‘Titans’ 1×04 Review: ‘Doom Patrol’

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One of DC’s most beloved superhero teams of misfits, The Doom Patrol, finally made their live action debut in Titans. Serving as a backdoor pilot, this latest episode introduced a fun group of unlikely heroes that fans already love. The episode also did a great job further developing the relationships between our future Titans. Between Kory and Dick’s unresolved tension and Gar and Rachel’s teenage banter, this episode showed our team finally coming together.

 Suddenly we’re all fans of The Doom Patrol

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I can admit that I know nothing about this superhero team. I’ve never read a Doom Patrol comic in my life and when the series was first announced, it was barely a blip on my radar. Now, after having watched this episode, I’m counting down the days for that show’s premiere.

The casting for the ragtag team couldn’t be more perfect either. Brendan Fraser and Matt Bomer lend their voices to two of the team’s members, Robotman and Negative Man, while April Bowlby appears as Elasti-Woman. The episode does a great job giving their audience a quick overview of who these characters are, especially for viewers who don’t know any of them outside of this episode.

Cliff Steele, known as Robotman to comic book fans, was a race car driver who suffered a tragic car accident. His brain was put in a robot. Larry Trainor, an Air Force pilot, crashed his plane where he exposed himself to negative energy. Rita Farr, an actress, was exposed to toxic gas that left her cells unstable. And Gar, our future Titan, contracted a rare disease in the Congo.

Another pivotal character we met in the episode was Dr. Niles Caulder. Known as “Chief,” Dr. Caulder is the one who gave them their second chance at life. They obviously feel very indebted to him. Although, he doesn’t seem like a villain, he’s also not necessarily a nice guy. Bruno Bichir played the character in Titans but its been confirmed that Timothy Dalton will be taking over the role in Doom Patrol next year. I hope this makes me like the character more because right now, I’m on the fence regarding how I feel about him.

Together, this group of misfits forms what the good doctor calls the “conventionally challenged.” I think “Doom Patrol” sounds a lot cooler for a team name though. This small introduction was enough to get me excited. The backdoor pilot did its job, because I can’t wait for their show.

Gar and Rachel are the best bff duo

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After she ran away from the convent, Rachel came face to face with Gar in his tiger form. After realizing that he’d scared her, Gar quickly turned back into his human form. The two made their way to Gar’s home where Rachel meets Gar’s surrogate family but not before they had a confrontation with two hunters. It was in this moment where Rachel’s healing powers came out when she brought a deer back to life. I still think she’s going to play a part in Dawn’s healing later in the season.

I understand that both Rachel and Gar are a popular romantic pairing in comics, however, I just don’t get that vibe from them on this show. I’m not saying it can’t ever become romantic. I’m sure if the series lasts long enough to give the young actress playing Rachel time to age, the writers will want to tease this pairing eventually. It wouldn’t be the first time a series played the long game like that. Just look at Gotham!

But for the time being, I’m really enjoying their dynamic on the show. Gar treats Rachel like a little sister he feels responsible for. In this episode, he stood up to the man that saved his life in order to protect her. And by the end of the episode, he decided to leave the only surrogate family he had to follow her into the unknown. They’re kindred spirits and Rachel needs that. I think Gar does too.

Mom and Dad to the rescue!

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Dick and Kory spent the entire episode searching for Rachel after she ran away from the convent. Their underlying sexual tension is a ton of fun to watch. They’re mostly antagonistic toward each other but I’m okay with that. I think it keeps them on their toes. They still don’t fully trust each other and they don’t exactly agree on anything, but it’ll be interesting to see them come together to parent the two teenagers they’ve unofficially adopted.

Dick’s guilt was clearly eating at him the entire episode because he was desperately searching for Rachel. He didn’t care who or what got in his way and his very violent side came out when he confronted the hunter who’d reported seeing Rachel earlier.

Here’s the thing about this scene though: am I supposed to be mad at Dick and feel sorry for the guy he beat up after his son saw the whole thing? Because I don’t. I feel bad that the kid saw it but I think that guy got what he deserved.

When Dick and Kory knocked on his door, Dick flashed his badge and asked him about Rachel. The guy was uncooperative and pulled a rifle on Dick. In the end, he told Kory where he saw Rachel and gave her a good lead on how to find her. If he’d just said that from the beginning instead of being difficult, he wouldn’t have gotten beaten up.

Kory of course confronts Dick about his demons after witnessing his violence. We get it. He’s got a lot to sort out before he can become Nightwing. I’m not in a hurry to see him transition though. I think this phase he’s going through is really intriguing for the character. And I like that Kory, Gar and Rachel will play a role in helping him heal so he can find his place in the world.

Dick and Rachel are the heart of the show

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Despite his constant argument that he doesn’t want to be like Bruce, Dick is already following in his adoptive dad’s footsteps. His relationship with Rachel closely mirrors the relationship Dick had with Bruce growing up. He’s protective but he also wants to help her channel her powers the way Bruce helped him channel his pain.

 

Since the start of the series, he’s been hesitant about getting involved with Rachel. In this episode, he finally accepted his role in her life. Last week he told her she was alone. This week, he walked into the darkness to pull her back and tell her that she’s not alone because she has him.

Their relationship is what’s driving the series this season. I’m not sure if that will be the case every season going forward but for right now, it is their parallels to one another that sets up the overall season arc.

We know what’s inside Rachel is trying to come out. And it’s come close a few times through her fear and anger. Last week, she felt scared when she was locked up by the nuns. This week, she became angry with the Chief after he shot Gar with a dart when he tried to help her. Dick was able to bring back her control with soothing words and a hug.

Their father-daughter dynamic is one of the sweetest things about the series. I’m excited to see that further developed. A lot of people wonder if Kory will be the one that helps Dick become Nightwing. I believe her and Gar will definitely have their parts to play in that but I think it will be his relationship with Rachel that will make Dick realize what kind of hero he wants to be.

Highlights

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  • Each of the Doom Patrol’s introductions were great but I loved Larry’s intro while he was cooking and dancing to AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” in the kitchen. He even did that “salt bae” meme.
  • Gar’s quick backstory in the episode’s cold open.
  • Dick and Kory bickering outside the convent like a divorced couple looking for their estranged kid was hilarious.
  • I love that Dick made a comment about Kory’s outfit. It’s like the writers knew that people were going to judge that outfit long before pictures from set leaked. It makes me think this is all on purpose and she’ll be getting her comic book accurate outfit soon.
  • Gar calls his room “Nirvana” and that’s awesome. I would totally live there. He’s got a lot of cool stuff in that room. Gar is basically all of us.
  • Rita’s condition is both heartbreaking and ironic.
  • I’m not even mad at Dick for beating up that guy. I still think he deserved it.
  • Cliff living vicariously through Rachel while she ate. I love how he asked her to describe how everything tastes because he can no longer eat food.
  • Rachel’s robot dance.
  • I wish I had Rita’s “high caloric diet” minus the toxic gas exposure.
  • Larry is clearly a great cook. I’d watch an entire cooking show with him. He’s DC’s Gordon Ramsay but nicer.
  • When Gar stood up to Chief to protect Rachel I got major feels.
  • I’m still not sure if I’m supposed to like Chief. Right now, I don’t like him.
  • Dick helping Rachel control her powers was a great scene. I cried the first time I watched it.
  • I love that they all unanimously agreed that Gar should leave and have a life. They care about him so much and who can blame them? Gar is precious.
  • I hope the Titans show up in Doom Patrol eventually.
  • Now we know why Dick trades the Porsche for a mini van.

A new episode of Titans is available every Friday on DC Universe. Here’s the promo for next week’s episode:




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