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The show remains heavily based on many of the later issues of the comic book, which means it’s even more bizarre than when I was reading it as a kid in the 1960s and 70s.
Season 2 picks up where season 1 left off with the “Patrol” including Cyborg/Vic (Joivan Wade) and the Chief’s/Niles Caulder’s (Timothy Dalton) daughter Dorothy (Abigail Shapiro) shrunk down to “Ant-Man” size after their escape from Mr. Nobody (Alan Tudyk) in the “White Space.” They end up living on Robotman’s/Cliff’s (Brendan Fraser) large model race car track which includes tents and various other structures.
The team is still shaken by the revelation that the horrible accidents that left each one of them disfigured, ruining their former lives, were directly engineered by the Chief in his attempt to uncover the secret of immortality. They are all just failed experiments.
While the “Mr. Nobody” story arc consumed season 1, season 2 is dominated by Dorothy, the Chief’s daughter with the (I can only assume) Neanderthal woman Slava (Pisay Pao) Niles met and fell in love with in the Yukon over a century ago. While Dorothy looks and acts like an 11-year-old girl (though she has her mother’s simian features), she admits to being “100 and 3/4 years old.”
When Niles first encounters her in an American carnival as a sideshow freak in 1927, he finds that a mysterious, invisible being called the “Candlemaker” grants her wishes. In this case, due to the brutal treatment she’s received by the Carnies and the audience, she wishes them all bloodily murdered, all except Niles.
Niles discovers her aging is slowed and with her talent for creating dangerous imaginary friends, he decides to exile her on Danny Street, hidden in the basement of a building where she can do no harm. His quest for immortality is so he can live long enough to protect her from the world and the world from her. Unfortunately for Niles, the only way he can restore the “Patrol” and himself to normal size (to make amends for his ghastly treatment of them) is to sell the artifact keeping him alive (he admits to being 139 years old) to the chaos magic wielder Willoughby Kipling (Mark Sheppard).
Now, for the Chief, time is running out. He must either find a way to outlive Dorothy or, failing that, allow Kipling to murder her to save the world before she enters puberty and gains her full power.
Various stories continue to explore the lives of the “Patrol.” Cliff meets his now adult and pregnant daughter Clara (Bethany Anne Lind) and after a series of misadventures, manages a rough reconciliation.
Rita Farr’s (April Bowlby) current trauma is her memory of her mother (Greyson Chadwick) having sex with a producer in order to get a much younger Rita a movie part.
Larry Trainor (Matt Bomer) is shown a vision of his younger son committing suicide by his Negative Spirit. This inspires him to go to the funeral where he meets his older son, now an old man and military officer, Paul (John Getz). Ultimately, Larry agrees to help Paul, Larry’s grandson and juvenile great-grandson clean out his younger son’s place. It’s a trap because Paul blames Larry for all of the disasters that have befallen the family since Larry’s accident. He turns him and Rita, who was along for the ride, in to the “Bureau of Normalcy.” The Negative Spirit helps them escape, but Larry’s grandson is shot by accident.
Vic meets a young woman named Roni (Karen Obilom) at a PTSD support group, but she has terrible secrets of her own leading her to become a murderer. Vic must decide to turn her over to the authorities or let her go.
Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero) is removed as the “primary” by the other personalities in the Underground. For a while, Baby Doll takes her place on the surface, but when Dorothy shows Baby Doll one of her “friends,” things don’t go so well. A battle between the two girls ends up with Dorothy listening to the Candlemaker by wishing Baby Doll dead. Dorothy’s flaming spirit/Candlemaker follows Baby Doll into the Underground, “killing” Baby Doll and another personality.
The personality Miranda (Samantha Marie Ware), who was thought killed when she committed suicide by jumping into “the Well” (the Underground receptacle for their feared and abusive Daddy and an analog for the real well where Daddy punished Kay in her childhood), emerges reborn and convinces the other personalities to make her primary. But it’s a horrible deception.
Yes, their lives remain a terrible mess.
I’ve already provided a rather extensive summary of key episodes, but the one that disappointed me the most was Space Patrol. In 1955, the Chief launches three astronauts (remember, this is pre-Sputnik) into space to search for the entity that Larry would eventually encounter in 1961, resulting in his accident and being inhabited by the Negative Spirit.
In the present, over 60 years later, they return in the cheesiest rocket ship I’ve ever seen.
Zip (Derek Evans) and Specs (Jason Burkey) are the worst caricatures of 1950s comic book astronauts, acting like some combination of locker room jocks and 8-year-old boys. As it turns out, they died in space ages ago but where inhabited by space spores, animating them and leaving them “morons,” but they are still slowly expiring.
The third astronaut is the Russian Valentina (Mariana Klaveno) who is alive and sane but possesses her own Negative Spirit. Somehow (and it’s woefully unexplained in the episode) she was able to make contact with the entity without being irradiated or disfigured. Her spirit doesn’t leave her body as does Larry’s and she explains in a somewhat “Zen” manner, that it took only five years for her to harness her inner radiation and become a unified entity with the spirit.
After burying the husks of Zip and Specs, her best advice to Larry, before leaving to revisit her home in Russia (without transportation or money) is to seek his peace in space.
The writers missed a golden opportunity to have Val’s and Larry’s spirits interact and perhaps communicate. We might have gotten a fascinating insight into their natures and origins. Val could also have taken the time to help Larry come to terms with his own spirit and maybe even inhibit his emission of radiation. Instead, they just spent time talking and then she left.
Meanwhile, Dorothy, confronting the horror of her murdering Baby Doll (and covering Jane’s face in wax leaving her no airway in which to breathe but she survives anyway) uses the spacecraft to take off, and how the heck did she know how to operate it (and after over 60 years, how does it still have fuel, oxygen, power, and everything else to remain functioning)?
Chief and Cliff use a second ship (which he’s ridiculously been keeping in an outbuilding since 1955 and which works as much on magic as it does on science) to follow her.
Dorothy lands on what seems to be an asteroid, and finding a spacesuit just her size (how did that happen?) wanders off with the invisible Candlemaker. Cliff, able to survive in space, lands with the Chief and follows her. Cliff, for most of this season, really hates Dorothy and has become more of a rage robot than ever. Nevertheless, he makes amends with her (supposedly speaking over a built-in radio since there’s no air and she’s wearing a helmet, although that is also left unexplained) and they go back to the Chief’s ship (leaving the other spacecraft abandoned).
While approaching Earth, the Chief tricks Cliff into the airlock and then blows him out into space. This was to cover his plan to take Dorothy to the Yukon in an attempt to find Slava. Failing that, he summons Kipling and makes an arrangement for him to kill Dorothy before the Chief dies.
Cliff amazingly survives re-entry into the atmosphere (which should have vaporized his robot body) and crashes (which should have shattered his body into a million pieces), then walks back to Doom Manor ready to kill the Chief (and who could blame him?).
Yes, this has plot holes I could drive a truck through and it’s only one episode. I know the show isn’t very keen on following anything like reality, the laws of physics, and all that, but this not only tested, but completely defeated my ability to suspend disbelief.
The season ends on a cliffhanger with the Candlemaker now fully manifest in our world, and with Dorothy’s getting her first period (thus becoming a woman), she is charged by a spiritual Slava to doing battle with the Candlemaker alone.
Meanwhile, the Patrol trying to rescue Dorothy and the Chief, are confronted by their own imaginary friends, and defeated, becoming covered in wax.
In the Underground, Jane admits to Miranda that she is the better primary after finding that Miranda was the one who had the courage to escape their abusive Dad. However, this isn’t really Miranda and she pushes Jane into the well. Jane discovers that Miranda’s corpse is still there. Meanwhile, the fake Miranda confronts the core personality Kay, who is still a child, and reveals that “she” is really Daddy. With all of the other personalities “disappeared,” Kay faces her worst nightmare alone.
I do have to say I kind of enjoyed that Cliff’s imaginary friend was “Jesus” who Cliff “imagined” while he was at a Christian camp for a few weeks at age 6. Jesus beats the daylights out of Cliff and not only covers him in wax like the others (including Kipling) but totally tears his body apart, dismembering him as I can only imagine Cliff’s human body was during his accident.
Things look bad for the team, and only Jane/Miranda/Whoever never encountered an imaginary friend. However, with all of the personalities in the Underground, she’s in a coma, unable to act in the real world.
Season 3 is scheduled to launch in September, supposedly resolving the grim fate of the Patrol (and introducing a new one), but we’ll have to wait for that. I’m not buying a subscription to HBO Max just to watch one show, so I guess I’ll have to wait for the DVDs.
Yes, while season 2 didn’t quite have the same pizazz as the first season, it was still highly watchable (if you’ll forgive a lot of the goofiness and a lack of explanation or even common sense in the plots), and I do want to find out what happens next to what is probably the worst superhero team in existence.
Oh, the time when Cliff imagines himself and Vic as two “buddy cops” out of something like the show Starsky and Hutch AND the time when Rita imagines her and Vic as the duo in the British cold war spy show The Avengers were absolutely terrific.