This week’s Doom Patrol is sort of a bottle episode. But there are like five time jumps, plenty of CG effects, and a guy who’s part robot suplexing a guy who’s all robot. For this show, that’s a bottle episode. It’s time to talk things out with “Therapy Patrol”.
We open with the whole team sitting down together. Cliff’s laying it out for them – to find the Chief, they have to get to Mr. Nobody. And if they don’t get their act together, Nobody will f*ck them in their brains, hearts, and souls. And Cliff knows that they’re all messed up so it’s time to get everything off their chests.
Cut to Hollywood, 1930. Little Rita won a pageant and she gets to meet a famous actress. Said actress is mean and bitter. We learn that Rita’s parents are sending her to school because it’s a distraction and “Rita Farr” is a stage name. Cut to the present, when Vic knocks on her door and tells her there’s a team meeting in fifteen minutes. Overnight she blobbed out and she recites Mento’s calming phrase to reshape herself. She gets her form back, except for a blob in her neck, which she covers with a kerchief. In the hall, she meets Jane (as Hammerhead), who asks her what’s wrong with her neck. This is enough to throw her off and she starts to lose control while she’s standing on a floor vent. She ends up pouring through the pipes and ends up in the furnace. She crawls out and tries to reform. “The person who is breathing is me. The person with an arm is me.” And then she oozes past a baby carriage. “The person who is sick of having creepy baby imagery shoved in her face is me.” HA!
Rita wonders is maybe she really is just a ball of slime but maybe she can be the best ball of slime. She reforms as she oozes up the stairs. And then as soon as she makes it up, fully reformed, she hears Cliff yell “You think that’s gonna hurt me?” followed by a blast of Vic’s arm cannon, rocking the house. She dissolves again.
Next we cut to Larry, in 1935 North Dakota. He’s just a little kid who overhears his parents talking about how he was caught “playing doctor” with another boy at school and they could lose everything if people knew their son was gay. Cut to today and Vic knocking on his door. He climbs out of bed and begins to wrap his bandages, but he stops when he gets to his head. He suggests to the Negative Spirit that maybe they should take the day off and he goes back to bed. There’s a pulsating blue glow in his chest before the Spirit lives. Larry goes to sleep and dreams of making out with John in the back of his truck.
He knows he’s dreaming and addresses the Spirit and says he doesn’t want to re-live his greatest regret. He points out incorrect details like the music and the color of the truck. John suggests he just try to “be here” and then when Larry finds the edge of his memory, he wakes up. He asks the Spirit what it’s trying to tell him, and it leaves again. Back in the dream, the details match up this time. John tells him once again he needs to be here. Larry insists that memories and history shouldn’t change just because he wants a happy ending and he maybe needs to own his shit. Larry wakes up and tells the Spirit it needs to understand him. Back to the dream! He talks about what it was like being gay back from this fantasy? Context.” And that’s when John says he’s waited so long to hear those words – he just wanted to hear Larry admit it to himself. Oh, this is good. Larry has his regrets, but those are regrets that he’s formed over fifty years. At the time, he had a very good reason for hiding his sexuality and it’s because he would have lost his job and maybe been killed for it. He doesn’t let himself have that context. He wakes up and hears Cliff and Vic’s cannon and then he asks the Spirit to send him back one more time so he can watch the sunset. It obliges.
Vic time! It’s 2002 and he has a dislocated arm. His doctor pops it back in by surprise and assures his mother it’ll be fine. Vic admits he’s scared that his dad will punish him and his mom agrees they don’t have to tell him everything. In the present, he wakes up and starts knocking on doors. When he gets to Cliff, he’s just sitting there motionlessly, staring at something. Much later, nobody has arrived at his meeting. And then his system tells him he has a match on a dating app. He had a profile before the accident and he has hundreds of messages. Turns out his dad had been filtering his social media until Vic unlocked the systems with the stolen hard drive.
And so he dives back into online dating, while running a scan for the Chief in the background. His profile is from high school, so it’s out of date and it’s mostly women who know he’s Cyborg. There’s some discussion as to whether “Booya” is his catchphrase, which I didn’t get. It turns out there’s a Justice League trailer where he says it and made everybody cringe, but I guess he also says it a lot on the Teen Titans Go! cartoons. Those were after my time and the Justice League movie was after my time of paying money to see Zack Snyder movies, so I didn’t get that at first. Also, I am very uncomfortable if there’s anybody watching both this and Teen Titans Go! Anyway, he spots Jane dancing and chanting that everything is fine. He finally matches with a nice woman who doesn’t know about Cyborg and his onboard computer stalks her. Like, she’s on the bus and it taps the driver camera so he’s watching her. Vic is creeped out but doesn’t turn off the feed. So when she asks for a current picture and he obliges, he gets to see the look of horror on her face. Wow. He deletes his profile. And then Grid comes back with the news that there’s no sign of Caulder but there’s an incoming threat.
And then Cliff punches him across the lawn yelling “You ruined Clara!” Cyborg fires up his arm cannon and then we see the “You think that’s going to hurt me?” / sound of getting hurt exchange play out. And then we immediately cut to Jane’s story.
It opens when she’s a baby in 1950 Arkansas. OK, we’re definitely going to talk about why she’s not 70 in the near future, right? She’s just crying in her crib. Somebody who seems to be her dad comes in, looks at her, and walks out of the room. Cut to today. The Hangman’s Daughter is painting in her room, a portrait of the Chief with “BASTARD” painted over it. Then she becomes Hammerhead and punches a hole in it. I don’t think I’ve mentioned this, but Hammerhead has a tattoo across her chest – not all of Jane’s personalities have physical changes, but when you see a tattoo, that’s Hammerhead. We see her insult Rita. Then Jane and Hammerhead argue over whether they should leave. She finds Cliff trying to shove toast in his mouth. She asks, and he yells that he wants to remember what eating felt like. That turns Jane back into Hammerhead and she heads to the Chief’s office and starts smashing videos. Sometimes Jane begs Hammerhead to stop, but she just tears up everything. She takes a break to dance in the garden and sing that everything is fine but then goes back to smashing. Then she goes back to her room and hears Cliff and Vic fighting. She heads to see what’s going on with the Negative Spirit following behind. They find Cliff screaming and smashing the library.
And now we go to Cliff’s story. We go to South Florida in 1961. Young Cliff listens to his parents scream and it sounds like is father beat his mother. Then we cut to today and he’s staring at the broken laptop with the distorted image of Clara and Bump. That’s what he’s doing when Vic first comes around. Cliff wanders around, then tries to eat a piece of toast. We see his first outburst again. And then he gets very angry at the hole in his arm (the one Cyborg’s finger created after the explosion) and starts hitting and swearing at it. And then… he gets in the bus and drives off. He tries to pour a can of potato chips in his mouth, yelling “yum yum yum” as they bounce off his jaw. And somehow he drives all the way to Bump’s house. But Bump looks much more seedy than he did in the pictures. Cliff tells him who he is and demands to know about Clara. Bump says she’s a pain in the ass, which doesn’t seem to match what we know about him.
Cliff punches him and then Bump pulls out… Vic’s arm cannon. We hear Cliff say “You think that’s going to hurt me?” before Bump shoots him. And we know what’s happening by now. Vic is hallucinating or malfunctioning, or something. Then Bump starts talking with Vic’s voice and Clara appears but she sounds like Jane. And back in the real world, Cyborg tosses Cliff to the ground and punches him until Cliff gets control of himself. And then he loses it. He can’t feel anything and he just wants to cry and he would never have been a good dad and he’s just venting and Brendan Fraser is killing it. You can hear the tears in his voice through the modulation. It’s amazing. Cliff begs the others not to leave him with this thoughts. And that’s when he decides they all need to talk.
At this point, he notices that Rita’s in a wheelchair with her legs covered. She explains that she was trapped inside a furnace and nobody could hear her screams. Cliff: “A powerful metaphor for what we’re all dealing with.” HA! Rita agrees that if they don’t work out their problems they’ll end up just like Mento and the others. Cliff starts chanting “Therapy!” and that wraps us back to the beginning of the episode.
And now nobody wants to talk after Cliff bared his soul. Finally Rita jumps in and says that ever since they were inside the donkey, Mr. Nobody has been holding her greatest shame over her head and if they keep looking, that thing is going to come out. Cliff wants her to talk about it to rob Nobody of his power and calls her “lame” when she doesn’t. Cliff’s approach to therapy is the funniest thing ever. She goes on to say that Rita Farr isn’t a good person and she’s not even real. But if there’s no Rita Farr, there’s nothing else there. She reforms as she talks and Cliff is impressed. “You just talked your legs into being legs.” Jane is snotty to her and Cliff thinks this is all good stuff.
Larry proclaims this a waste of time and gets up to leave. Cliff says Larry clearly has issues with the Spirit and then Larry starts to talk. He says “I’m…” and Cliff calls out “gay!” HA! I don’t know if that’s something they’ve talked about, but I like the idea that Larry hasn’t shared that in decades but everybody knows and it’s not a big deal. Cliff was just excited that this was going to be healing. Larry goes on to say that he hasn’t been able to touch anybody in sixty years. The last person he touched was John Bowers, and he drove him away. Cliff gets up to hug him and tell him he’s loved and accepted and Larry is all “I’m not done”. Hee! He says he’s only sharing because it’s the thing Mr. Nobody used to attack him. Or as he said “shoved in my face. Or what there is of it. (pause) That was a joke. (pause) These bandages are the death of all nuance.” HA!
Larry says that if Nobody wants to torture him, he’s been doing the work on his own and he’s hurting both himself and the Negative Spirit, and the Spirit hurts him back and he can hardly breathe from the self-loathing. Cliff applauds and Vic cuts him off to say “I killed my mom.”
The others don’t know this, so they’re pretty shocked. Cliff decides Vic won group therapy. He tells the story we’ve seen and then says Mr. Nobody has him questioning whether his memories are real. Cliff encourages him to go deep. And then Jane decides she’s going to share and she shows off her painting of Vic holding the Chief’s body. Jane claims this means Vic is going to betray them, but my read of it was that he was going to be the only survivor of something. In the painting, he seems to be crying out. Anyway, she tries to leave and Cliff says she has to share. She snaps at him. “Is there somebody nicer in there who could come out and tell the rest of us how not to piss you off all the time?” Jane tells Cliff he can’t be a father because he’s not even a man. And Fraser nails another line read with “I’m the only one here who can even stand you, and I only like one sixty-fourth of you.” Jane heads for the door and Cliff apologizes. But then he sees her as Clara and he starts glitching really badly, repeating “Bump” over and over and spasming. Then he sees everybody as Bump. He goes in for a fight and Vic tackles. He and Larry hold him down until Vic just shuts off and a mouse crawls out of his mouth.
The next flashback is to six episodes ago. The gang is heading into town on the bus while a mother mouse and her baby are about to cross the street. She ends up getting smashed by the bus. The baby mourns until Mr. Nobody narrates to him. He tells “Admiral Whiskers” that he has to let that sorrow become vengeance, find the one responsible and f*ck his brain, heart, and soul. Yeah, he uses the same wording Cliff used at the beginning of the episode. And then we see the little guy get into the house through a broken window while Cliff is staring at the broken laptop and then crawls inside through the hole in his arm.
END! I’m finishing at the last minute, so let’s wrap it up on that weird and depressing note!