Doom Patrol: 1917 Patrol

Seriously, what is going ON in this episode?

Last episode, Rita decided to steal Laura’s time machine for reasons that were not entirely clear. Now, she has a trip to the past and some unexpected meetings while the others deal with assorted problems in the present. I have to say, the more I see the way he does things, the more I’m not sure how Cliff hasn’t been kicked out of the house yet. There are emotional scenes and weird parties among other things in “1917 Patrol.”

Rita’s trip back to the past comes with in-flight narration, and a really interesting take on how the amnesia that Laura suffered from comes about. It was a great effect and idea. She ends up in Iowa of all places, has a strange meeting with a local woman, and then we get to see a few different factions we’ve met in the past. Or, in this case, the future. Larry cares for his unexpectedly returned son at the Manor, while Jane and Kay conspire on something they discussed last episode. Cyborg is feeling introspective after recent events, but makes a big mistake with who he tries to talk things out with. In the wake of Niles’ departure, I really don’t see what’s holding this group together, aside from possibly inertia and/or lack of options.

On her sojourn to the past, Rita gets brought to the infamous Bureau of Normalcy. Since she has no memory, she doesn’t realize how bad this could be, which is probably a mercy. She gets brought to an office for an interview, and finds out that one of her assumptions about this trip was wrong. Also, weirdly, she seems to have better control over her powers in this time than in her own era, which makes me wonder if some of her problems are variations on self-doubt and second-guessing. The interview ends with Rita getting a rating that could be deemed insulting, but is probably the best outcome for her. Cliff’s current orgy of self-indulgence gets interrupted by Laura, who presses him for information on the team’s encounter with the Sisterhood of Dada. He’s not feeling friendly or communicative, even more than usual, and she doesn’t really get anything useful.

Rita gets a new job, and throws herself into it with a will and focus we’ve never seen from her before. It never comes up, but to me, this seems like a study in the effects of trauma on someone. She’s a completely different, and happier, person without her memories. I’d argue she’s more likable, too. Holly is her trainer as Rita gets the hang of her duties and a new name. Later, Rita makes a mistake at lunch, and gets corrected by Lloyd, the guy with bicycle wheels on his back. It’s a weird scene, and I get some of what they’re trying to do, but I don’t see how the lunchroom has not only co-ed, but integrated seating in 1917, while the agents can’t handle eating with a metahuman? I guess they bridged those other gaps by making metas the bottom of the pecking order, but it’s a really jarring note, or was for me. She gets relocated to the very much less pleasant place the metas eat, and meets some of her fellow powered people. Jane monitors Kay’s field trip through the viewer in the field we’ve seen before, and has an argument with Pretty Polly. I don’t know exactly what’s going on in the Underground, but it seems like there’s some kind of conspiracy under way and Jane and Kay are the ones that at best aren’t in on it, and at worst are the target of it. Cyborg’s attempt to relax gets disturbed by some gawkers, and he has GRID shut down a few functions that are disturbing him.

Rita’s new job keeps her busy, and, as I commented before, she’s using her powers with an ease that’s completely new. She runs across a reminder of her forgotten life, but it’s not quite enough to bring back memories. It’s odd that she doesn’t seem to have any idea why she’s in the past, where Laura at least remembered who she was looking for. Speaking of, Laura finds her and asks a bunch of questions that Rita still doesn’t have the answers to. Then, someone unexpected takes Rita to a very unique and private party, and we see a bit more about the Sisterhood finally. Whatever they might become later, here it seems like it’s just a surreal social club for outsiders, more or less. There are dance numbers, introductions, and some anachronistic music. Cliff has descended into full-blown addiction, and moves through several stages of it quickly, which is going to cause problems for the other residents when they figure out what’s going on. He comes to a bizarre, there’s-no-doubt-he’s-really-high epiphany, and puzzles the person he’s been hanging out with lately.

Among Rita’s other powers, she’s apparently, and fortunately, immune to hangovers. She has a lazy conversation with some of her fellow party-goers, and they reflect on a few things about their situation. This scene also makes me wonder where they’re all living. Presumably, they have some kind of living arrangement provided by the Bureau, but apparently, there’s no bed check or anything, since no one seems to notice they don’t show up. That seems a really lax approach from an organization that’s so ragingly paranoid. Kay actually gets to enjoy herself, although she’s clearly both not doing what she set out to do and doing things that should be attracting the wrong kind of attention. She has an encounter that makes Jane really nervous, but, at times, Jane worries too much. Larry has an emotional confrontation with Paul, and stands up for himself. It’s a very powerful scene, and I’m glad Larry did and said what he did. Victor goes on a memory-filled walk, and tries to reconcile the different things he’s heard from each parent.

Rita, intentionally or not, stages a kind of sit-in or demonstration, and her fellow weirdos join her. It’s a really odd moment, and the agents don’t know how to handle it. Rita starts having one of her old problems under their scrutiny, but recovers with some help from her friends. They get hauled out of the cafeteria by one of the guards, and then learn they have some surprising allies. Kay gets herself a souvenir, and Jane stands up to the others on the young girl’s behalf. There’s definite hostility in the Underground, and it seems Doctor Harrison is leading it. I can’t imagine this is going to go well for either Jane or Kay next episode. Cliff almost manages to recover from his newest series of problems, then shows his usual lack of judgement and does something that’s likely going to endanger him, the team, the general public, or all the above. This is a really bad episode for Cliff on many levels, and I wonder what, if any, repercussions there are going to be from all this. Cyborg has a new resolution, and goes to try and carry it out. Larry doesn’t get to enjoy his earlier triumph, as one of his recent issues comes to the forefront of everything and leaves him in a bad situation. And, with Rita gone, I don’t know that anyone else is going to check on him, which really isn’t good.

The still-amnesiac Rita contemplates her new life, and has an in-depth conversation with one of her new friends. She makes a decision that I completely understand, although it’s a given it’s not going to last. The last thing we see is Laura, alone in Doom Manor, frustrated by her lack of progress on any and all fronts. She gives in to a fit of temper, and something really unexpected happens to end the episode. I have a few ideas about this, but it’s a nicely done point to end on.

What I Liked: It was nice seeing Rita happy for once. I’m glad Larry stood up for himself. Jane knows what her duty is, and will stand up to anyone to carry it out, and this showed her strength. I continue to enjoy Michelle Gomez as Laura.

What I Didn’t: Pretty much everything Cliff did throughout the episode. He’s going through a lot, much of it from his own bad decisions, and it’s getting painful to watch. I’m concerned about developments with Larry, Rita, and Jane.  I mentioned the bit about the living situation for Rita and friends earlier. I’m hoping we get an explanation about the differences between Laura and Rita after their trips through time.

It was another odd, but good, episode. I enjoyed it more than the previous one. I’ll give this a 3 out of 5.