While it’s one thing to have an 11-year-old child running around Doom Manor, it’s a whole other issue to learn that this kid has a set of powerful imaginary friends who can cause some serious damage — one fiery bloke, in particular, can bring on the apocalypse at a moment’s notice. And with each episode this season, world-ending monster The Candlemaker has continued to grow stronger.
Spoiler alert: This article discusses plot details of Doom Patrol episode 208, “Dad Patrol.” Stop here if you haven’t watched the episode.
Niles has tried his best to keep his daughter sheltered from the world, while also sheltering all of humanity from her supremely dangerous potential. Now Dorothy is growing up, which causes Niles a lot of anxiety — a universal experience all parents can relate to really.
As the episodes have progressed, we’ve watched Dorothy piece together the truth about her experience living under Danny the Street and her father’s true motivations in keeping her there. But as much as Niles has worked to keep Dorothy a child forever, the girl’s desire to be taken seriously (along with that pesky getting older thing) has made her father’s fear an inevitable reality.
The majority of the story that plays out in Thursday’s episode, “Dad Patrol,” is setting up this tragedy to take place. Niles wants to put Dorothy back into captivity. And Dorothy, who experienced getting her first period earlier in the episode, decides it’s best not to tell her father. She’s growing up. And while a trip to the carnival gives them a fun daddy-daughter day away from it all, no one can keep Dorothy from maturing. Not even Niles.
Rotten Tomatoes had the opportunity to speak with Shapiro about Thursday’s “Dad Patrol” episode. During our chat, the 20-year-old actress discussed the challenges she faced while wearing prosthetics, the fractured trust issues Dorothy has with her father, and the impact The Candlemaker’s arrival will potentially have on the series moving forward. Considering the fact that Doom Patrol is the actress’s first-ever television role, her perspective of Dorothy’s growth — and the fear that comes with it — adds a welcome sense of clarity and humor to the girl’s challenging journey.
Aaron Pruner for Rotten Tomatoes: I want to start this off by talking about the possible challenges you faced as a 20-year-old woman playing an 11-year-old girl.
Abigail Shapiro: It wasn’t actually too much of a challenge because I’m very small. And I look pretty young for my age. I’ve been playing kids for a very long time. So it wasn’t something that was very new to me. Also, when you’re that young you don’t think of yourself as a little kid, you kind of think you’re already grown up. So I tried to put myself in that mindset and let my inner freedom child run free.
Dorothy’s a little girl but she’s also roughly 175-years-old. So there is an element of maturity, but also a yearning to hold on to her childlike wonder. Was that a fun dynamic to play?
Shapiro: Yeah, definitely. She’s been kept away for so long, so she really hasn’t seen much of the world. Her growing up has kind of been put on hold for all of these decades if you think about it. And I don’t think she actually started to grow up until the minute they saved her out of the dark. That’s the first time in years she actually got a glimpse of the world and something other than Danny and her dad, occasionally.
Since you’re covered in makeup, did you find your facial expressions stifled? Because the emotionality of the character really comes across a lot more through the use of her voice. Did you find that to be the case when working to bring Dorothy to life?
Shapiro: Yeah, I focused on it a bit more actually. My sister, I was rehearsing with her, my younger sister Milly Shapiro (Hereditary). She helps me with a lot of my work. I was rehearsing with her and she was like, “You really need to focus on your voice acting because your face movements are going to be compromised.” And I was like, you’re right. So it’s because of her I really started to focus on that a little bit more.
Was it a lengthy application process?
Shapiro: The process took about three hours in the beginning, and then we got it down to two hours. And I wear a prosthetic chin, nose, and lips, a little bit of the cheeks, the forehead, then the fake hair and I wear the fake teeth. And actually, the fake teeth were the most difficult part because I had to do the British accent and my diction was already compromised from wearing these giant fake teeth. So that was the biggest challenge with the process.
You mentioned Danny the Street, earlier. In episode 4, “Sex Patrol,” Dorothy learns he wasn’t just her friend but also the prison that held her captive all these years. Was that the moment she started really listening to this darker voice, The Candlemaker, in her head?
Shapiro: I think so, definitely. She’s been trapped away for so long and she lived underneath Danny for decades and she’s only heard the parties going on. She’s never been able to actually go. So actually going to a Danny party and seeing everything makes her realize that she’s been trapped for so long and hasn’t had the chance to experience the world and everyone who she thought cared about her were not the people who she thought they were. She basically realizes her father doesn’t want her to grow up; no one really does. And she has been unable to experience anything. It’s the moment she realizes that the world isn’t all rainbows and daisies. You have to experience the darker sides of the world, too, in order to grow up. And she’s never experienced the darker sides of the world. I think she starts to listen to The Candlemaker because she no longer really trusts everyone around her, completely, as a child would.
Still, Danny the Street represented friendship and safety to Dorothy. What do you think The Candlemaker represents to her?
Shapiro: The Candlemaker, I think, represents the parts of herself that she doesn’t like. Her inner demons. And throughout the season, especially in episode 8, she learns that she needs to actually face her inner demons in order to embrace them and ultimately grow up, because it isn’t until your face these inner demons and the parts of yourself that you don’t like that you can really take control of your life and build your own path and grow up.
There’s a pivotal scene in this week’s episode where Dorothy is in a gas station and experiences her first real puberty moment. It feels like this is a shocking instance where she is being forced to confront herself and her body for the first time, and acknowledge she can’t stop herself from maturing into a young woman.
Shapiro: Yeah, she gets a period. And she doesn’t really know what a period is. It’s kind of like her Carrie White moment.
That’s a great way of putting it.
Shapiro: And it’s the moment she realizes that she’s growing up whether she likes it or not. She can’t stop it, it’s inevitable. And she can’t be who everyone wants her to be. She can only be who she wants to be. But it’s that moment of panicking of like, Oh my god, I’m no longer the same person. I am no longer a little girl. What’s going to happen? Like, what will the future hold? It’s that kind of situation that’s saying, like, OK, you’re growing up! You’re grown up now! And it’s just slapping her in the face.
That said, there is a lovely interaction between her and the woman in the gas station who ultimately helps her. After the constant protection and sheltering Niles has put her through, and the, sort of, lessons of not trusting those in the world, this woman provides Dorothy a reprieve. It’s a nice little bit of hope amid the chaos.
Shapiro: It’s a beautiful moment of women helping women. I feel like you don’t see that very often, that kind of specific bond. That’s definitely a beautiful moment and Dorothy realizes she’s not alone. That everyone goes through [something like] this.
Niles just wants to protect Dorothy, but he also wants to protect the world from Dorothy. How do you think The Candlemaker’s arrival, which is teased at the end of this episode, impact their relationship moving forward?
Shapiro: I can’t say too much because I don’t want to spoil anything … I feel like there’s definitely regret on not being completely honest. But I feel like, just that moment of the candle wax exploding and The Candlemaker emerging is everything she’s been hiding, everything she’s been holding deep down inside her for so long. It’s just bursting at the seams. All those emotions she was holding in are just exploding.
The Candlemaker is all about granting wishes because, after the third one, he becomes real. What do you think Dorothy’s biggest wish is?
Shapiro: I think her biggest wish is really anyone’s biggest wish: just to be accepted, to have a family, and to be loved.