It is hard to take the show seriously when all the characters keep talking about killer butts and then said butts do a dance number. This poor excuse for humor ruins an otherwise stellar series. There are moments of sorrowful reflection in one of the closing scenes that hints at a better show hiding behind the immaturity.
We recap the HBO Max series Doom Patrol season 4, episode 2, “Butt Patrol,” which contains spoilers.
Throughout the long and varied history of the superhero genre, there have been many storylines about superheroes saving the world from many unusual foes. Doom Patrol may have the most ridiculous and bizarre excuse for the ensuing apocalypse yet, that of zombie butts (it still pains me to type those words). In “Butt Patrol,” we get to see just how the apocalypse started, and our team of ragtag superheroes tries to prevent the butt-pocalypse from ever happening in their timeline, separating into their own mini-missions.
Doom Patrol season 4, episode 2 recap
The second episode starts in 2016 at Ant Farm. We watch as a man is placed into a bomb disposal-type suit. He enters a room that looks like a staged set, fitted with mannequins. The man replaces the vandalized mannequins with new ones, nervously walking around the set. Scientists watch from a viewing platform as he tidies up. Suddenly, the man notices a hole in the set, and he races over to press the panic button. A gas is released into the room, and an unknown monster attacks the man. His bloody corpse smears down the viewing glass.
Back in the present, the gang gathers to discuss the impending apocalypse that they witnessed on their little trip to the future. Rita has been up all night researching and brainstorming ideas to prevent the end of the world. She proposes that they do the opposite of whatever they were going to do, as it obviously didn’t work in that alternate timeline. Rita wants the gang to act differently. She suggests that Jane changes her wardrobe and Cliff swears less. Vic bravely suggests a change in leadership though.
No one wants Rita as their leader anymore. They vote her out and decide to give Madame Rouge a chance instead. Cliff summarizes that they need a villain to defeat this kind of evil. Rouge admits that this is a bold choice but one she is excited about. The gang argues as Rita defends herself. She believes the zombie Darren Jones could be the source of the apocalypse and recommends they go and kill him for starters. It’s Rita’s plan, but Rouge is still preferred as the leader. She practically steals the plan, which causes Rita to stand down from this particular mission. Rouge asks for one hour to prepare before they head over to Darren’s farm.
Rouge dismisses the gang like a school teacher and then speaks with Cliff in private. She wants to send him on a top-secret mission of his own, to kill Darren alone, without the other members. They cycle towards his farm in a sunny, idyllic part of the countryside. Cliff gets nostalgic over a rundown car that he spots at the side of the road, but he reiterates his need to save his new hand for his family, although he is desperate to fix the rusted vehicle. They spy Darren in his tractor and follow the zombie to his lair.
The series reverts back to the Ant Farm timeline and Dr. Yu is brought in to better communicate with the butt creatures. She’s an odd linguist who dances around the base in a kooky manner. She is updated on the highly classified project. It appears they have created an unstoppable, weaponized monster. Yu needs to get through to them and see what they desire. This is far from the splendor of Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival, though, as Yu is introduced to the violent, aggressive butts.
Sometime later, Yu worked her magic and managed to communicate with the beasts. She dresses them up and orchestrates a dance number to show the General just how advanced these creatures are. It’s supposed to be a hilarious little display of the show’s broad humor, but the endless butt jokes soon lose their novelty. Yu explains to the General that these are a highly intelligent species, who can socialize and bond with one another. The General bangs on the glass, which irritates the creatures. The demonstration is fruitless, they want to weaponize the creature anyway and reassign Yu to a new department.
In the present, the gang waits around for Rouge’s plan. Vic hacks into the Bureau and intercepts a transmission report on the zombie butts. Larry talks with Keeg, but the entity flies away. Then Rita argues with Larry, calling him a backstabber, and Jane looks through her bag of puzzle pieces. Annoyingly there are no corner pieces or edges. Vic realizes that Cliff and Rouge have ditched them already, and he decides to investigate the zombie creatures further. Jane asks to tag along. They meet a butt-hunter in a park, and he hands over the last remaining zombie butt.
How will they stop the apocalypse?
Cliff and Rouge track down the zombie farmer, and she orders the robot to kill him. For some reason, Cliff can understand what the zombie is saying, and he is saddened to hear that the zombie won’t fight back. It is a mercy killing of sorts, while Cliff wanted a proper fight. Rouge forces the zombie to fight, and of course, Cliff collapses Darren’s skull with ease. His oven glove falls off though, and his new hand is covered in zombie blood and goo. Cliff is distraught, but they may have saved the world in the process.
They return to the manor, where all the team members are depressed. Larry can’t find Keeg, and Rita is still reeling from the deceit. Cliff and Rouge announce that they have killed Darren. Then Vic and Jane bring in the final zombie butt that is contained within a secure box. Cliff is ordered to kill this zombie butt, and he opens the box to rid the world of this disease. The creature looks quite frail in the box, and Cliff has a change of heart. He reflects on all the killing and the toll it is taking on his psyche. Rouge watches Cliff’s monologue from the side.
In 2019, the zombie butts have escaped and are loose in the Ant Farm. Yu is informed that the exterminators are coming in to destroy the remaining beasts and Cliff is spotted in the background comically milling about. Yu finds one of the butts cowering in a cupboard. This one she has named Nicholas. In secret, she takes this creature back to her apartment. Could this be what caused the apocalypse after all?
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