Niles really is the driving force behind Doom Patrol.
He's not only the Patrol's savior and creator and the grand manipulator by whose hands their lives were brutishly changed, but his character also drives story.
During Doom Patrol Season 1, Niles disappeared, which motivated the Patrol to coordinate and rescue their mentor.
Now, on Doom Patrol Season 2, Niles traded his immortality to save the Patrol and protect his daughter.
Just as important to this season as Niles is Dorothy, his poor hybrid daughter.
While we met Dorothy during the first season, Doom Patrol Season 2 Episode 1 provided us with her origin story in as much as it relates to her father, anyway.
This time around, the gang has a lot less compassion for Niles given what they learned about how they came to be under his control, but seeing that he did something equally as drastic to his daughter helps keep them from focusing too much on vengeance.
I always love an underdog, and Dorothy and her friends (I can't call them imaginary) fit that description to a T. Unlike the Patrol, most of whom had a normal life at some point before their current fact, Dorothy was born as she is. That makes her story a lot more appealing.
It's a little sad that Jane didn't see how she was connected to the very old yet unaged Dorothy, but I admit that I laughed out loud as Jane and Cliff talked about the calamity that is Dorothy.
Jane: Fucking Chief!
Cliff: Fucking Chief is A-fucking right. And what's up with his fucking daughter? She's just forever eleven?!
Jane: Because that tween shit is going to grow ancient real fucking fast.
They were so rough in their comments about her, but a lot of it was them sounding off at themselves through Niles at Dorothy's expense. Add to that their shrunken existence, and they were lashing out for a lot of reasons.
Even for people who have been through the wringer like the Patrol have tension that needs a release, and that's all Jane and Cliff were doing leaning against Danny and talking about Dorothy.
Jane: I mean, OK. We're basically chemistry experiments, right? He threw some shit together in a beaker, and out popped us.
Jane: We're supposed to be weird.
Jane: He fucked somebody to get her. What the fuck do you have to fuck to get fuckin' that?!
Cliff: [laughing] I do not know!
Jane: OK, OK, on the count of three, we both blurt out what we think he fucked. OK. One, two,
Niles: I don't expect compassion. How about decency?
Jane: You first.
Niles: Dorothy is missing.
It was just bad timing that Niles needed their help at that very moment because Dorothy had run off. It also reminded them that although she's been around awhile, she's still just a little girl.
Dorothy's friends are pretty astute, so most people, once they know of their existence, probably feel compelled to stay in line.
I'm confused about her friends, to be honest. I thought she had two until the tarantula showed up.
So Darling is the woman in the apron, Herschel is the tarantula, and I have no idea of the name associated with the big fella with antlers, but he's my favorite. Seeing him dancing while Dorothy cried, cooing that it would all be over soon broke my heart.
I assume he's the friend that speaks in two-word phrases such as make stop, help girl, girl safe, father dying, and the dreaded make wish.
Because of the way he helps her, it's hard to paint the thing as a villain even if he's destructive.
Dorothy has been alone and out of this world for so long that she has a lot to learn, and the Doom Patrol are the perfect people to teach her.
They're just as jaded as she is, but they still manage to have some hope, too. She'll be able to identify with them, and that connection will help her, especially if Niles dies.
But will Niles die? He's already aging, and that process allowed Rita to appropriately respond in her signature style.
Rita has endured a lot and is coming out the other side beautifully. She's put a lot of her internal pain behind her to embrace what she can do instead of what she can't.
Her friendships with everyone are flourishing. She learned from Vic how to concentrate her energy positively to manipulate her elasticism instead of it controlling her when she got humiliated.
Rita is learning to be a hero because she wants to be one instead of just resigning herself to fate due to her physical condition.
She's always tried to be cheerful for everyone else at her own expense. She was instrumental in Larry's ability to live with himself after what happened to him, and their friendship was integral to him surviving the attack by Red Jack, too.
Red Jack had been in Niles' life since he was a boy, and while he added some humor to the first few episodes, I'm not sorry to see him gone even if the beast drew an abnormal about of pleasure from the experience.
Niles needed to see how people outside of the Patrol see him, though, and that a monster like Red Jack could consider him a worthy apprentice for the pain he causes was a cold slap in the face for Niles.
He needed that jolt to see just how far off the rails he went supposedly in the name of science and to save his daughter. He put himself and Dorothy above everyone else, and he had to see it for what it was.
Larry went from alone and caring for his tiny friends to dealing with the death of his adult son during the premiere episodes. His explorations with family are always entertaining and heartfelt, and they get us out of the confines of whatever Niles-inspired disaster is afoot.
Just like Cliff and Niles, Larry carries a lot of guilt for the way he handled himself in life and what his death did to those he loved. He hid his desires for so long that it felt like one lie after another for him.
But meeting one of his sons who took the news of his living status with a grain of salt, even laughing that Gary might have killed himself sooner if he knew his funeral would mean Larry showed up, should give him some peace of mind.
You can only beat yourself up for so long before you forgive yourself, and since the Patrol seems pretty infallible, they'll have a long time to suffer through their issues.
Cliff was ready to deal with his daughter, too. Cliff has had so much anger about getting torn away from his life that he often forgets how terrible it was before he "died."
We revisited a lot of that, and Jane helped Cliff to remember that the misery he put his daughter through because of his accident wasn't his fault, but scaring her while pregnant was his fault.
Cliff doesn't communicate well, especially under stress, and instead of talking to his daughter carefully and with kindness, he allowed his pressure valve to overflow, taking it out on her.
Maybe if she hadn't been pregnant when she opened the door, Cliff wouldn't have reacted so poorly. But with every new thing, he realizes he missed, the pressure mounts, and he always manages to release it at the wrong time to the wrong people.
Have we seen the last of Jane on the outside?
The co-inhabitants of her brain are not pleased with the way she's been conducting herself on their behalf.
Jane has lost control over her brood, and by the end of the three episodes, she was behind bars. Since so many count on her, her absence could be detrimental to the Patrol. Why am I saying "could be" when there isn't any question about it?
I wonder who will take her place and how long it will take for the Patrol to recognize she's no longer in control.
A character I did enjoy and wouldn't mind seeing again is Doctor Tyme on Doom Patrol Season 2 Episode 2.
This is as good as it ever got, baby. I've seen it all, every era. This right here, August 8, 1980, in a roller disco on 595? This is where humanity peaked. Ya mon!Tyme
His influence gave Rita a burst of confidence. She put together an entire plan around how they could get the Continuinium from his brain. The whole scene was just fun from start to finish, and Rita was the star.
One of my favorite arcs from the first three episodes is Vic leaving and trying to find some comfort.
He's had a really rotten life so far with everyone always using him for something, his dad included. Ronnie has a past that he probably doesn't approve of, but in his short time with her, she managed to show him the importance of second chances.
The thug in the street might have had one chance too many without consequential repercussions, but we can tell almost immediately that whatever Ronnie did on that photo is behind her now. She's aware of second chances because she got one.
If Vic took the message she sent him on Doom Patrol Season 2 Episode 3 negatively, whenever he rejoins his Patrol friends and shares the news about her, you can guarantee that they'll support him in his relationship with her.
But I count on him seeing the light before his eyes before it gets that far. He's met so few people in his life that get him, and the way Ronnie got him will work to their benefit.
Doom Patrol was already a great show, but the additions for Season 2 have a lot of promise.
The two-fold arc of finding a way to regain Niles' immortality while preparing Dorothy for life without him is the throughline, but the Patrol dealing with who they are and why and how they can gain control over their lives and find peace within them is the heart of the season.
It's a lot deeper than the first season, but humor hasn't been sacrificed for emotions. That ensures the season will remain well-balanced and that every actor will find something juicy to bite into, and we'll still be entertained.
What are you most excited about for the new season?
Hit the comments below and share!
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.