane, and Vic have all grown so much in the limited time we’ve seen them. They’ve become more comfortable with who they are and have learned ways to to cope with their feelings and situations. Rita has learned to accept the decisions she made in her past for what they are, to acknowledge her own growth, and to try and move forward as a new person. Larry has learned to become more comfortable with who he is, to acknowledge his codependency with Rebis, and that he deserves to live his own life. Cliff has learned to accept the circumstances of his accident, to accept his past mistakes, to better manage his temper, and to find a new sense of purpose. Jane has begun learning how to own her mental health struggles and the importance of continuing to try. Finally, Vic has dealt and is dealing with his relationship with his father and has learned how to accept his entire self.
These are all important lessons, and each member of the Doom Patrol has grown tremendously in a short period of time, but none of them did so alone. In “Ezekiel Patrol” when all of them are separated, Rita doesn’t have anyone who will accept her help. Larry doesn’t have anyone that will help him get out of his comfort zone or the house. Cliff doesn’t seem to have anyone who will even talk to him. Jane doesn’t have anyone to help her when she needs to get out of her own head, so she turns to a drug to make it all stop. Vic has lost the self-confidence to be a public hero and instead remains focused on thwarting cyber crime. These characters may have grown, but they did so together. They need each other in order to thrive, and that is made clear by the show’s lighting choices. Despite occurring in the present day, the show appears dark and saturated in ways similar to the characters’ individual flashbacks we saw in the pilot. Without each other, the Doom Patrol members are stuck in a stagnant place much like they were all those years ago.
Niles’s flashbacks muddle the show’s message quite a bit. He just divulged a sickening truth to five people who loved him, respected him, and risked their lives searching for him. “Ezekiel Patrol” is trying to convey the message that the Doom Patrol can lift each other up and move forward without the Chief. They are brought together and decide to help out Danny the Street and the Chief’s daughter, but explicitly state that they are not doing it for the Chief. The flashbacks, however, are an attempt to humanize them. They show the Chief plotting these accidents from behind the scenes as those close to him walk away time and time again in disgust. He looks sad and pathetic, and he knows what he’s doing is wrong, but it still feels as though the show wants you to feel for him. It sends some very confusing messages that negatively contribute to the finale’s experience.
The absurdist latter half proves to be little more than spectacle an hilarity. It’s a gaudy and grand finale that’s filled with action and humor, but doesn’t contain a lot of substance. It’s hard for a lot of heart and emotion to shine through when the majority of the focus is on a giant cockroach wreaking havoc. Ezekiel does not have any purpose or motivations as a villain other than to cause destruction, and by the latter half of the episode, Morden is reduced to a pathetic mess that has to be encouraged by Rita. The conflict is just a vehicle to bring the Doom Patrol together again, and that’s not enough for a show’s finale. A large rat and cockroach causing destruction and hilarity doesn’t make up for the fact that the team never really reconciled, nor did they definitively overcome the truth about the Chief. Instead they simply came together to execute a plan. The entire series has been a careful balancing act between humor, tragedy, and serious comedy, and “Ezekiel Patrol” largely relies on humor and action for the purpose of spectacle.
“Eziekiel Patrol” is a season finale that begins with a brilliant message about overcoming circumstances, but derails into grand spectacle without much substance to back it up.