First 5 episodes of ‘Doom Patrol’ season 3 brings horror elements, creepy DC characters and musical numbers

Noah Levine, Life and Arts Film Columnist

HBO Max’s “Doom Patrol” returns after the harrowing cliffhanger of season 2 which left the Patrol coated in deadly candle wax. Picking up directly after, season 3 throws the heroes through a slew of bizarre adventures ranging from zombie attacks to encounters with eccentric time travelers. Cliff Steele (Brendan Fraser), Jane (Diane Guerrero), Larry Trainor (Matt Bomer) and Rita Farr (April Bowlby) return with their usual wild antics, taking the Patrol’s adventures into uncharted territory.

“Doom Patrol”’ particularly excels when it utilizes its variety of subgenres. Using the endless sandbox of DC Comics’ characters and worlds, the show introduces refreshing scenarios incorporating horror, science fiction and even musical elements. The first few episodes of season 3 introduce the Dead Boy Detectives, a duo of ghostly teens who investigate cases involving the supernatural. Their storyline drives the show into exciting horror corners, introducing terrifying new characters and settings. One particular moment involving a spider-like woman will stick with audiences long after the episode airs. 

At its core, “Doom Patrol” has an immense heart. While the characters in the patrol have eccentric personalities that differ immensely, they rely on each other in times of need. One perfectly timed musical dance number oozes with emotion, visually representing the bond these characters have. The show’s signature oddball comedy manifests throughout every episode, adding fun to even the darkest moments. 

While all of the previous season’s strengths are present this time around, so are its faults. Many of the leading characters’ arcs seem to go in circles, retreading on storylines explored to death in previous seasons. Steele continues to struggle with his robotic body, Cyborg (Joivan Wade) continues to butt heads with his father and Trainor struggles to connect more with his spirit companion. While not boring to watch, the constant backtracking can feel frustrating.

The pilot episode of season 3 almost seems like a strange cut finale of the previous season. It wraps up the season 2 cliffhanger with an almost shocking amount of ease, deflating the weight of the previous storyline’s events. The use of Niles Caulder (Timothy Dalton) feels similar to his presence in season 1. COVID-19 protocols obviously limited the actor’s, and therefore character’s, ability to interact with the main cast. Luckily, once the remnants of season 2 are dealt with, season 3’s refreshing and exciting storylines reenergize the narrative. 

3.5 Brains out of 5