For a split second, we almost forgot how much we’ve missed having Doom Patrol in our lives. And then we heard Brendan Fraser ask, “Do you want to go f–k up some rats?”
Thursday’s premiere (available on DC Universe and HBO Max) begins by formally introducing us to Dorothy, a precocious conjurer whose “imaginary” friends have a knack for getting her into trouble. When we meet Niles’ daughter in 1927, she’s the star of a London freak show, which advertises her as the “cursed progeny of a witch and a mountain beast.” We know this isn’t the case, but the hungry audience will eat up just about anything — until another voice in Dorothy’s head offers her a way out. By “wishing” herself free, Dorothy unknowingly permits her creations to slaughter dozens of circus patrons. In other words, bad things happen when this girl gets scared.
We then jump to the present, where the now-tiny Doom Patrol has taken up residency in Cliff’s racetrack. Everyone is eager to return to normal size, but until that day comes, they’re doing whatever they can to pass the time. Jane is self-medicating to avoid having to deal with her various personalities, Cliff is expelling his frustration by murdering rats, and Vic is teaching Rita to harness her abilities after expressing an interest in becoming a full-fledged superhero. Meanwhile, Larry is doing his best to keep his tiny pals happy, but his attempts at developing a scientific solution repeatedly go up in smoke — not unlike the tiny pancakes he accidentally burns while making breakfast. (Those pancakes burning might be the saddest part of the episode. Well, maybe the second saddest, right behind Larry reading his son’s obituary.)
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Accepting that science might not be the solution to this little problem, Rita suggests summoning Willoughby for a magical intervention, but Niles won’t hear any of it. That is, until Jane gives him a tall glass of truth: “You’re not my friend,” she tells him. “You’re just a scientist who did f–ked up things to a broken girl.” No longer able to deny the damage he’s inflicted on his creations, Niles caves and summons Willoughby — giving a somewhat chilling performance of “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” in the process. He offers to hand over the Mr. Nobody painting in exchange for a growth spurt, but when Willoughby adds his necklace into the deal, Niles calls the whole thing off.
Then comes trouble: Believing that Cliff has really been “feeding” the rats this whole time, Dorothy decides to do the same. The good news is that she’s safe when the gang eventually finds her; in fact, she’s watching one of the rats give birth to a litter of tiny gross babies. The bad news is that — as rats so often do — the mother eats the weakest member of her litter, an instantly traumatic experience for Dorothy, one that sends her into a creature-conjuring tizzy. The only way Niles is able to stop Dorothy’s coterie of scary creations (which now includes a giant spider!) is by threatening to lock her away again. It’s terrible parenting, but hey, what is Niles if not a terrible parent?
But maybe I should go easy on Niles. After all, he changes his mind and agrees to give Willoughby his necklace, ensuring his imminent demise. (As far as emotional gestures go, it doesn’t get much bigger than a literal self-sacrifice.) Speaking of important developments, Dorothy is revisited by the Scary Wish Voice™ in the final moments of the premiere — and although she turns down its offer, something tells us she’ll be blowing out another candle before long.
Your thoughts on the Doom Patrol premiere? Have you already binged the first three episodes of Season 2? Whatever’s on your mind, go ahead and drop it in a comment below.