The second season of Doom Patrol wound up being an abridged version of what the show's writers originally planned, because the pandemic left them without the chance to shoot the intended season finale. So, after a cliffhanger at the end of Season 2, the action picks right back up at the start of Season 3, and a lot happens in very short order, including a major death, an important victory, and the arrival of a new major player.
According to executive producer Jeremy Carver, the way the production worked out meant fans got "a little bit of everything."
"In some ways, it’s an extremely satisfying opener because it answers a lot of questions and gives certain storylines a proper ending, whereas a normal opener would have been a little more maddening and would have left more unanswered questions," Carver told TVLine in an interview breaking down the premiere. "The fans get to have their cake and eat it, too. We get a little bit of everything with this one because of circumstance."
**Spoilers for Doom Patrol's Season 3 premiere ahead!**
Right out of the gate, it seems the showdown with the Candlemaker is finally starting to swing the team's way, as the waxy prisons they were left in start to melt away and Dorothy makes progress on defeating her imaginary friend, mostly by convincing him that they can be friends and don't have to fight. Sadly, as the wax begins to clear, the team realizes that their leader, Niles "Chief Caulder," has passed away during the struggle, leaving the Doom Patrol without its founder and Dorothy without a father.
"It’s certainly a springboard at the beginning of the season," Carver said of Niles' death. "People working through their reactions to his death, that process begins to manifest other paths of discovery for them. His death takes a little bit of a backseat but it is ever present in the way that the death of any sort of father figure — or meaningful figure in your life, good or bad — never quite fades away."
It's particularly important to remember right now that Niles' death is something that will lead to other "paths of discovery" going forward, because at some points in the premiere it almost seemed like there was barely any time for the team to reflect on it. Even Niles himself didn't really let it stop him, returning in spirit form long enough to at least try to help Cliff patch things up with his own daughter, and because this is Doom Patrol we're talking about, it's always possible Niles will find more ways to influence events from beyond the grave. If we've learned one thing about this show, it's that stranger things can and do happen.
All this, of course, eventually leads to the arrival of Madame Rogue (Michelle Gomez), a new player on the Doom Patrol scene who shows up in a time machine in an effort to warn the team about a major threat that's on the way. The moment of her arrival, which coincides with the death of actress Isabel, tells us a lot about who she is...or at least, who she might be. Here's how Carver explains where the new character's head is at as the season moves forward.
"[Her nonchalant reaction to Isabel's death] tells us a lot about Madame Rouge that even she doesn’t quite realize about herself yet," Carver said. "It kicks off this process of discovery for her, which is sort of a study in contradictions — she can’t quite figure out if she's good or if she’s bad. We drop little hints both ways, and I think that’s what makes the struggle even more confounding for her."
Madame Rogue: Friend or foe? We'll find out as new episodes of Doom Patrol drop every Thursday for the next few weeks on HBO Max.