Doom Patrol introduces fan-favorite superhero Casey Brinke, but the HBO Max series modifies her backstory to better fit Season 4’s narrative theme.
The following contains spoilers for Doom Patrol Season 4, Episode 4, "Casey Patrol," now streaming on HBO Max.
Like its source material, HBO Max's Doom Patrol loves to incorporate obscure characters from the annals of DC Comics lore into its story, giving unexpected nuance and development to relative nobodies. Season 4 continued the trend, but also brought a more modern figure into the mix: Casey Brinke AKA Space Case, a metafictional superhero who made her debut as part of the 2016 iteration of the World's Weirdest Heroes.
However, like many other characters on Doom Patrol, Casey's TV origin story isn't a one-to-one counterpart to her comic book adventures. Instead, the team behind the show use Casey as a means of moving other characters forward. They maintain the strangeness of her origin while also slotting into their own unique narrative.
Created by Gerard Way and artist Nick Derington, Casey Brinke made her debut in Doom Patrol Vol. 6 #1, one of multiple series in the Young Animal imprint curated by Way. Casey was introduced as an ordinary emergency medical technician (EMT) who became suddenly swept up in the Doom Patrol's adventures — but soon learned her true history.
Casey was in truth the lead heroine of the sci-fi comic Space Case, written and published by Danny the Street, who was accidentally brought to life by Danny's powers. With her true origins revealed, Casey became a member of the Doom Patrol and helped them fight the alien corporation called the Vectra, who sought to use Danny's abilty to create life as a source of cheap fast food meat, and their leader Torminox, a mad scientist who was once Casey's own father.
Way and Derington set Casey up as an audience surrogate who was overwhelmed by the strangeness of the Doom Patrol's adventures but soon learned to love them and even became a hero in her own right. The Doom Patrol TV series instead opts to focus on Casey as a fiction come to life, and what suddenly finding oneself in the "real world" does to a cartoon.
Doom Patrol Season 4, Episode 4, "Casey Patrol" diverges from the antics of the show's titular heroes to catch up with Dorothy Spinner (played by Abi Monterey), Maura Lee Karupt (Alan Mingo Jr.) and Danny the Street as they live together in relative peace. However, Dorothy is dissatisfied with her life and only finds solace in reading back issues of Space Case, depicted as a goofy but otherwise ordinary Silver Age comic. When Danny is attacked by agents of Torminox (Tyler Mane), it's Dorothy whose powers accidentally bring Casey (Madeline Zima) to life. Casey easily dispatches Torminox's forces and promises to help Dorothy and Maura Lee defeat the villain — since she's already done it 143 times.
However, something different happens when Casey and Torminox face off again: Torminox doesn't immediately fight Casey, but instead begs her not to interfere with his mission — stealing the magic totem Dr. Caulder left to Dorothy — and demonstrates genuine humanity. Being in the real world, where people are more complex than simple drawings and death is permanent-ish (this is still a comic book show), Casey realizes for the first time that her father can be cured of being Torminox and she can't bring herself to fight him.
Instead, they acquiesce to Torminox's demands and hand over the totem to save both the Dannyzens and Dorothy's imaginary friends. Afterwards, Dorothy and Casey decide to travel together, leaving Danny and Maura Lee behind to search for the writer who created Space Case so they can ask him to give the heroine and her father a happy ending.
While Casey's backstory in the Doom Patrol TV series isn't a huge departure from her comic book counterpart, its focus on her as a fiction come to life works as a parallel to Dorothy's own journey. Casey finds herself in an environment more complex and difficult than the one she knows. She then needs to change and evolve to match it, especially if she wants to save her father.
Similarly, Dorothy finds herself growing up for the first time in a century, and as much as she wants her father's guidance and consolation, she can't have it because he's dead and beyond her reach. "Casey Patrol" posits that what Dorothy needs more than anything else is a friend who knows what she's going through and can go on this strange journey of adulthood with her. Luckily for Dorothy, Space Case is on the case.
Doom Patrol is now streaming on HBO Max.