Doom Patrol: Wax Patrol

And it ends at a carnival. How fitting is that?

Like many shows in 2020, the Doom Patrol had to change things around a lot due to the COVID pandemic. What was supposed to be ten episodes became nine, and there was a lot of scrambling to wrap up the season. Due to a fair amount of upheaval in my own life, I’m just now getting to this foreshortened season finale. “Wax Patrol” is now the end of season two, and the final episode that aired on the now defunct DC Universe. Season three, along with the rest of DC Universe’s former original shows, will be jumping to HBO Max whenever they manage to finish making it.

There are several different stories going in on this episode. One of them is a long series of flashbacks to Jane as Miranda living in the late 60’s and early 70’s in Milwaukee. As Jane floats in what is presumably the dreaded well in Jane’s Underground, we see Miranda working in a diner and flirting with a street musician. According to IMDB, he’s Johnny Bills. I’m not familiar with that character in DC Comics, and didn’t find anything with some research, so I believe this is an original character. They talk about dating, juke boxes, dancing, and necklaces, and make a date for the coming weekend.

In the present, Cliff has a wardrobe crisis that’s uniquely him as he babbles about his daughter’s upcoming wedding. Larry makes some amusing comments, and Miranda proves to be very helpful. I think it says a lot about Cliff and Jane’s relationship that he picks up at once that this isn’t Jane after a very short exchange. Rita goes to see Vic and ask him to turn down the same, loud song on repeat. He’s having heartache over events with Roni last episode, and Rita has some regrets as well. They both could have handled things better.

Just as Cliff is getting ready to go, Hershel, the giant spider/Dorothy’s imaginary friend, pops up with dire tidings about the end of the world, Dorothy, and the Chief. The team springs into action, such as it is, and after a lot of agonizing, Cliff agrees to go along, missing Clare’s wedding.

With some help from Jane’s alternate Flit, they get to the fair, which looks like something out of a wax museum nightmare. Wiloughby Kipling, looking a great deal the worse for wear, staggers out of the shadows. Elsewhere at the fair, Dorothy is doing what she can to hold the Candlemaker back, but with limited success. While the Candlemaker continues to mock her, Kipling gives the team a warning before being dragged off into the shadows, startling Cliff and shedding some light on Kipling’s distant childhood. Which is a lot more distant than I had thought. The team splits up to go search for Dorothy and the Chief, although Cliff has slightly different priorities than the rest.

Things go badly as soon as they split up, predictably enough. Miranda falls to the ground in an apparent seizure. Apparently, the other alts don’t care for this course of action, don’t care about Dorothy, and are upset Miranda is risking them all to help someone they don’t like or consider a friend. They argue among themselves, and then Kay, who usually is just off hiding in her room, slips away. Out at the fair, Vic and Rita get unexpected visitors from their pasts. Both are interesting to watch and say a good bit about their respective childhoods.

While Cliff gets what might be the most unexpected visitation of all, Jane continues her underwater adventures, which really don’t look like any fun. Back in the 70’s, Miranda and Johnny are moving in together. There’s a lot of banter and they actually seem good together. Miranda also seems to be working very hard at convincing herselves of that. The Candlemaker continues to intimidate Dorothy, and Larry makes an unexpected discovery, then gets his adventure cut short without the “fun” the others are having. Cliff, Rita, and Vic continue to deal with their “guests” in assorted different ways. It doesn’t go well for any of them, and each gets a nasty surprise.

In the 70’s, Miranda gets pressured into a very special type of party she did not see coming. For whatever reason, she’s determined to go along with it. That’s generally a personal choice, but in her unique situation, she’s deciding for several people, and there’s a revolt. This, apparently, is what led to the creation of Jane as we know her. It really does seem like Miranda made a lot of bad choices.

The Chief finally makes an appearance, crawling across the waxy ground, trying to get to Dorothy. He checks to see he still has a certain item, then keeps calling for his daughter. Dorothy gets a look at what some of her surroundings actually are and screams in horror. As the episode draws to a close, Dorothy gets a very different visit than the others got, the Chief spends a lot of time agonizing over his daughter and her fate, and both Jane and Kay make startling discoveries. It’s not a good night for anyone, and a really big cliffhanger to leave the season on. Especially with no real release date for next season.

What I liked: This is typical Doom Patrol weirdness, amped up a few degrees. The various visits the team got were informative about their pasts. I always enjoy Mark Sheppard in anything, and his Kipling is very entertaining. He’s an absolute bastard, but I still find myself sympathizing with Cliff a lot. The Underground remains an interesting, bizarre, twisty place to see.

What I didn’t: Larry’s… defeat? seemed to come out of nowhere. I’d think the Negative Spirit would have given him some degree of resistance to this chaos. I’m kind of sick of the Candlemaker, and hope he’s quickly dealt with next season.

It was a decent season finale. I’m not sure I’d want to spend much time with any of these characters, but there’s something compelling in watching their story. I’ll give the episode a 3 out of 5, and the season a 3.5 out of 5.

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