At the end of last episode, Jane wasn’t looking too good, and we got a small peek inside her head. We get a lot more of that this episode, as Cliff ends up learning more about his teammate than he expected to. With the episode being focused on her, “Jane Patrol” is not a bad name for the episode. Jane’s psyche is a complicated place. There are so many twists and turns here, I don’t see a way to do this without at least a few spoilers below, but I’ll do what I can to not give too much away.
The episode opens with a flashback, and by now, the pattern is well established: these aren’t good. In Arkansas in 1957, we see the start of Jane’s problems, some really horrible scenes, and learn her middle name. It’s also the start of a phrase we keep hearing in her head over and over, and some symbology we’ve already encountered.
As we saw last time, Karen is being dragged away, deep into the Underground, which is the network of Jane’s personas. It’s a complicated, busy place, and by most people’s standards, it’s overpopulated. The personas don’t get on all that well, but they do seem to agree that there are rules to how all this is supposed to work. Karen gets taken away, and the others put a lot of pressure on Jane to “get back up there.” Jane is tired of shouldering this burden, and makes a deal with a different persona to give herself a break.
In the real world, Rita keeps trying to talk Jane into waking up, and Larry scoffs. Cliff blames himself, and Rita blames the rat we met last time. They debate what to do, and Cyborg references an old tv show. Larry barely gets out a comment about Cyborg “embracing the weird” when the negative spirit takes matters into its own hands and surprises Cliff with its decision. It surprises me, too, as I had no idea it was capable of anything like this. I’m starting to wonder what it isn’t capable of more than what it is.
Cliff finds himself inside Jane’s head, and as himself, not Robotman. To say the least, he’s very confused. He wanders through some serious urban decay with some intriguing posters on the wall before finding one of Jane’s personas, and things get confusing right off the bat. Cliff and Not-Jane (as is established several times) are mutually confused about what’s going on, and he says he’s trying to find Jane and apologize, make things right if he can. She doesn’t know where to look, but agrees to make a few calls. How that works in here, I have no idea. Jane herself finds an idyllic retreat, and meets up with Penny Farthing. They have a chat, realize neither of them know something sort of important about this setting, and Jane sets off to find answers, worrying Penny.
Cliff finds out that a lot of Jane doesn’t like him, but at least recognizes one of the ones that comes after him. Jane goes down an odd hallway and meets one (?) of her stranger selves. Cliff is relegated to an odd corner of the Underground, where he has some company, at least some of who he knows. Cliff and his “old friend” argue about the nature of Cliff’s relationship with Jane, what he’s doing in there, and how things are going to work. Absolutely no one seems impressed that Cliff really is trying to help, which also seems about right for Jane. Jane herself gets some cryptic advice, and this worries Penny a lot. They argue and Jane goes ahead with her new quest.
Cliff gets frustrated with his current circumstance, and starts making progress getting out. He even gets some help. Whether this means Jane subconsciously likes him some, or that the things in her head aren’t as strong as they should be, is open to debate. Maybe it’s a mixture. Cliff manages to get going and meets up with Penny, who wants him to stop Jane from her current course of action. Jane relives a memory and gets a nasty hint of a bad time with it.
Penny explains to Cliff the best way to get around “down here,” and Cliff sees some early memories. He learns about an alter we didn’t know about, hears some very biased teaching, and gets taken through a really creepy shortcut. Penny explains some of the dangers, and that Jane is courting the worst of them. They pass through a memory that Cliff knows, and he gets told whether it’s good or bad really depends on perspective. Jane relives an early memory with the Chief, and sort of explains some of her past to him. Cliff and Penny finally catch up with her, and Jane isn’t happy to see him. They argue a lot and Cliff shows he’s remarkably gullible. Cliff stands his ground and tells her something he believes (and I think he’s right) that she doesn’t want to hear, which provokes more arguing.
Jane moves ahead, deeper into her own mind, I guess, and comes across a dangerous alter. I’ve seen this one in the comics, and it’s bad news. Jane passes the test and progresses towards her goal. Penny and Cliff argue over his approach, and he points out some of the bad results he’s had in the past. Penny decides she has gone far enough and abandons Cliff. Jane goes through another memory and has a talk with herself about how lost she is and how good this earlier version of herself was. Cliff has his own confrontation with the guardian, and gets by on a technicality after he goes through a change and some flashback moments of his own.
Cliff walks over some odd but familiar ground to find Jane at the heart of her own darkness. What she ends up confronting is terrible, and Cliff does his best to help. He ends up in a lot of danger, and Jane makes a stand, coming to Cliff’s defense and turning her personal demon away. Cliff and Jane come to the end of their odd journey and get back to the real world. Jane goes to lie down, and gets reminded she hasn’t fixed all her problems. Cliff looks around, sees things have happened while he was “away” and Rita and Cyborg both tell him it’s a long story.
What I liked: The odd representations of things in Jane’s head worked pretty well. They made sense, to me at least. Say what you want about Cliff, he’s willing to take big risks for the people he cares about. I liked Cyborg and Larry’s exchange just before things got surreal. Surreal-er? Jane’s background is disturbingly believable.
What I didn’t: Aside from my frequent note that they made no progress at all towards finding Niles, which is supposedly the focus of the season, I liked most of it. My only other complaint is the negative spirit is really starting to become a deus ex machina. Or ex Larry I guess.
I think this was the best episode that didn’t have Mr. Nobody in it at all. I’ll give it a high 3.5 out of 5. Seeing her general look and demeanor, I really want Jane to team up with, or least meet up with, Jessica Jones. That’d be fun to watch, from a safe distance.