WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the Doom Patrol Season 1, Episode 12 "Cyborg Patrol," streaming now on DC Universe.
In the DC Universe, there's no prison more famous than Arkham Asylum. For decades (longer, in DCU time) it has housed hundreds of nefarious villains, from the Joker and Bane to lesser villains like Kite Man. At times, it's even been a temporary home to various heroes, including Batman himself.
And while Titans gave us a glimpse into Arkham in its Season 1 finale, Doom Patrol steers clear of Gotham City, introducing its own twisted asylum. This comes in the shape of another DC Comics penitentiary known as the Ant Farm, but as the show once again subverts the source material, we get something that may well be worse than Gotham's hellhole.
In DC Comics lore, the Ant Farm was a hidden basement in the Pentagon where the government-run Men from N.O.W.H.E.R.E. captured and interrogated prisoners. Later, it would be retconned into a small sphere that acted as the headquarters for another agency, S.H.A.D.E., and was only accessible by teleporting or shrinking technology invented by Ray Palmer (aka the Atom). The interior had its own artificial gravity and atmosphere, ultimately acting a microscopic metropolis for S.H.A.D.E.'s base of operations, and was something of a Mecca for science. Doom Patrol marries both concepts, and then adds similar traits to those that make Arkham Asylum such a frightening madhouse.
Yes, it's another mysterious government facility, but the Ant Farm isn't your average prison. It's where the Bureau of Normalcy operates and houses its enemies, as illustrated by the incarceration of Cyborg (Joivan Wade). However, as the show explores of the jail, we see it's just as dark as Arkham because of what transpires inside. We see Cyborg being experimented on by scientists, something which is revealed to be the norm for other metahuman prisoners, not unlike how Hugo Strange and Jonathan Crane (Scarecrow) have been granted access to inmates for their own fun and games.
It quickly becomes obvious that the Ant Farm is not just about breaking you physically, but mentally as well. As the mysterious prisoner 722 tells Cyborg, it's hell on Earth, which is more or less the same mentality folks have in Arkham Asylum. The Ant Farm isn't just run by government employees -- it's ruled by a group of depraved people hellbent on turning criminals into weapons.
Robots mine the brains of inmates, processing all the data collected from the day's sessions. This is the Bureau's way of extracting information to aid conversion therapy sessions, or to garner details needed for scientists to upgrade their experiments. And just like Arkham has a diverse array of individuals held under various conditions, so too does the Ant Farm. Cyborg's cell, for example, is designed to keep the half-human, half-machine hybrid locked away, while 722's cell has been customized so he can't bust his way out using his mental and physical strength.
Of course, it just can't be compared to Arkham if it doesn't have sick, twisted monsters, right? But rather than a Killer Croc or Man-Bat, the Ant Farm has an army of carnivorous butts (you read that right) who devour all the guards in sight. And with that revelation, it tops Arkham for housing weirdest, most vicious inmates of all time.
Streaming now on DC Universe, Doom Patrol stars Brendan Fraser as Cliff Steele, Matt Bomer as Larry Trainor, Diana Guerrero as Crazy Jane, Alan Tudyk as Mr. Nobody, April Bowlby as Rita Farr, Joivan Wade as Vic Stone, and Timothy Dalton as Niles Caulder.