With “Hair Patrol.” the tenth episode of the DC Universe original streaming series Doom Patrol, “showrunner” Jeremy Carver and co. have decided to go back and fill in some of the blanks — not only in terms of what everyone else got up to while Brendan Fraser/Riley Shanahan’s Cliff Steele and Diane Guerrero’s “Crazy” Jane were struggling to find their way out of the tormented and fragmented subconscious of one Kay Challis, but in a larger sense. As in — what, exactly, is the deal with Timothy Dalton’s “Chief” Niles Caulder?

Not that Eric Dietel’s script gives away all the answers, of course — not even close — but in the wilds of the Yukon Territory way back in 1913, Caulder had a life-changing experience. One that ties him in with an earlier version of the Bureau Of Normalcy, sees him match wits with a colleague-turned-enemy named Alistair (played by one of television’s most ubiquitous and competent guest stars, Max Martini), revolves around a literal “Bearded Lady” who calls herself Oyewah (Pisay Pao, who turns in a killer performance), and may just go some way toward explaining why, with the exception of Joivan Wade’s Vic Stone, everybody on this show is so damn old — most notably, of course, Caulder himself. To say any more would be to say too much, but the roughly half of this episode that takes place in the past is positively gripping, and gives us our most extended look at Dalton/Caulder yet — it may even be too close a look, given we see him drop his trousers behind a tree to take a shit just before the metaphorical shit hits the fan.

As for the other half of director Salli Richardson-Whitfield’s superbly-paced-and-shot installment, the portion set in the present day, it’s a fairly loose adaptation of Grant Morrison and one-off artist Vince Giarrano’s popular story “The Beard Hunter,” and to opine that Tommy Snider sinks his teeth into the role of  that yarn’s titular villain is this reviewer being frighteningly literal. If you think you’ve been physically repulsed by some stuff on this show, rest assured, it’s all minor-league compared to the follically-challenged mercenary’s — uhhmmm — unique method of tracking his prey. He’s a fuck-up, sure, but he’s a fuck-up who manages to get the upper hand on the duo of Vic and April Bowlby’s Rita Farr (they’re really turning into quite the semi-regular pairing) while Cliff, Jane, and Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk’s Larry Trainor are all indisposed or otherwise down for the count. It’s funny stuff, no doubt about it — but with some seriously disturbing twists.

After last week’s unbelievably harrowing episode, some light-hearted comic relief was definitely in order, but there’s a lot more to “Hair Patrol” than that, given that “The Bureau” is getting more aggressive, Cyborg is getting more scary, the comic book brought back from Danny The Street contains a major hint about a certain fan-favorite character being just around the corner (you shouldn’t have to “flex” too hard to guess who that may be), and at the end of it all, we’re brought squarely back into the test-of-wills between The Chief and Alan Tudyk’s Mr. Nobody. So, yeah — everything but the kitchen sink this time out, and even that’s probably in there somewhere, as well.

As the end of this first season approaches, Carver is pretty (and, as it turns out, accurately) confident about the fact viewers are hooked — stories like this one are where the “reeling you in” part of the equation begins. If you can wait to see what happens next, trust me when I say you’re in the distinct minority of the audience.

Oh, and I sure as hell shaved as soon as I was finished watching this one. Made sure that I didn’t leave so much as a hair.

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This review, and all others around these parts, is “brought to you” by my Patreon site, 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 patronage there not only keeps things going, it also ensures a steady supply of free content both here and at my fourcolorapocalypse comics site. There’s a solid amount of material on there already, so you’re sure to get good value for your money, and needless to say, I’d be very gratified to have your support.

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Comments
  1. Ryan C. (trashfilmguru) says:

    Reblogged this on Through the Shattered Lens.

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