Well, look what we have here this week: it’s the Doom Patrol! No, not the dysfunctional super-powered folks that we’ve been following since Week One, but the original Doom Patrol that The Chief put together back in the day. Hence the super-meta and super-confusing title of this week’s episode.
WARNING: Spoilers for this episode of ‘Doom Patrol’ lie ahead, obviously. If you haven’t seen the episode and don’t wish for any of its content to be spoiled for you, the time to turn back is NOW!
RECAP: After receiving a psychic suggestion from Mr. Nobody at the conclusion of the last episode, Crazy Jane wants to know, “Who the f— are the Doom Patrol?!” After breaking into the Chief’s lab and reviewing some of his old videos of early “sessions” with her alter-egos, Jane discovers that the Doom Patrol is a superhero group that the Chief created before he gathered her, Larry, Rita, and Cliff together. In fact, Rita (being the longest-standing resident of Doom Manor) knows the team – at least, she knows of it’s de facto leader, Mento aka Steve Dayton, who helped her learn to control her powers back in the late 1950s.
Jane, never one for subtlety, has her alter Flit teleport her, Rita, and Larry to the Doom Patrol’s location – more on that in a moment, because when Jane took off, she left Cyborg and Robotman behind at the Manor. The “robot boy” duo need a little technical updating, courtesy of Cyborg’s father, Silas Stone, who drops in to fix up his son after last episode’s arm-cannon explosion. In the melee, one of Cyborg’s fingers ended up embedded in Robotman’s forearm; Silas has to remove this and reboot Cyborg in order to get everything fully functional again. The only issue is: Cyborg fears being rebooted, as it means he will be “asleep” and incapacitated for hours, and he is concerned his Dad will take him away from the Manor and back home. Robotman agrees to stand guard.
Jane, Rita, and Larry teleport into what appears to be a training school for youngsters with special powers, featuring the trio of original Doom Patrol members as the teachers. Shades of ‘X-Men’ action aside, the original team was a trio, consisting of Rhea (Jones, I believe, known as “Lodestone” in the late-’80s second run of ‘Doom Patrol comics), Arani (aka “Celsius,” from the 1970s version of DP), and the aforementioned Mento. The school is under the administrative control of Josh Clay (known as “Tempest” in the 1970s ‘Doom Patrol’ comics, but not specifically exhibiting any powers here). Clay mistakenly believes that Caulder sent Jane to the school, and seems surprised to hear that the Chief has gone missing.
Back at the Manor, Cyborg finally agrees to be taken offline, but only if Cliff will stay close to Silas the entire time. As Silas powers down his son and works to extract the Cyborg finger from Robotman’s arm, the two talk about parenting and its rigors and responsibilities, ending with Cliff lashing out at Silas about how lucky the latter is that he still has a chance to have a relationship with his son. As Silas powers Cyborg back on, he lets Vic know that he wishes to try and mend their relationship.
Back at the school, Larry gets a tour from Arani, who informs him that she and the Chief are married, much to Larry’s surprise. Rita reconnects with Mento, who seems interested in rekindling the romantic interaction the two shared in the past. And Jane finally gets answers about the Doom Patrol’s connection to Mr. Nobody – and it’s much more dire of a situation than any of them could have predicted…
- Finally we get some much-needed Rita back story! Granted, we have been shown the “genesis” of her powers way back in the pilot episode, but every other member of the team had previously had screen time devoted to how they were adjusted to their newly-found powers, except for Rita – until this episode, of course. I’m excited to see Elasti-Girl continue to harness her powers and use them effectively.
- This was a fairly “by the book” episode, but it was cool to see the “original” Doom Patrol in action via flashbacks and mental-manipulation scenes. Here’s hoping that DC brings in more and more characters from the Doom Patrol’s surprisingly rich comics history.
- Speaking of call-backs and mentions: this episode gives us a great direct reference to Ultimax/The Brain as a wonderful Doom Patrol villain. While I’d much rather prefer to see Ultimax in person as an active threat to our current team (and his companion/super-genius ape Monsieur Mallah, please and thank you), this call-back – with an excellently-accurate view of the Ultimax brain case – is very cool to see.
- Josh Clay as the “Administrator” of the school should obviously have a bigger piece to play in the overall story arc of this series. It’s clear through his dialogue – especially when Larry asks him if he has ever been in the Army and Clay’s answer – that, knowing about the character and his story lines in the comics, there is more to this character than meets the eye.
- This episode also managed to squeeze in a brief return of Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man, whoo! Will this character ever be anything more than an ongoing comic foil in the series? Who can say for sure, but for now, it sure is kooky fun to watch Alec Mapa ham it up in the scenes he’s given.
CLOSING THOUGHTS: This episode reinforced the fact that we’re getting a lot of classic comic characters from the Doom Patrol story lines across the years coming to life on this series. The real question now, of course, has to be: can sentient roadway Danny the Street be far behind? This is one kooky comic character I am eagerly awaiting the ‘Doom Patrol’ creative team tackling on-screen.
PRINCIPAL CAST FEATURED IN THIS EPISODE:
Timothy Dalton as The Chief
Brendan Fraser as Cliff Steele/Robotman
Diane Guerrero as Crazy Jane
April Bowlby as Rita Farr/Elastigirl
Matt Bomer as Larry Trainor/Negative Man
Alan Tudyk as Mr. Nobody
Joivan Wade as Victor Stone/Cyborg
‘Doom Patrol’ features new episodes on Fridays via the DC Universe streaming service.