SPOILER ALERT: The following episode breakdown contains mega spoilers for the season finale of Doom Patrol. Reading it before seeing the episode would be a pretty weird thing to do, but hey, you do you.
By all accounts, Doom Patrol should not work. It's a show that seems to be built upon the idea of taking the weirdest, wackiest, most random moments and characters and throwing them all together to see what hopefully sticks. In the course of fifteen episodes, we’ve seen a swarm of cannibalistic butts attacking a secret underground government facility, a hunky man in a speedo flexed his dimensionally-powered muscles and made an entire town orgasm by accident, Matt Bomer sang karaoke with drag queens and a sentient genderqueer street (yes, you read that right), and it all started with a superhero team journeying up a donkey's butt to save a town.
None of this should work, and yet Doom Patrol manages to pull off all of that and still tell incredibly three-dimensional and moving character arcs that take you from laughing to ugly crying at the drop of a hat while executing high stakes comic book action in every single episode. What Doom Patrol has been able to achieve in just one season is what most shows can only dream of over the course of an entire series. I mean, just look at what goes down in the season one finale, "Ezekiel Patrol."
Any other series would have held off on having the villain win until the very climax of the finale. Doom Patrol sees Mr. Nobody exacting his revenge on Niles Caulder at the very beginning. He exposes the Chief as being responsible for everyone on the Doom Patrol (sans Cyborg) becoming the "monsters" they are now. And Mr. Nobody makes the Chief dig his own grave and tell them the truth himself. It's brutal, and despite fans seeing the writing on the wall a mile away, it still hits like a punch to the gut.
And this happens at the start of the episode! I honestly had no idea where the finale would go from there. We then get some flashback scenes detailing just how much the Chief had controlled every accident that led Robotman, Jane, Rita and Larry to his doorstep. Then we see how each member of the Doom Patrol handles this betrayal and then tries to move on in his or her own dysfunctional way. I started to get worried that the season was going to end on a quieter note, with the team completely separated and figuring out what comes next—basically set up for the "new normal" of what a potential second season would look like.
Silly me for doubting this show. Hadn't I seen enough wild, totally out there and insane moments and twists from the past fourteen episodes to prove otherwise? There was no way Doom Patrol was going to lackadaisically meander off into the hiatus on such a lackluster note. No, instead the series goes more meta than ever before. Mr. Nobody sits on a toilet, reading a review of this very same finale that spouts my exact feelings right back at me almost as quickly as they had popped into my head. The review declares the ending of the story a whimper, not a bang, to which Mr. Nobody complains that he was going for emotional stakes—"real premium cable sh*t."
When he said that line, I actually did a spit take. How does Doom Patrol keep on doing this? This show takes risks that no other series would dare to even think of in their wildest dreams, let alone attempt. And what's even more impressive is that these outlandish, WTF moments don't take away from the emotional development or payoff at all.
Doom Patrol clearly knows that more Danny the Street is always the right call because the sentient genderqueer street is back for the big finish! Along with his two new henchmen, Ezekiel the bible-thumping cockroach and Admiral Whiskers the revenge-obsessed rat, Mr. Nobody kidnaps Danny the Street because they had been hiding the Chief's mysterious and all-powerful daughter. The Doom Patrol reunites to save the day, and shockingly discovers that Mr. Nobody wasn't actually their enemy anymore. Having been sucked into a painting, he was now powerless and it was the cockroach and rat that were hellbent on destroying (and devouring) the world.
So how did the team save the day? Not by fighting the giant cockroach and giant rat. Nope, they enlist the narration services of Mr. Nobody to make the giant cockroach and giant rat make out with each other so Robotman can jump from the rat's stomach down into the cockroach's throat to join the rest of the team who had been eaten.
Again, this should not work. It just should not work! And yet somehow, it does. It's equal parts hilarious, exciting, gross and emotional. The action is incredible, and by the end of things, the Doom Patrol all find themselves back in the real world, out of the magical painting, just really tiny…but that's a problem for season two.
We have some idea of where that potential sophomore season could go from here as the team figures out a way to get back to a normal size and Dorothy adjusts to life out in the real world with all her powers. But after seeing what Doom Patrol accomplished throughout the first season—Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man's entire journey comes to mind!—there's really no telling where this weird, delightful and downright crazy show will go next. All I know is I need more—and more Danny the Street. The world always needs more Danny the Street!