Doom Patrol: Dumb Patrol

As the end of season two approaches, the Doom Patrol is, somehow, managing to get even weirder. This episode sees the return of an old enemy, a new status quo for one of the characters, and a lot of strange events. In the musical Avenue Q, there are characters called the Bad Idea Bears. Parts of this episode seem dimly related. There are several surprises and hints at things to come in “Dumb Patrol.”

The show opens with an odd answering machine message that seems to have nothing to do with what’s been going on anywhere. After the opening credits, there’s a running joke about a villain, a subtle crossover with the Harley Quinn cartoon, and much less subtle return to Earth as Cliff crashes down after the Chief ejected him from the space ship last time. Somehow, not only does Cliff survive the fall, but so do his clothes. While Cliff rages, Rita gets what could be good news, which then turns weird when someone from her past takes credit. Shaken, Rita ends up waking up, trying to fight off the dream and its implications.

Downstairs in the manor, Victor somehow thought it was a good idea to bring Roni back “home,” and shows her around. Larry is clearly feeling depressed, and they have an odd exchange. Rita eventually makes her way to the kitchen, where Miranda, now having supplanted Jane, is taking over a task Larry usually does, and he’s not happy about it. Miranda gets a bit starstruck by meeting Rita, and neatly evades questions about Jane. Miranda asks some questions about Dorothy, and gets a surprising, if true answer, leaving Roni shaking her head. Their discussion gets interrupted by the arrival of a package. From the moment they see it, most of the characters start acting oddly, although Miranda seems unaffected. The package also contains something that, last I knew, was already at Doom Manor, so I’m not sure why it was shipped in from elsewhere.

Farther afield, the Chief goes looking for someone from his past, and Cliff rages his way along in his attempts to get home. Doing more research for her role, Rita meets an expert about what her character does, and has a very odd conversation, even for her. A very rattled Larry paces the manor and ends up confessing some of his current difficulties to Miranda. She seems to be good at listening and giving reasonable advice, but no one’s really taking it. Larry wrangles a favor from one of Jane’s alternates, and the pair of them do some fairly foolish things. Not to be left out, Victor and Roni interrupt their making out for a series of unwise decisions. Miranda once again tries to be the voice of reason, and is once again ignored. Things get even stranger when the enigmatic Templar Knight Willoughby Kipling arrives, gives them a rough idea what’s going on, and tells them all to stay out of his way. Because the Patrol is noted for doing what they’re told, right? There’s an entertaining bit with an old-school filmstrip telling them more about what’s going on, and then the team goes off and does something really dumb.

The two away teams have bad days, as the Chief faces some complications in his search, and Cliff keeps having assorted bad luck while he tries to get home. It’s amusing seeing Cliff try and use some of Rita’s coping methods. Rita herself indulges in day drinking and getting an unusual perspective on motherhood. Miranda plunges after the team, trying to stop them from doing anything too overtly foolish. They run across an old foe who is doing some odd things, and there’s a very breaking-the-fourth-wall moment to pitch the Harley Quinn cartoon. Eventually, the team ends up roughly where they want to be, although not at all how they want to get there.

Cliff’s day continues down the comedically tragic path it was on. If you want an idea of how bad it gets, the character he interacts with is actually listed in the credits as “Douche Guy.” Harried by all this, Cliff makes a call and leaves a message he immediately regrets. Rita tries something new and ends up venting a lot about some of the collateral damage her mother inflicted on her. I think you can safely argue that everyone in this version of the Patrol was broken long before Niles Caulder arranged their various “accidents.”

Speaking of the Chief, his search goes badly. Not only does not find who he’s looking for, someone else finds him, and tells the Chief a lot of things he’s not prepared to hear. I’m not quite sure why the Chief believes this information, but there are a lot of logic holes in this episode. Caulder is clearly not at his best at this point. Somewhere very different, the team is in a bad situation. They meet up with Kipling again, but that doesn’t really help anything. They do get some time with the newest bad guy, who has clearly read the Villain Handbook, because the team gets a very detailed explanation/boast of the Evil Plan. Miranda is clearly not as swept up in things as the others are. Coming home from her emotionally draining day, Rita performs a rare act of actual superheroism. I thought that wasn’t allowed on this show, especially not when it doesn’t go tragically wrong or make her look stupid.

The villain goes around making very insightful, if unpleasant, comments about the various heroes. She’s puzzled by Miranda (at this point, so am I), and gets a series of surprises as Miranda takes advantage of the Jane collective’s strange nature. Villain vanquished, Miranda suggests they go home. Victor and Roni have a talk without any outside influences, and she decides to move on for now. She’s also carrying something that looks like it’s going to be important later. Larry returns to the scene of his earlier stupidity, finds a few logic loopholes, but manages to learn something about what was troubling him. Cliff finally gets home to discover a surprising visitor. It clears up one mystery from a few episodes ago, but creates another.

The other wrap up scenes appear to be setting up for things to come. There’s a party down in the Underground, and Jane seems to be the only one not on Team Miranda. When she hears about something odd, she goes to investigate and finds something ominous. Kipling sends off a strange message and then gets summoned by the Chief. They talk in riddles, but something big is coming.

What I liked: Miranda at least appears to be doing some good things for the team. The effect the villain had on most of the characters was entertaining to watch in a train wreck kind of way. I’m glad Cliff survived unscathed, although a lot about that didn’t really make any sense. The comments about Mr. Nobody kept the spirit of that odd and very meta character alive.

What I didn’t: Even for this show, there were a lot of logic holes. The details around Cliff’s re-entry made no sense. The Chief was getting around far too easily for where he was. Kipling, who really should have known better, fell under the sway of the villain far too easily. Why was Miranda immune to what was happening to the others, but some other alternates weren’t (and some more were?).

This was a decent, but not great, episode. I’ll give it a 3 out of 5.

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