This Doom Patrol review contains spoilers.
Doom Patrol Episode 3
This week’s Doom Patrol involved a lot of Nazis getting their ass whupped. As if that alone is not satisfying enough, the bizarre roadtrip episode “Puppet Patrol” has the team realizing how little control they have, and involves a heartbreaking subplot about Larry confronting his double-life, and inner demon/negative energy entity.
First up, getting DP out of Cloverton – the citizens of which are none too keen on our misfit heroes – is a welcome switch up. The montage on the bus is an example of how this show is having fun playing with its characters. Of course Rita is a bad driver; I would bet she’s used to a life of chauffeurs. Ending up somewhere like the Cheap and Sleep is on brand for the Doom Patrol, especially when they’re forced to sleep in one room (but at least all seem to enjoy watching Romero’s Night of the Living Dead together). Thankfully we didn’t get an entire episode on the road to Paraguay. Just when we needed to get out of that hotel room, Jane/Flit peaces out, and teleports her, Cliff, and Larry to Paraguay.
The Paraguay stuff is so absurd, and delightful. From their encounter with tourist/hopeful meta Steve, to the surreal Fuchtopia, a traditional German village for the Nazi mad scientist Heinrich von Fuchs. The robot puppets, three-hour-long marionette orientation presentation, evil lair imagery is all pulpy, odd, and really fun to watch. And the puppet show is a fun way to reveal the connection between Caulder and Mr. Nobody (formerly Eric Morden of the 1930s supervillain team, the Brotherhood of Evil).
The bloody end to Fuchtopia is horrific, but satisfying, as Cliff dismembers all the Nazi Fuchs in a fit of uncontrollable rage, and Jane lets loose with a few of her alters. Nice to see Sun Daddy unleashing some powers as well. But the action sequence is also sad to watch because Cliff realizes he’s not in any shape to call his daughter’s number on that Post-It Note, and Fuchs calls out that Jane is not the core persona, after all – and no one is really running the show in her body.
While I don’t know if Larry (aka “OCD Alpha Douche Waffle,” according to Jane) is my favorite character on Doom Patrol yet, he is has the most emotional depth, and it is all out there this week. Even before he had the entity living inside him, he led two lives, as an All-American ace pilot, father, and husband, and then as a gay man with a lover. And it is revealed that he tried to run from his identity, by moving his family from town to town, but couldn’t outrun his true self.
Larry has wanted to be rid of the negative energy, which he blamed for his life ending, but through a series of flashbacks, it’s revealed that is only partly true – and the entity is fed up with the accusation. Although the energy is a bit of a petulant jerk, it is interesting to see it – via the use of Fuch’s mad scientist superpower pod chamber – force Larry to see that his lover John would have stayed by his side, and though his wife left him after the incident that bonded the pilot with the energy.
It was Larry, not the entity, who said “Go” to John. The scene in the chamber, granting us more Matt Bomer performance this week, was beautiful with its purifying white light, and the effect of the bandages floating away from Larry’s face. But the truth came out in that brightness. As much as he tried, Larry couldn’t control his sexuality, and cannot control the negative entity, but can he now find more peace with both?
After introducing Cyborg last week, the aspiring Justice Leaguer wants to whip the team into shape by having debriefings and disseminating information (and Cliff gets to be the sophomoric audience surrogate by chuckling at “disseminate”). But as much as he has access to amazing intel, has been trained as a crime fighter and detective, and potentially has a butt-printer, he still needs his father’s help, and S.T.A.R. Labs’ resources.
Speaking of Silas Stone, we don’t learn much more about his real intentions this week via Vic’s transmissions, but he seems less devious. It was clunky after the foreshadowing in Episode 2 not to mention anything more about his intentions – but Vic does appear to be clueing into the fact that his “memories” aren’t so reliable. By the way, he can hack an ATM, so why wouldn’t he simply get the money to book a jet?
I enjoy what Cy brings to this team because he is certainly better suited as a hero, but still falls short. He has minor celebrity hero status, but that only opens him up to selfies with civilians who want to know what Batman is like, and exposes him to Cliff’s jokes about Aquaman never losing his keys. Cliff is such an immature tool to Cy; he craves hero status/leadership duties, but acts like a man-child.
The Cyborg/Rita interactions didn’t entirely click for me as they felt out of place when I wanted to spend more time in Fuchtopia. Rita is becoming more interesting as she reveals more of a protective nature with Larry; calls out Cyborg for being afraid of Nobody as the rest of them; or struggles with her own control over her body following the villain’s mind invasion. But I would have enjoyed having Rita and Cy doing something else other than being broken down at the motel.
Still, this was another enjoyable entry of Doom Patrol, and as much as our heroes lack control, it ends with a warning that not even the seemingly all powerful Mr. Nobody is safe. As Jane writes on the jet window, “Control is a weapon for fascists.”
Oh, and a big geeky hello to Steve, now known as Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man from the comic books. I love this guy, and hope this is not a one-off appearance.
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