Brief Thoughts On ‘Doom Patrol’ Season 2, Episode 6
by Erik Amaya
Finally, a ray of light in the often dark world of Doom Patrol.
As we’ve been saying for the last few weeks, the series has been gut-wrenching. And while the emotional turmoil it trades in leads to fantastic stories and performances, the relentless down-beat tone has been tough to bare at times. Consider the last time things felt in anyway happy, Danny took his people and disappeared. Since then, Larry’s (Matt Bomer) attempt to make amends with his family led to the Bureau of Normalcy finding, Jane (Diane Guerrero) falling deeper into the Underground and Dorothy (Abigail Spinner) stepping every closer to ending all things with a single wish. Nonetheless, this week managed to add some sweetness into the mix.
For one: the friendship between Larry and Rita (April Bowlby) continues to makes us smile. And though they only shared one scene this week, we absolutely loved Larry’s self assessment and the way he encouraged Rita to go act in the local play. It was the best way possible to start a story which played Rita’s troubles for laughs — and make no mistake, sometimes you have to laugh. Between learning the play is about her attack on the town last season and finding the overly eager young actor next to her is playing her, Rita took things pretty well. Although, we’re not convinced she really wants to consume the world the way her “nemesis” suggests. The need for approval, though, is dead-on. We just wish there was some healthy way for Rita to receive the attention she needs. That’s part of why this show works so well, though; the damage of the Doom Patrol is familiar. And even it is made for a country drunk on the notion of self-reliance, there is a place for the validation Rita craves. Hopefully, the show will give her a break and the play will highlight her talents.
Her nemesis seemed to think she played a good part.
From laughs to the show’s odd ability to highlight beauty, we have to discuss the unlikely scene between Cliff (Brendan Fraser) and Dorothy on that not-quite Krypton planet. Cliff’s ability to bond with Jane and his fixation on his own daughter makes him the most unlikely (and yet obvious) eventual guardian. It certainly feels like their gentile discussion over the grave of her “imaginary friend” sets up the possibility that he may be the most emotionally equipped member of the group to watch over her after Niles (Timothy Dalton) dies. Then again, we just like that juxtaposition between Cliff’s bewildered, swear-happy standard mode and his ability to actually empathize with the girl next to him once his brain gives him a moment of quiet. It is the thing which enables him to bring Dorothy back in from the cold. Too bad Niles doesn’t see the advantage of that and blew Cliff into space.
And speaking of space, we absolutely loved the Strange Adventures quality of the not-quite Challengers of the Unknown Larry must entertain for most of the episode. Moscow (Mariana Klaveno) and her compatriots felt like a parody of the mid-century DC science team and something plucked straight from a short story in that sci-fi anthology title — right down to the two men being husks for a semi-sentient spore or fungus. But Moscow’s wish to bring them home so she and her negative spirit can further grow hits all the rights notes in the episode’s brilliant homage to those weird 1950s DC stories and its resonance with Larry’s on-going journey. Also, we can’t help but notice how much their space suits look like the classic Robotman design. Hmm…
Back to Larry, though — we just wish he could move on from his family.
Sure, it seems like his negative spirit wants him to come to terms with them. But like Cliff dealing with his daughter, this may not be something he can do physically with the surviving members of his family. As he pointed out, his son tried to have him committed and his grandson was shot in the crossfire. That leaves us feeling like his next attempt to get square with them will just lead to more turmoil and bloodshed.
We expect the Miranda persona will offer much the same now that she’s free of the well and Jane’s control of the body. Then again, Miranda may be a more stable persona. It’s been a long time since we read the Doom Patrol comics by Grant Morrison and Richard Case, but we vaguely recall a Miranda taking control of Jane’s body there, too. Unfortunately, we cannot recall the outcome. But considering the way Jane’s story goes on this show, we expect Cliff will be shouting at her soon enough.
Finally, Vic’s (Joivan Wade) love affair with Roni (Karen Obilom) feels like the most “traditional” aspect of the series. The mystery also seems obvious — Roni was made so Silas (Phil Morris) and Niles could try out the Cyborg tech — but there’s still some uneasiness regarding her motives. We still think she’s trying to get her hands on Vic’s implants for the Quorum, but that may be cross-contamination from what we know about her comic book counterpart. Nonetheless, it is nice to see the show dabble with something a little more “pedestrian.” Although, this being Doom Patrol, we expect it will turn into something stranger in the next episode or two. In the meantime, Vic and Roni make a charming couple.
Doom Patrol streams Thursdays on DC Universe and HBO Max.