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

Posted: April 3, 2019 in television
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When is a step out of the nest anything but?

How about — when a TV series does an “offbeat” episode (a very relative term here, I realize, as the entire show is “offbeat” in the extreme) where no one leaves the house?

Which isn’t, mind you, to say that “not a lot happens” — or your preferred alternative turn of phrase essentially describing the same thing — in “Therapy Patrol,” the seventh installment of the DC Universe original streaming series Doom Patrol. Quite a lot does — in terms of development, disintegration, and re-development of team dynamics, fleshing out key character “backstories” even more, etc. There’s no visible villain on offer, though (even if Mr. Nobody’s presence continues to loom large and, in a very real sense, informs everything that happens), Timothy Dalton’s “Chief” Niles Caulder remains conspicuous by his absence, and yeah  —  more or less everything takes place within the confines of “Doom Manor.” And mostly in just one room, at that.

The “action” in Neil Reynolds” script (who’s now written more episodes than “showrunner” Jeremy Carver) starts focused on April Bowlby’s Rita Farr, who’s having a (literal) morning meltdown, but mainly this is a Cliff Steele-centric episode, with Riley Shanhan’s movement and Brendan Fraser’s voice making it damn clear something’s wrong with Robotman — or should that be making it clear that something is even more wrong than usual? His endless cajoling finally gets everyone to agree to an impromptu “group therapy” session — if only to shut him up — and then it’s “deep dive” time, as the inner fears and tragedies motivating Cliff, Rita, Joivan Wade’s Vic Stone, Diane Guerrero’s “Crazy” Jane, and Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk’s Larry Trainor to action (or, as is more frequently the case, inaction) play out in both flashback and discussion form, thus saving director Rob Hardy from having to set everything in the dilapidated mansion’s sitting room. If you’re “into” these characters — and, by now, you either are or you’re no longer watching — you’re gonna be glued to the screen, trust me, even if we re-visit a fair amount of familiar territory.

Seriously, though, I kept coming back to the fact that there’s something very wrong with Cliff here. His bizarre affect keeps on working away in your skull, a pestering but fascinating nuisance, and Jane in particular is reacting pretty poorly to his erratic behavior — not that she’s one to talk. There’s an explanation for all of this, of course, but given that this is one of those rare episodes that doesn’t specifically reference any particular storylines, or even issues, in the team’s comic book history, it’s entirely safe to say that you will absolutely not see said explanation coming.

And, of course, it’s awesome. Way out of left field. Fiendishly clever with an emphasis on the “fiendish.” And it’s pulled off with aplomb to spare. I was ready to give this one a “pretty good, not amazing” verdict, but the last five minutes or so propelled this thing into the creative stratosphere and ensured this show’s “every episode is better than the last” track record remained intact.

Of course, if you need guest stars to make your happy, you’re SOL here — apart from recurring semi-regulars like Phil Morris’ Silas Stone and Kyle Clements’ John Bowers it’s the principal cast only carrying things this time out — yet never once does this story feel claustrophobic of even limited. Yup, the possibilities within the “core group” itself are endless enough in and of themselves, not much more — not much else — is even necessary.

But then, the minute I say that, I see that next week we’re going to get Danny The Street, and yeah — we do need us some Danny, don’t we? Bona to vada, folks!

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This review, and all others around these parts, is “brought to you” by my Patreon page, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics. Lately, in fact, it’s been a lot of politics. Your support there not only keeps things going, it also ensures a steady stream of free content both here and at my fourcolorapocalypse comics site. There’s a ton of stuff up on there already, so trust me when I say that you’ll be getting your money’s worth right out of the gate.

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Comments
  1. Ryan C. (trashfilmguru) says:

    Reblogged this on Through the Shattered Lens.

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