Trash TV Guru : “Doom Patrol” Season One, Episode Six – “Doom Patrol Patrol”

Posted: March 23, 2019 in television
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How far the DC Universe original streaming series Doom Patrol has come — as well as how fast it’s come to be at this high-water creative mark — is best judged by episode six, curiously (but, as it turns out, accurately) entitled “Doom Patrol Patrol,” the installment that deviates furthest from the show’s comic book roots, taking only inspiration and some telling visual cues (specifically relating to Diane Guerrero’s “Crazy” Jane confronting the demons of her past) from its four-color progenitor, but no specific plot points or lines of dialogue, as has been the case every week up until now.

Not that there isn’t plenty on offer to appeal to even the funnybook’s longest-tenured fans : when a part of the team goes to investigate the apparently-retired superhero trio known as the Doom Patrol at the urging of the villainous Mr. Nobody, we get to meet Steve Dayton/Mento (played with suave and dangerous charm by Will Kemp), Arani Desai/Celsius (Jasmie Kaur), and Rhea Jones/Lodestone (Lesa Wilson), as well as their minder, Joshua Clay/Tempest (Alimi Ballard), an assemblage torn right from the newsprint pages — but never in this precise combination, to say nothing of in this precise fashion. They should, by rights, all be retired — they did their adventuring way back in the 1950s, after all — and yet they’re not. In fact, they don’t appear to have aged a day, and they’re busily training the next generation of metahumans.

Or are they?

April Bowlby’s Rita Farr has been inching her way toward the foreground in recent stories, and this week she’s the “showcase” character in writer Tamra Becher-Wilkinson’s script, her past coming into sharper relief by means of flashback scenes while she’s concurrently called upon to literally save the day in the present, to well and truly play the “hero” for the first time. She’s been prepping for the job and proves to be up to it, but how she arrives at this point is rooted firmly in, is even a reaction to, earlier-life traumas, not all of which are spelled out plain as day. There’s still plenty of mystery, in other words, undercutting this character, and that mystery only deepens here — which is also the case with Jane, Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk’s Larry Trainor, and perhaps most especially Timothy Dalton’s “Chief” Niles Caulder, who again makes an extended “appearance” in non-corporeal form. It all sounds more confusing than it actually is, trust me.

Truth be told, “showrunner” Jeremy Carver and this episode’s director, Chris Manley, play things pretty straight with this one, and it works : there’s a strong argument to be made for this being the show’s most workmanlike outing to date, but that should in no way be construed as a “mark” against it, as the horror movie atmospherics of “Doom Patrol Manor” work in stark contrast to the more “upbeat” subplot involving a bargain struck between Brendan Fraser/Riley Shanhan’s Cliff Steele and Joivan Wade’s Vic Stone that sees Cybog and his father, Silas (Phil Morris) start to bury the hatchet and Robotman take some tentative steps toward re-connecting with his estranged daughter — by means of cyber-stalking her? It should be creepy, I suppose, but it’s anything but.

So, yeah, plenty to unpack here — and plenty to admire, even if you’re new to this franchise and the numerous “Easter Eggs” on hand fly right past you. By turns unsettling and heartwarming, cringe-worthy and gut-bustingly funny, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, this is (say it with me now) probably the best episode yet.

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Comments
  1. Ryan C. (trashfilmguru) says:

    Reblogged this on Through the Shattered Lens.

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