SPOILER ALERT: The following interview contains major spoilers for the Doom Patrol series finale. We don’t suggest reading it until you’ve finished the show.
From its inception, Doom Patrol always dared to be different. The acclaimed Max Original embraced all the bizarre and out-there things from the comics, adapting stories and concepts that nobody thought was possible. It also, with stunning regularity, made us cry.
That all came to a close earlier this month, as Doom Patrol said farewell with an emotional series finale. The team—if you could ever really call it that—all went their separate ways, with some goodbyes being perhaps more permanent than others. Some characters ended things in a good place, while others’ futures may be less certain. Some could unequivocally be called heroes, while others are still working on it. But above all else, every single character remained true to who they are, from start to finish, demonstrating a profound understanding of the oft-misunderstood outcasts who comprise its groundbreaking group.
No doubt a lot of that had to do with Doom Patrol showrunner Jeremy Carver. The talented producer has been with the series since its 2019 launch. Carver gave us the scoop on Doom Patrol’s many plot twists, if there were any ideas he never got the chance to bring to life and what he’ll remember from this experience now that it’s all finished.
How are you feeling now that you can exhale? It's all over and the finale is out in the world.
I'm feeling good, I'm feeling proud, and I'm just happy that it's out there and folks can enjoy it as they see fit.
You've been with the show from the beginning. Was this always the ending that you envisioned?
The ending that was always envisioned was that the Doom Patrol probably could not go on forever without these main characters taking at least one more chance at life on their own. Certain characters were pretty close to where we started. It shifted by character, but the overall goal was always the same.
As you began moving closer to the finale, how did your vision for it change and evolve?
Cliff was pretty spot on in terms of what we always thought—except how Cliff saw Rory's future changed. It changed actually relatively late in the day. We had been setting up that spaceship to be something that Cliff took through the timestream to personally visit Rory in the future, as opposed to using the crystal. I thought that crystal was a brilliant idea. I thank our writers Ezra Claytan Daniels and Shoshana Sachi for bringing that to fruition in the finale episode.
Vic always required a little extra special handling just because he was the brand name character coming into this. We were stewards of what we called Vic's lost years, where he sort of partied with the Doom Patrol and had to essentially find himself a little bit before going on to become the Cyborg that the world has known. With Jane, we knew she was going to be the Kaleidoscope. Rita, I don't know exactly when we thought about her dying and going to the afterlife. I honestly don't remember. Larry becoming his son was something that was in our minds. There are versions of that in the comics, so that was something that was with us from the very beginning as well.
I was glad that Larry finally found true love, because the first season was just so heartbreaking for him. I liked the flashbacks bringing that full circle for him. It's good to see Larry happy.
Out of everybody, I feel like we beat up on him the most. He took the most licks, and he went through a lot, and he learned a lot. He earned that ending, as I think all of our characters did.
What made you decide to let Robotman be the one to have the last word in the series, and how tempting was it to make that last word "f*ck"?
(laughs) He dropped enough f-bombs in front of his grandson, which I think more than made up for that.
I think Cliff having the last word made sense because in the pilot episode, he was our eyes and ears going into the show. He was our entry point. We came into this wacky, sad, fun and very human world through the very human travails of Cliff Steele. It felt appropriate to go out with him as we the audience were leaving the show behind also. It just felt like a bookend.
Were there any ideas that you never got around to?
Yes, there were certainly source ideas. There were some interesting things in the Rachel Pollack run of comics that we never got to. And stuff from the later years of Doom Patrol, because we could never quite make the connective tissue work. With more time we could have done that. There was definitely more material in the comics that we would have loved to explore. I'm thinking about what we didn't get to. We did Testicle Monster, a cockroach making out with a rat...
You got to that one in the first season!
We hit a lot of the big ones! We hit the bucket list pretty hard there in the first four seasons.
For all the stuff that didn't make it on screen, there was SO much insanity that you guys did get to do. We even had the musical episode this year, which was wild. You finally brought Immortus on screen and did it in the most unexpected way possible with Isabel Feathers! What inspired you to go in that direction?
I think two things inspired us, really. We were sitting around and we're like, "Immortus," and immediately you're like, "(scary noises) Bad guy!" And then we ran down the options of what it means to have a bad guy on the show. Then you think about the big battle, and then by the time you finish pitching what a big battle could look like, everyone has either left the room or fallen asleep at the table, because it's just not really what motivated us on Doom Patrol.
We didn't want to have anything like the standard bad guy villain. What makes it Doom Patrol? It's the unexpected. That's what brought us to Isabel, but also Charity Cervantes. She was just awesome. It's one of those discoveries you make on the show when you start working with folks who aren't necessarily series regulars, but they are so amazing. You just have to find a way to make space for them on the show, and give them more screentime and more things to do. She was just absolutely wonderful. When you pair up Immortus and Isabel, it brought a smile to every single person's face on staff, and that's what we were hoping for.
As you think back to the show, what are some of your favorite behind-the-scenes memories that you like to revisit and that you're going to hold onto for the rest of your life?
This show was essentially shot out of a cannon. To be very frank, and I've mentioned it before, I had never heard of the Doom Patrol when I was offered this opportunity. I had to read the comics and decide if I wanted to take on the show. Just about three months later, we were shooting the entire season. That's an incredibly fast startup time. We were able to find a willing and eager group of collaborators, from the writing staff, to the crew, to the cast. You hear these stories of building the boat while you're sailing it, and that's what we were doing.
It was just an absolutely adrenaline-filled, intellectual surf ride. We were harnessing all this talent, and everybody was so eager to make it work. The writing staff, beyond being brilliant, I would just say they were incredibly stubborn as well. Stubborn in that nobody wanted to make it just an ordinary show, and nobody wanted to hold the audience's hand, and nobody wanted to do the whole thing where you spend the first fifteen minutes explaining how the rules work. We just wanted to send people on a rocket ship ride, sort of like when you read a really great comic book and you're not quite sure what's happening, but you're just in it.
It was just an absolute thrill watching it all come to life. One heart-stopping moment was while we were shooting the pilot, and it was the first scene with Larry and Cliff. And as the director, Glen Winter, is setting up the shot, and I'm looking through the monitor, I’m like, "Oh my God, it's finally hitting me. We're having a very long scene with these two characters in costume. Neither has a mouth that actually moves, and these are actually not the voices we're going to be using because we're going to be bringing Brendan Fraser and Matt Bomer in that moment to do the voices. Oh my god, is this going to work? It has to work!"
Watching it work and watching the seamless working relationship between Matthew Zuk, Riley Shanahan, Matt Bomer and Brendan Fraser was one of the single most thrilling things about that first season. I’m so proud of it.