We are eleven episodes into ‘Doom Patrol,’ so I really shouldn’t be surprised anymore about how much this show can astonish with its impressive amount of character development. But here we are, with another fantastic episode that goes to show that superhero stories can be about so much more than just punching and special abilities (although those certainly are present as well, which is nice).
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 first part of “Frances Patrol” is a pseudo-continuation of the last two episodes, which have all shown the same event – the negative energy living inside of Larry coming out to connect Cliff and Jane so that she can come out of her coma – from different viewpoints. In this regard, this week’s episode is the third of a three-parter, of sorts; this story’s action kicks off with the audience seeing what was happening inside Larry’s head while the negative energy had vacated his physical being.
And it was very sweet: Larry is in a dream-like sequence, almost a “waking dream” as he seems to realize what’s going on – and he’s not alone. His former lover John is with him, and these two get a chance to reconnect and enjoy a slice of the life they had before Larry’s aviation accident that imbued him with long life and the presence of the spirit. The strange thing is: John seems to realize he’s actively in Larry’s dream as well.
After the Jane/Cliff issue is resolved, Larry implores the spirit to take him back into the dream. The spirit obliges but puts Larry and John into a different dream, one where Larry figures out that both his and John’s consciousness in the present is being transferred into these dreams. This seems to be a gift from the negative spirit, but alas, in real life John has grown old and is now on his death bed.
As Larry sets off to find John in person, the other members of the team also have their missions-of-the-week to accomplish. Cliff finds out that Bump, his former pit crew chief/guy who was sleeping with his wife/surrogate father to Cliff’s child when Cliff “died” (that’s an impressive resume), has passed away after fighting a gator in the Florida swamplands. Seeing an opportunity to reconnect with his daughter, Cliff heads south, with Rita in tow for emotional support and to keep an eye on things.
Crazy Jane, meanwhile, has a desire to step up the investigation into the Chief’s whereabouts, so she enlists the help of Cyborg, even though he’s taken himself offline after suspicions of his father’s continued meddling with and spying on Vic’s operating system. The duo seems to have a lead on connecting with Flex Mentallo, another character from pages of the ’80s/’90s Doom Patrol comics. When they go to meet with a contact, however, they are ambushed operatives from the Bureau of Normalcy, who succeed in subduing Vic and taking him back to their headquarters, the Ant Farm…
- He’s had a few moments here and there in previous episodes, but Matt Bomer gets some true time to shine outside of his voiceover work and in person here. It’s wonderful to see him working “in the flesh,” as it were, and he gets a real chance to deliver not only some amazing moments in this episode but also pointedly progress Larry as a character – it’s all incredibly well done.
- Even though Brendan Fraser doesn’t get to “come out and play” physically, his voice work in this episode, paired with physical Robotman actor Riley Shanahan, deliver Cliff’s biggest character growth of the season. From the touching scenes of attempting to interact “in secret” with his daughter to traversing the Florida swamps taunting a giant alligator, Robotman certainly didn’t have a shortage of things to do this episode.
- On the above note, credit April Bowlby for making the most of Rita’s slimmer screen time this episode. Between Rita “embracing the odd” and having a drink and a big-ass plate of chicken with a Florida bar denizen while later providing her caring-but-exasperated guidance of Cliff and his fragile mental state, Elastigirl continues to shine in each episode.
CLOSING THOUGHTS: I think that Clara summed up my general feeling of this series on the whole quite well in this episode when she, in eulogizing her deceased adoptive father, said: “Here’s to the good things that make no sense.” This series can be equal parts haphazard action, blue comedy, excellent character development, and truly touching moments – and it all, somehow, continues to come together week after week as one of the best shows currently being made. So here’s to this good thing that, at times, makes no sense at all – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
PRINCIPAL CAST FEATURED IN THIS SERIES:
Timothy Dalton as Niles Caulder/The Chief
Brendan Fraser as Cliff Steele/Robotman
Diane Guerrero as Kay Challis/Crazy Jane
April Bowlby as Rita Farr/Elastigirl
Matt Bomer as Larry Trainor/Negative Man
Alan Tudyk as Eric Morden/Mr. Nobody
Joivan Wade as Victor Stone/Cyborg
‘Doom Patrol’ features new episodes on Fridays via the DC Universe streaming service.