Saturday, March 30, 2019

REVIEW: 'Doom Patrol' - Cliff Tries to Lead the Team Through Some Much Needed Therapy in 'Therapy Patrol'

DC Universe's Doom Patrol - Episode 1.07 "Therapy Patrol"

After a violent outburst from Cliff, the team engages in some self-led group therapy - leading to some growth within the group as they are knit closer together.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of DC Universe's Doom Patrol.

"Therapy Patrol" was written by Neil Reynolds and directed by Rob Hardy

This hour may only cover the basics of therapy as it pertains to the team coping with their traumatic pasts and sharing the details with everyone else at Doom Manor. However, it's absolutely captivating to watch and continues to show just how surprising this drama can be with these strong and personal emotions. There is the sense early on that the show is simply repeating a lot of information that the audience already knows about these characters. The first half of the episode is focused on the intense personal journeys each of the characters go on by themselves ahead of this team meeting. There is always the sense that it ends in tragedy somehow based on the fight between Cliff and Vic. However, it also aspires to inform the audience even more about the childhoods of these characters. Again, it may be easy to look to one's parents as the reason why people are so messed up in the present day. That is just an easy crutch. But it does inform so much about these characters as well even if they aren't blaming their parents for everything that has happened to them. Rita was first given this alternate identity for her life from her parents who wanted her to be a performer. Larry got his first taste of homophobia from his parents who were terrified about what it would do to their standing in society. Jane was neglected as a baby by a father who didn't care. Cliff lived in fear of turning into his father, which he ultimately did. And Vic doesn't know if he can trust any of his memories beyond being terrified and skeptical of his father. Again, these only inform a small portion of the lives of these characters. However, it does tie in nicely to the conflicts they are currently going through. This episode presents as very contained with the team just living in Doom Manor talking with one another. They aren't asked to save the world. They don't make any progress in finding the Chief. But they are recognizing that they need to be open with one another in order to take away Mr. Nobody's power over them. The villain aspires to turn their greatest fears and insecurities against them so that they turn on each other. Some of them are more willing than others to talk about their greatest shames. Rita still doesn't talk about the unforgivable act she was involved with in the past. However, she does admit that she has no true sense of identity. Rita Farr was just a creation for her to be an iconic performer. She no longer knows who she is while also constantly falling apart and forced into the grossest situations. Her accepting that is enough for her to come back together though. Meanwhile, Larry doesn't actually get to come out as gay. Cliff outs him which is not okay at all. But Larry is willing to talk about how isolating his life has been for the past sixty years because he can't touch anyone. He and the spirit are constantly torturing each other as well. The spirit may just want Larry to see the beauty in the moment instead of the agony and fear of the world. That may also be a powerful moment. But it's still torture for Larry to try to cope with all of this while allowing the spirit to be a hero from time to time. And Vic doesn't know how to trust anything that is in his head. He doesn't know if it's an actual memory or a program created to tell him a better story. He is realizing just how invasive his father was with his programming now that he's finally out. But that's absolutely terrifying and only cripples him with more self-doubt about his past as well as his future. At least these members are willing to share their personal histories. Jane just wants to explode the entire therapy session and run away. She succeeds with that because Cliff has a major breakdown. He is losing control over his robotic body. He is seeing the team as Clara and his former friend who raised her. He is so angry at the world but isn't given the tools to properly express his emotions. He can't eat. He can't cry. He feels trapped and out of control. Of course, there's a reason for that. That is such a random and wild conclusion. Apparently, Mr. Nobody influenced a rat to seek vengeance against Cliff which led to all of these malfunctions. That's crazy but also ensures that everything remains ridiculous despite the grounded human emotions happening throughout the hour. That's a very inspired balance of tone that this show nails perfectly.