This week, Doom Patrol introduces one of my favorite characters and the one I thought would never appear on TV. But we live in a weird world and thus, I present “Danny Patrol”.
We open in the forest. There’s a man we’ll learn is named Morris Wilson, and he’s looking for something. And then he finds it. A street in the middle of nowhere. Another man contacts Morris on his earpiece and asks if he’s found the freakshow yet. There’s a whole gang of guys in fascist-styled SWAT uniforms waiting to move. Morris reaches the street, “Danny Street” per the sign and everybody there is happy. The leaves swirl in the air and spell out “Welcome, friend” and a banner asks “Where ya from?” Morris finds menswear store which has mannequins in dresses in the window. He tells his partner, via earpiece to hold off. Then he notices “Peeping Tom’s Perpetual Cabaret” and goes inside. There’s a rumbling that sends the SWAT team in but by the time they get there, there’s an empty patch where Danny the Street used to be.
Vic fixes up Cliff, who’s worried about if he smells after having a rat inside him. Then he asks if Jane’s OK and says he wants to make things right. And then, because Cliff is the best, he makes fun of Vic for not swearing and for murdering them all in a painting. That goes over really well.
Larry thrashes around on his bed and we go into a flashback. Government men are rolling his isolation tube through a hall and talking about his new assignment. They’re going to try to harness his power whether he likes it or not. They release some gas into his tube and knock him out. In the present, Larry looks at that patch that I thought was an Air Force thing, but we’ll learn more.
The phone rings and the answering machine gets it – the outgoing message is Jane cursing out callers and the incoming message is a more pleasant sounding Jane inviting Rita to a “thing”. Cliff answers the phone to try and apologize and the Jane on the phone tells him everything is OK and then asks who it is. She asks her to tell Rita about the thing at Doug’s place. Cliff tells Rita, and Rita knows about this personality. It’s Karen, and she thinks she’s living in a romcom. She’s dangerous. (Hey? Did you notice the most dangerous Jane personalities have K names? Karen, Katie, Kay Challis….) In fact, she’s the worst of the 64, per Rita. A lovestruck psycho who keeps tormenting this guy named Doug. And then we see Jane as Karen. She has blond hair and I can’t quite put my finger on what they did to her face, but it looks artificial somehow? It’s really unsettling.
And then we see her waiting outside Doug’s house in the rain, holding her coat over her head. Doug panics and runs and Karen falls in the mud, romcom style. Look, just assume that she’s doing Anna Faris stuff at every turn. Doug feels bad about the mud and helps her up. And then she gives him a speech about taking her back and it works, but it works abruptly like maybe something’s not right.
Larry tries to give Vic a pep talk and the doorbell rings. There’s nobody outside, but there’s a cake box and a note for Niles that says “Help me”. The cake, from “Danny Cakes” is a map to Danny Street in Springfield, OH. They decide somebody there must know about Niles, so they’re going to head out there. Ooh, we haven’t seen much of Larry and Vic together. This show is very good at mixing up the groupings.
When they get there, Danny looks much less… alive. The colors are muted and you don’t see people running around. The shops are all boarded up. The window at the cake shop asks “Where’s Niles?”, but our guys keep walking. Steam from a grating spells out “Cat Got Your Tongue?” in the clouds. And then the Cabaret whistles of them and the doors open, so that’s where they go. There’s a drag performance going on led by “Maura Lee Kurupt”, which is an amazing drag name.
Hey? I just want to put this out there now in case I make a mistake. I am going to try very hard to use correct pronouns. They’re even going to talk about Danny’s pronouns in a bit. But Danny’s new pronouns are different from the old ones, so I might slip. Also, I know that not all drag performers are transgender and some only perform as women but identify as men. But also I know RuPaul uses feminine pronouns in her drag persona but masculine pronouns when not in drag. Unless that’s changed. Point is, based on the episode, I feel like Maura would want feminine pronouns and I think that’s OK but I apologize if I made the wrong choice. I want to be respectful and if I make a mistake, it’s out of confusion and ignorance, not out of malice or callousness.
Maura chastises the crowd for being too quiet and then turns the spotlight on Vic and Larry. She asks where Niles is and says word on the street is that they’re friends of his. Specifically, word on Danny. They want to know who Danny is, so she has to explain that Danny is all around them. Danny the Street. Larry figures it out sooner than Vic does that Danny is the street. After Vic calls Danny “he”, Maura tells him that Danny is gender-queer and they use non-binary pronouns. Maura makes a pretty good joke about the robot not understanding the concept of non-binary. She explains that Danny travels the world and picks up people who’ve fallen through the cracks. They call themselves the Dannyzens. Hee!
Maura tells them to talk to Danny, and Larry just goes for it. He asks if Danny knows Niles and words appear in the spotlight confirming that Niles is one of Danny’s oldest friends. Danny asks where Niles is and says they need his help. Once they find out Niles is missing, Danny invites Vic and Larry to talk outside.
Jane and Cliff show up at Doug’s house. Karen is excited to see Rita and says she’s happy to meet Cliff but she would also like him to stay outside because everything needs to go perfectly. We hear arguing, and clearly Doug’s family does not approve of this relationship. I mean, Mom calls Karen a “trash witch whore”. So Karen wants Rita to lighten the mood. Rita: “No. Why would I do that?” Cliff tries to apologize again and Karen pleasantly shuts the door in his face.
Outside on Danny , a sign tells them that they’re trying to keep a low profile, and that’s why it’s so empty. They’re on the run from Darren Jones. Larry asks about Darren Jones, and the sign displays the logo from Larry’s patch.
Flashback! Larry wakes up strapped to a table in a small room. It’s 100 below zero and federal agents are outside taking notes. Later it’s 200 degrees, and none of it affects Larry. The lead asks why Larry has transferred so often and says he’s clearly been struggling with normalcy. Later that same guy yells on the phone about a contingency plan in Havana and then tells Larry that the Red Menace has shown up on their doorstep. And now it’s time for Larry to serve his country. Guys in hazmat suits try to load Larry in a container, electrocuting him. These guys are the Bureau of Normalcy, and they’re the ones who are after Danny now.
Vic wonders about the Bureau and is surprised that Larry has a lot of information about them. Larry asks why they’re after Danny. The response: “You know a lot of sentient, teleporting, genderqueer streets, Larry?” HA! Maura comes outside to finish the story. Darren Jones botched a search and destroy mission on Danny years ago and lost his partner in the process. His partner is, of course, Morris Wilson, now Moira Lee Kurupt. I honestly did not figure that out ahead of time so I was legitimately surprised by this news.
Rita tries to talk Karen out of starting this relationship again and then Hammerhead takes control of Jane and tells Rita to get Jane out of this. Hammerhead says Jane isn’t around to deal with Karen so they’re going to be stuck with her if Rita can’t fix things. And then Karen takes control again and steps things up, proposing to Doug. His family is furious and tries to talk him out of this insanity and they almost have Doug convinced. Then Karen tells him to choose love. Her eyes turn a glowing blue and then so do his and he’s back on board. Then she gives his family the look, their eyes glow, and now everybody but Rita is celebrating.
A little kid rides his big past the house, gives Cliff a long look, and then pedals away.
Larry and Vic talk to Maura in her dressing room and Larry doesn’t want to trust her since she worked for the Bureau. But she explains that she was supposed to hate anything abnormal, but Danny felt like home. The Cabaret convinced her that she’d been wrong about everything, so she tipped Danny off and they teleported away. And Darren and the Bureau have been following ever since. But now, people don’t feel safe anymore. They’re scared but they keep coming to the Cabaret – Danny thrives on happiness. As long as the party’s going, everything is fine. But if they stop, Danny’s heart stops. Vic insists they need to help but Larry wants to leave. He says he can’t face the Bureau but I have to think his own self-loathing is tied up with this. It gets heated, and Larry leaves.
Cut to a flashback where everybody who tried to load Larry into the container is dead and he’s still strapped to the table. It’s the first time the Negative Spirit lashed out.
Rita tries again to talk sense into Karen, but she insists “Dougie and I are endgame”. Rita: “I don’t know what that is but it sounds youthful and irritating.” HA! I love Rita. She calls Karen out for controlling Doug’s mind and says if their love is real, she can break the spell. Karen curses Rita out in a way and calls her an old crone – it’s like she’s getting some Jane in there. Then when Rita cries, Karen insists it’s the stress talking. And then she hits her with the glowing eyes.
It’s nighttime and the kid is back. This time he’s wearing a robot costume. He pulls out a small boom box and does a pop and lock number right in front of Cliff. Cliff says he’s seen Flashdance 87 times and he can beat that performance.
Cut back to the Cabaret, where Larry is refusing to participate in Karaoke Night. The hostess talks him into taking the stage. Danny displays “Don’t worry, Larry. I got you.” in the spotlight. And he starts to sing (and I had to look this up), “People Like Us” by Kelly Clarkson. He’s hesitant at first but then he’s good. Maura joins him for a duet and it’s actually awesome. And then Larry is back in his old body – he’s handsome-ass Matt Bomer again and it’s fantastic. As the song goes, we cut to Cliff busting out his breakdance moves for the kid. And then, it’s over and the hostess is still shoving a microphone in Larry’s face. It never happened. That absolutely crushed me. Larry says “I don’t sing” and leaves.
Outside, Vic is running searches to try and track the Bureau. But he’s surprised to see Larry is still there. And then Maura joins them outside, only she’s Morris again. Well, presenting as Morris. She still sounds like Maura. She figures the only way to save Danny is to go back to the Bureau and the old life as Morris. Danny doesn’t like this idea at all. And that’s what gets Larry. He can’t let Maura go back to the Bureau. And then Vic detects hostile activity – the Bureau is almost there. Maura offers to leave and tells Danny to teleport the moment she leaves the block, but Danny says via marquee that they’re not running anymore. Vic and Larry agree with Danny, and there’s a plan. When the bureau arrives, Maura is waiting for them in all her glory. It takes Darren a second to realize who she is and he’s horrified. Maura says that he doesn’t get to tell people who they are anymore. Darren looks around and SWAT team is gone, dealt with by Danny. And then Darren takes a swing and it’s all over. Maura beats the hell out of him in full view of everybody and then Larry picks him up, tells him that Danny is off limits and to let the Bureau know that Captain Trainor sends his best before knocking him right out.
Elsewhere, Cliff tells the kid about the rat in his head and his recurring dream of Jennifer Beals welding him when Rita comes outside and tells him Jane wants to see him. Vic hangs out on Danny, keeping watch. Danny tells him to join the party and that Niles would be proud of him. Vic admit he’s scared that they’ll never find him and asks Danny for any guesses as to what Mr. Nobody did with the Chief. Danny panics at the mention of Mr. Nobody, then says they’re sorry, but Mr. Nobody is too dangerous and their priority is keeping people safe. But there’s one thing Danny can do. A single comic book appears on the newsstand. Vic picks it up and suddenly, he and Larry are back at Doom Manor with Larry in mid-karaoke, which is very funny.
Rita takes Cliff to see Karen, who is now in a wedding dress. They are getting married NOW. Cliff keeps asking about Jane, and Karen says she knows he means a lot to Jane, but she’d like Cliff to walk her down the aisle. Cliff knows this is nuts and she tries to hit him with her spell, but it doesn’t work on robot eyes. Doug comes and thinks Cliff is a wedding present. Cliff gives him a shove and tries to carry Karen away to protect Jane. Then Karen switches to Hammerhead, who doesn’t like to be touched and throws Cliff across the room. Then she grabs a piece of broken wood and gets ready to stab Doug but changes back to Karen right before she makes contact. She starts to cry and then just shuts down. From her POV, we see everybody get farther away as Karen falls into an abyss and is dragged into the Underground. In the outside world, Jane has just gone completely inert, seemingly with no personality controlling her.
–I just have a couple of notes for the end. The comic Danny gives Vic is My Greatest Adventure #51. The most significant thing about that series is that the Doom Patrol first appeared in issue 80. And as it turns out, none of the pre-Doom Patrol issues are available digitally and I couldn’t even find a decent summary, so I have no idea what happens in this issue or how it could relate to the Chief. We’re going to have to wait on that one unless some kind patron wants to send me an old comic book.
Danny, as I mentioned, was part of Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol run, and was very close to what we see here. Back then, Danny was described as a transvestite rather than genderqueer, but that was 1990. Danny was very much presented as a drag performer then – the way the manly shops were decked out with flowers and dresses was Danny’s version of drag. I don’t want to say too much about Danny because nobody can tell where this show is going and I don’t want to accidentally spoil anything, but Danny kind of disappeared after Morrison’s run and then returned in 2009 when Keith Giffen launched a new Doom Patrol series with the original team. (His version of Rita seems like the inspiration for the TV version, so I’m kind of surprised he doesn’t get a screen credit.) In that version, they could only find one brick of Danny, which was enough to become Danny the Bungalow. I love Danny.
Note also that the Titans episode that introduced the Doom Patrol stated that Doom Manor was on “Danny Street”. Just another indication that episode is not in continuity.
But look. Danny and Kipling both bailed when they found out Mr. Nobody is involved, and we know Nobody broke the original Doom Patrol. What has Nobody been doing to the Chief all these years? His most powerful allies are terrified of this guy. Did Niles put together this particular team specifically to stop Mr. Nobody? I tend to think not, since they’ve been arriving at his house over sixty years, but that just makes me worry about our guys.
Next time, we get inside Jane’s head!