This week on Titans, we are introduced to the Doom Patrol who not only steal the show but also provide the series’ best episode to date. Without too much preamble, let’s dive right in to Titans Episode 4, “Doom Patrol.”
[Warning: The following review contains several spoilers]
We have come to the point in this series where I do not need to say that the plot revolves around Rachael Roth/ Raven; it has become very clear that the main plot of this show is the imminent danger of Rachael’s demonic side, and the likely summoning of her father, Trigon. Due to this, episode 4 involves Rachael being found by Gar in the forest after her escape from the convent. Gar takes her to his home at the Caulder Mansion where she meets the members of the Doom Patrol. While she finds comfort in the weirdness of the residents in the mansion, she seeks help in managing her demonic powers from the Chief who says he can cure her. While this does not work out for her in the end, we did see her get closer to letting the darkness take over. Dick was able to stop Rachael from entering a portal that would have presumably lead her to bringing Trigon into the world. Now, the otherworldly threat looms over this series and will definitely carry it forward. For the most part, Rachael was the plot’s focus, but I do not feel like we learned too much else about her.
Dick and Kory did not have a whole lot to do this week, as the pair spent the majority of the episode trying to track down Rachael. Along the way, Kory discovers Dick’s violent nature; after a hunter sees Rachael and Gar in the forest, Dick finds out who the hunter is from the local police department and tracks him down. Dick then invades the guy’s home and starts to beat him until Kory stops him. Kory then pays the guy and they both leave for the Caulder Mansion. I think Kory put it best when she tells him “You’ve got problems.” Dick’s dark side is definitely going to be a plot thread in the future and Kory might be the one to help him with it. This episode put Dick and Kory in the background which is fine as they were not involved in the primary plot of the episode.
This episode finally gave us a proper introduction to Garfield Logan/ Beast Boy. After being teased in episodes 1 and 3, we finally get to see Gar in action and learn more about his past. Through flashbacks and spoken dialogue, we learn that Gar’s parents died while they were in the Congo with him. Gar ended up in a medical tent and was left alone until he was discovered by The Chief who used his specialized serum to save Gar’s life which in turn gave him the ability to unzip his DNA and recompile it. Currently, Gar is only able to turn into a Tiger due to that being his favorite animal. Since this is the first time viewers get to actually see Gar outside of a few minutes, we really get to see his personality shine. Ryan Potter’s portrayal of Gar is charming and unique among the characters in Titans. He has a bright demeanor and lack of angst is refreshing when compared to Dick, Kory and Rachael. Seeing him interact with Rachael, whom he met last week, and the Doom Patrol, who are his surrogate family, really showcases Gar’s more sensitive nature. Gar’s main confrontation in this episode is between him and The Chief. The Chief had taken him and the other Doom Patrol members into his mansion in order to protect them from the cruelty of the outside world. With Gar sneaking out into the civilized world it jeopardizes what The Chief has done which leads to some tension.
The breaking point of this is when Gar brings Rachael to the mansion which not only showed disobedience, but also makes them vulnerable. This is especially illustrated in Dick and Kory being able to find the mansion after learning about it from the hunter that had spotted Gar in the forest. Gar being made to leave with Dick, Kory and especially Rachael feels like it was the right thing. Gar has gotten restless living in secret and unlike the other Doom Patrol members, he can blend into the outside world better than any of them. I really liked the angle of having Gar being the youngest of the family who is leaving home for the first time. The performances by all the actors really made the emotions palpable with both the sadness of Gar’s departure, but also the happiness of him finding his own place in the world. I really look forward to seeing what Gar gets to do next in Titans.
Starting off our discussion on the Doom Patrol, let us talk about Cliff Steele/ Robotman. With a physical suit performance by Jake Michaels and a wonderful vocal performance by Brendan Fraser, Robotman came to life in live-action for the first time. Robotman is most likely the most iconic member of the Doom Patrol, and is used in every incarnation of the team. Cliff Steele was a professional race car driver who nearly died in a terrible accident; The Chief managed to take his brain and place it into a robot body in order to save his life. Cliff acts like an older brother to Gar and the banter between the two provides some really great heartwarming and comedic moments which gives the series some needed levity. During the episode we see that Cliff longs for the days of when he had his own body. We see him look over pictures of himself from the past as well as sitting down to dinner with the others. During the dinner, Cliff naturally does not consume any food himself, but does ask Rachael how her food tastes. We get to see that behind his tough robot exterior he really does have a lot of emotional depth as a character. Both actors provided great subtly to the character and I look forward to seeing more of Cliff when Doom Patrol debuts next year.
Larry Trainor, the Negative Man receives the least amount of backstory for the Doom Patrol members, but it does not take away from him at all. Much like with Robotman, we have two different actors portraying Negative Man. Dwain Murphy who gives a great physical performance of the character, especially in the cooking sequence, and Matt Bomer providing a very solid vocal performance. Viewers get to learn how Larry was once an Air Force pilot who now exists wrapped in bandages, and do not get to see his Negative Energy form from the comics. However, I am sure that it is being saved for the Doom Patrol series proper. Larry is the cook for the residents of the mansion, preparing large feasts for everyone there. He definitely enjoys cooking and warms up to Rachael instantly. Larry is likable and has a shroud of mystery behind him that should get further explored in Doom Patrol next year.
Also, viewers are introduced to Rita Farr/ Elasti-Woman (aka Elasti-Girl) in this episode and she might be the most interesting of the main trio. Rita was an actress who had some sort of an accident that caused her to be detained and experimented on. The Chief saved her, and took her in presumably before Cliff and Larry. We see in this episode that Rita struggles with her body not being able to keep itself together all the time. We see her in a blob-like form in her room, as well as her face melting during dinner. What surprised me the most about her condition was that it was represented almost entirely by practical effects which is rare in this day and age. April Bowlby delivered a great performance of a woman who is kind and welcoming to Rachael. I really do feel bad for her in this episode seeing her struggle with her condition. Much like with the other two, I am really excited to see more of Rita next year.
Our final character is Dr. Niles Caulder/ The Chief. The Chief in this episode was portrayed by Bruno Bichir while Timothy Dalton will be playing the character in the Doom Patrol series. I feel that The Chief is the weakest part of the episode. While it seems like it was intended to have The Chief be a comforting yet stern character, he ends up being more of a forceful jerk. Viewers are introduced to him, as he is bringing in a new patient; the patient is not named but is played by Hina Abudllah, and several sources list her as playing Arani Desai, who is known as Celsius and is a Doom Patrol character from the comics. We do not get too much from her outside of her one scene in the operating room where The Chief finds that his mysterious serum does not work to help her condition. This leads to Rachael stepping in and helping to stabilize the patient. Interestingly enough, unlike the comics, The Chief is able to walk with Cliff stating that he recently regained his ability to do so.
Later on, The Chief confronts Gar about him going to the outside world, and the dangers of leaving as well as his concern over Gar bringing Rachael home with him. Unfortunately, these scenes depict The Chief as a rather sinister character, which ends up escalating when he begins to run tests on Rachael, and extract her demonic side using his serum. However, after Gar and Rachael decide to not go through with the procedure, The Chief continues onward despite their protest. Eventually this causes Rachael’s demon side to attack The Chief which leaves him crippled once again. Overall, I did not like The Chief too much in this episode; I found him to be more antagonistic than necessary and as the weakest link of the Doom Patrol, I am not sad at all over the recasting. I look forward to Timothy Dalton’s performance of the character in the Doom Patrol series next year.
In conclusion, the fourth episode of Titans is easily its’ strongest, despite the antagonistic Chief, this episode is solid from start to finish. This has me extremely excited for next year’s Doom Patrol series, and I know I am not the only person that feels that way. There is something to be said when the strongest episodes of Titans so far are ones that feature guest stars. Both “Doom Patrol” and “Hawk and Dove” are introductions to characters who are not part of the main Titans team. Now, while Hawk and Dove will probably join the team later, there is also a large outcry for the duo to get their own series. Whereas, on the opposite side of that, “Doom Patrol” managed to act as a prequel episode for the series that is currently in production. In addition, while this episode does advance the Titans’ story with Rachael and Gar, the Doom Patrol really steal the show. Furthermore, as Titans develops as a series, I am hoping that the next few episodes will focus on the main team and have less detours towards characters that may end up being more intriguing. Nevertheless, I look forward to next week’s episode, but I am definitely more excited for Doom Patrol’s premiere.
Soundout Side Notes:
- The Caulder Mansion is mentioned as being on “Danny Street” which definitely is a call out to classic Doom Patrol character, Danny the Street. Hopefully he makes an appearance next year.
- The comics accurate looks for the Doom Patrol are very well realized. They could have ended up looking very silly but the production team pulled off a great look for them.
- Robotman blinks and it gives him so much life.
- Rachael doing the robot dance for Robotman is the kind of moment I live for.
- All the music choices in this episode were absolutely perfect.
- Worst effect of the episode: Gar’s Tiger form. I hope they tweak it more as it did look better here than it did in Episode 1.