More than a year (in real time) after their melee with the giant scrotum, the Doom Patrol is back in action for a fourth season. The first of two episodes currently streaming pick up with a slightly overzealous Rita leading the team into various battles, ready or not.
“Being the leader makes Rita feel not only necessary but seen in a way that satisfies that vain part of her that never quite goes away,” showrunner Jeremy Carver tells TVLine. “There are some trials and tribulations this season in terms of who is the leader at times, but watching Rita evolve from a place of ‘What does leadership do for me?’ to a place of ‘What can me being a leader do for this team?’ is a key aspect. It’s one of the arcs to watch over the course of the season.”
Another arc worth watching closely is the evolving relationship between Rita and Madame Rouge, which is pretty much at rock bottom when Season 4 begins.
“The core of the problem is that they really do genuinely care for one another,” Carver says. “We saw as much when Rita was living in the past. So it really is a genuine loss that both of them are feeling. They make great efforts, at different points, to patch their relationship up. It’s a little harder than it appears, just because so many old wounds keep coming to light. Rouge has a lot of self-discovery to do here as well. This is a person who’s still learning to love herself and accept both the good and the bad of who she is.”
A major miscalculation in the premiere then sends the novice time travelers to 2042 (oops!), where they discover that a “butt-pocalypse” has left the world in shambles. Only Vic remains alive, while the rest of the Doom Patrolers are now ghosts — and they do not have good news for their past selves. Rita’s ghost tells her that she doesn’t turn out to be an effective leader, Jane’s ghost blames Dr. Harrison for letting Kay die, Cliff’s ghost tells him that he never gets to touch his grandson, Larry’s ghost reveals that Keeg “doesn’t live here anymore,” and Rouge’s ghost… actually, that one’s a bit of a question mark.
It’s certainly a grim portrait of the Doom Patrol’s future, but as Carver is quick to remind us, “it’s not the future, it’s just one possible future. It’s up to them to prevent it from happening.”
Of course, no one emerges from this mission more uneasy than Vic, whose future self carves “You can’t have it all” into the side of their time machine before everyone returns to the past. (Or is it the present? Ugh, time travel!)
“Vic has come face to face with a future self of his that is no doubt beaten down and who has a very firm belief that goes directly against what the Vic of today believes — that you can’t be Cyborg and have your bliss,” Carver says. “That is very much the path that Vic is walking down this season. He’s trying to stay true to all of the reasons he’s not Cyborg anymore while trying to figure out how that plays into the future version of who he wants to be.”
The premiere ends with Willoughby and his fellow Knights of Templar having yet another clandestine meeting with Bunbury, who shares this troubling (albeit adorable) prophecy from the flora and fauna: “Immortus will rise!”
“Once we fully understand who and what Immortus is, it’ll make complete sense [why we’re introducing this villain now],” Carver says. “There’s a scariness there, but it’s also a lot of fun. The pursuit and looming threat of Immortus will open the Doom Patrol’s eyes up to their very own creation. It answers a lot of long-running questions that they and fans might have about their abilities. The pursuit of Immortus makes them even more aware of their own mortality. It’s funneling our team into this central question: Is it better to save the world, or better to save themselves? On a couple different levels, the end is nigh.”
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