Doom Patrol: Bird Patrol

Not the bird they meant, but I agree with her

The utter weirdness that is the Doom Patrol just keeps going. The Sisterhood of Dada is still around (have you noticed that almost everyone on this show has some version of not-quite-explained immortality?) and up to something ominous but obscure and weird. Cliff is still in the grips of his online addiction, and things are unsettled in the Underground, among other issues plaguing the team. There’s a lot going on, and not all of it is clear, in “Bird Patrol.”

Things start off with some of the Sisterhood out in the woods building something or other. The scene involves construction, someone using powers that seem to have no relevance to the project at hand, and mad laughter that goes back and forth between supervillain prime and just plain unhinged. Meanwhile, Larry gets really sick with some surprising results, and the Sisterhood seems to be literally advertising at least part of their scheme.

Following up on his own recent decisions, Cyborg is looking into some options for himself. He meets an old friend of his mother’s, and learns a bit more about his past. She tells him about some of his options, but something Victor is interested in would come at a very high price. Victor is urged to consult with a loved one, but his mother is dead and he’s really not that close with his father. At Doom Manor, Cliff is sort of half-assed trying to make amends, and tells Jane some of what he’s been doing. She’s not happy to learn what’s been going on, and when Cliff both makes a further admission and is kind of a dick about it, Flit takes matters into her own hands and Cliff takes an unexpected trip. Cliff being Cliff, he immediately starts lying.

You can’t really say there’s a lot going on at once when time travel is involved, but the episode has several stories it jumps between, and some of the events are back in 1949. Laura is in her office, bored and jaded, as she interviews new prospects for the Bureau of Normalcy. A new applicant gives a decent back story, but Laura doesn’t care until he demonstrates what could be a very useful ability. Rita, still amnesiac and going by “Bendy,” hears part of the conversation and isn’t happy with what Laura says and does. The two argue a bit, and Rita leaves, slipping a note into Laura’s notes on the way out. In the hall, Rita meets Malcolm. They do some cute couple stuff, worry about Laura working too much, and break into some absurdist dance, and then dodge out of the way when a squad of guards come through. One of them is clearly not happy to see the couple.

In the present, Laura is trying to rally the team, such as they are, to resist the Sisterhood. When she stops by Larry’s room/vault, she sees the aftermath of his earlier problems, and they have very different ideas about what to do next. In the Underground, Jane tries to talk to Kay, but the young girl is very upset about something and doesn’t feel like talking. Jane takes her role as protector very seriously, and this leads to some friction between them. I’ve never been quite clear what happens to their shared body during these conversations, but I guess all this might be happening while Flit is “up.”

Cliff tries to make the best of his new location and be helpful, but his lies are starting to show through already. He forges ahead as best he can, but starts making people uneasy. While the Sisterhood puts the finishing touches on their device, Larry takes a walk in the woods. He doesn’t manage to do what he’s trying to, and gets caught up in the beginnings of the Sisterhood’s machinations. Where most superheroes would spring into action, or at least manage a battle cry, Larry’s reaction is an underwhelming, “Well, that can’t be good.” Vic makes his choice about a loved one to talk over his choices with, and gets some unexpected insight and perspective on what following up on his desire might mean.

In a small amount of time, Cliff manages to make an improbable mess of things, showing his usual bad judgement and coping skills. Things get a bit tense, but Cliff is given more understanding than he probably deserves. I will give him credit for not (quite) giving in to his temptations and making things worse. He tells some more lies, this time to make other people feel better, and we get the impression that whatever the Sisterhood is doing, it might be wider in scope than we imagined. Jane has a charged confrontation with the other alters, and we see that things are not going smoothly down there. Or in Kay’s head, or wherever this takes place. Jane and the others have some very different ideas about what the best thing to do is. Jane is going to need some help, but I have no idea if she’ll manage to get it, or even ask for it. I’m betting no on the second part of that.

In the present, Laura keeps trying to take some kind of effective action, but now has a new problem preventing her from getting anywhere. In the past, Laura is getting some really bad advice from Agent Hodges. He’s doing a great job of seducing her to the dark side, although what he thinks he’s going to get out of it, I’m not sure. Given the Bureau’s attitude towards anyone with powers, I’m guessing Laura is keeping her abilities hidden from everyone but her friends. Things jump around a good bit, as Laura mulls over an invitation, Rita and Malcolm debut a new piece, and the Sisterhood argues about what they’re actually accomplishing, and what they should do differently.

As Sachiko from the Sisterhood gets things moving, Kay starts acting very out of character, and we see the strange events the Sisterhood kicked off are even getting to the Underground. As things get worse, Victor’s attempts to change things gets interrupted, as does Cliff’s newest chat with Ginger the Cam Girl. No, sadly that’s not some weird new superhero. And this is when things kick off into a higher gear as we near the end of the show.

There are a lot of quick cuts for the rest of the episode, going back and forth from 1949 to the present. Laura attends the Sisterhood’s gathering, but not in the way anyone expected, or any of her friends wanted. Events from the past start bleeding over into the present as the fog collects up the members of the Doom Patrol, gathers them all in the same place, and Laura both does something horrible in the past, and is forced to relive it in the present. There is betrayal, death, tragedy, and a really weird next step of the plan, even by the standards of this show. By the end of it, I’m not entirely sure what’s going on, but it looks really bad for the Patrol, most of whom are apparently captured, or transported, or something, while Laura flees, and we see a surprising revelation about who is working with the Sisterhood in the modern era. It ends with a lot of things looking bad, and some really unclear events unfolding.

What I liked: I get why Cyborg is doing what he’s doing. That story, at least, makes sense to me. I understand his choice for who to reach out to, and appreciate what he was told, even if he didn’t want to hear it. I’m really intrigued, if disturbed, by what’s going on in the Underground. Michelle Gomez continues to give a great performance as Laura, both in the past and present.

What I Didn’t: Laura folds under Hodges’ pressure really quickly, and I’m not sure I understand why. Larry’s seen a lot, and lived a weird life, I get that, but his reaction to his own bit of weirdness going on doesn’t really make sense to me. He was amusing at first, but Cliff is getting to be more and more of a disappointment, and I’m actually starting to cringe during his scenes. I both don’t care for the storyline and don’t see how he’s going to stick around after this bit is over.

It’s a weird show, and this is a lot more of the same. I’m still not entirely sure on some of what happened here. I’ll give this a 3 out of 5, and see how, or if, they manage to tie this all together.

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