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‘Doom Patrol’ S01E05: ‘Paw Patrol’ (review)

S01E05 — With the Apocalypse in full swing, the Doom Patrol must work with an unlikely ally – and a very special pug – to stop the end of the world.

I have to admit. I have no idea where to start with this one.

Things get super crazy and really out there, and this episode is a lot of things to take in at once, but ultimately, it’s as entertaining as anything they’ve done thus far…perhaps more so. There’s punk rock, there’s disco; there’s a blue eye and a green one. I swear, if I were to try to explain what happened in this episode to someone who doesn’t watch or doesn’t know what to expect from this franchise, I know I’d be committed to an institution.

Deep breath, everyone. This is a doozy.

A few episodes back (which is to say, Episodes 1 and 2), I made the comment that Rita and Jane were both on the short end of the stick as far as character development, but I realize that we’re only five episodes in, so they’d come around to it.

Last week, Rita had a real good arc (that continues into this week), but Episode Five was alllll Jane. That’s not to say that there’s no growth to go around. I think it’s safe to say that the only two characters that don’t get nudged forward are Cliff and Chief, and the latter is debatable, for reasons that will become clear in a bit. Let’s start small and work our way up.

Cyborg is pretty much what we expect based on episodes past, but in the last act, he suffers a catastrophic malfunction that requires, to simplify it, pressing a reboot button. Simple, right? But the reboot button is symbolic of his dependence on STAR Labs and his father, which, as I’ve said previously, Vic is trying to move away from. It’s a hard moment to watch because you’re watching someone ostensibly lose a limb and try to convince everyone that he’ll fix it…but he’s not a surgeon.

Does that make sense? Vic’s reaction is so real, so emotional, that watching it, we’re all trying to stop Robotman from hitting the button. According to next week’s episode description, Vic and Cliff form some kind of bond, so it’ll be interesting to see how that shakes out.

Larry, as well, is kind of standing still but when Caulder comes back, the two of them have a chat on the Doom Bus about the video that Larry saw (where the Chief is “interviewing” the Negative Man). The Chief mentions that the Entity feels tortured because Larry is torturing himself, and I basically called it a few weeks back when I said that Larry’s arc will deal with him having to come to an acceptance of his condition and his acceptance of his uninvited roommate.

Continuing from last week, Rita is starting to feel maternal towards Elliot, aka the Unwritten Book. I’m not sure if I mentioned this earlier, and forgive me for overlooking it, but when Rita, Larry and Vic entered the donkey’s mouth and they were confronted by Mister Nobody, there was a moment when Rita was looking at a baby in a crib (or an empty crib, I’m fuzzy on the details now). Because it happens so fast, I didn’t think there was much to mention about it, but since then, I’ve had the feeling that Rita either lost a child or aborted one.

So, her scene with Elliot is especially poignant because we can see that Rita has a semblance of empathy, but she has a lot of walls built up around her. You can make the requisite “thick skin” analogies on your own, and you’ll probably nail exactly what lies at the core of Rita Farr.

Her scene with Elliot has her at her weakest, most thin skinned, as she tries to talk him out of killing himself (my interpretation), asking him what he wants to do in the face of the apocalypse, only to have the Decreator turn him into ash before her eyes. [SPOILER] When the Recreator starts bringing people back, Rita waits for Elliot where she saw him last. That Rita…always pulling your heart out.

And then we get to Jane. Or Kay. Or Penny Farthing. Or Doctor Harrison. To state the obvious, Diana Guerrero is a force of nature in this episode and somebody better have her nominated for an Emmy because holy shit, this week, she is an MVP.

To fully grasp what happens with Jane this week, I have to remind you of Mister Nobody’s ability to exist in all times at once. Kinda like Doctor Manhattan, but the nature of Nobody’s ability to do this is more of a metatextual narrative tool; he is the deus ex machina, the exposition machine, and the catalyst.

To defeat the Decreator…well, technically, you can’t. However, Niles and Nobody come to a pact; if Nobody wants to take over the world or destroy it (can’t recall his actual motivation), he can’t let the Decreator destroy the world. So, he and Caulder hatch a plan. How do you take down the Decreator? By summoning the Recreator. How do you counteract the Unwritten Book? By creating the Rewritten Book.

Again, I feel the need to say that I think I sound just as crazy as you think I am reading this.

So, if you have all that in mind, then the next part should make sense. Should. Nobody goes back in time (again, he doesn’t “go back” as much as he’s already there…never mind) and convinces Jane’s Doctor Harrison persona (who has the gift of influencing anyone who hears her voice) to form a counter-cult to the Cult of the Unwritten Book. Therefore, there is a failsafe to the Unwritten Book already in motion by the time we get to the present. It involves a pug, ringing a bell, disco dancing in the streets, and two eyes crossed in the sky.

I friggin’ love this show.

Before we end, Mister Nobody has taken Chief again, and has planted a post-hypnotic suggestion in Jane’s mind in the past, and we find out what it is with the last words of the episode…

Will you watch next week’s episode?

“What the fuck is a ‘Doom Patrol?’” Next week, we meet Mento!

 

NEXT WEEK: S1:E6 DOOM PATROL PATROL

 

Vito Delsante is a comic book writer, graphic novelist, editor, letterer, and the co-creator/writer of STRAY with Sean Izaakse, and THE PURPLE HEART with Dean Haspiel and artist, Ricardo Venâncio. He’s written for DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Image Comics, AdHouse Books, and Simon & Schuster, among others, and his stories have been reprinted in other countries. He lives in Pittsburgh, PA with his wife, Michelle, his daughter, Sadie, his son, James, and his pitbull, Kirby.  You can find him online at incogvito.com and you can follow him on Twitter @incogvito

 

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