This Doom Patrol review contains spoilers.
Doom Patrol Episode 10
This is definitely one of the weirder, and perhaps grossest, episodes yet of Doom Patrol. And though not the best, “Hair Patrol” is still a satisfyingly shaggy story that delivers a Niles Caulder origin story, and brings in one of comic book’s oddest villains, Beard Hunter.
I did not expect to see Timothy Dalton’s Chief squatting for a poop in the woods in this episode – or ever – but the scene is only the beginning of the actor’s impressive work this week. While he has been a sporadic appearance in DP, it is fun to see his own flashback in 1913, where he has to act alongside a largely silent female hominid.
There is still much to learn about the 106-year-old Chief, but it’s interesting seeing him evolve from a perky explorer of oddities, into a prisoner, wild man, and eventually the collector of gifted humans. Niles has shown love and comfort to his ragtag Doom Patrol, and they have a fondness for their adoptive father. But there has been a theme that the Chief they think they know has a deeper, darker past (and is a man who appears to run from his failures). And Mr. Nobody has been chipping away at that in the background; yes, he is evil, but he also wants to expose the hypocrisy of Caulder.
And by episode’s end, he appears to. Niles returns to civilization with a new life that feels eternal, and he lies to the Bureau of Normalcy to seemingly protect his hairy gal pal. But Mr. Nobody reveals that, even though the Chief could protect his whole family at Doom Manor, he refuses to do so out of his own arrogance. He doesn’t want to give Nobody the satisfaction of breaking him.
The comic book version of Niles Caulder is quite different than what we have thus far seen on the series, but with a few episodes of the season left, we might be heading into darker territory with the character. It will be interesting to see how the team survives that eventual revelation.
Meanwhile, this week we meet Ernest Franklin, aka Beard Hunter. Rather than the relatively buff, blonde, beard-collecting serial killer from the comics, this version is a schlub with psychic powers. Activated by the Bureau to track Niles, this Beard Hunter (who does appear to possess his old red costume with the pretty awesome insignia) consumes facial hair to gain access to his target’s memories, and deepest thoughts. It also makes him a formidable opponent.
And dude is gross. The disgust even the Bureau agent has for him is great foreshadowing for the stomach-churning scene of him snaking the Chief’s drain, and slurping down a gooey, hair glob of beard hair. Yet, the scene is incredibly effective as Ernest enters into an almost orgasmic state as he processes Niles’ past. The gross out continues as Beard Hunter gets excited to meet the famous Cyborg, and licks his lips eyeing up Vic’s whiskers.
It is icky stuff, and serves yet another reminder that this series is incredibly weird, despite all the heart, and pathos. As nasty as things get via slo-mo slurping, with accompanying sound effects (which rightly prompts Vic to say, “You better back you ass up”), the Beard Hunter wins against Cyborg after a little data dump. He literally gets in his head, and Cy – afraid of becoming the monster in Jane’s painting – shuts down. I like Joivan Wade in the role of Vic, but I think we’ve had enough teases about his backstory, and it’s time to learn the truth about him.
“Hair Patrol” also pairs up Rita and Vic again (as the events of last week play out within Jane’s Underground), and the two characters are more likable together this time, as opposed to way back in “Puppet Patrol.” But why didn’t the beardless Rita just stretch out and take out Beard Hunter? It seemed she was in good spot to do so.
One other small moment from “Hair Patrol,” which is a pretty big reveal, is the mention of Flex Mentallo, who has gone missing from the comic book Danny the Street gave to Cyborg. And Flex may be the key to finding the Chief.
Though good, “Hair Patrol” doesn’t live up to the two previous series highlights, “Jane Patrol” and “Danny Patrol.” Still, it might be the first Doom Patrol episode yet to make me nearly puke.