Note: Like Doom Patrol, this interview includes some discussion of adult content and themes.
As anyone who’s watched the first three seasons, HBO Max’s Doom Patrol prepares you to expect the unexpected.
Adapted from the comic book created by Arnold Drake, Bob Haney, and Bruno Premiani — and leaning especially heavily on material written by Grant Morrison, Rachel Pollack, and Gerard Way — the series delights in distracting from its deeply kind, humanist hearts with all manner of weirdness and metaphorical oddities that at once parody and personify the very appeal of the superhero genre itself. For anyone who wants more from their superhero shows, it’s the perfect next step.
At New York Comic Con 2022, three of the show’s cast — Michelle Gomez (Madame Rouge), April Bowlby (Rita Farr), and Jovian Wade (Victor Stone, AKA Cyborg) — talked to Popverse about the series’ upcoming fourth season, which debuts on HBO Max on December 8. As you’re about to see for yourself, it was an interview that was as unexpected and distracting as the show itself.
Popverse: Tell me about season four.
Michelle Gomez: Oh my God, you're Scottish!
Gomez: Ah! Where are you from?
I'm from Greenock.
Gomez: Oh my God. There's no sand in Greenock.
I mean, yes, but what? [Everyone laughs]
Gomez: It was a little book that I wrote. I remember when I left Glasgow, I was like, "There's no sand in Greenock."
It's true. There's not.
Gomez: Anyway, hello.
You're distracting us! We've only got eight minutes!
Gomez: Hello, Scotland!
Okay, season four. What can you tell us about it, because season three was a big one for the show. Your characters all went through really significant changes and you came out of it in a very different space, all of you.
Joivan Wade: Yeah.
What can you say about season four, which feels like a new beginning for the show?
Gomez: I think April's probably got quite a lot to say about —
April Bowlby: No, no, no.
Are you going to spoil everything?
Bowlby: I would. I tend to spoil! I like to talk in details, and Joivan's better at talking in mysteries. [Everyone laughs]
Okay, Joivan, you can start with the big picture and then we'll look to April to spoil everything.
Wade: Real big picture: It's bigger and it's better, first and foremost. The season, it starts off with us on another journey as we go with the Doom Patrol being taken on this journey via the time machine that Madame Rouge has bought into Doom Patrol. And we travel in time and we come up to something which is really unexpected, which puts us in a position where we are forced to make a decision, save the world or save ourselves.
Gomez and Bowlby, simultaneously: Hmmmmmmmm.
I like that the both of you went "hmmmm" at the same time.
Gomez: Well, but there's some questions within that bigger picture as to, do we save the world, ourselves, or just us as the individual, that comes to the fore as well.
That feels fitting for your character, who has been ambivalent about exactly where she sits in everything.
Gomez: Totally. That's her challenge. What does she choose, good or bad? And I feel like she wants to choose good over evil because that seems like the right thing to do, but, my God, it's boring sometimes. [Laughs]
Wade: We have to spice it up a little bit! We got a lot of spice coming this season. A lot of different crazy, wacky, wild characters. You can always expect lot of new characters.
Bowlby: And some characters are going to leave. That's really heartbreaking, in a way, but then they come back and then they leave. We just have a lot going on.
Bowlby: I can't! I'm not going to spoil it!
Gomez: Ohhhhhhh, I see what you mean! That's a very good little detail!
So we are getting stuff spoiled, we just don't know what it is.
Gomez: There is somebody coming back that you would least expect. But not for good!
Bowlby: And I think our relationship [gestures to Michelle Gomez] is filled with strife.
I was going to say the two of you had a complicated season three; where are you in season four? It felt like there was almost closure, but not, at the same time.
Bowlby: That's right.
Gomez: I think with any kind of relationship, there's never a closure, I guess? It's always complicated.
That's the Scottishness coming out.
Gomez: Well, there's always hope. There's always the hope that you will leave a door open for someone. I mean, I think, if you have a generous disposition, then that's really where you want to try and foster your thoughts. So I think for Rita and Rouge, there is obviously, you could see it, you could feel it, it was palpable off the screen, that there was a friendship there.
But also a little bit of, what women do is we tend to sniff each other's butts a little bit too much, before you decide if you like the person or not.
Bowlby: Speak for yourself! [Everyone laughs]
Gomez: I find that bit of female friendships exhausting, but she sniffed my butt. She did. Rita sniffed my butt.
Bowlby: I didn't! I didn't!
Gomez: Rita sniffed my butt.
Bowlby: Rouge did a lot of butt sniffing as well! [Everyone laughs]
Gomez: Listen, there's a lot of butt sniffing going on.
Wade: Great news is that the butts do come back, so there's a lot of butt sniffing, I even got to sniff a couple of butts. [Laughs].
Wade and Bowlby, chanting and clapping in rhythm: Sniff! Those! Butts! Sniff! Those! Butts! Sniff! Those! Butts!
Gomez: Oh my God.
You do know this is recording, don't you?
Wade: Yeah. This should be the trailer.
Bowlby: You're welcome.
What's going on with Cyborg this season? Because again, he went through a lot last year.
Wade: Yeah, yeah, he's gone through turmoil. I think for Vic, he's in a place where he's trying to find himself. He's going on a journey of discovery and trying to work out exactly where he fits into this world. He's been [in] a place where he's been forced to be Cyborg, and he's had enough and decides that, 'I want to make my own decision, I want to make my own choice.' Which is what we saw in season three.
This season is him going on a journey of discovery to work out what it means to even just to be a black man. And that's something that was robbed from him essentially from becoming Cyborg and putting the cybernetics before him as a human being and as Vic Stone. So yeah, we're going to see how that journey pans out, but it's definitely one that he's going to go on and he's going to enjoy.
You talked about a lot of things unexpected coming up. That's the show in general. The show has never done the expected, or the traditional. What's it like working on this? Because as a viewer you genuinely never know what's going to happen. There are always butts, literal butts to sniff, there's a street that's alive. So what is it like when you're working on this, not knowing what's going to happen?
Gomez: It's funny, because we three just saw the trailer, and it was like, 'Wow, that looks like an amazing show.' And then you realize, 'Well, I'm in that show.' And then you realize everything that we go through as actors on a day-to-day basis becomes so normalized. I mean, there's hundreds of butts around. I mean, butts aside, there's so much crazy in the day that is normalized for us because we've been doing it for six months or so. These guys have been doing it for four years.
Wade: Yeah, but it never gets old. One minute, you're going up a donkey's ass, the next it's butts, and then everyone's jizzing in the street, apart from Vic. I was upset about that.
Bowlby: Yeah yeah yeah, that was fun...
Gomez: I wasn't there for that!
Wade: Michelle wasn't there, so we're on the same boat. I wanted to jizz in the street.
Bowlby: We have sex ghosts!
Wade: When you get the scripts you're like, "Okay cool. How are they going to outdo themselves this time?" And they literally outdo themselves.
Bowlby: They always do! Now there's time travel in this [season].
What can you say about the time travel?
Bowlby: Oh, gosh...!
Because again, it's a weird show, and I feel anything's up for grabs —
Wade: Literally! Back to butts. [Everyone laughs]
Gomez:I don't know if this was the message, but it felt that we did a lot of looking out to the horizon, a lot of looking out to the world out there for the answers. I feel like that's where we are right now as a country, as a human species. The pandemic shook us all up, and we were forced to reevaluate, look at our lives. This year, we were looking out to the cosmos, out to the horizon a lot and wondering, and realizing we don't have the answers. We're just humans, and we've got today, and we've not in charge of any of it. And there's something more powerful than us --
Wade: We're forced to look at ourselves. And for the first time, the Doom Patrol is actually sort of becoming the Doom Patrol. This band of freaks are actually banding together to do some freaky shit, so it's the first-
Gomez: I was forced to look at you as well —
Wade: You were. Without the mask.
Gomez: — which I didn't enjoy.
Wade: Sorry about that.
Gomez: It's never to look at Rachel and —
Bowlby, interrupting: Who's Rachel? [Everyone laughs] Oh, no!
Gomez: So, Rachel's a new character, played by April. It's Rita's AKA...
Bowlby: It's early.
Gomez: Yeah. It's early.
Bowlby: How are we supposed to know what we’re saying?
Wade: So yeah! Doom Patrol season four. As you can tell, it's going really well!
Gomez: None of us know what we're talking about! I don't know who these people are, what the names are! I've never met these people! Yeah, we're done.
One of the new characters in the upcoming fourth season of Doom Patrol is none other than Casey Brinke. We reported on the debut of Space Case when it was announced.