This Doom Patrol review contains spoilers.
Doom Patrol Episode 9
The underground is vast, and the story dark and poignant in “Jane Patrol,” the ninth episode of Doom Patrol. While still remaining a super hero show, this installment is a mind screw of a psychological drama that addresses a character’s inner demons, and her unwillingness to (literally) let someone else in.
And it all feels very relatable.
Following a disturbing scene between young Kay Challis and her sexually abusive father, the episode picks up with the alter Karen banished to the Underground, the unconscious world of Jane’s core personality. But wait! Because primary alter Jane is also down town, leaving no one “up there” to run the show – which is why the rest of the Doom Patrol is stuck looming over Jane’s catatonic body.
The introduction of Jane’s alters, each presented with a graphic displaying their name in a separate typeface, cleverly shows the individuality of the characters. Including Jane, I counted 22 of her 64 alters this week (while a handful of ones we’ve previously met weren’t seen in the Underground). The show wisely cast different actors to play most of the alters. While Diane Guerrero has been doing an impressive job flipping through personalities, the choice allows the audience to view each as truly separate characters while keeping Jane as, simply, Jane.
Visually, the episode is foreboding, and the show does a lot with its Atlanta sets here. The labyrinth subway that is Kay’s Underground is dominated by darkness with only a handful of bright, and sepia-toned, memories of happier times for Jane – or other alters.
Fascinatingly, Jane doesn’t even entirely grasp how her own mind works, and her journey of self-discovery leads her to consult the three-headed, and Shakespearean, Weird Sisters.
Her pursuit of the Well, where she inevitably encounters the puzzle monster representing her father, is a not so subtle statement of how deep we bury our traumas, and how demons continue to linger in our psyche. The deeper we go, the darker it gets.
And then there’s Cliff, who is terrible at respecting Jane’s personal boundaries, but loves her so much that he has to be her knight in rusted armor. Jane appears to also love him, but also buries memories of him in the bad parts of the Underground because it gave her hope.
In one of the noticeably few humorous moments of the episode, Larry’s negative energy cuts off the host body mocking Cyborg’s Magic School Bus-style plan to incept Jane’s mind. The result is Cliff, appearing in human Brendan Fraser form, also navigating Jane’s psyche. Even though Cliff needs to come to terms with the fact he is no longer a man in order to help Jane, Fraser’s appearance is welcome.
Intriguingly, we need a humanized Cliff to connect with Jane, and Fraser sells it as a friend who deeply loves this girl. Hell, it’s just nice to spend so much face time with the actor beyond his expert profanity-laced voice work.
Jane is, of course, correct that Cliff doesn’t belong in her mind uninvited. Then again, Penny Farthing at least wants him there (as does the largely silent Jack Straw, and possibly Karen). So whose consent does Cliff require? Clearly someone in Kay’s Underground is trying to reach out to him for help.
The sad fact is, even though Jane seemingly defeats “Daddy” to save Cliff at the Well, all is not resolved when Jane returns to the top, and re-joins the Doom Patrol. (By the way, what were Rita and Vic up to while left alone topside?) As much as I want Jane to find some stability with her alters, can her trauma ever be entirely conquered? I hope we are now seeing Jane as a survivor, but that doesn’t wipe away the evil she had to encounter.
“Jane Patrol” is an interesting exploration of mental illness, and the relationship that survivors experience with loved ones. This is still a show about misfit super heroes, but the episode is a compelling standalone story about exploring one’s own mindscape, and encountering all the memories, and versions of our self that exist in there.