Doom Patrol: Danny Patrol


Life is a cabaret, old chum…

Throughout the course of their history, the Doom Patrol has had their share of odd and even unique characters. More than their share and probably most of someone else’s share, for that matter. One of the strangest, a creation of Grant Morrison of course, is Danny the Street. Yes, they are a street. This is also the focus of the major story of the episode appropriately titled “Danny Patrol.”

The episode begins with a man trying to infiltrate Danny (that just sounds wrong), and getting warmly welcomed by everyone he encounters, including Danny with their odd, indirect communication. The people the agent is in contact with via ear-piece make a lot of really intolerant jokes, like a room full of stereotypical high school jocks. Their plan goes awry and, when backup races in, Danny and everyone else is gone.

At Doom Manor, the focus of weirdness, Cyborg is patching up Cliff after the incidents of last episode. Cliff is being neurotic about rats, bad smells, and Jane. Cyborg and Cliff end up bickering over things Jane, her attitude and her painting from last time, respectively. Larry is in bed with nightmares from an incident back in 1963, at a strange facility called the Ant Farm. It’s not a place Larry wants to be, and he does not have a good time there. On waking, he fishes a patch out of a bedside drawer, glares at it and then crumples it up and throws it away from him. Why he’d keep something that tortures him so badly next to his bed I’m not sure, but Larry does seem to have problems letting go.

The landline in the living room rings, with an appropriately old-fashioned sound, and the answering machine has a very snappish message from Jane, I’m guessing Hammerhead. Cliff picks up after hearing Jane leaving a message, and they have a disjointed conversation where she asks for Rita to come meet her. Cliff explains what’s going on, and Rita, disgusted, tells Cliff about Karen, the “worst of the 64.” We see Karen/Jane meeting up with a man, Doug, she referenced in the phone call, and something out of a cliched rom-com goes on. I will say there’s a lot of blue sky, sunlight, and distinct shadows for a downpour, but I think that’s done for effect.

Cyborg muses on Jane’s painting and it’s very unhappy scene, and Larry warns him not to let Mr. Nobody get in his head. They hear the doorbell ring, find a package on the porch, and get an odd delivery that asks Niles for help. Since they have no clues at present to try and find Niles, they go look into this, despite a few irregularities with the delivery. Larry gives some advice as they arrive at a very different looking Danny from the last time we saw them. They end up at a cabaret we saw in the first scene, and spend some time taking in a show, or at least the opening of one, and get some hints that, at the very least, Niles Caulder is known here. We do get a cool name for the residents here (Danny-zens), hear some entertaining nicknames for Larry and Victor, and meet someone with one of the best drag names ever, Maura Lee Karupt.

Rita and Cliff go to Doug’s place, and Karen/Jane opens the door, still looking about as far from any of Jane’s personas as I could imagine. Maybe something Baby Doll would grow into someday. She wants Rita inside to help smooth things over with Doug’s family, who are having a loud argument in the background. Karen smilingly tells Cliff he can’t come in and shuts the door in his face, which seems to sum up Cliff and Jane’s relationship to date.

Out on the street, Vic is surprised to be talking to a living street, and Larry rattles off all the other weird things they’ve dealt with just since Vic showed up. They tell Danny about Niles being missing, and Danny says they’re on the run. When asked from who, Danny shows the symbol we saw on the patch in Larry’s room, which triggers a flashback. Larry, in the past, is restrained and subjected to various conditions that should kill a human, so I guess Larry himself does have some inherent powers aside from just hosting the negative spirit. The head torturer, Forsythe, gives a speech about serving the country and we finally hear the name of this organization: The Bureau of Normalcy. I bet they give horrible parties. In the present, Larry tells Vic a bit about them, Danny points out why they’re on the run, and we learn some backstory on Maura, which was kind of obvious.

Karen babbles at Rita in the kitchen, and Rita tries to get a better handle on what’s going on. Karen is insistent that she and Doug can work, no matter what. Karen briefly shifts to Hammerhead, who is not happy about being here, tells Rita Jane isn’t around right now, and gives a great nickname for Karen, who resumes control within moments. Rita suggests that Karen at least slow things down, Karen agrees, then does the opposite. Everyone is shocked at the latest development, and we see Karen’s power. This is the kind of thing those who are paranoid about meta/supers/whatever you want to call them worry about, and it’s a really nasty power. Rita looks on as all this happens, and Cliff has a brief encounter with a neighborhood kid.

Larry and Maura talk over their shared history about the Bureau, and Maura goes into more detail about her defection from that ugly group. Maura is worried about causing Danny’s death, and tells how Danny is “powered” for lack of a better term. Cyborg wants to help, Larry wants to flee, and they have a vicious argument about it. In flashback again, we see what might be the first time Larry became aware of the negative spirit inside him. Rita tries to talk Karen down, but they’re really not connecting, less so after Rita tells her she’s doing the wrong thing. Karen gets nasty with Rita, then apologizes, and then tries her power on the former movie star. Cliff has a second encounter with the kid which is a lot more entertaining.

Once more in the cabaret, Larry gets pressured to join in on karaoke night. We get a really elaborate musical number (weird how many hero shows are doing those lately), a glimpse of Larry being happy, and then some kind of flashback/return effect that ends it all. Maura has come to a shocking decision that Danny tries to dissuade her from. Danny makes a surprising decision that rattles everyone, which Cyborg supports, and Larry eventually agrees with. We get a really entertaining showdown between Maura and their nemesis Darren Jones. Maura gets in some great lines. Larry finds some courage, stands up the bureau, and likely says more than he should. Cliff and the kid have a really odd conversation, even for this show, and then Rita calls Larry inside.

There’s a victory party for the forces of Danny-dom, and some talk about Niles, but no answers. When Danny hears Mr. Nobody is involved, Danny says they can’t help and has to protect all the people here. Cyborg pleads for help, and Danny finally gives a very appropriate clue as to what’s going on. Karen surprises Cliff several times over, and he’s not buying into the frantic party atmosphere. Karen asks Cliff for something, he refuses, and she finds out her power has limits after all. Things go badly from that point on, and end with some worrying developments about Jane.

What I liked: The cabaret scenes were great, and Maura was a fun character. Danny is certainly a unique being. Cliff is trying so hard with Jane, and Rita did actually try and play along for a bit. The bit with Cliff and the kid was great. Larry’s time at the Bureau showed us how little we know about the long pasts of all of the team. It’s really interesting how many people seem to know about Mr. Nobody.

What I didn’t: I get he’s had it rough, but I’m finding Larry harder and harder to like. He needs to make some decisions and take a stand, and I’m really hoping the end of the scene with the Bureau was the start of that, not an aberration. I don’t like Karen at all, and feel bad for Doug and his family.

This was an entertaining episode. I’ll give it a high 3.5 out of 5. I’m guessing next episode is more focused on Jane.