Bonding, Redemption, and Tragedy in a Father Focused Episode Which Directly Sets Up Next Week’s Finale
This season of the DC Universe has taken the Doom Patrol characters on quite a ride. Even more so than last season, Doom Patrol has treated its characters as fundamentally human and thus flawed characters. The show has thus taken them from the doom and gloom of the first few episodes to more optimistic episodes which albeit still remained marred by tragedy.
Now the characters once again confront and try to overcome their past in an effort to forge a brighter future for themselves. “Dad Patrol” is an episode all about fathers and their relationships with their children. There are many different types of fathers (e.g. Jane’s abusive one and Cliff being an absent father) with each one having had an impact on their children. Characters must now reckon with their past and in some cases even reconcile with the very people whom they hurt in the first place.
The Trials and Tribulations of Relationships Between Fathers and Children
Each father-child relationship has its own trials and tribulations. Each unique and some much worse than others. In this way, Doom Patrol mirrors the real world but treating its characters and their relationships with a human touch. Previous episodes have done all the work setting up these relationships so they fortunately do not come out of nowhere.
Jane’s (or rather Kay’s) abusive father has been touched upon before but the show has never seen the character confront her past experiences quite so much as in this episode. Jane takes it upon herself to find Kay’s toy which she lost when she was put in the well by her father. “Dad Patrol” shows the lengths to which Jane will go to help Kay and moreover prove herself to the rest of the Underground as a valuable personality. The episode’s message is clear: The past can no longer be ignored and only by confronting it can one be whole again. This is a turning point in Jane’s arc as she is finally able to confront what haunted her in past episodes.
Cliff may have been quite a bad father but this episode finally offers him the chance to reconcile with his daughter. The character once was arrogant and self-serving but now he is firmly on the road to redemption. The interactions between Cliff and his daughter may be awkward but at least he is making an effort driving home the point that it is never too late to make amends.
Perhaps the most interesting father focused storyline or at least the one with the greatest ramifications is the one involving Dorothy and Niles. Unlike the others, this storyline is neither about redemption nor about confronting your fears but instead it is touched by tragedy. This is supposed to be a great day for Dorothy and her father. However, the Candlemaker puts a spanner in the works and things quickly deteriorate. Niles had hoped to have one last day with his daughter before he handed her over to Kipling for safekeeping. Things do not go as planned as Niles’s decision helped to unleash one of the powerful beings ever all the while Dorothy is helpless to stop it. Niles and Dorothy may both have good intentions but plans to bond over a day out go quickly awry.
Beekeeper and Borg
In another storyline unrelated to the topic of fathers, Vic and Rita team up to deal with what Roni has done. The concept of a friend turning villain has been done over and over again and not just in superhero shows. Besides it being predictable, Roni’s transformation has not even been built up well. The show has hardly dedicated any time to Roni’s point of view. The storyline is moreover pointless as it is not even about Victor and it has so far not had a major impact on his character.
On the other hand, it is quite fun seeing Rita try to work with Victor to deal with the situation. Even more fun is another 70s cop show inspired dream sequence analogous to “Steele and Stone”. This time it is “Beekeeper and Borg” capturing Rita’s desire to become a stylish superhero and fight crime. Cyborg might not wholeheartedly approve but Rita more than proves her worth as a crimefighter.
Overall, Doom Patrol continues to deliver with “Dad Patrol”, an episode all about the relationships between fathers and their children. This a crucial part of these characters’ arcs where they are being built back up again. “Dad Patrol” possesses a truly human touch. Dealing with relationships and the past is difficult but worth it. Cliff and Jane do the hard thing but they do it to forge better futures. Each storyline carries its own lessons and none more so than the one involving Niles and Dorothy: Good intentions can lead to bad results. The only storyline not about fathers may have its flaws but it is nevertheless a fun excursion that sees Rita finally act on her desire to become a superhero. More than anything, this episode hammers home that Doom Patrol is truly an ensemble show. It is a character focused drama in the guise of a superhero show. Nevertheless there is a reckoning awaiting for the Doom Patrol with the Candlemaker now unleashed, and all roads lead to the highly anticipated Season 2 finale set to air next week.