In what could be its series finale, HBO Max’s “Doom Patrol” finds our heroes fighting against their most beloved childhood pals as the Candlemaker looks to remake the world.
Warning! Spoilers follow! Flit ahead at your own peril!
In “Wax Patrol,” the ninth and, alas, last episode of the season, written by Chris Dingess and Tanya Steele and directed by Christopher Manley, Miranda (Diane Guerrero) is the primary persona in 1969 Milwaukee, where she meets a cute street singer outside the diner where she works.
Johnny (Carter Jenkins) thinks of shy Miranda like a cat – only he can’t tell if she’s looking for someone for petting or scratching.
He’s sweet, if perhaps a bit pushy, but he seems to respect Miranda’s boundaries about touching. Miranda accepts his gift of a simple necklace and agrees to go on a date with him.
Two years later, they’re moving in together. The hippie singer is now clean-shaven and seems to be on a bit of a “Mad Men” track: He’s trying to impress his new coworkers at the weekend’s housewarming party.
Oops! He forgot to tell Miranda it’s a swinger’s party. (Oh, those crazy kids of the 1970s.)
Miranda naturally balks about having sex with a stranger, but Johnny guilts her into going along with it, to help their relationship. They’re in such a rut, he tells her, but this way they can grow together.
As the night devolves into an orgy, Miranda suddenly sees the stranger humping her as her father and freaks. Many alters seem to pass through for several seconds, and then Miranda passes out.
When she comes to, every naked person at the party is standing over her.
She reads the room for the filth that it is and punches Johnny in the face for manipulating her.
Guerrero is stunning in this sequence, and I wish the Emmy folks would take notice.
One more thing, she says as she stands naked in the door, ready to leave him. Her name isn’t Miranda.
In the Underground, Miranda (Samantha Marie Ware) faces the wrath of her alters for failing in her mission to protect them. With even young Kay (Skye Roberts) shunning her, Miranda, necklace and all, tosses herself in that well.
In the present, in that well, Jane discovers that necklace as she struggles to reach the surface.
Kay finds Jane’s station is closed – and realizes Miranda is not Miranda.
So who is she? Why has she been pretending to be the dead alter all this time?
In Doom Manor, the being who calls herself Miranda helps Cliff (Brendan Fraser) pick out a snazzy t-shirt for his daughter’s wedding.
Herschel, the most adorable imaginary giant spider in the universe, pops in, sounding the alarm.
While the rest of the team agrees to help Dorothy (Abigail Shapiro), Cliff balks: He doesn’t want to disappoint his daughter again. Let the Chief (Timothy Dalton) take care of his own kid, he says.
Rita (April Bowlby) settles it by reminding him that if he ever wants to be the man his daughter deserves, he’ll help an 11-year-old girl who is in danger.
Flit transports the team to the fair, now slick with wax and bereft of life.
Kipling (Mark Sheppard) warns the Candlemaker has hijacked Dorothy’s imagination and will torture them with their childhood imaginary friends.
“You clueless pack of twats have no idea what we’re up against,” he says.
In Kipling’s case, it’s a 15th-century Punch puppet who drags him away.
To find Dorothy and the Chief, the team decides to split up.
When does that ever work out?
Miranda – or whoever she is – is rendered catatonic by her alters in the Underground, who demand answers for the missing personalities – including Jane.
Rita encounters an adult-sized paper doll named Roxy who challenges her to a tap dance contest.
Cyborg (Joivan Wade) is challenged by Dr. Cowboy (Phil Morris) – who looks just like his father Silas.
Candlemaker lulls them in long enough and then transforms them into pillars of wax.
Cliff finds himself battling Jesus.
Yes, Jesus Christ, his imaginary pal for half a summer at Bible camp when Cliff was 6 years old.
“You forsook my ass … I’m here to end you.”
The sequence is both hilarious and uber-violent as the robed son of God gets all Old Testament on Cliff and even rips off one of Cliff’s robotic arms and beats him with it.
Candlemaker’s homicidal holy man dismantles Cliff and tosses the pieces – his foot, his head, and more – where they are covered in wax.
With Kipling and Larry likewise waxed, the Chief is alone to deal with Dorothy, and even as the world is about to end, it’s unclear what he will do.
But the spirit of her mother settles it: Dorothy must put on her big girl boots and confront Candlemaker. This battle belongs to her.
Dorothy is resigned to her fate. Offered a weapon by her father, Dorothy instead conjures one of her own from her imagination that suspiciously resembles Stargirl’s cosmic staff crossed with a floor lamp.
Candlemaker suddenly jumps out of a giant burning pyre.
“Come, girl. Meet your fate.”
And he drags her into the flames, where they both vanish.
“Dorothy!” Chief screams.
And that’s how we end the season – and perhaps the series.
If everything feels so open-ended, maybe that’s because the season was supposed to be 10 episodes.
According to Shapiro, production was shut down in the middle of filming the 10th episode because of the coronavirus.
She estimated that they had filmed almost everything but a few scenes. If that’s true, perhaps producers are saving that episode to use as the opening for the third season – or a DVD extra if the show is not renewed.
This episode clocks in at a mere 45 minutes.
Larry says he’s never had an imaginary friend. Was a sequence cut for production issues or because of Bomer’s limited availability? (While Bomer dubs the live-action actor, he does appear as pre-Negative Man Larry Trainor – you can just imagine Larry’s pretend pal was an idealized version of himself.)
I really want to know what is going on with Jane/Miranda/Kay. What of Larry’s conflict with his own biological family? We deserve some resolution.
“Doom Patrol” is special. These mighty misfits deserve another season to wave their fabulous freak flag to the rest of the world.