WARNING: The follow article contains spoilers for the Doom Patrol Season 1 episode "Cult Patrol," streaming now on DC Universe.
The first three episodes of Doom Patrol were grounded in the brand of comic book science primarily found in the 1950s and '60s, in which people are granted superpowers through freak accidents (radioactive clouds, mysterious gases) or mad scientists (ex-Nazi or otherwise), and an entire world can exist within the body of a flatulent donkey. But with "Cult Patrol," the live-action series largely leaves "science" behind, to venture into the shadowy, supernatural corners of the DC Universe.
DC comics have a rich history with the supernatural, from the horror anthologies of the 1960s and '70s, to creatures like Swamp Thing and The Demon, to magicians like John Constantine and Zatanna. But with this week's episode, Doom Patrol explores the fringes of that realm, introducing Mark Sheppard (Supernatural, Doctor Who) as a Beatles-quoting magic user who isn't quite Constantine, and a cult that only wants to end the world. They're rooted in the comic book source material, of course -- specifically, the Doom Patrol comics of Grant Morrison and Richard Case.
Meet Willoughby Kipling
A hard-drinking, chain-smoking agent of the Knights Templar, Willoughby Kipling is a powerful magician who, as scene on Doom Patrol, uses English nursery rhymes and Beatles lyrics to cast spell. His similarities to John Constantine aren't a coincidence: Willoughby was created after DC wouldn't permit writer Grant Morrison to use Constantine for his story.
"Cult Patrol" borrows heavily from Willoughby's 1990 debut in Doom Patrol #31, "The World Made Flesh," in which the magician seeks the team's help to prevent the Cult of the Unwritten Book from bringing about the apocalypse.
The Cult of the Unwritten Book
We're introduced to the religious order through flashbacks to a series of birthdays celebrated by a seemingly normal family -- well, if you consider boy with writing tattooed all over his body, and parents wearing regalia emblazoned with an eye symbol normal. The adults were chosen to care for the Unwritten Book, also known as the boy Elliot, who was raised to believe he'd one day save the world. Instead, however, he learns he's the key to its destruction.
Although Elliot's father is murdered by his mother for warning the son of his true purpose, the adults are rewarded by ascending to the position of Archons, the high priests of Nurnheim, basically giant, creepy harlequins who govern the Cult of the Unwritten Book.
The Little Sisters of Our Lady of the Razor
Willoughby is tipped off that the Unwritten Book is near completion when he's paid an unwelcome visit by the Little Sisters of Our Lady of the Razor, agents of the cult who inflict pain on others with razor blades.
There's a whole backstory in the comics, with the Little Sisters being children of the cult who are mutilated as part of a process to achieve eternal youth.
Baphomet, the Oracle
Willoughby comes to the Doom Patrol's mansion to find Niles Caulder, or, more importantly, a coin in his possession that he requires to summon the oracular demon, Baphomet. In the comics, she manifests as a horse's head with a railroad spike embedded between her eyes. But on Doom Patrol, she's a.) blue, and b.) communicates her prophecy to the tune of America's "A Horse With No Name."
Odd, but effective, Baphomet points Willoughby and the Doom Patrol in the direction of Elliot, the Unwritten Book.
Although referred to only as the Hoodmen in "Cult Patrol," the two frightening figures in crimson Klan-style robes are Hoodman Blind and Hoodman Shame. They're guardians of Nurnheim, the base of operations of the Cult of the Unwritten Book, which looks so familiar because it's contained within a snow globe in the Doom Patrol's mansion.
The Hoodmen are the henchmen of the Archons. In the comics, they eat the words on the tip of your tongue, and convert them into electricity.
After the Doom Patrol gives Elliot protection, the mansion comes under attack by the Dry Bachelors, described by Willoughby as "assassins" and "pain surgeons." They're "made out of dead skin and letters that were never sent."
In "Cult Patrol," the Dry Bachelors explode into reams of paper when struck down, but there's more to them than that: In the comics, they use of the skin and bones of their victims to create Mystery Kites, powered by the souls of those captured by the cult.
As hinted at by the wholesome-sounding prayer uttered by the not-so-wholesome family at the beginning of the episode, the Decreator is worshiped by the Cult of the Unwritten Book as the shadow of God. Represented in those flashbacks by an eye, the cosmic entity is devoted to bringing about the end of the universe.
When the Unwritten Book is read by the Little Sisters of Our Lady of the Razor in the closing moments of the episode, we learn the eye isn't merely a symbol: The Decreator materializes in the sky about the Doom Patrol's mansion as ... an enormous eyeball.
Streaming 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.