Last week, speciality vampire Doctor Janus leeched emotional essence from Rita via her old movies. While the Doom Patrol recover from the emotional beating they all took, we get to catch up with some old, familiar faces.
“I won’t let you get away with this, Torminox! Whatever you’re planning, you know I’ll put a stop to it.” Right off the bat, we’re treated to a comic book style sequence of a space-faring heroine named Space Case, and her fight against her nemesis Torminox.
When the scene shifts to the present, we see Dorothy Spinner at Danny’s ambulance, telling the story of how she, her imaginary friend Candlemaker, and the Dead Boy Detectives tracked down Niles Caulder’s immortality talisman.
We last saw Dorothy, Niles’ daughter, back in season 3, when she left with the Dead Boys. She tells the small crowd assembled at Danny’s ambulance that she used the talisman to bring Niles forth from the afterlife and tell him everything she’d never said when he was alive. Love, she says, always wins out.
In Danny’s Camp
Elsewhere, we see Maura Lee Karupt and some of the Dannyzens looking at their “Bona to Vada” pride art sign in a real-world location. It’s been vandalized by bigots — “F*ck off and die,” very original and eloquent — and they’ve come to repaint it, despite the locals trying to intimidate them. They return to the camp yard of Danny the ambulance, and Karupt notes that it’s getting pretty full.
Dorothy sits in the camp yard alone, despite everyone socializing around her. Danny asks if she’s okay and tries to cheer her up with an ice cream sundae, to no avail. Karupt watches Dorothy stomp off after her interaction with Danny. After questioning Danny over whether Dorothy is alright, Karupt goes after her. While she tries to connect with Dorothy inside her trailer, Karupt reminds Dorothy how lucky they are to have Danny, to be able to have a safe space to come home to.
Outside, we see a multiplying cloud of mechanical bugs moving through the camp site, taking out the other Dannyzens one by one.
Karupt picks up a comic from Dorothy’s bed. It’s Space Case. She suggests that Dorothy should do as Space Case does, and go and find some of her own adventures, and even suggests Dorothy seek out the Doom Patrol. “Make new friends, got it,” Dorothy snaps, less than pleased at the intervention. As Karupt tries to leave, the lights go out.
The pair step outside to find the camp yard dark and near empty, with only Asa Diamonds sat near the campfire with her back to them. Karupt squashes one of the mechanical bugs between her hands as it approaches. She sends Dorothy back into the trailer. A moment later she follows, running into the trailer as she discovers that all of the Dannyzens have been corrupted by the bugs and reduced to a zombie like state, with metal masks affixed over their faces and glowing red eyes.
The metal-masked zombies besiege the trailer. Karupt asks Danny to jump them out to a safe location, but they say that they can’t right now. Dorothy recognizes the things that are trying to bust in, though. They look like the foot soldiers of the bad guy from her Space Case comic book! Karupt asks her to get Candlemaker to help them, but Dorothy is determined only Space Case will know how to defeat them.
Space Case Is on the Case
A rumble of thunder and a few thuds, and suddenly the front cover of Dorothy’s comic book — where Space Case had been standing in a traditional super hero pose — is blank. There’s a knock on the door and, after sharing a cautious look, Karupt and Dorothy open it. Space Case, fully human, steps inside. “I’d love to do proper intros,” she says, “but we better shake a leg. If the Vectra are here, he’s not far behind.” He, of course, being Torminox.
Outside, our purple, pig-nosed villain roars angrily.
Karupt, Dorothy, and Space Case venture outside the trailer. Space Case explains that she’s defeated Torminox before (143 times, to be precise) and she has no doubts that she can do it again. Though, she does have this strange feeling… which turns out to be hunger. Space Case is incredibly perky (“Sweetie, you’re up at a Katy Perry and I’m gonna need you to bring it way down to an Alicia Keys,” Karupt observes in slight horror). Dorothy thinks that instead of imagining Space Case — Casey — she pulled her right out of the comic. Karupt and Dorothy debate whether Casey knows that she’s not real and whether they should tell her.
Torminox (Or TurboTax, or Tampax, or Busted-Ass Eggplant, to Karupt) is keeping busy. Using his red, flashy electronic powers, Torminox accesses Danny’s ambulance. Outside, we see a sign where Danny is saying, “He’s Here!” After a few moments of Torminox’s powers, the sign flashes out to nothing.
As one of the Dannyzen-zombies tries to attack them, Dorothy tries to explain to Casey that she came from a comic book, this is the real world, and death is permanent here — so maybe she shouldn’t light their friends up like Christmas trees with her electric bolts. Dorothy shows Casey the comic book and relates her history: that she’s Casey Brinke, and when she was seven, her father got into a horrible lab accident and became Torminox.
“You loved your father once. But after he turned into Torminox, you knew he was gone,” Dorothy quotes from the comic. Casey is obviously very confused, but before they can dig into it any further, Torminox activates all his metal-mask zombies, and they have to run.
Bona to Vada
Fleeing out of Danny’s ambulance and into the real world, Dorothy and Karupt are met by Torminox himself. He came for one thing: the immortality talisman that used to belong to Dorothy’s father, Niles Caulder. When she refuses to give it to him, he turns his powers onto Danny’s ambulance, lighting them up red and shrinking them down to a small cube.
Casey manages to get out of Danny’s ambulance before they’re shrunk down but finds that she can’t fight her father when he says please. In desperation, Dorothy summons Candlemaker. The flame-chested creature manages to buy them enough time to flee by sacrificing himself. He ends up a small cube, just like Danny.
While the trio escape, Karupt notices that the “Bona to Vada” mural has been defaced once again, this time with a doodle of a cheerily smiling dick. Shaking her head, Karupt dashes inside the warehouse that she led Dorothy and Casey to, and they barricade the door. Inside, Casey admits that she froze when fighting her father because this time, it’s different. “If what you say is true and death is permanent here, then he’d really be gone. And what would I be left with?” she asks.
“Maybe you don’t have to find out,” Karupt answers. “Maybe he’s still in there.” There’s always a way to reach someone, she says. “Just ask Dorothy.”
Before the heart-to-heart about fathers can get any further, Karupt spots someone through the window, graffitiing her art sign. Oh, hell no. She storms outside and confronts them, only to find that it’s a young guy trying to help — to cover up what was done before. “Not everyone here feels the same way they do,” he explains. Thanking him, Karupt gets an idea.
Spray Paint and Daddy Issues
The trio — and lurking graffiti kid — line up outside and wait for Torminox. They’ve spray painted a memory of Casey and her father when she was young. When he arrives, demanding the necklace or he will destroy Danny and Candlemaker. Their plan seems to work for only a moment, until Torminox grabs Casey and holds his gun to her head.
Dorothy removes the talisman and, reluctantly and sadly, explains that its all she has left of her father. She never got to say all the things to him she needed to say. It was all a lie — Crystal and the Dead Boys had to get the talisman for her. She hasn’t spoken to Candlemaker or any of her other friends in months, because they all remind her too much of her father. Danny, the Doom Patrol, all of them. They remind her of what she lost. She never got to tell Niles she loved him. But she also never got to tell him that she hated him, for keeping her a child and then being gone when she finally got to grow up. Deciding that some things are better left unsaid, Dorothy offers the amulet to Torminox.
Releasing Casey, Torminox takes the amulet. “[Casey] needs her dad,” Dorothy chastises him angrily. “F*ck you for turning your back on that.” Torminox tosses them the Danny and Candlemaker cubes, then disappears.
Time for a New Adventure
Back in the Danny’s ambulance camp yard, Karupt and the other Dannyzens are sitting around the campfire, recuperating. “I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you,” Danny writes in the smoke of the campfire. “No matter how hard you try, you can’t protect us from everything,” Karupt answers. “Not by yourself.”
Karupt tells the Dannyzens that someone reminded her that night that there are still good people in the world, no matter how hard things might be out there right now. True allies. And if they ever really want to change the world, they have to start living in it. Including Danny. “Ever since you became an ambulance, you’ve been doing triage, honey.”
It’s time for the Dannyzens to start making safe spaces of their own — in the real world.
Karupt leads the Dannyzens in a recital of Wilco’s “What Light” around the campfire. Inside Dorothy’s trailer, Casey grapples with her life and her daddy issues being fiction. She wants to meet whoever wrote their story and make them write a new one. Dorothy offers to help her find them.
The pair step out into the sunny camp yard. Much happier looking Dannyzens fill the space as Dorothy and Casey look out over them. “Don’t worry, I’ll tell them you said goodbye,” a Danny sign says. They summon Casey and Dorothy a car and tell them it’s time for a new adventure.
“Where to?” Casey asks as they jump into the old Buick. “Cloverton,” Dorothy says decisively. They tow Dorothy’s trailer out of a portal under Karupt’s watchful eye.
Immortus Will Rise
In the last scene, we see Doctor Janus, the emotional vampire from episode 3, handing over the emotional essence collection vial that she filled with Rita’s emotions. She places it on a desk in a dark, void-like room, giving them to a person who is drafting art for the Space Case comics. “Immortus will rise,” she states. Through a glowing portal, Torminox arrives. He gives the man the talisman of immortality and asks whether the rise of Immortus will let him be with his daughter. The unseen person assures them that with Immortus’ rise, they will achieve “everything they ever dreamed of.”
The final shot is of a sketch by the unseen artist, the same picture that Karupt sprayed on the wall during their fight, a scene of Casey being pushed on a swing by her father.
Doom Patrol season 4 is streaming now on HBO Max. A new episode releases every Thursday. Be sure to stay up to date with all of our coverage, including news and recaps.