Things get a bit confusing and contradictory for people who actually know the history of the Doom Patrol in the sixth episode. The characters we’ve seen in the series, for the most part, have been the original members of the team, but they’re not exactly a team and have never used the title “Doom Patrol” for themselves. Well, now we get to meet the “original” Doom Patrol, which is made up of members who joined the team much later in the comics. Things get confusing, not helped by the repetitious title, “Doom Patrol Patrol.”
At the mansion, Rita sits on a familiar looking bench in the garden, looking sad. She has a flashback from 1956, when she had a meeting with a Hollywood executive. Her star has been on the decline, and Sydney Bloom is willing to take advantage. Rita tries to just go with it for her career, but her powers have other ideas, and things get ugly. She doesn’t get the part, but does get some unexpected help from a previously unsympathetic character.
Back in the present, Larry tells Rita something she already knows, but doesn’t want to think about. Cliff deals with the dual handicap of being technologically/socially out of touch and his body’s thick fingers. He tries to get some help from Jane, and even brings a gift, but Jane isn’t in the mood to listen, and rejects the gift in no uncertain terms. Jane reviews some of the old interviews with the Chief, and gets a big surprise at a familiar name.
Cyborg examines his healing wounds, and isn’t thrilled when Cliff comes in. Cliff asks Cyborg for help with the favor Jane declined, and Cyborg isn’t thrilled about that, either. Jane comes in and is snarky with Cyborg, but at least it’s funny. Since many of Cyborg’s systems are offline following the battle last episode, they resort to something old school, and start learning about the Doom Patrol. Cliff grouses that Cyborg is helping Jane but wouldn’t help him. Rita wanders in and reveals a connection with Doom Patrol member Mento, AKA Steve Dayton, the world’s fifth richest man. In the comics, Rita and Steve eventually married and adopted Gar Logan, Beast Boy/Changeling of the Titans. Rita doesn’t have a lot of concrete answers, and the team debates the wisdom of doing something supervillain Mr. Nobody asked them to. Jane gets sick of all the talking, grabs Larry and Rita, and Flits out.
Larry really doesn’t like this way to travel, and Jane looks around, having brought them to where some pictures they saw were taken. What they see is a very unexpected sight- Doom Patrol veterans Arani/Celsius and Lodestone/Rhea teaching some young students how to use their powers. Jane gets annoyed, but before the exchange can get too out of hand, someone comes out, calls Jane by name, and asks where Niles is. Jane, of course, was here to ask them that same thing.
Silas Stone has arrived at Doom Manor or whatever they’re calling it, and goes over Cyborg’s systems and state of repairs. They argue over Mr. Nobody, the Justice League, and Cyborg being at the manor at all. A familiar face appears on the news, leading to a headshaking moment. Silas turns his attentions to Cliff, and sees something that needs repairs with him, too. Silas goes to make some preparations, and Cyborg asks Cliff a favor. Of course, Cliff had just been turned down for that, so…
The man Jane met turns out to be Joshua Clay. In the comics, he’s known as Tempest, who was a brief, and reluctant, member of the team. Larry keeps thinking he knows him, but that’s never explained. There’s a lot of mutual confusion about Niles Caulder. The Doom Patrol does give a big reaction when Mr. Nobody comes up. In the courtyard, Rita does her best to stay inconspicuous, and flashes back to 1958, when she first met both Niles and Steve Dayton. Her and Steve’s interaction is entertaining. In the present, they meet up again, with some interesting lack of change and an odd background effect.
Jane and Joshua argue about the Chief, Mr. Nobody, and Jane and company staying at the school. Jane also learns something surprising about a past link with this place. Arani takes Larry on the grand tour, where he also sees the strangeness in the background, but finds out his own shocking news which distracts him. Steve and Rita share a drink in the trophy room, and talk more about their past, which we see more of. Silas goes to work on Cyborg, and chats with Cliff as he does. Silas is not a fan of Niles, and has no problem saying so. Cliff makes an observation that Silas is a dick about, and then Silas gets a surprise when he learns about Cliff’s past.
Arani tells Larry about the happiest day of her life, and we start to hear somewhat different versions of the team’s battle with Mr. Nobody. It was a really odd, messy affair. Larry gets even more surprised when Arani’s husband drops in. Steve’s version that he tells Rita doesn’t match with Arani’s, and Steve freaks out when Rita tells him Mr. Nobody is back. Steve’s tantrum has some far-reaching effects, getting to Larry, Rita, and Jane in different ways. Joshua knows what’s going on and moves to try and stop it. A lot of things change during the course of this bit of chaos, and the bright, Silver Age feel of the place becomes a lot more like the modern era of comics. Joshua shares more about what’s actually going on, and the team gets help from Larry’s energy being. Rita surprisingly, generously, offers to help Steve.
Cyborg comes through his repairs and is pleasantly, if disbelievingly, surprised by some of what Silas tells him. Rita’s offer becomes even more generous, heroic even, after we see a flashback of how their liaison ended. Rita thanks Steve for his earlier help, and makes some progress with some of her own issues. It’s a really positive step for her. Jane is upset to hear about the true story behind the Doom Patrol’s current relationship with the Chief. Joshua gently sees them out.
Cliff is watching cartoons when Cyborg comes in and helps with what Cliff’s been after the whole episode. There’s a very sad post script with the “original” Doom Patrol. Most of the team go through some reflections on themselves, their pasts, their current conditions. All except for Cliff, who continues to not be able to catch a break.
What I liked: The episode brought the more heroic version of the Patrol into continuity, and dealt with a lot of complicated issues with superheroes, like longevity and powers. Joshua never even using his powers fits very well with the comic book version of the man. This was a very well-written, if sad, episode. The trophy room had some great Easter eggs. I liked Cliff standing up to Silas.
What I didn’t: Rhea was in this so little I’m not sure why they included her at all. I like my shinier, happier heroes, and this was a really depressing look at that kind of team, no matter how well it was done. I’m not sure I get why Jane is being like this towards Cliff, or why Cyborg wouldn’t help him.
It was a nicely done episode. I’ll give it a high 3.5 out of 5.