Spoiler alert: We’re about to break down the Season 3 premiere of Doom Patrol. Haven’t watched yet? You know what to do.
Doom Patrol made an emotional, donkey-farting return to HBO Max on Thursday with the first three episodes of its long-awaited third season. (The remaining episodes will roll out weekly, leading up to the Season 3 finale on Thursday, Nov. 11.)
Here’s the abridged version of what went down: Dorothy “defeated” the Candlemaker with the power of friendship, thus freeing the Doom Patrollers from their waxy prisons; Niles officially died, and without even getting to join the mansion’s near-constant ghost orgy; Jane teamed up with her fellow personas to destroy (then eat!) the Miranda imposter and regain control; Niles’ spirit appeared to Cliff, revealing that he sent the tapes to Clara (who’s in labor!) in an attempt to mend their relationship; Rita inherited a mysterious key from Niles, who tasked her with keeping an eye on the unexplainable; Vic refused to help Ronnie again, earning a spot on her no-no list; Larry took off in search of something the Negative Spirit wants him to see; and Dorothy left town (in Danny the Ambulance!) to give her father a proper burial.
The final moments of the premiere gave us a long-awaited production from Our Town, followed by Isabel’s untimely (and hilarious?) death; the unforgettable introduction of Madame Rouge (when you gotta go, you gotta go!); and the return of Willoughby, who dug up Niles’ body for reasons that will soon become disturbingly clear.
Below, executive producer Jeremy Carver answers a few of our burning questions about the premiere:
TVLINE | This was such a satisfying episode to come back with, mostly because we were still in the middle of the action. How would this premiere have been different had your schedule not been interrupted last season due to the pandemic?
In some ways, it’s an extremely satisfying opener because it answers a lot of questions and gives certain storylines a proper ending, whereas a normal opener would have been a little more maddening and would have left more unanswered questions. The fans get to have their cake and eat it, too. We get a little bit of everything with this one because of circumstance.
TVLINE | Kicking things off with Niles’ death was rough, but it definitely set a tone. How much of this season is about the Doom Patrol coming to terms with this complicated loss?
It’s certainly a springboard at the beginning of the season. People working through their reactions to his death, that process begins to manifest other paths of discovery for them. His death takes a little bit of a backseat but it ever present in the way that the death of any sort of father figure — or meaningful figure in your life, good or bad — never quite fades away.
TVLINE | Speaking of fading away, I was sorry that Niles didn’t get to join in on the ghost orgy before he departed.
[Laughs] Right? That seemed like an oddly befitting way to see him go.
TVLINE | With Niles out of the picture, what is Dorothy’s place on this show and in this world?
I think Dorothy will always have a place on the show and in the universe. There’s a path of exploration that she needs to go on herself in order to satisfy some of her unresolved issues, but she’s always very much a part of this world.
TVLINE | On a lighter note, thank you for showing us the finished production of Our Town. How did it feel to see that all come together?
It’s hats off to the writers of the episode. We had such a fun time doing that. Everything about the execution worked for me, especially because of the dramatic effect it had on the characters, particularly Rita. Whenever something can have the double whammy of being absurd and still having a real emotional impact, it’s a success.
TVLINE | And that led into Madame Rouge’s incredible arrival. I can’t believe the first thing you made Michelle Gomez do was pee on the street and then watch Isabel die.
[Laughs] We tried to take a really grounded look at time travel and the real realities of what it would mean to travel through time. We landed on it being the longest road trip of your life, so you gotta go. As for Isabel, it was sad to see her disappear, but she’s such a delightful presence on the show. We love her.
TVLINE | Does that cavalier reaction to Isabel’s death tell us a lot about who Madame Rouge is?
It tells us a lot about Madame Rouge that even she doesn’t quite realize about herself yet. It kicks off this process of discovery for her, which is sort of a study in contradictions — she can’t quite figure out if she’d good or if she’s bad. We drop little hints both ways, and I think that’s what makes the struggle even more confounding for her.
TVLINE | Is she going to be a completely different person by the end of the season?
I think you can look forward to Madame Rouge ending the season with a deeper understanding of herself, whether she wants to confront some truths or not. In terms of her being a completely different person, I would argue — and I think the show would argue — that you can try as hard as possible, but none of us can quite escape who we are.
TVLINE | Another win this week was Jane defeating the Miranda imposter, but not everything is good now. How would you describe the state of the Underground in Season 3?
The Underground was very much built as a protective place for a core persona who was deeply traumatized. Both the structure itself and the personas within that structure are starting to fracture as to what is actually best not just for the girl but for themselves. And that’s a potentially dangerous place to go.
TVLINE | Identity crisis already feels like the theme of the season, even more than usual. Who’s going to have the biggest one?
That’s some pretty stiff competition, but if you’re shoving me into a corner, I’d tell you to keep your eyes on Cyborg and the road of discovery that he goes on.
Did the Doom Patrol premiere live up to your expectations? Grade it via the poll below, then drop a comment with your full review.