It’s getting to the point where I’m not quite sure how they do it: every week, ‘Doom Patrol’ seems to meander through its main plot points but still be even more entertaining than the last episode. The characters are this mesmerizing mix of dejected but somehow oddly finding moments of true happiness. I think it may be the perfect parallel for modern life for most of us these days.
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: As mentioned above, the overall series plot of locating the villainous Mr. Nobody and rescuing the Chief from his clutches has taken a definite backseat in recent weeks, and there’s naught but only a passing mention of it here in this episode. It’s what leads team members Cyborg and Negative Man to Danny the Street, a gender-queer sentient stretch of road that (obviously) has a past with Niles Caulder.
Danny is being hunted by the “Department of Normalcy,” a secretive section of the US government that Larry is more than familiar with – they are the ones who experimented on him and found the negative being living inside of him, in the wake of his piloting accident back in the 1960s. Danny is reluctant to help Larry and Cyborg in their search for the Chief – he says he loves Niles, but is terrified of Mr. Nobody. Rightfully so, from what we’ve seen the super-villain do (and be capable of doing) so far in this series.
And what of the rest of the team, you ask? Cliff and Rita are off to hunt down Crazy Jane after she exited the Manor post haste in last week’s episode. Rita believes that she knows where to find her, based on the emergence of the personality known simply as “Karen.” Karen is a blonde, sweater-and-dress-clad personality who (ostensibly) wants to lead a simple, normal life; she returns to her jilted lover, Doug, who takes her back and eventually accepts Karen’s marriage proposal. This infuriates Doug’s family, who sees through Karen’s “disguise” – so she promptly uses her super-power and her glowing white-blue eyes to make them fall in love with her too.
The theme of the episode is acceptance, and it’s well-told throughout. Danny has many happy residents on his street who didn’t fit in elsewhere in society but are very happy now – and even Larry manages to find some happiness in a let-down-your-hair karaoke performance moment, even if it did end up ultimately being all in his head. When the Department of Normalcy catches up with Danny, he and his residents choose to stay and fight for their freedoms, and with a little help from Cyborg and Negative Man, things work out okay-ish.
Karen “love-powers” Rita into being her Maid of Honor, but once she tries the trick with Robotman while asking him to walk her down the aisle, her luck runs out. Cliff can’t be coerced by her powers, and he manages to get Jane to come back and take control as the dominant personality, relegating Karen to the recesses of “The Underground” – the tangled web of what’s in Jane’s head that, according to the preview for next week, we’ll get to explore very soon.
- This episode solidified it for me: Diane Guerrero is the standout actress of the series, and her work as Crazy Jane and the plethora of personalities we’ve met so far has been phenomenal. I certainly hope she is rewarded with several award nominations for this performance.
- The series has vacillated a bit on giving us in equal, routine amounts what I feel is “not quite enough” back-story for certain characters, and this episode was the chance for the creative team to balance things back out a bit in Larry’s favor, which they did take advantage of. Next week clearly brings us more Jane work, which is fantastic – if I can soon get a little further resolution on Cliff and his daddy-daughter issues, we’ll be fully back on track, I think.
- A sentient, globe-hopping stretch of road with gender uniqueness shouldn’t be the easiest thing to bring to life on screen, but I feel that the creative team with this show really nailed Danny’s portrayal in this episode. It’s clear the folks in control of this show have a great understanding of and respect for the ‘Doom Patrol’ source material (particularly of the great 1980s Grant Morrison run) – it’s a nice feeling, knowing that things are in good hands “up top.”
CLOSING THOUGHTS: This episode officially puts the show over the half-way point to the end of the first season. We are 8 episodes into the 15-episode total, and so far ‘Doom Patrol’ has been an unexpected delight in almost every way. Here’s hoping that the good/bad times keep rolling along in the second half of the season!
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.