Last episode could have been called “Bad Playdate,” or something along those lines, as Jane and Dorothy’s imaginary friends fought, Robotman maimed someone, and Cyborg reunited with his girlfriend. Now, we get the arrival of another Doom Patrol character from the comics, a really long trip, and the perils of amateur dramatics. I’m not really sure anyone has a good time as we see some bits of Silver Age silliness in “Space Patrol.” The name even sounds like something from the 50’s or early 60’s.
The episode starts with Dorothy sobbing in the aftermath of the fight, while, down in the Underground, some of Jane’s personas are apparently dead. Come morning, the Chief goes looking for Dorothy, but finds Cliff instead, back from his road trip to Detroit, baring something he thinks will help with the Chief’s promised upgrades. Niles is more worried about Dorothy than Cliff, and they split up to go searching. Elsewhere, Larry and Rita return from the ill-fated Trainor family reunion via bus (how glamorous). After talking over what happened, and some nice notes of friendship between the two, Larry goes back to Doom Manor while Rita goes to join up with the local acting group.
Back in Detroit (and how did Cliff get back without Victor, anyway?), Victor and Roni enjoy their reunion, and she tells him some more about her past. Vic being who he is, he offers to help, and Roni makes a counter-offer. She also rattles off an impressive list of medications and complications before they fall back in bed. As Larry walks home from the bus stop, he doesn’t get the welcoming committee he might have hoped for, but barely has time to go inside and get Cliff and the Chief before their newest guests arrive in a very unique manner. While Larry and Cliff are stunned at the new arrivals, the Chief merely growls, “Tell them I’m not here,” and goes off to continue his search for Dorothy. We get a bit of a history lesson about another one of the Chief’s old projects and some very stylized introductions that get old fast. We also meet someone with a very familiar name if you’ve read the comics.
In the Underground, there’s some unique mourning as Jane tries to sort out what the other alternates are doing. When she finally understands, she’s appalled, but has been outvoted. Robotman and the Chief don’t find Dorothy, do find a note, and are just too late to prevent her from running away in her own extreme (and highly unlikely) fashion. Determined to give chase, Niles brings Cliff to the garage and shows off a surprising relic from his past. Now, why you bring a racecar driver to this particular turn of events when you have someone much more qualified a few steps away, I have no idea. There are several logic holes in this episode, even taking into account the Patrol’s usual weirdness. Niles gives Cliff a quick tour, shows him some surprising “optional extras,” and they take off.
Larry is left on his own to entertain the newest guests, and it’s not easy. Two of them are kind of crazy, and the third has some shocking revelations for Larry. It is interesting to learn that several people involved in this exchange know each other by reputation. Rita finds her way to her newest endeavor, and gets several surprises in short order. This is not going to go at all how she thought, and none of it is her fault for once. Back at the manor, Larry compares notes with someone he is finding out that he both has a lot in common with, and lot to learn from. In Detroit, Victor and Roni try to help each other out. He learns some surprising things about her, and she finally hears some of the things he’s been unable to share in group. And really, with his history, who can blame him?
Having struck out on her own, Dorothy goes to explore her new surroundings. Along the way, she argues with the Candlemaker, and hears some things she didn’t want to. Down in the Underground, Jane argues with Hammerhead about what’s going on, but Hammerhead doesn’t want to listen. Which isn’t really a surprise. Upset and really thrown, Jane makes a visit to someone she rarely interacts with to try and get some more insight about what’s going on. Needing answers, Victor also reaches out to someone he doesn’t talk to much, and gets some surprising answers. The conversation takes a lot of different turns along the way. Larry stands vigil at the manor while some of the newcomers keep acting oddly and the other gives Larry some advice he finds hard to hear.
Cliff and Niles finally catch up to Dorothy, but given where they’ve all ended up, Cliff has to go after her alone. He reluctantly does this after a lot of warning and worrying from the Chief. Cliff’s surprisingly calm and understanding with Dorothy, and they have a very odd but touching little scene, although I’m not really sure how they were actually talking to each other. Rita suffers through some more torment, although no one realizes what’s happening to her. She tries to talk to someone about what’s going on, and ends up hearing some cruelly accurate insights. Larry starts losing patience with the guests, and pushes for some answers. He finally finds out some of what has happened to them, and it’s a typically Doom Patrol tragically absurd story. It also explains a lot. He and his new friend share some observations about the world.
Dorothy finishes her new project, and then has a breakdown. Cliff is sort of cool with her, but without the trademark anger he’s been showing so much of. He makes some great comments, and finally convinces her to come back with them. They take in some impressive sights, get back to the Chief, and he makes Dorothy promise something important. Larry helps his new friend with a similar project to what Dorothy was up to, and their time comes to part ways. Larry gets a direct and simple warning, and hears what the plan is for the ones that are leaving. He’s made his own decisions, and is clearly heading in a different direction. Jane makes a great speech to the others in the Underground, and then has some of her work undone by an unexpected return. Jane has a conversation, hears an unexpected request, and there are some interesting and immediate effects in the real world. Cliff tucks Dorothy in for the return home, although they’re leaving behind something fairly important. Cliff experiences some rare peace and insightfulness, which of course doesn’t last as the Chief once again does something unexpected, cruel, and seemingly pointless. I really hope this gets explained later, and it’s a hell of an end to the episode.
What I liked: The new but familiar character was a nice surprise. I didn’t expect to see that one show up in this series. I’m intrigued by developments in the Underground, and liked Cliff’s moment of peace, however brief it was. While he does horrible things because of it, Niles’ love for Dorothy comes though clearly. The surprises Rita got were interesting, and I feel bad for her, but admire her sticking it out. Vic and Roni are good together, and I’m really curious to see what they do about what they learned.
What I didn’t: There were a lot of logic holes in this episode. They left something important behind when they got Dorothy back. Niles should have brought someone different along, or at least it would have made more sense. Dorothy has some skills she really wouldn’t, and I question if her and Cliff’s conversation was even possible. I really don’t like or understand what Niles did at the end of the episode.
Strange is expected on this show by now, but this was just out there. I’m giving this one a 3 out of 5, and hope we get some explanations down the road.