The ending of a show often means the death of a main character or two, permanently closing the chapter for the audience. The same happens for Rita and Cliff in Max’s ‘Doom Patrol.’ The final episode of the series focuses on giving a proper send-off to its characters, closing their loops in a satisfying manner. Over the course of four seasons, every character had their own desires and challenges they faced in making their dreams come true. In ‘Done Patrol,’ Rita and Cliff get what they’d wanted all along. SPOILERS AHEAD
How Does Rita Die?
Rita Farr had always struggled with her place in the Doom Patrol, and she didn’t find any resolution even after she became its leader. Her desire was to have a proper family, and even though she considered the team her family, she never got around to having all of them act like one, at least not the way Rita wanted them to. She founded a semblance of that dream life with Malcolm DuPont when she traveled to the past in Season 3. But even that was taken away from her when he was killed.
In the fourth season, Rita’s struggle continues, and things get worse when she loses her longevity. As she loses her powers and ages, slowly inching toward death, she is forced to think hard about her impending mortality. Even in this state, she tries to be the leader, the head of the family that her team deserves, but things only get worse for her. In the final episode, Immortus and the Butts are dealt with, and the team even gets their longevity back. But before Rita can ingest Immortus’ toenail, which would have fixed everything, she succumbs to old age and dies.
Rita’s death hits the team hard, but having their longevity back spurs them into action. They decide to go to the afterlife and bring her back. But then, Rita’s ghost shows up, and she reveals that she doesn’t want to come back. Even if she gets her longevity back, it wouldn’t change anything. Her life would still be the same as before, and she doesn’t want to continue with that. The same would be true for the rest of the team.
Rita suggests they should disband and go their separate ways to explore what they want for themselves, apart from the team. She highlights that all the problems that they have saved the world from were the consequences of their own actions. Doom Patrol would always have another mission, another enemy to defeat, because they would create one for themselves. She suggests her team break out of that loop.
Fulfilling Rita’s wish, the team gives her a funeral, a proper send-off, where they say good stuff about her, sing Ave Maria, and cry. As her body turns to rubber and burns, Rita’s ghost disappears. She finds herself in the afterlife and is pleasantly surprised to see Malcolm there. Finally, they are reunited and can be with each other forever, without any enemies or villains or the world to worry about.
How Does Cliff Die?
With Rita gone, Cliff decides to make use of his longevity and go be with his family. He’d wanted to do this the entire season and had even started on the journey once. But the lack of longevity prevented him from taking that journey. Moreover, there was always something that the world needed saving from, which kept Cliff with Doom Patrol. With the team disbanded, he finally leaves the mansion, finds his daughter, and meets his grandson. This is the beginning of his new life, or so Cliff thinks. Turns out that the longevity will not last long enough for him. He hasn’t come back home to live but to die.
Previously, when Immortus returned, offering the team their longevity back, she gave Cliff a crystal. At the time, he didn’t understand its purpose, but it becomes clear to him in his final moments. While Cliff is in the car with his grandson, the crystal shows him the kid’s entire life, for which Cliff wouldn’t be around. Cliff sees his grandson, Rory, become a teenager and learn to ride the car. Cliff sees Rory getting married to his girlfriend, having a child, running away from his family, taking care of his mother in her final moments, attending her funeral, and reuniting with his daughter to meet his grandchild.
Cliff sees a lot of similarities between his and Rory’s life and the struggles that lie in waiting for his grandson, who is still a baby. But he finds comfort in the fact that everything will eventually turn out fine for Rory, that he will come back to his family, much like Cliff did, and it won’t be too late. Cliff wouldn’t be around for any of those things, be it the good or bad in Rory’s life, but having seen it all in the crystal, he has been given the satisfaction of knowing how it will turn out for his grandson. With that, the lights in Cliff’s eyes go off as he succumbs to his old age and Parkinson’s. He dies surrounded by family and is glad to know that he’s loved in his final moments.
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