Undead Patrol is a hodgepodge of different elements framed as a zombie flick right off the bat given the title. There’s actually a lot more that goes on throughout the episode which is ultimately positively overshadowed by the zombie elements. It begins by keeping Niles (or just his head) alive and in play for a bit longer. Niles was completely absent for a solid one episode, so feels a bit redundant to yet again have him return. But his ultimate utility in the episode does find a way to fit into the larger story of grief. There’s an obvious irony in that eating Niles’ head cured the team of their undead-ness, whereas Niles had taken advantage of each of them in the past to avoid death. Maybe this is more apt closure on a Doom Patrol level, but it isn’t hard to imagine that cannibalizing the Chief could give them more of a complex over his death.
The episode is again packed with character plotlines and extensions of each’s individual stories. Of note, Larry is dying because of the negative spirit left, Cliff is attempting online therapy, and Rita is genuinely concerned about all of the suspicious and dangerous circumstances they have all been in, but no one seems to actually care yet. But Rita’s self-motivation to become involved is pulling more strings behind the scenes than might be apparent at the moment.
Vic is caught in the seemingly endless cycle of his self-identity crisis as a hero, his responsibilities as such, and his actual “rebellious” actions that depart from what is expected of him. Now, his dad lost his job at S.T.A.R. labs because Vic helped Roni escape, and Cyborg’s systems are shut off. While Cyborg has one of the more interesting arcs of the series, in theory, his constant back and forth with his dad feels stagnant and is beginning to take away from Vic’s journey with the team. It feels like it pulls him out of the show’s general context to a dangerous point where it sometimes comes across as though he doesn’t truly belong. But his constant battle of man vs. machine is no doubt a strong anchor for the character, but it feels stuck at the moment, much like Vic himself who is turned offline.
“Madame Rouge” (she is not named that yet) remains in the spotlight as some sympathetic character at the moment. She has no memory of who she is and only knows that she traveled in time via her underground drill-type time machine to find Niles. Her personality is very hard to pin down, but it works for now. It also arguably makes sense given her shapeshifting abilities that we have been teased that her identity would also be fluid. She and Rita learn from a hidden film that Rouge, actually named Laura DeMille, was previously associated with the mysterious Sisterhood of Dada and convinces herself she is a bird. Still, it appears that the hoped-for savior Niles actually recommended she be killed back in the day for being “insubordinate”. Hopefully, this kickstarts a graceful climb into a place of purpose and power for DeMille.
But yes, amongst all of the above (and more), this episode is, indeed, a zombie episode. The hell demon vomit the characters were sprayed with at the end of the previous episode has caught up to them, apparently kickstarting the undeadening. There ends up being relatively little horror in it, though, and it actually plays out quite hilariously. The zombies are generally just locked out of a room that Kipling and DeMille are plotting in, but the zombie growls and moans are given coherent subtitles with often non-zombie thoughts and apparently, everyone can understand them. But the main benefit we get from their zombification is the big, over-the-top, and violent battle with the butt monsters first seen escaping the Bureau of Normalcy in Season 1. The sheer adrenaline of it all is a reminder that this aspect of the show is truly lacking, if not missing.
Despite the buzzwords/phrases in this episode – zombies, eating Niles’ resurrected head, butt monsters, etc. – the episode also managed to feel slow and sometimes tedious throughout. It certainly kept delivering quirky, small, bizarre elements, and similar moments were thrown into the pot almost non-stop. Overall, the episode felt like one the creators had a blast with, even if their play had a bit of an issue balancing its conventional plot points and story expositions with wild diversions.