Doom Patrol: Dada Patrol

Hey, you got any WD-40-cicles?

The Doom Patrol is noted for their particularly bizarre adventures and situations. Having dealt with a touch of being undead last episode, they now have to find their way forward without their leader, Niles Caulder. Caulder seems to actually be gone, although I wouldn’t bet against his return from the dead. Now, with their new mystery guest, the team has a new threat to handle in their own, bizarre way, in “Dada Patrol.”

The show opens with Jane visiting the Underground. That’s always been a really odd place, but it has somehow managed to get, if not outright weirder, at least more menacing. Jane finds Kay in session with Dr. Harrison, and they’re debating what seems like it should be a fairly simple matter. Jane doesn’t understand why it’s even under question, and finds herself opposed by Dr. Harrison for reasons that are never explained. In the kitchen, Cyborg is working with Cliff to try and get the new meds underway. Cliff isn’t happy about hearing the time frame for them possibly working, and, when Cyborg gets distracted, does something rash. But what else is new? Cyborg was distracted by a call from his father and the restoration of something that was lost. Vic ends up having a rare good conversation with his father.

In his room/bunker, Larry gets some help from Rita, trying to understand what happened to him last episode. Things are definitely changing, but they don’t get any answers. The mystery woman has managed to discover that her name is Laura (or at least, probably is), and calls everyone together for a team meeting. Rita takes exception to Laura’s presumption, but that doesn’t end up mattering. Once everyone is gathered, Laura gives them a briefing about the Sisterhood of Dada and the potential threat they pose. I give her points for persevering in the face of Rita’s pettiness and Cliff and Jane’s juvenile antics. Laura suggests a course of action that no one is happy with, and then makes a compromise. Jane asks a key question and everyone is delighted by the answer, rushing off to prepare.

Keeping Rita back from the mission, Laura shows her the discovery she made in the old film clip. Rita, true to form, takes this as proof of her most recently decided version of her own greatness. The rest of the team roll out on the same battered bus we’ve seen so many times, which has to be one of the least impressive superhero transports I’ve ever run across, possibly excepting the ice cream truck from the old Misfits of Science show (I’ll be really impressed if anyone else remembers that one). There’s the usual amount of bickering as Larry drives, and Cliff acts weird even for him. Vic figures out what’s wrong with Cliff, but what should have been fatal seems to be no more serious that a mild high for Cliff. Fog rolls in, chaos ensues, and the bus skids out, barely managing to not get wrecked. The team splits up to go exploring, leaving a dispirited Larry to watch the bus.

Back at the manor, Rita waxes philosophical about mothers’ wisdom and martinis. Laura seems by turns amused and annoyed as the conversation meanders along. They also discuss destiny and Rita eventually makes a confession. In any other show, with the team split up and in notionally enemy territory, there’d be a series of fights showcasing each members’ abilities. They don’t really follow the norms here, so instead we get a series of surreal encounters. Cliff finds an animate bicycle and then an ice cream truck, and things get weirder as he goes inside. Jane finds an old fashioned candy store, is very surprised at one of the people inside, and has a very odd conversation with a character who has been altered a bit from their comic book version. Cyborg runs across a very odd looking individual who asks a lot of deep, probing questions, while avoiding giving any useful answers. That’s not really helpful.

The next few scenes rotate among these encounters, which range from introspective to hostile to bizarre, as the team various learns things or is forced to think about things they’d rather avoid. Everyone has some baggage in life, and this group has more than most. Back at the bus, Larry talks to himself a lot, and then has a very unexpected meeting with a familiar face. Laura and Rita continue their girls’ night, with drinking, dancing, travel plans, and more talk of destiny. You can see the wheels turning in Rita’s head, and it’s an easy bet that things aren’t going to go well. The group ends up back on the bus, and it’d be easy to dismiss all of this as some kind of hallucination, but one of them brought back definitive proof that something happened.

Shaken, the team returns home. Their somber mood and new addition are enough to even (briefly) penetrate Rita’s cloud of alcohol and self-involvement. She urges them on a new course of action, and is surprised when they not only don’t agree, they’re very adamant about it. Retreating to their own devices, the team embarks on various poorly-conceived plans. I feel worse for Jane, who is trying to do exactly what she’s supposed to be doing, and meeting some unexpected and difficult resistance from surprising directions. Rita gets slapped with some drunken truth, reacts badly, and does something rash, which I believe is the cause of next episode’s title. It should make things interesting, to say the least.

What I Liked: I admire Jane’s commitment to her purpose, and her dedication in the face of resistance from folks that are supposed to be on her side. I’d find them annoying as hell in person, but I do like the weird friendship between Jane and Cliff. It was nice to see Cyborg have a good conversation with his father for once.

What I Didn’t: The tagline on Seinfeld’s sitcom was that it was a show about nothing. At times, this seems to be on the same wavelength. There are moments it feels like they’re being weird just for the sake of being weird, which gets to being a bit strained, time to time. I’m hoping the Chief isn’t gone for good.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Morrison’s Doom Patrol run, and that’s where a lot of this material comes from. I don’t think a superhero show needs to be non-stop punch-fests, but this particular bit of weirdness feels like it’s trying too hard sometimes. I’ll give this a 3 out of 5, and see how things go for the next episode.