Thursday, June 25, 2020

REVIEW: 'Doom Patrol' - Niles, Rita and Larry Confront Pain While Jane Receives a Major Ultimatum in 'Pain Patrol'

DC Universe & HBO Max's Doom Patrol - Episode 2.03 "Pain Patrol"

In the wake of a terrifying omen, Niles and Rita enter the interdimensional palace of the infamous Red Jack, who feeds on pain and has taken Larry prisoner. Jane is called to the Underground to receive an ultimatum, while her physical body travels to Florida with Cliff, who's eager to prove he's a good father. Back at the manor, Dorothy's game of hide and seek ends badly.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides 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 & HBO Max's Doom Patrol.

"Pain Patrol" was written by Tom Farrell & Tamara Becher-Wilkinson and directed by Samira Radsi

The members of the Doom Patrol have been isolated and embraced destructive behavior for a long time. As such, it takes awhile for them to mine the depths of their shortcomings and break free from those patterns. It can be a little frustrating to the audience because the show runs the risk of exploring the same thematic ground over and over again. These are selfish individuals who believe they aren't all that bad. But they also believe their outward appearances push people away. As such, that essentially gives them the opportunity to be as fundamentally selfish as they want. They get to fulfill the wishes of being monsters even though there is so much more depth to all of them. And yet, the narrative has to point out that some of these worst impulses are true some of the time. Cliff views himself as a good father. There is absolutely zero evidence of that. He was taken from Clara's life for 30 years. He is right to be angry with Niles about that. But Cliff is the one who ruins Clara's baby shower. That has absolutely nothing to do with Niles. Cliff wants to prove that he is a good father. He also just expects Clara to be totally understanding and accepting right away. He had the courage to walk away from her once knowing that she had a loving father figure that made her life better. He didn't need to come in and destroy it. That's what he does here. It takes Jane to point that out to him. In doing so, she chooses to stand by her friends. She views them as her family. She isn't wrong for doing that either. Her various personalities though see that as a direct threat to her core directive as primary. Jane exists to protect Kay at all times. That's her purpose as the main personality. She is the one who dictates the life that is to be lived on the outside. The other personalities have their moments of value. Their powers are unique and come in handy during numerous situations. But they also feel taxed because Jane has chosen to live with Niles and her friends. They view it as a destructive relationship. And yes, they have some perspective on the matter because they aren't the ones living this life day in and day out. They come to the surface in a few fleeting moments. Their opinions still matter. That makes it terrifying when Jane is confined in the Underground after choosing to help Cliff. She can reach out to him in a way no one else can. She is going through her own internal conflict. She was allowed to ignore her directive of protecting Kay for awhile. But now, she has to be reminded of that at every moment. Her actions impact more than just herself. She is actively suppressing the other identities that exist within this body. They take over believing it's the right thing to do. They take that action. The internal conflict is becoming external in a way that Jane's friends can't understand. They rely on her though. These relationships may not be healthy. But they also help them feel something again. When isolated, they feel that they offer nothing but pain to those around them. Larry is still terrified that his radiation could kill anyone near him. Rita fears becoming a puddle of herself at the first moment of self-doubt. Roni would rather end things early with Vic instead of letting feelings develop only for insecurities to erupt into anguish. Meanwhile, Niles just wants immortality. He wants to protect Dorothy. And yet, he and Rita have to go off on an adventure to rescue Larry. In doing so, Dorothy is left at the Manor by herself and accidentally breaks Danny in half. That is a devastating image. One that cements the overall mood of this season. It takes so much more than words to earn forgiveness for past mistakes. Niles destroyed the lives of four strangers. They are still alive and can potentially protect his daughter. But he also has to be willing to accept a less than desirable fate knowing that the sacrifice is worth it in the end. It may not happen. Some solution may be found before Niles becomes Robotman 2.0. That action can come with its own consequences. The exploration of such is still a little unfocused and all over the place. The characters and insanity remain engaging though. Patience will likely be rewarded because these patterns can't last forever. The characters may be immortal but their destructive behavior will ruin many lives if they don't address their shortcomings. That doesn't have to be the whole point of the show either. Right now, it is but it needs to be open to more as well.