In the era of the cinematic superhero, we are inundated with a variety of compelling characters who are gifted with unimaginable powers overcoming the most unlikely of odds to save the world. It can all start to feel very repetitive. There is one crew, however, that can never be accused of being lumped in with the rest of them as right from the offset, they laid their marker in the ground, proclaiming that everything would be different and incredibly weird. Welcome back to Doom Patrol Season 4, making its way to HBO Max on a weekly basis starting December 8th.
Developed by Jeremy Carver, Doom Patrol tells the story of a dysfunctional group of metahumans that were the test subjects of a mad scientist on the quest for immortality. A less-than-ideal team, the Doom Patrol faces the most bizarre villains and the oddest obstacles that exist in the DC universe. Season 3 saw the team tested like never before as they attempted to function without the direction of Chief (Timothy Dalton) all while facing the Brotherhood of Evil, the Sisterhood of Dada, and some zombie butts. If you’ve never watched Doom Patrol, then the last reference might strike you as off, but it’s quite literally what it sounds like.
Now in Season 4, the team must face one of their biggest villains yet, Immortus. It is coming for the team’s immortal genetics so that it may rise once more and take revenge upon all who opposed it.
I’ve had the pleasure of watching six episodes from Doom Patrol Season 4 and I’ve been such a big fan of the series for these last few years. The show has always done a great job at giving a storytelling space for othered characters and allowing them agency to play a variety of roles. One of my favorite characters, in particular, is Danny, the non-binary magical sentient street that provides a safe haven for members of the LGBTQIA community, which resulted in some spectacular storylines. In addition to that, the show also pushes some very strange narrative boundaries that fuse together some newer concepts while still honoring the source material, which itself was very out there. Doom Patrol is unabashedly and inherently weird, and it owns every aspect of that.
With that being said, Season 4 is beginning to feel like the show is running out of gas as far as what it conceptually wants to achieve. From seasons one through three, the progression has felt as natural as it could, but the current narrative just lacks that particularly excited nuance of otherworldly and unnatural plot points that it’s known for. There’s a chance that the remaining four episodes tie some of the foundational work together for something quite explosive. But in the landscape of weekly episodes and the constant clashing of streaming shows and movies and their online discourse, I’d say this show would come out as the loser in that particular contest.
Doom Patrol is already an unequivocally strange show and will only appeal to a subset of audiences. Given the potential for buts in seats and eyes on screens is smaller, then it really needs to come out swinging to allow for the quality to speak for itself. but instead, it’s labored. The main storyline takes a significant amount of time to get going, and because of this, the season as a whole never really finds that hook for the audience to drag them along.
I still enjoyed what I saw, and I’ll forever have a soft spot for the show and these actors, but everything has an expiration date and it’s starting to feel like this franchise may be quickly approaching theirs. The larger problem here is that Doom Patrol has spent a significant amount of time retrospectively examining its main protagonists and allowing for some stunning dialogue to be born from those conversations. I will honestly champion the prior seasons for doing some great work. But when the bar is set so high for three seasons, trying to maintain that same depth, pace, and wow factor is difficult. For example, there are only so many times you can have these characters be forced to face their traumas and come out on the other side.
One element that does feel uniquely different from the past iterations is by challenging the team’s unquestioned lifespan. Looking back to their initial inception into the Doom Patrol organization, most of the members came from decades long past, and while the main narrative is supposed to run parallel to our current timeline, not one of the members has aged as they should. So witnessing Jane, Rita, Cliff, and Larry process and exam that news adds a fascinating element of motive. Rather than simply existing as they have done for so long, now without their longevity, what do they each want as the clock has begun ticking once more?
Doom Patrol Season 4 doesn’t have that same wow factor impact as it once did, as the season is somewhat strained and heavy. For long-time fans of the show, there are still those same elements existing for you to enjoy, but it doesn’t hit those same highs. The weekly episodic release will ultimately hurt this series significantly, and I fear that the creators may have run out of steam. Based on this performance, I’d be surprised if this misfit superhero crew makes it to a 5th season.
Doom Patrol Season 4 is a weekly series with the first two episodes coming exclusively to HBO Max Thursday, December 8th.
Doom Patrol Season 4
- Rating - 6.5/106.5/10
Doom Patrol Season 4 doesn’t have that same wow factor impact as it once did, as the season is somewhat strained and heavy. For long-time fans of the show, there are still those same elements existing for you to enjoy, but it doesn’t hit those same highs. The weekly episodic release will ultimately hurt this series in a big way, and I fear that the creators may have run out of steam. Based on this performance, I’d be surprised if this misfit superhero crew makes it to a 5th season.