Doom Patrol manages to be one of the most unique and eccentric comic book television series around. More impressively, it manages to somehow be the least and most grounded series given its ability to present constant off-the-wall supernatural stories, as well as give its characters meaningful and intimate development. Season 3 stays the course and promises to keep the series’ signature zany spirit and hard spotlight on the characters’ continuing inner journeys.
What Season 3 of Doom Patrol might not offer – based on the first half of the season – is something sensationally different than what we’ve seen before. To be fair, how “different” can a show that embodies outlandishness actually end up being by the previous seasons? The answer might lie with the hidden foundational and conventional aspects of the show – the series is noticeably short of strong adversarial characters. Season 1’s Mr. Nobody is still the show’s gold standard, and no character or entity has risen to that villainous level since.
The fairly sporadic consistency and intensity of Doom Patrol’s villains tend to make the show feel like it hasn’t moved much over the course of multiple seasons. If the first five episodes of Season 3 are representative of the rest, the main team’s status as decidedly not the “Doom Patrol” may not be adjusted. But there are plenty of kernels of heroic ambitions, curiosities, and what it means to be a hero to think that this gaggle of superhumans could, eventually, be a super team. These bits and scraps have existed all along, though, but maybe two to three years in the title of the series could have a more direct meaning.
Some of the overarching plotlines from the first two seasons that felt weighty and more of a burden are mostly alleviated, though what haunted the team from the very beginning seems unwilling to let go. Perhaps that very haunting is the glue they need right now. Season 3 is a masterclass in forming individual unique episodes with absolutely and delightfully absurd micro-stories. This time around, the miniature adventures, while still feeling thematically removed from one another, fit better as puzzle pieces to the overall picture that is slowly coming to life. Episodes 2, 3, and 4 in particular are absolute gems as individual episodes a well as chapters of the same short story, and they are fun beyond expectation.
In any event, Doom Patrol is still doing what it arguably and sometimes surprisingly does best – its characters. Diane Guerrero is still an absolute powerhouse as “Crazy Jane” and while much of her story seemed to be tying itself to a close at the end of Season 2, the series’ most intricate and interesting character has plenty of additional journeys up her sleeve. Matt Bomer as Larry promises to keep being an anchor of tragedy and charm, but the character that truly steps into the spotlight this season is April Bowlby’s Rita. If any character has the ability to move the group—and plot—forward in a major way it surprisingly seems to be her.
Overall, Season 3 certainly understands its own assignment and admirably seems to refuse to sacrifice its bizarre and wonderfully unconventional style for anything else. Doom Patrol certainly has the ability to do so while simultaneously nailing the quality and depth of its characters’ stories. So, it undoubtedly has the potential to hit even more notes under the ever-present and ironic “Doom Patrol” label. Whether this season will see the group wind up in virtually the same enjoyable place they’ve been in since the beginning of the series or charge into genuinely new territory is still on the horizon yet to be seen.