When last we saw him at the end of episode eleven of DC Universe’s original streaming series Doom Patrol, Joivan Wade’s Vic Stone was in a bad place — metaphorically and literally. His increasingly-mechanized body and mind betraying him, he made the drastic decision to part company with his operating system, known as GRID, but any monetary respite he hoped to gain from such an action was quickly dashed when he found himself captured by The Bureau of Normalcy and imprisoned at their top-secret research/torture facility nicknamed The Ant Farm.

Not that this latest installment, entitled (appropriately enough) “Cyborg Patrol,”gives any concrete reason as to how and why the place found itself saddled with such a moniker, unlike the Grant Morrison/Steve Yeowell comic the idea was lifted from, but the principle nature of the operation remains true to its printed-page antecedent — even if it’s located nowhere near the Pentagon, much less under it as it was the original story. Honestly, though, the name of the place is about all the television story borrows from the earlier newsprint one.

That’s because, as any veteran reader can tell you, the character of Cyborg was never actually in the Doom Patrol in the comics, and so there was never any call for the rest of the team to do what they do here, namely pull of a super-powered jailbreak. They all have a part to play in the plan hatched by Vic’s father, Silas (played, as ever, by the great Phil Morris) to spring his progeny, but that plan is complicated when the elder Stone turns traitor and hands the team over to agent Darren Jones (Jon Briddell) — or does he? Silas’ lack of loyalty, and the consequently shifting nature of his transactional allegiances, plays a major role in Robert Berens and Shoshana Sachi’s script for this episode, and the fundamental and well-earned lack of trust between Stones elder and younger proves to be fertile ground for psychological exploitation by Alan Tudyk’s Mr. Nobody, who makes a brief-but-devastating appearance (hey, he can’t spend all his time tormenting Timothy Dalton’s “Chief Niles Caulder, can he?) in the final few minutes here after Cyborg has fallen for a sick ruse that ends up having both drastic and unforgettable consequences.

Seriously, friends, the ending this week — it’s positively devastating.

Before that, though, we’ve got April Bowlby being smuggled into the facility in the weirdest manner possible by Brendan Fraser/ Riley Shanahan’s Cliff Steele, Diane Guerrero’s “Crazy” Jane going from taunting her psychotic captor, Agent Dirk Ellis (Mac Wells), before going all Karen on his ass and making him fall in love with her, Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk’s Larry Trainor being separated from the “Negative Spirit” energy being that’s made itself at home in his body for the past few decades, and an army of sentient, hungry, toothy backsides running wild in The Bureau’s very own — and in many respects very peronal — house of horrors. It’s to director Carol Banker’s immense credit that she can have people running down the hallways screaming “the butts are loose!”one moment, and Vic’s horrifying realization that he’s done something he probably can’t undo less than ten minutes later, and compel viewers to fully invest in both. “Showrunner” Jeremy Carver certainly knows how to pick his directors, doesn’t he though?

And yeah — after a brief little blip on the radar screen, we’re back in “best episode to date” territory, which I predicted last time out would likely be the case — not to toot my horn too much. After all, it’s Carver, his cast, his writers , and his just-mentioned directorial hires that are doing all the real work here — fortunately for those of us in the audience, I hasten to add, as it’s all been uniformly pitch-perfect. Friends who may be turncoats who may be friends again after all, a young half-robotic man’s internal demons, a heaping dose of “high weirdness” for its own sake — really, how much more can you expect from television superhero yarn? Oh, and that guy in the cell next to Vic;, the one who’s portrayed by Devan Chandler Long? Something tells me he’s going to play a big part in events going forward — but for now I’m just content to give this episode a richly-deserved second viewing.

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Comments
  1. Ryan C. (trashfilmguru) says:

    Reblogged this on Through the Shattered Lens.

    • Ryan C. (trashfilmguru) says:

      Dang, I forgot to add the customary “best show on television” superlative in to this review somewhere. Nevertheless, it’s absolutely true.

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