DC Universe’s Doom Patrol season 1, episode 4 recap: Cult Patrol


The Cult of the Unwritten Book unleashes havoc as Doom Patrol try to save the day with the help of chaos magician Willoughby Kipling.

In Salt Lake City, Utah, young Elliot celebrates his birthday, and with each passing year, we see more writing covering his body in episode four of Doom Patrol. His mother Martha (Lilli Birdsell) says that he will be ready to save the world once the book is done, but on Elliot’s 18th birthday, his father warns him that he must escape.

"“You’re not here to save the world; you’re here to end it.”"

If his father had anything more to say, we’ll never know, because Elliot’s mother sneaks up from behind and slits his throat, threatening Elliot as he desperately tries to escape her.

Victor Stone/ Cyborg, the de facto leader of Doom Patrol, has mapped the 37 dimensions in the universe, one of which Niles Caulder/ Chief might be trapped in. Unbeknownst to Vic, Jane is taking some time off after what happened in Paraguay in the previous episode – Hammerhead is in charge now and she is adamant that they are not a team.

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There is more discord in the offing. Rita Farr/ Elasti-Girl is upset that Cyborg left her out of the meeting, but her rant is interrupted when Willoughby ‘Kip’ Kipling (Mark Shepard) turns up hollering about the Cult of the Unwritten Book being close to completing the book. Once the book is finished, the Cult will try and read it and summon the Eye – the Decreator – who will ‘unmake’ the world. Doom Patrol just want to know who he is and why he’s here.

In answer, Kip spouts a lot of mumbo jumbo to summon a magical, singing blue horsehead (I’m not even joking!) that tells them about Elliot. While Cliff Steele/ Robotman is rightly confused by everything that’s going on, Cyborg corroborates Kip’s origin about being a Knights Templar and wielder of chaos magic. Larry Trainor/ Negative Man remains on the fence about Kip, but he does believe the horsehead.

Kip opens a magical portal ala John Constantine (they are essentially the same character in the comics) and the team – barring Rita – jump in and grab Elliot (Ted Sutherland). After placing a cloaking spell on the boy, Kip tries to kill Elliot, which of course doesn’t sit well with the team. Cyborg asks for other options and Kip explains the only other way to stop the impending apocalypse is if the gates to Nurnheim (where the Cult comes from) are closed. The gates aren’t a location, however. They are the stigmata on a priest in Babia, Spain, and as the gates open, more assassins will be unleashed. If the team are to succeed, they have to stitch up the stigmata.

Hammerhead wants to go to Spain, and as we have seen on Doom Patrol, where Crazy Jane/ Hammerhead goes, Cliff follows. The rest of the team elect to stay behind and protect Elliot. But Rita continues to badger Vic about the team not being heroes. She definitely isn’t and she also believes that Larry isn’t. Vic agrees that Larry may not be a hero, but ‘the thing inside of him’ is. Are we sure?

Kip prepares a plan B in case Cliff and Hammerhead don’t succeed. His incantations are quintessentially DC – he says the Beatles’ “Love Me Do” backward to create wards around Elliot. Kip is still certain that they may need to kill Elliot but Cyborg is dead set against the idea, horrified that Niles Caulder/ Chief would even know a man like Kip. Vic idolizes Niles, but Kip knows another side of him – the kind who is willing to make tough decisions.

Leaving Larry alone with Elliot turns out to be a bad idea. He tries to talk to Elliot and instead ends up dismissing the boy’s hope of being a hero. ‘It’s a dangerous word’, Larry tells him as Elliot fears there may be no saving the world any more if he doesn’t kill himself. Larry begins to get agitated and the Negative Spirit leaves his body. It unlocks the door letting Elliot escape. Some hero.

In Spain, Cliff finds the priest with the stigmata, but Hammerhead has a temporary meltdown. It’s evident that Jane’s trust in religion was broken in the past, and Hammerhead tries to take it out on this hapless man. This delay causes the gates to open and suck Cliff and Hammerhead into Nurnheim.

While Cliff is outraged at messing up the job, Hammerhead is replaced by Penny Farthing, a personality of Jane’s who spends all her time apologising (and is British). When Nurnheim Royal Guards confront Cliff and Penny, they are captured and brought to the Archons (High Priests) of Nurnheim. These are the parents of Elliot, but only Mother Archon is speaking. Elliot’s father is still dead atop his throne.

When Larry wakes up, he finds himself watching one of Chief’s old recording of their sessions. The more Chief pries into Larry’s clandestine relationship with his mechanic John, the more agitated Larry becomes. Eventually, the Negative Spirit leaves his body. Chief is delighted to see the Spirit because he has created a machine that will give the entity a ‘voice’. While the experiment isn’t completely successful, the only concrete answer Chief gets is to the question of how the entity is able to stay in Larry’s body. ‘Torture’, the Spirit replies, before fritzing the machine.

Rita finds Elliot ready to jump from the second-floor window and successfully talks him down from his suicide attempt. She asks Elliot to let Doom Patrol at least try to save him. Looks like Rita can’t help but be a hero.

The Nurnheim assassins start breaking into Doom Manor. Cyborg’s science and Kip’s magic are on the frontlines. But when the Royal Guards appear, Kip throws Vic to the wolves and attempts to kill Elliot again. This time, Rita is there to stop him. Too Late – evil nuns appear and kidnap Elliot.

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The Archons start messing about with Cliff and Jane’s heads, stalling till the book is read by the nuns. With Elliot perched on the tombstones outside Doom Manor, the nuns complete their recital and succeed in summoning the Decreator.

What did you think of this episode of Doom Patrol? Be sure to tell us in the comment section below!