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The Best And Worst Episodes Of Doom Patrol

Jeremy Carver's "Doom Patrol," adapted from the DC Comics of the same name, gives audiences a rare treat: A snarky, character-driven series with a meta tone about a group of super-powered misfits — banded together by Dr. Niles "Chief" Caulder — who all continue to struggle with their own personal traumas while attempting to avert bizarre apocalypses, battle omniscient villains, and try yet often fail to find a little bit of happiness in their strange corner of the world. 

The show's made a name for itself with its quirky plotlines and sharp attention to character, earning a lot of praise from critics and fans alike, but that doesn't mean everyone agrees on which episodes are the best and which are the worst. While the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer has inched up with each new season, indicating an improvement in quality, the IMDb ratings tell a different story, indicating a gradual decline. 

According to those ratings, the show is at its most successful when presenting us with tightly-focused character studies that use all that wonderful weirdness and humor to balance and anchor the complex explorations of Dissociative Identity Disorder, addiction, internalized homophobia, body horror, and more. Only when the show starts to focus more on plot in lieu of character and offer up random weirdness for the sake of random weirdness do the ratings dip — but even then, not by much. As many fans will argue via Reddit, and as you'll see from this IMDb-based article, even the worst-rated episodes are viewed pretty favorably.

Best: Finger Patrol (Season 2, Episode 5)

"Finger Patrol," rated 8.7 on IMDb, features familial pain for Larry, dashed hopes for Cliff, and a meet-cute between two lonely kids. 

While Vic and Cliff try and fail in their "Get-Cliff-a-New-Body" operation, Rita accompanies Larry as he attempts to pick up some of the pieces of his former life and bond with his grown son, Paul. So focused on making up for the past and coming out to his son, Larry doesn't realize Paul has betrayed him to the Bureau of Normalcy until it's too late. In a dark twist, his — and the Negative Spirit's — resistance to becoming Ant Farm prisoners again costs him his grandson's life. The initial friendship between Dorothy and Baby Doll is a lighthearted reprieve from our radioactive hero's fresh tragedies, but our enjoyment over watching the two kids interact doesn't last. 

Hammerhead's right to fret over the newfound friendship. After all, kids fight. And here, we're treated to just how devastating those fights can be when the kids involved have super-destructive abilities and powerful imaginary friends. A particularly cruel game of hide-and-seek leads to the demise of Manny the Wendigo and a disastrous wish. By the end, we see a grief-stricken Dorothy fleeing to Space after the summoned Candlemaker responds to her wish by infiltrating the Underground and brutally murdering her new friend.

Worst: Evil Patrol (Season 3, Episode 9)

Season 3's penultimate episode enjoys a respectable rating of 8 on IMDb, but for a show that boasts such consistent praise for its weird and compelling storylines, even that 8 places it right in the show's bottom tier. While Tell-Tale TV's Sarah Fields acknowledges the work that "Evil Patrol" does to set up the finale, she also points out this story arc's biggest issue: it's largely a disjointed affair stitched together by some impactful moments — most notably Vic's striking confrontation with his father, Silas Stone, regarding his desire for synthetic skin and his resentment toward being turned into a weapon. Silas' motives — fueled by his paternal desire to protect his son from the callous racism of the world — hurts because we understand his drive just as much as we understand Vic's struggles with survivor's guilt and sympathize with all of the body horror he's endured. 

When Laura De Mille/Madame Rouge tracks down the Brotherhood of Evil at a Floridian retirement facility and voices her desire for continued membership, the Brain tasks her with completing a mission to earn her place in their villainous ranks. Meanwhile, Rita tries to convince the others to go after the Brotherhood, but with Vic powerless post-surgery, Jane/Kay's personas lost in the ether of her subconscious, Larry occupied with the parasite he's just birthed, and Cliff consumed with repairing his broken relationship with daughter Clara, the Doom Patrol is in no state to take on evil of any kind.

Best: Therapy Patrol (Season 1, Episode 7)

In "Therapy Patrol," Rita's on her never-ending journey of self-discovery, Vic's having trouble building genuine relationships through online dating, Jane's clashing with her other alternate personas, and the Negative Spirit who lives inside Larry forces the bandaged man to revisit specific memories regarding his love affair with fellow pilot John. When Cliff (Brendan Fraser) hallucinates a confrontation with his daughter's adoptive father, Bump, the former race car driver comes out of the experience fully convinced that our team is in desperate need of a group therapy session. Not only that, he's determined to be the one to guide them all through it. 

We watch on as our constantly struggling heroes attempt to share and confront their individual traumas, and it goes about as well as you'd expect it to go. But the absolute best part of this character-focused episode? All of these events are prompted by Admiral Whiskers trying to exact revenge on Cliff Steele for the cruel annihilation of his mother. The vengeful rat, encouraged by the Narrator/Mr. Nobody (the "Big Bad" of season 1), manages to burrow inside Cliff's robot body via a hole on Cliff's arm, causing Robotman to malfunction and embrace the idea of group therapy at Doom Manor, to the detriment of them all. Rated 8.8 on IMDb, this episode features what many Reddit users consider a significant (and incredibly fun) "WTF" moment. The brief Admiral Whiskers narrative even comes with a moving origin story.

Worst: Sex Patrol (Season 2, Episode 4)

Technically bottom of the barrel according to IMDb (even with a solid rating of 8), "Sex Patrol" embraces the party vibe with sex, booze, drugs, and dancing. The gang throws a lively soirée for Danny the Street in an attempt to revive the sentient thoroughfare who's currently a broken and inconspicuous brick. By everyone's estimations, Danny needs joy, love, and laughter if they're ever going to get better. During the evening's festivities, Rita asks Flex Mentallo for help in learning how to control her powers, which are affected by her shaky self-esteem and self-image. One orgasm later, Rita's still not much closer to gaining control over the shapes she takes, and their private session causes a sex demon to manifest. The sexually-charged activity even brings a paranormal unit from the Pentagon straight to Doom Manor. 

Thankfully, Hammerhead succeeds in sending the sex demon, Shadowy Mr. Evans, back to his dimension before he can use all the hypersexual energy in the air to birth a baby who will silence all the children of the world with its fatal cries. The episode offers some chaotically fun times as Cliff delights in his new mental state via the "love" drug, courtesy of the Chief, and the Doom Patrol relishes their night of revelry with the Dannyzens while simultaneously halting an apocalypse. At the same time, its hyper-fixation on the strange happenings and weird plot points might be why it pales in comparison to other more character-driven "Doom Patrol" narratives.

Best: Flex Patrol (Season 1, Episode 13)

"Flex Patrol" introduces the muscled hero Flex Mentallo with a tragic flashback that depicts his abduction, his separation from his wife, and his resulting imprisonment at the Ant Farm. In fact, for Larry, Flex is a blast from the past, as they were both the Bureau of Normalcy's prisoners in 1964. By the time Flex was captured all those years ago, Larry was already enduring a pretty terrible life in the adjacent cell, and Flex and the Negative Spirit became fast friends who dreamed and schemed of escape together. Flex even had a fond nickname for the Spirit: Sparky. But those thoughts of a future free of captivity abruptly ceased when the Bureau realized they could control Flex by threatening his wife's life. 

In present day, Flex crosses paths with our heroes when they break Vic — and Flex — out of the Ant Farm. As Rita helps Victor Stone/Cyborg come to terms with the fact that he nearly beat his father to death in a violent rage, Cliff and Jane try to get Flex to remember who he is. In their efforts to jog his memory, they locate his long-lost wife Dolores, but tragedy strikes when the reunion causes Dolores to disintegrate into nothing. Rated a strong 8.8 on IMDb, "Flex Patrol" gives viewers some rich character growth while also moving the season's larger plot forward. By the end of this highly-ranked episode, a satisfied Mr. Nobody confirms that the team's ready to face him.

Worst: Wax Patrol (Season 2, Episode 9)

In "Wax Patrol," we're introduced to the Primary who came before Crazy Jane: Miranda. 

Through a 1969 flashback, we see Miranda fall in love and move in with musician Johnny. But her happiness shatters during their housewarming party when she learns of his intention to have a lot of intimate relations with a lot of their guests in a very open way. The heartbroken Miranda falls even deeper when she loses her Primary status. Shattered and alone, she throws herself into the Well that dwells in the depths of the Underground, prompting Jane to take over as the dominant persona. 

In present times, Dorothy Spinner's imaginary spider friend Herschel recruits our heroes to help take down the Candlemaker, but they soon find themselves battling their own imaginary friends — and losing. It's also in this action-packed episode that Jane discovers Miranda's corpse in the Well, revealing "Miranda" as an imposter. 

Rated 7.9 on IMDb, this episode wavers largely because it feels like a penultimate episode rather than the season finale that it is. There's a lot going on, and there's little — if any — time for character growth. It's all about the fight against the Candlemaker and the revelation that "Miranda" is not who she says she is. Despite the steep stakes, Redditors took to the forums to express their disappointment over the season's lackluster conclusion.

Best: Cyborg Patrol (Season 1, Episode 12)

In the late Season 1 episode "Cyborg Patrol," our group makes plans to rescue one of their own from the Ant Farm. The storyline begins with Vic's dad, Silas, arriving at Doom Manor in search of his missing son. It doesn't take the team long to figure out the Bureau of Normalcy is behind their friend's abduction, and with Silas' aid, they devise a plan to break Vic out. Meanwhile, as an Ant Farm captive, Vic endures disorienting tortures that are only exacerbated by his operating system, Grid, repeatedly rebooting on him. 

Cyborg, as a character, already comes with a good dose of body horror, and this episode of "Doom Patrol" really leans into that by exploring the absolute terror and helplessness our vulnerable hero feels when he starts to believe that Grid is taking control of his human parts. Turns out Grid rebooting is actually just Mr. Nobody manipulating Vic to violently drastic effect; as a result, Vic's mental stability deteriorates. The story spirals into really dark territory when father and son eventually reunite and an enraged Vic learns Silas might have tipped the Bureau off regarding the team's rescue mission. He's in such a state that all he can process is his blind fury over the assumed betrayal, and he brutally beats his father to near-death. Ultimately, this rich, character-focused episode earns its 8.9 rating on IMDb by treating us to a raw character study of Victor Stone/Cyborg.

Worst: Bird Patrol (Season 3, Episode 7)

"Bird Patrol" chronicles Laura's betrayal of the Sisterhood in 1949, an act that leads to Malcolm's death, the metahuman misfits of the past being classified as weapons for war, and the birth of Rita's feud with Madame Rouge (Michelle Gomez). 

In the present day, Larry's painful alien tumor transforms into a larva that he pukes up and tries to leave in the woods, Cliff struggles with his gambling addiction (which he funds by selling other people's things), Jane tries to get access to Kay (but the alters are starting to fret over what Kay's healing means for them), and Vic prepares for his synthetic skin surgery. Rita, among the ranks of the Sisterhood of Dada, uses the Fog to summon the team and Laura for the Eternal Flagellation. The team's then presented with a gilded bird cage harboring a wacky bird-like thing with the nose and mouth of Rita's lost love, Malcolm. Rita begs Laura to set the nightmare fodder free, but Laura refuses. The Malcolm-bird bursts into tiny little versions of himself, and the individual creatures teleport each team member away. Well, except for Laura, who takes advantage of the confusion and manages to escape her confrontation with Rita by turning herself into a bird. 

Rated 7.6 on IMDb, "Bird Patrol" falters because it tries to roll too much character growth and too many plot developments into one 45-60 minute time slot.

Best: Penultimate Patrol (Season 1, Episode 14)

"Penultimate Patrol," which sits at an impressive 9.1 on IMDb, features arguably the best villain in the current history of the show: Mr. Nobody (Alan Tudyk). Not only that, the storyline gives us his fantastically ridiculous origin. 

Basically, in 1946, Eric Morden's girlfriend left him after he was fired from the Brotherhood of Evil because he just wasn't evil enough, and therefore, probably never going to amount to anything. In the present day, the team stumbles upon Danny the Street while searching for the Beard Hunter. Danny's afraid of Mr. Nobody, but they still helpfully reveal that Niles Caulder is in a dimension known as the White Space, which is exactly what it sounds like it is. When Flex Mentallo takes the Doom Patrol to said White Space, our favorite weirdos are forced to relive their most tragic days while the omniscient Mr. Nobody watches gleefully from the sidelines and taunts. 

This episode succeeds, in part, because there's just the right balance between character, plot, and the show's signature strangeness. After a season full of entertaining eccentricity grounded by rich character development and complex explorations of relationships, this penultimate episode feels like an incredibly engaging and satisfying almost-conclusion. Some Reddit users even feel like it has all the right elements for a great season finale, while others flocked to the discussion boards to express their delight over the hilariously presented collective climax.

Worst: 1917 Patrol (Season 3, Episode 6)

In "1917 Patrol," Rita travels through time, finding herself in 1917 with no memory of who she is or why she's there. All she knows is that the name Niles Caulder feels important. Her amnesia makes her easy pickings for the Bureau of Normalcy, who promptly take her into custody. Her powers aren't up to snuff for a metahuman Weapon of War, though, so they put her to work in the mailroom. 

As she settles in, she befriends a few other metahuman workers and joins the Sisterhood of Dada. At Doom Manor, in the present, Laura researches the Sisterhood as Cliff's desperate search for a distraction from his failing health develops into a gambling addiction. He starts selling everyone's stuff to fund his habit, at a certain point even agreeing to pawn the blueprints to his own metal body. Meanwhile, Jane gives Kay a taste of the surface, and Larry endures the agony his alien tumor causes him while attempting to take care of his ailing son, Paul. But the old wounds between them continue to fester. 

This episode hovers around a 7.5 on IMDb, and while it offers some compelling insight into Rita's relationship with Laura, the plot and the focus on Dadaism swallow those right up. As a result, the episode doesn't quite hit its mark in the same way that top tier "Doom Patrol" entries do. Even with the decent IMDb rating, it earns its place as one of the show's worst.

Best: Jane Patrol (Season 1, Episode 9)

According to IMDb, "Jane Patrol," essentially a deep dive into Jane/Kay's psyche, is the crème de la crème of "Doom Patrol." 

Boasting a 9.1 rating, this one's all about the Underground and trying to work through Jane/Kay's horrific childhood sexual abuse. Traumatic experiences are difficult enough without 64 personalities, each with their own ability and consciousness warring in one subconscious, and that makes this storyline particularly intense. Jane's catatonic in the real world but quite active in her own mind, where the other alters fume over Karen's attempt to get married and run off, and they try to convince Jane she needs to go back up and restore order. It's her responsibility as Primary. 

While Driver 8 assists Jane in derailing the train, buying her self-assigned mission to figure out what's going wrong inside her head some more time, the rest of the Doom Patrol crew stands over Jane's unconscious body arguing over how to help her. One snide remark from Larry about "The Magic School Bus" later, the Negative Spirit incepts Cliff's consciousness into Jane's mind. After breaking out of Underground Jail, Cliff finds his friend at the Well confronting her abusive father, who's manifested as a giant puzzle-pieced monster. It's telling that this character study is considered one of the best episodes, and the fact that Jane is modeled after a real person makes the story even more affecting. Added bonus: viewers are treated to a lovely amount of Brendan Fraser.

Worst: Dada Patrol (Season 3, Episode 5)

Even with its 7.5 rating, "Dada Patrol," the midpoint of Season 3, lands dead last on IMDb's list of "Doom Patrol" episodes. This marks the group's first encounter with the Sisterhood of Dada, the metahuman team once contained by the Ant Farm that Laura tries to rally our heroes into killing. The amnesiac woman still can't remember much about her life or herself before her time machine crash-landed (a pesky side effect of time travel), but she believes she's destined to destroy these Bureau of Normalcy fugitives. Only after our band of misfits realize this is the best opportunity to get Laura out of their lives do they agree to infiltrate the Dada ranks. 

In terms of plot and character, there's a lot going on here. Rita's embracing an exciting new role as a potential time traveler, Cliff's overloading his brain with questionable Parkinson's meds he ordered from a pop-up ad, Vic's already frail relationship with his father is fracturing further, Larry finds his own estranged son wandering the forest, clearly unwell, Jane clashes with alter Dr. Harrison because Kay wants to go to the surface for new shoes, and Larry's tumor is moving — and glowing. The storyline favors a growing list of unanswered mysteries and weirdness for the sake of weirdness over the rich character development "Doom Patrol" is known for, but even given this episode's status as the worst of the worst, many still find it solidly enjoyable viewing.