The delightfully bonkers, Emmy-nominated HBO Max series Doom Patrol (based on the DC Comics of the same name) ended S2 on a maddeningly abrupt cliffhanger after production was interrupted by the pandemic. Fortunately, we’ll soon be getting S3, and judging by the new teaser that just dropped, we’re in for another wild, mind-bending ride.
(Spoilers for first two seasons below.)
For those who may be new to the series, Niles Caulder (Timothy Dalton), aka the Chief, is a medical doctor who saved the lives of the various Doom Patrol members and lets them stay in his mansion. His Manor of Misfits includes Jane, aka Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero), whose childhood trauma resulted in 64 distinct personalities, each with its own powers. Rita (April Bowlby), aka Elasti-Woman, is a former actress with stretchy, elastic properties she can’t really control, thanks to being exposed to a toxic gas that altered her cellular structure. Larry Trainor, aka Negative Man, is a US Air Force pilot who has a “negative energy entity” inside him and must be swathed in bandages to keep radioactivity from seeping out of his body. (Matt Bomer plays Trainor without the bandages, while Matthew Zuk takes on the bandaged role.)
Cliff Steele, aka Robotman, is a former NASCAR driver whose brain was transplanted into a robot body after a horrific crash. (Brendan Fraser plays the human Cliff, and Riley Shanahan plays the robot version.) Finally, there is Vic, aka Cyborg (Joivan Wade), whose father gave him cybernetic enhancements to save his life after an accident.
In S1’s season-long arc, the team faced archvillain Eric Morden, aka Mr. Nobody (Alan Tudyk), who could travel through dimensions and alter reality. He kidnapped the Chief. The Doom Patrol eventually defeated Mr. Nobody and rescued its leader but not before learning that Caulder was the one responsible for all the tragedies that gave each member their powers. It was all part of a series of experiments to extend his own life as much as possible so he could protect his deeply troubled daughter, Dorothy Spinner (Abigail Shapiro).
In S2, we discovered that Dorothy inherited her mother Slava’s ability to bring imaginary friends to life, which wasn’t so bad when it was a friendly giant beast named Manny or Herschel the giant spider. But there was another, more insidious creature lurking inside Dorothy’s imagination: the Candlemaker, apparently linked to a tribal curse. He emerges whenever Dorothy makes a wish, and widespread slaughter is usually the result.
Over the course the season, the Doom Patrol also encountered the disco-loving Dr. Jonathan Thyme (voiced by Dan Martin, played by Brandon Perea) and the inter-dimensional being Red Jack (Roger Floyd), who drew energy from the pain of others. The patrol was captured by White Space creatures known as Scants, battled a sex demon, and met the Pioneers of the Uncharted—ageless astronauts led by Valentina “Moscow” Vostok (Mariana Klaveno). In the finale, Dorothy got her first period, marking her transition into womanhood, and the Candlemaker’s powers began to manifest in the real world. And then, the season just… ended.
Fortunately, S3 will pick up where we left off, per a statement from HBO Max:
Season three opens on the culmination of Dorothy’s confrontation with the Candlemaker that leads to a devastating loss. The Doom Patrol is at a difficult crossroads and each member struggles to face who they are and who they want to be. And things get a whole lot more complicated when Madame Rouge (Michelle Gomez) arrives in a time machine with a very specific mission, if only she could remember it.
We are always eager to see more of Michelle Gomez, who brightens any series on which she appears (e.g., Doctor Who, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, The Flight Attendant). Madame Rouge is a supervillain who first appeared in the Doom Patrol comics in 1964. A former actress with a split personality, she now flips between good and evil. She’s also a master of disguise and was the only female member of the Brotherhood of Evil—until a romantic bond with Caulder helped her beat back her evil personality and join forces with the Doom Patrol.
I’m looking forward to seeing Gomez in the role, although the S3 teaser is light on specifics. It’s mostly fragments of dialogue over flashes of intriguing images. We see Dorothy facing off against the Candlemaker, of course, and then a mysterious recurring symbol before each of our patrol members find themselves in a bizarre psychedelic dimension. (“What you’re experiencing is the eternal flagellation,” a voice says, which sounds like a decidedly unpleasant approach to soul-searching.) Our heroes look like they’ll be dead for a spell, and Willoughby Kipling (Mark Sheppard), the occult detective and chaos magician, will be back. All in all, the teaser promises to be another strong season. As Kipling says, “We’re all the way through the looking glass now.”
The first three episodes of Doom Patrol S3 will air on HBO Max on September 23, 2021, followed by weekly installments after that. The season will conclude on November 11, 2021.
Listing image by HBO Max