Posts Tagged ‘Alimi Ballard’

Okay, so if you said you just knew the first season of the DC Universe original streaming series Doom Patrol was going to come down to a battle royale between giant mutated versions of the Curtis Armstrong-voiced Ezekiel the cockroach and Robotman’s rat nemesis Admiral Whiskers, you’d be lying — and yet here it is, the fifteenth and final episode of the first season, titled “Ezekiel Patrol,” delivers an ending no one could have predicted after an entire run of episodes loaded with “no one could have predicted.”

There’s more to it, of course : there’s the missing backstory that fleshes out the massive, and ugly, revelation laid on the team at the close of last week by Timothy Dalton’s “Chief” Niles Caulder; the uneasy detente achieved between Joivan Wade’s Vic Stone and his father, Silas (portrayed as ever by veteran hand Phil Morris); the failed attempt at a “normal” life undertaken — and subsequently given up on — by April Bowlby’s Rita Farr and Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk’s Larry Trainor; the descent into addiction and self-negation (or should that be selves-negation?) by Diane Guerrero’s “Crazy” Jane while Brendan Fraser/Riley Shanahan’s Cliff Steele stands watch as her ultimately powerless protector; the possible end of the road for Tommy Snider’s Beard Hunter on Danny the Street; the emptiness of the hollow “victory” achieved by Alan Tudyk’s Mr. Nobody and his subsequent attempt to get the “one-up” on his mortal foe yet again; the return of Alimi Ballard’s Joshua Clay in a new context; the return of Jane “alters” Hammerhead and Penny Farthing in the same context — goddamn, but there’s a lot to unpack in this “committee-written” script by Tamara Becher-Wilkinson, Shoshona Sachi, and “showrunner” Jeremy Carver, is there not?

Mostly, though, it’s all about answering the question of how and even if the team moves forward now that they know they’ve all been betrayed by the man they trusted more than anyone. The man who brings them all back together for one final mission that involves a last-second nod to Grant Morrison and Richard Case’s “The Painting That Ate Paris” storyline — minus anything to do with Paris. Director Dermott Downs makes it all work, somehow, and even if the “method” of entering the painting is less than satisfying, everything else — including the method of getting back out — surely is.

But, really, who can ignore the low-rent Kaiju fireworks? I know I couldn’t, and roach vs. rodent was an absolute blast.

We’re all set up for season two, if DC wants to do it : a familiar name to readers of the comic, presented within the framework of an astonishingly different “secret origin,” is certainly a tantalizing note to close things on, and we still haven’t gotten to the bottom of Jane’s “Psycho Cyborg” painted premonition, nor witnessed the hopefully-inevitable tussle with the Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man, nor seen the title of “General” placed in front of the word “Immortus” yet. I get the feeling there’s plenty to come — we’re all just waiting on word of an official renewal.

But hey, you know what? Enough with the speculation. What we know we got was the best season of super-hero television ever made — hell, arguably one of the best seasons of any kind of television, period. There’s no shame in wanting more — the ecstatic critical and fan reception to this first run practically guarantees it, anyway — but until that happy day arrives, I think a “binge” of season one would be a welcome way to eat up just about any weekend. Carver and his cohorts are free to take a bow anytime they wish; they’ve certainly earned it.

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This review, and all others around these parts, is “brought to you” by my Patreon page, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics. Lately, in fact, it’s been a lot of politics. Your patronage there not only keeps things going, it also ensures a steady supply of free content both here and at my fourcolorapocalypse comics site. I recently lowered the minimum-tier pricing to a dollar a month, so come on — what have you got to lose? There’s a ton of stuff up on there already, and needless to say, I’d be very gratified to have your support,

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How far the DC Universe original streaming series Doom Patrol has come — as well as how fast it’s come to be at this high-water creative mark — is best judged by episode six, curiously (but, as it turns out, accurately) entitled “Doom Patrol Patrol,” the installment that deviates furthest from the show’s comic book roots, taking only inspiration and some telling visual cues (specifically relating to Diane Guerrero’s “Crazy” Jane confronting the demons of her past) from its four-color progenitor, but no specific plot points or lines of dialogue, as has been the case every week up until now.

Not that there isn’t plenty on offer to appeal to even the funnybook’s longest-tenured fans : when a part of the team goes to investigate the apparently-retired superhero trio known as the Doom Patrol at the urging of the villainous Mr. Nobody, we get to meet Steve Dayton/Mento (played with suave and dangerous charm by Will Kemp), Arani Desai/Celsius (Jasmie Kaur), and Rhea Jones/Lodestone (Lesa Wilson), as well as their minder, Joshua Clay/Tempest (Alimi Ballard), an assemblage torn right from the newsprint pages — but never in this precise combination, to say nothing of in this precise fashion. They should, by rights, all be retired — they did their adventuring way back in the 1950s, after all — and yet they’re not. In fact, they don’t appear to have aged a day, and they’re busily training the next generation of metahumans.

Or are they?

April Bowlby’s Rita Farr has been inching her way toward the foreground in recent stories, and this week she’s the “showcase” character in writer Tamra Becher-Wilkinson’s script, her past coming into sharper relief by means of flashback scenes while she’s concurrently called upon to literally save the day in the present, to well and truly play the “hero” for the first time. She’s been prepping for the job and proves to be up to it, but how she arrives at this point is rooted firmly in, is even a reaction to, earlier-life traumas, not all of which are spelled out plain as day. There’s still plenty of mystery, in other words, undercutting this character, and that mystery only deepens here — which is also the case with Jane, Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk’s Larry Trainor, and perhaps most especially Timothy Dalton’s “Chief” Niles Caulder, who again makes an extended “appearance” in non-corporeal form. It all sounds more confusing than it actually is, trust me.

Truth be told, “showrunner” Jeremy Carver and this episode’s director, Chris Manley, play things pretty straight with this one, and it works : there’s a strong argument to be made for this being the show’s most workmanlike outing to date, but that should in no way be construed as a “mark” against it, as the horror movie atmospherics of “Doom Patrol Manor” work in stark contrast to the more “upbeat” subplot involving a bargain struck between Brendan Fraser/Riley Shanhan’s Cliff Steele and Joivan Wade’s Vic Stone that sees Cybog and his father, Silas (Phil Morris) start to bury the hatchet and Robotman take some tentative steps toward re-connecting with his estranged daughter — by means of cyber-stalking her? It should be creepy, I suppose, but it’s anything but.

So, yeah, plenty to unpack here — and plenty to admire, even if you’re new to this franchise and the numerous “Easter Eggs” on hand fly right past you. By turns unsettling and heartwarming, cringe-worthy and gut-bustingly funny, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, this is (say it with me now) probably the best episode yet.

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This review, as well as all others around these parts, is “brought to you” by my Patreon page, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics. Lately, it’s been a lot of politics. Your support there not only allows me to keep things going, it also ensures a steady supply of free content both here and at my fourcolorapocalypse comics site. I’m grateful for every penny I can wring out of you, needless to say, and do my level best to make sure you get plenty of value for your money, so please take a moment to check it out and consider joining up.

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