It was going to be hard for Doom Patrol to top itself in sheer weirdness after last week’s introduction of the Beard Hunter. Thus, the show doesn’t even try, and turns in what may be the most normal episode of the series to date. It’s still a good episode, it must be said, but you can see the cracks in the foundation even as you admire the paint-job.
Crazy Jane is uncharacteristically ready to get down to business and track down the missing Dr. Caulder. Unfortunately, the rest of the team is too distracted by their own traumas to pay much attention to Jane. Except for Rita, who is still holding a grudge over the whole “forced to be your best friend by your reality warping, Rom-Com obsessed alternate personality” thing.
Victor is worried about his software reporting that he is slowly becoming more and more mechanical in nature. Larry is dealing with the increasingly incongruous dreams of his time with his lover from before his accident. And Cliff is in a mood because he just learned that the man who raised his daughter as his own just died in a freak gator hunting accident.
This leads to the team splitting up, as Rita and Cliff are sent to Florida to attend the wake of Cliff’s daughter’s foster father and Cliff sets off on an ill-advised quest to slay Frances – the legendary giant gator that devoured his rival. Larry starts trying to translate the meaning of his dreams and how they tie into whatever powers the Negative Spirit has. And Cyborg joins with Crazy Jane to try and track down Flex Mentallo – a mystery man who may hold the secret to finding Dr. Caulder… assuming they can find him.
There’s not much in the way of actual plot this week and nothing taken directly from the comics, as there was last week. Instead, “Frances Patrol” puts the focus firmly on the characters and their lightening the mental baggage that will make them easy prey during their inevitable confrontation with Mr. Nobody. Cyborg suffers the most in this regard, as there’s nothing terrible new about the body-horror elements of his story – in general or in specific – to what he has been dealing with so far on the show. Still, he does have a good talk with Crazy Jane about the fear of having power and losing control.
By contrast, the subplot with Cliff and Rita holds most of the episodes humor, with Cliff having a surprisingly easy time blending in among a crowd of drunken rednecks despite his showing up for a wake in a “costume.” And Rita gets a few good moments dealing with one flirtatious man who wants to share a chicken basket with her. Yet there is pathos here, as well as what is probably the most painfully emotional moment of the episode.
The lion’s share of the episode’s meat, however, goes to Matt Bomer as Larry Trainor, as he solves the mystery of his dreams and why he keeps winding up in hotel rooms and gay bars he never visited in life and running into the lover he left behind. I don’t want to spoil the ultimate reveal but it’s a bittersweet and powerful storyline that I did not expect to see Doom Patrol tackle. In that respect the show is as surprising as ever, but this week the shocks come from how they touch our hearts – not how they warp our minds or turn our stomachs.
It’s still good.
Doom Patrol – Episode 11, “Frances Patrol”, airs Friday, April 26, on DC Universe.
Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.