The title of the Doom Patrol Season 3 finale is more relevant than usual. Amends Patrol is all about redemption. Redemption here is most literal—making amends—and figurative. Our main characters finally make definitive choices as to who they are and who they want to be, taking control of their often-rocky narratives and owning up to the insecurities and flaws that have held them back for three seasons. As is typical for the series, redemption happens on an individual level for the characters, but perhaps the most exciting part of the finale is that we also get a major transformation on a group level. It is still abundantly obvious that Doom Patrol keeps finding ways to be successful in ways that most superhero or comic book shows cannot. It succeeds by refusing to yield to convention or by taking an easy story-telling route. It has consistently paid off for the series, but this episode is one of the finest examples of the series’ talent.
Where the episode ends highlights just how far the group has come. Where revelations and breakthroughs have come in the past, they are sometimes undone or overshadowed by the next conflict. Interestingly, they were often not accompanied by physical changes even though a lot of the internal struggles were pretty connected with the physical abilities or burdens of the characters. Here, there is no ambiguity—through all the turmoil, they seem to have settled into the new mental and physical places that they couldn’t previously access.
Season 3 made the decision to take its 10 episodes to genuinely develop and play out the characters’ arcs. The show could have easily turned the group into a formal super team at the end of the first or second season. In fact, it’s arguably bold that it avoided this very expected and anticipated element for as long as they did. But the result is a slow but rewarding burn that makes the “Doom Force” moment all the more exciting and meaningful.
The episode begins with most of the group in the last episode’s bus wreckage after Kay/Jane screamed and Larry’s parasite baby essentially blew everything up. While Rita is still obsessed with continuing on to find Laura, Larry and Vic are done following her after it became obvious that the whole situation is based on Rita’s selfish interests, which eclipse any concern she might have had for her teammates. Vic, who had been the biggest proponent of the super team concept, breaks and yells at Rita that they are absolutely not that. The Fog shows up as well to call out Rita. She tells her that neither Rita nor Laura are completely lost.
This sets up a make-or-break moment for Rita as a character, which was foreshadowed at the very beginning of the season. Will she take her newfound confidence and self-identity to pursue revenge and her own personal interest, or will she figure out how to direct it to something bigger? Not surprisingly, she ultimately makes it clear that she’s not truly evil, notably by coaxing the Brain into thinking she will help him only to kill him with boiling water. Her presence as a leader is finally realized in a positive way at the end of the episode as she seems to take on that type of role with the newly minted super team. If you remember the Rita of season one, it’s amazing how seamlessly and gradually she’s made it here.
Laura—definitively known as Rouge now—ends up a member of the Doom Force after she used the time machine’s amnesia to help herself make amends to the main group. Rita, for her part, decides at the last minute not to kill Rogue, further establishing that Rita will move forward.
Larry has a pretty straightforward path to “redemption.” The larva, a negative spirit named Keeg, needs to merge with Larry or it will die. He struggles with the decision of whether he can let himself go through it all again. Vic reminds Larry that he decided during the eternal flagellation to try and let love in. Larry ultimately takes in the negative spirit, saying “I swear I will try my best to do right by you. Always.” We later have a moment of glorious negative spirit flight and action before it suddenly fails and falls to the ground unceremoniously. He’s trying.
Jane’s decisions are less clear. She has been in constant conflict with the other personas over her beliefs on Kay’s growth. It turns out the personas fled the Underground and are living in the Fog because they are afraid they will disappear as Kay evolves. Yet they are still dying. Apparently, Dr. Harrison is the persona behind the scheme, only looking for control. Jane makes a deal with her that if she helps the personas return and rebuild the Underground, Dr. Harrison can be primary. It seems to suggest that Jane’s redemption is geared towards the personas now, not Kay. With all the previous focus on “the girl” with last season’s Miranda plot, Jane spent this season alienating and ignoring the concerns of the other personas in order to focus on Kay. By sacrificing potentially quite a lot in both the Underground and on the surface, Jane manages to make amends to the personas—it’s unclear if this will undermine some of her journey with Kay.
Cliff is the one who embraces making amends directly. Laura winds up early on putting his brain in a giant robot that the Brotherhood of Evil had thrown out at some point. He then convinces Laura to stop her rampage toward Rita, telling her that she’s, essentially, not completely evil. This is seemingly confirmed as Laura cannot bring herself to kill Cliff, and flies off instead. He then goes to Clara’s to genuinely apologize for being a terrible father.
The ultimate conflict of the finale ends up being Cliff, who has Parkinson’s, losing control of the giant robot which is stampeding into Cloverton. Jane, via Flit, teleports into the robot to try and help Cliff, and they have a tender moment while thinking that they are both about to die. Ultimately, Rita grows into the size of the new Cliff and stops him. It’s a very dramatic moment for her that speaks to a level of control over her powers that we have absolutely not seen before.
Later, the group reacts to what they had accomplished. Rita is particularly proud that they saved a town, even though Larry reminds her that they were the only threat in the first place. They finally agree to be a super team, with Cliff hilariously proclaiming them to be the “Doom Force.” It’s going to be a wild ride because the episode ends with the team labeling themselves and making a to-do list to fight a monster that they are using the time machine to get to.
Amends Patrol is undoubtedly one of the best episodes of the season. It leaves you excited for the next season while managing to be an engaging and compelling episode by itself. While Doom Patrol seems to finally make itself about the Doom Patrol, it’s also clear that the series is not going to be any more predictable. Yes, we now have an official team. But Vic isn’t Cyborg, Jane may not be primary, and Cliff is a giant robot. Larry still hasn’t mastered his new negative spirit, and Rita and Rogue have a tense relationship. And, of course, they are inducing amnesia to go fight monsters with all of these defects. But somehow, this episode ends in one of the most optimistic places Doom Patrol has ever been. The series is not taking the easy way into the superhero plot, which is what makes this show so unique. The individual character grind over the past three seasons made this space better and more meaningful than it could’ve possibly been had the series jumped into the super-team quickly. After this season, there’s every reason to believe that this show will only get better.