Last week I said that surely we’ll get some information “at some point in the future” on what happened in the lab during Robotman’s extended stay in Jane’s brain. The future is now, my friends! Functioning as a low-key two-part episode with last week’s entry, “Hair Patrol” gives us the story of what Rita and Cyborg were doing while the events of the previous episode unfolded. It’s an interesting tale – let’s dive right in!
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: The action opens with a flashback sequence to one of Niles’ adventures back in the day – waaay back in the day, the 1910s to be precise. Obviously old Chiefy has found a little life-extending superpower of his own somewhere along his way, eh? Working for the “Bureau of Oddities” at this point, Chief and his partner have been sent to the far north to attempt to locate a reported Yeti-esque type of creature. They haven’t seen much success, and they are getting weary – so much so that Niles lets his guard down and is attacked by a pack of wolves. As his partner, who is clearly the more battle-tested of the two, works to defeat the animals, Niles gets lost and injured – and as he begins to lose consciousness, he is approached by the very creature that he was sent to find…
He awakes in a cave, being nursed back to health by Slava, whom we discover is a woman blessed with long life, the last of an ancient primal tribe. She appears to have a symbiotic relationship with the creature, and Niles chooses to stay in the wilderness for years with her, learning more about her and her powers – and eventually falling in love with her. But at this time in history, things are changing in the “bigger picture” of the world, and the Bureau of Oddities chooses to re-brand themselves as the Bureau of Normalcy – and they make it clear that they are not done tracking this creature.
As the “B side” of this week’s plot, we get to see what happened with Cyborg and Rita during the events of last week’s episode – and what an adventure they had as well. Ernest Franklin, who goes by the ridicule-inducing moniker of the Beard Hunter, is tasked by the Bureau of Normalcy to locate Niles Caulder. Even though his “superpower” sounds incredibly dumb on the surface – and is incredibly gross, as he literally needs to ingest one or more beard hairs from his “prey” to function – Ernest’s power gives him a surprisingly effective “in” to knowing all there is about the person whose beard hair he has ingested. As he says, “the beard is the essence of the soul,” or something to that effect.
After ingesting beard hairs from both the Chief and Cyborg, Beard Hunter is able to glean new information about the whereabouts of Niles – and he’s able to defeat Cyborg, by anticipating his every move in a dorky slo-mo ‘Matrix’ type of fight that seems like it would be better suited to be taking place in the buffet line at Pizza Hut. Regardless, Beard Hunter escapes the Manor and sets off to find the Chief – but not before Rita has a chance to covertly place a tracker on him.
- In the woods of the Great White North, the wolves attack the Chief while he’s out taking a dump. Stay classy, wolves! Niles is caught with his pants down, figuratively and literally.
- I didn’t think that DC could top the absurdity of bringing Danny the Street to life in this series, but they have certainly come close with another quirky comic character in the Beard Hunter. Although much of his back-story and abilities have been significantly changed from the comic-book pages (which is for the best, if you know the character at all), Ernest gets a hilarious intro and a great “montage” sequence before squaring off against Rita and Cyborg.
- It must be said, though, with their hiring of Ernest: the Bureau of Normalcy must be getting desperate these days, eh?
- One thing that’s always bothered me about Beard Hunter: since he operates solely on the ingestion of beard hairs for his powers to work, that means he can only track men, then? And bearded women?
- In the comic book that Rita picks up (‘My Greatest Adventure”) – it’s a quick look, but the ad for Mentall-O’s is obviously a Flex Mentallo reference – another classic character from the pages of the ‘Doom Patrol’ comic series. Flex was actually a member of the Doom Patrol… will we be seeing him brought to life on screen as well?
CLOSING THOUGHTS: The preview video for next week looks to be another episode that focuses more on the individuals than the plot-driving goal of finding the Chief – in fact, Jane appears to be opining about the fact that the group will never be able to locate the Chief. With only five episodes left in the season, it’s probably time to squarely turn our attention back to the quest at hand. Hopefully, the creative team shares this opinion as well, and we’ll start to feel that shift in the next episode or two.
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.