All this was missing was a musical number set to “Weird Al” Yankovic‘s “Dare to Be Stupid.” But maybe that would’ve been too on-the-nose?
The seventh episode of Doom Patrol‘s second season offered one of its most lighthearted tales yet as Larry (Matt Bomer), Miranda (Diane Guerrero), Vic (Joivan Wade), and Roni (Karen Obilom) face the most sinister of opponents yet: their own stupidity. Although, bad ideas abound throughout the episode and the characters’ lives. Certainly, that was the point even if the stupidity Rita (April Bowlby), Cliff (Brendan Fraser), and Niles (Timothy Dalton) faced lacked the same dire consequences as the idiocy at Doom Manor. And even bad ideas proliferate, some of them offered us respite from the ongoing emotional weight of the series while others seemed to lead to positive change.
Honestly, we’re happy to have some sort of hopeful moment even as ominous images try their best to snatch theme away.
The A-plot, a search for the Scant Queen who feeds on bad ideas, once again feels like direct lift from a Doom Patrol comic. In fact, the Scants appeared in Doom Patrol (vol. 6) #7. It’s from Gerard Way‘s run on the book (he even gets a shout-out early in the episode via a billboard), but their application here makes for some of the funniest moments we’ve seen yet, including Larry’s thwarted attempts to see his grandson, Vic and Roni’s instant honeymoon phase, and Willoughby Kipling’s (Mark Sheppard) “plan” to save everyone from the Queen. And that’s to say nothing of what is possibly the best Mr. Nobody fourth-wall break of the entire series.
Of course his “appearance” here is only the first of several questions the episode left us with.
Meanwhile, Niles’s attempt to conjure up the spirit of Dorothy’s (Abigail Shapiro) mother only brought forth the Candlemaker and a dire warning about Dorothy’s abilities. Although, we think Niles’s worst idea stems from his belief in the Candlemaker’s claims. More than anything, the entity wants to break the bond between father and daughter because it will convince her to make a most terrible wish. Could he be lying about his origins and Dorothy’s fate? We think so because he only ever wants to distort the reality around him. We hope, though, that Kipling’s plan for Dorothy will outmaneuver both the Candlemaker and Niles.
Let’s face it, Niles is the king of bad ideas and Kipling is a knock-off John Constantine — he literally exists when John isn’t available.
And speaking of the Chief’s bad ideas, let’s talk about Cliff. His bad idea was to contact Clara (Bethany Anne Lind) when his emotions were riding high. Though it seems she never received his message, it is waiting there as a time bomb on whatever bond they might forge next week. That said, it certainly feels like Cliff getting a hold of his emotions is his entire journey on this show. If he ever accomplishes that, he can truly become an ideal Robotman.
Also, we want to recognize actor Riley Shanahan, the man inside the Robotman costume on set, for taking falls — like the brutal one in the parking lot this week — and giving so much physical life to a character devoid of facial expression. Though Fraser’s vocal performance is half the job, it might not land as well if Shanahan approached it with anything less than total commitment. Same goes for Matthew Zuk in the Negative Man costume, who offers Larry the wry head tilt and other more contained expressions of the character’s inner turmoil.
But one person who has no problem expressing herself is Rita Farr (April Bowlby) — even if she’s still trying to figure out what to express. Her scenes with Martha the Beekeeper (Avis-Marie Barnes) may be knocking on the door of a certain “magical” stereotype, but there’s also something oddly calming and charming about watching Rita drink a beer with someone and speak as plainly as she can about her mother. This is the therapy she’s been looking for the whole time, even if she still feels trapped by all that imposter syndrome. Nevertheless, taking Martha’s advice and shouting to the bees did help as Rita finally had an Elasti-Woman moment.
In fact, it is surprising to see the Doom Patrol’s superhero names bubble up to the surface after all this time. It is unclear if the series is leading us in that direction with Rita’s last scene here, but it is a possibility. Then again, it could be a fake out like Roni holding that capsule to the camera or Miranda’s “good persona” act. Sure, she unquestionably saved the day, but there’s already a cost in the Underground for good deeds.
Doom Patrol streams Thursdays on DC Universe and HBO Max.