S01S06 — Jane, Larry and Rita visit a school where the original Doom Patrol has retired. Meanwhile, Cliff & Vic bond over their mutual “father issues.”
In a season with standout episodes, Episode Six was possibly the highest watermark yet by anything produced and released on the DC Universe app. Believe me, that is saying something. BREAKING BAD, MAD MEN, THE WIRE and a few other early 00’s shows were continually upping the ante on a weekly basis for what television could be. I’ve praised DOOM PATROL since the first episode, and I’m sure I will continue to do so, so forgive me if I sound like a broken record…
…But it truly is an amazing piece of television. The biggest crime against DOOM PATROL is that it doesn’t have a wider audience. I’m fairly certain these DCU exclusive series will eventually make their way to Netflix, but that might not give them the opportunity to be recognized by the Television Academy. Trust me when I say that if this show doesn’t get recognized in some way, it will truly be a crime.
The show opens with Rita in the spot where she last saw Elliot.
We flashback to 1955, sometime after her transformation, and Rita is auditioning for a part in a new movie. As someone who loves reading about 1950’s Hollywood, I kind of knew where this was going…the casting couch. However, before anything unseemly can happen, Rita transforms into the blob and suffocates the producer. So, let’s pump the brakes for one second and keep some things in mind that we’ve learned about Rita Farr: she’s an asshole, possibly a bigot, she possibly given a child up for adoption (maybe an abortion, since it wasn’t explicitly stated), and now a murderer. And she’s a bitch and a half, especially when it comes to Mary, an actress that has been chosen by the director of this new “wrestling movie” that Rita wants in on. I’m eating my words when I said that Rita didn’t get much love in the first episode, in terms of character development. I should have trusted the creators to piece it out over the season.
Cliff is seeking out his daughter, Clara, and finds her online on Facehole.
When he can’t get a look at her profile, he turns to Jane to help, but she’s unwilling (due to what happened in Nurnheim), and Cliff turns to Vic. Before we get to that, Jane watches a Babydoll video interview, wherein the Chief mentions the Doom Patrol. You find out there were active in the 50’s, and there’s no real data on them after that…until Rita walks in and starts talking about Steve “Mento” Dayton.
Jane “flits” Rita and Larry to Doom Manor…uh, the other one…and we see Arani and Rhea (friggin’ CELSIUS AND LODESTONE!!!) teaching a bunch of students.
Jane is stopped by Josh (aka TEMPEST!!) and it’s a post-Crisis DC Comics fanboy’s wet dream.
We get to see that meeting of Steve (MENTO!) and Rita (in 1958) in the next flashback. Bro, he’s got the helmet and everything! In their initial meeting, Rita is hesitant to trust Steve’s mental/psychic abilities, but he promises to not look where he shouldn’t. It’s so refreshing to see Rita as vulnerable. There’s a certain WATCHMEN-like scene where Rita asks Steve to wear his helmet, just before being intimate, but she changes her mind after Steve says he doesn’t need the help.
Which of course means he will break that promise.
(For anyone that may be unfamiliar, in the comics, Rita was married to Steve and they adopted Garfield Logan after his parents were killed in the jungle…Garfield is Beast Boy. While TITANS doesn’t acknowledge this part of Gar’s origin, he was living with Caulder and the team when he decided to leave and join the Titans.)
Back to Steve and Rita, when he arrives in the present, he’s charming and there is a certain old movie feel to their banter, as if you were watching Cary Grant go toe-to-toe with Lauren Bacall (and I’m sure that’s intentional on the actor’s parts). Three things stick out to you if you’re a fan of the comics: One, Steve Dayton is a huge pain in the dick…why’s he so nice here? Two, wait, they met in the 50’s and he doesn’t look a day older…and no one is questioning it? And three, what’s with the glitch in the Matrix?
I’m not intentionally ignoring the Cliff/Vic scenes, for the record. I’ll get to that, but I just want to stay with Rita, Jane and Larry for the time being. At the…I don’t know, the Doom Academy? the team starts to ask about Mr. Nobody and why he would tell Jane to look for the Doom Patrol. It’s met with pushback, almost immediately and that’s because the OG DP beat him in the 50’s to the tune of Perry Como’s “Hot Diggity.” And while that sounds kooky and fun, it’s actually horrific when you see what Mr. Nobody does.
In retelling the story, Clay tells Jane that it’s a matter of opinion and who you ask; Steve tells Rita that he led the charge and took him down single-handedly while Arani tells Larry that Steve shit himself.
And then Niles rolls in. Larry, wisely, tries to touch him, and after witnessing the glitch himself, he sees that Niles is just a figment of his imagination. When Rita tells Steve that Mr. Nobody is back, the illusion falls. Steve turns mean and makes Rita relive a terrible suicide of Mary Beth…is this the same Mary as the one who got the part?
Not sure, but Mento isn’t done yet. He attacks everyone, and you find out that this isn’t Caulder’s School for the Gifted (and there’s no students), but really a rest home for the old heroes. It’s reminiscent of that photo series that was making the rounds a few years ago, with the superheroes all old and infirm. It’s a great touch and it definitely shows that not everything you see is real. Mento is basically torturing everyone; Jane gets “attacked” by puzzle pieces, which is kind of an analogy for her multiple personalities.
The Negative Man is the one that saves the day by removing Mento’s helmet (because he’s the only one that can see past the illusion) and then we have Clay revealing the truth about what happened (EXPOSITION DUMP!), and he gives a warning to the current team; the reason Mr. Nobody sent them to see the old team is to be a warning for what could happen to them if they continue to press the issue and pursue him. Pretty good warning, I’d say. Rita forgives Steve for being a shitty boyfriend and breaking his promise (TOLD YOU!) by turning away from her after he sees the Mary Beth incident in her head. This is what ended their relationship.
Nice to know that Steve Dayton will always be a dick.
Now back to Vic and Cliff. Like I said previously, it’s always interesting to see how the team gets paired up. Cliff, as mentioned above, turns to Vic to help him get in contact with Clara (maybe because he’s young or maybe because he’s connected to all things digital). Vic, after last week’s episode is expecting his father to show up to reboot him. He doesn’t trust Silas and asks Cliff to keep an eye on him, but tit for tat, Vic. Cliff and Silas get into an argument about their individual fathering skills, and it’s Silas that gets the lesson. When Vic comes back online, Silas says he will trust his son’s instincts and respect his wishes to see this through.
The episode ends with the “perfect” song (see below) as Larry and the Negative Man have a moment of understanding, Rita pulls down her old photos and posters from her room, determined to be a new version of herself. Cliff, searching through his daughter’s photos, finds an album entitled “Me and Dad,” and it’s all pics of her…with Cliff’s former friend, Bump!
Will you watch next week’s episode?
The teaser has Vic asking if he’s ever said, “Booyah,” so I’m definitely interested to see where this goes.
EXTRA POINTS & NITPICKS:
- Remember I was hoping for Steve (from the episode PUPPET PATROL) would come back? In a great cameo, Steve (aka Animal Vegetable Mineral Man) is on the news with a failed robbery attempt. Again, I haven’t read the Morrison run, so I wasn’t sure of who he was initially, but I have heard the name, and I’m about to start reading the issues on the app immediately. (Ed. Note: Animal Vegetable Mineral Man actually first appeared in Doom Patrol #89 way back in August 1964 was created by Arnold Drake and Bruno Premiani.)
- In the Doom Patrol’s trophy room, there’s a great “cameo” by Wonder Woman’s DCEU sword, but more importantly…THE BRAIN!!!
- Again, top marks to whoever is in charge of the music selection, because in addition to “Hot Diggity,” we have Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” playing over the epilogue.
NEXT WEEK: S1:E7 – THERAPY 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