Saturday, May 18, 2019

REVIEW: 'Doom Patrol' - Rita Shares Her Most Heinous Secret with a Stranger in 'Flex Patrol'

DC Universe's Doom Patrol - Episode 1.13 "Flex Patrol"

After escaping the Ant Farm with Flex Mentallo, the Doom Patrol tries to restore his memory and abilities in order to find the Chief. Rita confronts her doubts with the help of a stranger. Larry realizes how tied he is to the Negative Spirit.

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.

"Flex Patrol" was written by Tom Farrell & Tamara Becher-Wilkinson and directed by T.J. Scott

At the end of this hour, Mr. Nobody celebrates the Doom Patrol finally being a team who are determined to fight him. He sees it as the version of this show that audiences have long wanted to see. It's a battle of good versus evil. He helped morph the team into their current positions as well. As such, there was immense value in the thirteen episodes of the season so far. The audience shouldn't be annoyed that it has taken this long to get to the central conflict. This isn't even what Mr. Nobody's ultimate goal is anyway. He doesn't want the Doom Patrol to be a cohesive team that can challenge him in battle. Instead, he wants Niles to tell him where Slava is so that he can harness and abuse her powers. He views the Doom Patrol as the way to get Niles to hand over that information. That's what all of this is about. But the season has long understood that the heroes at the start weren't capable of mounting this daring rescue mission. Even now, they are so unsure of their actions. They continue to question what is real and what's just a manipulation. Mr. Nobody spent multiple episodes inside Vic's head pushing him to the brink of sanity and almost making him kill his father. Sure, it's a little bit of a cop out to reveal that Silas isn't actually dead. He is still clinging to life with Vic watching over him at the hospital. That means that Vic may not be a huge component of the final showdown with Mr. Nobody. That seems unlikely. But it's the current position for the character as he is learning how to actually trust himself and the people around him. He doesn't know what relaunching Grid will do to him. However, he has the understanding from Rita that she and the team will use this information without asking him to further compromise his own safety. That is a very loving and understanding moment. It comes immediately after Rita shares the most horrible thing she has ever done in her entire life. Now, it's absolutely forced that she makes this revelation to a total stranger. She may feel free to do so because she sees this elderly man as someone who won't share it with anyone because he doesn't have anyone in his life to do so. It's freeing and cathartic. Of course, it too is a manipulation by Mr. Nobody in order to make her a strong and compelling member of the team. But it is absolutely brutal to see her talk about how willing she was to look the other way and cover up abuses of a powerful man just in order to stand in the spotlight for a little while longer. That's what got her to the set where the accident that changed her life took place. She has spent all the decades since trying to reckon with the fact that this is the fate she deserves for her heinous actions. This man absolves her of her pain mostly because Mr. Nobody sees it as the thing that continues to hold her back. It works though. It means she walks back into Doom Manor with conviction. She knows where the Chief is and is ready to mount the rescue. Plus, the team has a potential game-changing ally in Flex Mentallo. Of course, Jane and Cliff have to first help him remember who he is and the powers that he has. He has been locked in the Ant Farm for so many years. Larry and the spirit even befriended him when they were first imprisoned. They left him behind not knowing the true extent of the psychological damage he would suffer. It also proves just how far Larry and the spirit have come in understanding each other and what they need in order to survive. They have been separated. As such, it's now a choice for them to stay connected. It's something the spirit is willing to do even though in the past it was making plans with Flex to get back to its dimension. Now, it too stands proudly in being with Larry and wanting to get the Chief back. And yet, Flex may not be up for that mission. He gets his memories and power back but loses his wife in the process simply because the Bureau of Normalcy are absolutely wicked and despicable human beings. That's a somewhat conventional plot beat that will inevitably mess up things for the Doom Patrol.