We're at the penultimate episode of DC Universe and HBO Max's Doom Patrol season 2 now. Of course, there would finally be an episode called "Dad Patrol"! Because dads are the worst. They cause all the problems and traumas that scar their kids forever. This episode is about dads and being a father. So where are our heroes? The Chief (Timothy Dalton), the poster child for Bad Dad in this show, continues to treat Dorothy as a child (Abigail Shapiro), keeping her in literally arrested development. Unofficial John Constantine-alike Willoughby Kipling (Mark Shepherd) warns Caulder – through a mystical phone call using Reese' Pieces, no less – of a cataclysmic event coming. Isn't there always?
Dads Just Can't Help It
The Chief is the ultimate controlling father here, keeping Dorothy emotionally and mentally at 11 because if the prophesied cataclysm will occur if she actually grows up. She's been 11 years-old for over a hundred years! The story of a father infantilizing his daughter becomes literal here. He thinks he's doing the right thing because if she grows up, she could destroy the world. This is not metaphor or subtext, this is theme-made-literal because this is what Doom Patrol does.
Larry (Matt Bomer's voice, Matthew Zuk's body) is still guilt-ridden over the trauma he caused his sons and tries to distract himself by helping Jane (Diane Guerrero) on her mission, to retrieve Kay's lost teddy bear from the well her monstrous father used to trap her in. Jane's abusive father caused her to split into multiple personalities to protect the core personality Kay. The well is a Freudian symbol for the birth canal and the dark pit where Kay was trapped in for punishment in real life, not recreated in her psyche. Jane does this for Kay as part of her struggle with Miranda to be the primary personality.
Rita (April Bowlby) has decided to be a superhero called the Beekeeper – cue a title sequence that spoofs the classic Sixties series The Avengers – and teams up with Vic (Jovian Wade) to find his girlfriend Roni (Karen Obilom) when she becomes a suspect in the killing of the men who poisoned her with her superpowered implants. Vic's black-and-white morality can't let her go free, which becomes a problem when she's strong enough to beat him to a pulp. Rita finds this superhero stuff is a lot harder than just punching out a mugger.
It's All About The Betrayals
Betrayals abound in this episode. Dorothy is afraid she's betraying her father because she can't help growing up and unleashing the Candlemaker. The Chief has to betray his daughter with his impending death. Vic feels betrayed by Roni's decision to commit murder. Jane is betrayed by Miranda inside Kay's psyche. Only Cliff (Brendan Fraser's voice, Riley Shanahan's body) has a good day where he finally gets to be in her life. He's not a great dad, but at least he's causing a lot less harm than all the other dads here. He's the only one who gets to move forward. Rita finds her own attempts stalled.
This is an episode heavy with incidents as everything is set up for the finale. It's not so much plot-driven as theme-driven – everything is set up for some kind of blow-up in next week's finale. It's never boring. It's often funny and sad once again, though it's actually much less strange and surreal than usual since it's rushing for the finish line. The question is how the show is going to wrap everything up next week.