The ideal of acceptance or even of hope is a progressive ideal. So far in the 2nd season of “Doom Patrol”, the idea of what is being searched for has not quite had a steady through-line. However in Episode 5: “Finger Patrol”, it starts to regain its bearings in many ways. it interestingly enough works within the story-line of parallels with the team members seeing a little bit of themselves in others. Specifically a spark point is when Baby Doll comes out to speak to The Chief. There is almost a transference even though he betrayed her. Sometimes that innocence really belies an ignorance that perhaps Jane is all too aware of. But it is this diametric between Baby Doll and Dorothy that really fuels the episode. Baby Doll wanting to return to a time of happiness but not understanding the danger she is playing with. Dorothy, by comparison, asking why she needs or if she needs to grow up by the monsters inside her. It is a tricky balance especially when kids get vindictive or misrepresent their feelings.
Without giving anything away, this is where it comes to a head. Unlike the previous episode which had more tongue-in-cheek elements, the function here is darker, more dramatic and essential which is when the series truly thrives. The balance works very well with the story that Larry and Rita follow which again is based in acceptance mirrored with a tinge of betrayal. It is heartfelt and without giving too much away it is heartbreaking. Destruction seems to follow these characters literally most of the places they go, even though many of their actions are done with the best intentions. Clint and Cyborg’s story is the least of the parallels. Victor’s story is necessary but right now is the least dynamic of them all but hopefully his drama in what he is dealing with will grow. Cliff always gets into trouble since he dreams about the life he wants and is a magnet for punishment. Of course, the continuing thematic and literal parallel to “The Wizard Of Oz” of course is essential. Cliff’s flights of fancy though give a needed boost of levity which the episodes need as well providing a nice operatic coda without being too melodramatic.
By Tim Wassberg
The reasoning of “Doom Patrol” resides in what is the more bearable path, what life allows and what it takes to keep motion and emotion alive. While the texture of last season has not yet built this season, the eccentric nature of the comics is allowing itself to be seen. Each individual character knows that they are on a teetering path with one specifically trying to find the right way to evolve while the others look in the rear-view mirror about what holds them back and propels them. After the texture of Mr. Nobody which provided a wrap around shield , this season seems to lose itself in the insular when there are much bigger questions to ask. Hopefully those ideas are building. Vic is finding his way but it is undeniably not the most engaging conversation. Cliff’s problems are a little more variant but is restricted whether the story exists in the real world or his imagination. Rita too has her own issues. What is interesting is that that story crossing with Dorothy and her nature is the most interesting diametric of the season. In this episode “Sex Patrol” the story is more about trying to rescue a friend…and a rather esoteric one at that. Crazy Jane has some of the best bits in the episode but the reasoning is tricky. A small scene inside a tech platform with one of her personalities is one of the most dynamic in the episode because it paints what is going on in her head. A new personality not seen before comes out for a moment and it is a siren. The reality is that the adventure inside Jane’s head is the most interesting one. The battle for the primary is of course an overlay from Season 1.
The antagonist of the episode is interesting enough but almost seems like an abstract proponent that one would see in an “American Dad” episode. It is not that it is bad…it is simply very much out of left field. As the episode culminates, the reason for the actual tempest of sorts is two fold but they definitely react against each other. Another highlight is a small song that in context is the best idea of the episode if it pays off in a later episode which seems a possibility. There is some imagery that speaks to it especially with the hanging of a disco ball. What is missing in a certain way is a little bit more of the heartstrings or strife. Dorothy commands the compelling moments but the family really needs to work around her. “Sex Patrol” is an allusion to an almost tangent story line that no doubt was inspired by “Poltergeist”. Now whether the comic story was pre-80s is a matter of discourse. That said, hopefully the story that the season wants to tell reflects back with a more encompassing idea that takes advantage of its strengths. All the characters have more to explore but they need to be focused in an undeniable way. Most of last season’s story was existential without the characters actually realizing the path until it was right upon them. Dorothy needs to find her fate and the road can diverge into many paths.
By Tim Wassberg