Dying and coming back is a trope in superhero stories. The list of heroes who haven’t died and returned is probably a lot shorter than the ones that have. It happens so often there are jokes about it and some interesting developments in the big hero universes regarding the phenomenon. Leave it to the Doom Patrol to put their own spin on this idea with “Undead Patrol.”
When Niles Caulder died, we saw that Willoughby Kipling wasn’t done with him yet, and now we see what the very strange modern Knight Templar is up to. With a specialized ritual, Kipling brings Niles back, or some of him, and they debate the ethics of the issue, also telling us what Kipling did to get Niles. Kipling, as ever, has his own motives, and they’re surprising, given the way the man usually presents himself. Niles’ mockery gets interrupted when an unexpected visitor shows up, and Kipling isn’t at all happy to see him. Back at Doom Manor, the team is trying to figure out what’s going on with their mysterious new “guest,” and a few secrets some would prefer stay hidden get revealed.
The mystery woman confesses that she can’t remember her own name or why she’s searching for Niles, but shares the emotional reaction she has to the man, which the team agrees with. She also reveals something surprising about how she arrived, which the team scoffs at until she provides proof. Rita, for reasons I’m not sure I follow, sabotages things while the Woman (I need to call her something) tries to plan out when would be best to find Caulder. This leads to some amusing recapping of the Patrol’s recent adventures, and questions about why they’ve all picked up the same new tic. The team splits up to deal with various things, Larry has some unexpected sudden problems, and the Woman seems less than pleased about Rita hanging around with her. Rita, for her part, has gotten a flash of memory and is trying to figure out the link between herself and the Woman.
Larry is going through some things he doesn’t usually have to deal with, while Cliff actually does finally look for help about some of the problems he’s been having. It doesn’t go well, in part due to his presentation, but it’s a start, I suppose. While Jane and Victor work on their projects, we get more hints that all is really not well with the team. Following up on what he learned from his mother while he was in the afterlife, Victor set up a meeting with his father. Silas is just as judgmental and evasive as always, avoiding some things and then finally making one confession that further enrages Victor. Rita and the Woman have an entertaining talk about the nature of amnesia, and Michelle Gomez continues to give a fantastic performance. She was great as “Missy” on Doctor Who and continues to impress and amuse me. After poking around the Manor, the Woman finds something and goes off to follow up, leaving Rita behind, scratching her head.
Reeling from his earlier problems, Larry tries to make some changes, but clearly isn’t hopeful. Rita finds him and is her usual neurotic self, and Larry finally tries to bring some reality to her outlook. Larry fills her in with what’s going on with him, and then she gives in to a new impulse before running away, shocked at herself. The Woman continues to be hugely entertaining as she follows up on her earlier discovery and gets some surprising results. Checking in on the rest of the team, we see they’re all starting to have some serious problems. The Woman leaps to an understandable, if wrong, conclusion based on what she’s learned, rushes to tell the others, and is just in time to see the results of them all going through the same changes. This is when Kipling arrives, and injects some more world-weariness and surreality to the scene. Kipling comes with a message, and it turns out an old foe has returned: Darren Jones from the Bureau of Normalcy. There’s an odd sort of hostage situation going on, which doesn’t work as well when most of the would-be rescuers are indifferent to the abductee’s fate.
Kipling becomes the leader of the unlikely rescue effort, and things get bizarrely ugly. The team’s new condition gets used against their foe, and it is possibly the most gore-filled scene I can recall in the series. Darren has gone through some changes of his own since last we saw him, and has his own group backing him up. It’s surreal and ugly and weird and sort of funny, which sums up a lot of the Doom Patrol’s adventures. They work in several horror movie tropes, and we also get to see one of Kipling’s weapons from the comics for what I believe is the first time on the show. Eventually, the notionally good guys win, and return to the Manor. Kipling has a talk with the rescued hostage that covers a lot of weird ground, and a plan of action, just as grotesque as you’d expect for this show, gets decided on. There’s also an amusing aside about a movie trope and how it came to be.
The team ends up cured of their most recent affliction, and are very uncomfortable with the aftermath. It was also, at least possibly, the end of a character who has been around since the start. Before things get that serious, the Woman has a talk and learns some things she might have been happier not remembering. Larry shares an insight no one else wants to admit to, and then rushes off. Apparently, some of his earlier problems weren’t related to the major issue that plagued the others during the episode. The episode closes on some solo scenes for the various team members. Jane tries to deal with her grief, following up on her earlier project before things got crazy. Cliff tries to do some research, and shows he has absolutely horrible judgement. Rita continues her attempts to befriend the Woman, and then the Woman herself makes another surprising discovery as she reviews her only lead about her own past. Victor contemplates some of the changes he’s been through. They end on what could either be a joke or a hint about stories to come.
What I Liked: I don’t agree with a lot of what the characters end up doing, but they’re at least consistent. Mark Sheppard’s Willoughby Kipling is always an intriguing guest, and, as I said, Michelle Gomez is a delight. This was a very interesting spin on both the heroes back from the dead trope and a common horror movie theme. The big fight is bizarre, but well done. I’m intrigued by the mystery of this version of the character Michelle Gomez is playing.
What I Didn’t: Silas Stone doesn’t change. He’s consistently unapologetic about what he’s done, and I don’t know why Victor expected anything else. He’s smarter than that. I could have done without the reappearance of the ones backing Darren up. Or Darren himself, for that matter.
It was an enjoyable, if weird (even by their standards), episode. I’ll give this a 3.5 out of 5. They introduced some things that could change the status quo for several characters here. It’ll be interesting to see where these plots go.