REVIEW: Doom Patrol S1E7 – Therapy Patrol

Doom Patrol provided some character-based vignettes on “Therapy Patrol” this week, pausing the plot to reflect on each member’s childhood and how it might have affected the people they are today. It’s probably the first truly filler episode of the series, but at least it gave each hero a few good moments of self-discovery. Or a complete mental breakdown Robot-style, if you’re Cliff (Brendan Fraser).

Rita cares for others better than herself.

Cliff was the one who opened “Therapy Patrol,” prepping the rest of the Doom Patrol on the importance of going through Mr. Nobody (Alan Tudyk) to find the Chief (Timothy Dalton) and suggesting their air out all of their issues before that mission commenced. Since no one was ready to start baring their soul, the episode rewound back to that morning and sprinkled in some flashbacks for everyone on the way. First up was Rita (April Bowlby), who was a Cook County pageant winner back in 1930 and won a meeting with her idol, Ethel Singer, as a result. While it was interesting to learn that her parents kept her out of school so they could focus on forcing fame her way, the most salient piece of information was that Rita Farr was merely her stage name. This became rather important when Rita tried to talk herself out of turning into goo and falling through the pipes and into the furnace, because referring to herself as Rita no longer seemed to do the trick. The creepy baby imagery from a few episodes back also reared its head again, and Rita actually commented on it this time before wondering out loud if she’s always been a ball of slime. We still don’t know the meaning, but it’s food for thought.

Meanwhile, Larry’s (Matt Bomer) childhood took place in North Dakota in 1935, where he was accused of playing Doctor with another young boy and his parents fretted over whether his proclivities would cost them their standing at school and church. So that’s where his emphasis on appearances came from. When Victor (Joivan Wade) called him down for the team meeting, he instead suggested a day off for himself an his energy entity. Instead of the usual horrific face-melting Hell dreams, the being tried to placate Larry with a specific memory of his ex-boyfriend John, which had the opposite effect. Rather than enjoy the sunset with a loved one, Larry railing against the details being off and the past being immutable. After repeated loops of that same stolen moment, he finally learned the lesson that “maybe you should just be here.” Perhaps the Larry we see from now now on will be a little less into self-flagellation and a little more into sunsets.

As for the de facto leader himself, young Vic (Joivan Wade) was taken back to Detroit in 2002, where his mother fretted about a dislocated shoulder and told Vic it was okay to cry. He was more afraid of his father’s wrath than the pain he was experiencing, though, so his mom agreed it could be their little secret. In the present, he has become the father of the team in Niles’ absence despite being the youngest of them all, so he made the rounds to call a team meeting. This is where the bare minimum plot of “Therapy Patrol” emerged, as Vic checked in on Cliff to find him frozen on his desk. He didn’t worry too much about that, as the rest of his story was confused by a trip to his Tinder-esque dating profile. His father locked it after the accident, but now that he was freed from dad’s controls he was also free to swipe left or right as much as he pleased. Unfortunately most hits were from Cyborg fangirls, and the one girl who seemed genuinely interested was none too pleased to find out he was half metal. Not only that, but his computer programming took things a little too far and gifted him a live feed of her rejecting him. Maybe some control was a good thing, Vic?

The least informative flashback yet the most terrifying came courtesy of baby Kay Challis (Diane Guerrero, though not during the memory obviously), who was crying in her crib in Arkansas in 1950. A man loomed eerily over her crib with a cigarette in hand before abandoning her to her sorrows, which further emphasized the trauma she must have experienced at a father figure’s hands. At Doom Manor in the present, one of her personalities was busy painting a portrait of the Chief that declared him a bastard while Jane herself had a fight with Hammerhead over whether or not to attend the meeting. She watched some old confessionals with Niles and cried over a very different father figure’s betrayal, perhaps the only connection between this episode of Doom Patrol and the last one. Some of her ripped apart his lab while the rest of her tried to stop herself, but all of her ran to Cliff’s aid when she heard that he was in trouble.

You okay, bro?

Speaking of Cliff, he had been popping up in everyone else’s vignettes and acting odd, and the last part of “Therapy Patrol” was dedicated to explaining why. While the team tried to figure out the issue, his younger self watched his parents argue in 1961. The same words Cliff said in the pilot are echoed in his father’s words to his mother: “I don’t know what happened to us. I’ll be better.” This chilling quote was interspersed with him attacking Vic for ‘ruining Clara’ and then wreaking havoc in the library, only to reveal that he was imagining himself showing up at Bump’s house and demanding back his rights as a father. Which of course, led to another clear link between Clara and Jane, since he mistook the latter for his daughter throughout the breakdown. His crying – without tears because he was not granted them as a robot – about how Kate should have survived instead of him were incredibly heartbreaking, but the group therapy session he suggested reverted him back to his smug and disrespectful self in no time.

During the “Therapy Patrol” from the start of the episode, Rita admitted that Mr. Nobody was holding a secret about her past over her head and that was why she’s afraid of finding Niles. As she further revealed the truth behind her name, her legs come together to form a full person once more. Larry discussed not touching anyone for 60 years, amidst Cliff interjecting how he “always knew” Larry as gay, and realized that he has been punishing himself instead of waiting on Mr. Nobody to do it for him. Vic spilled about ‘killing’ his mom and the fear that his system and Mr. Nobody were hiding something even worse than that from him. And Jane? Well, she just threw the Hangman Daughter’s painting of the entire Doom Patrol dead in their faces, which led to yet another a fight between her and Cliff and yet another meltdown for Robot Man.

What was causing his short circuits? A rat named Admiral Whiskers, whose mother was run over by the Doom Patrol’s bus six episodes ago. As this innocent woodland creature mourned his beloved relative, the disembodied voice that was Mr. Nobody convinced it to take revenge by hopping inside Cliff and messing with his brain, heart and soul. And thus ended the longest answer to the question no one asked.

Doom Patrol airs new episodes every Friday on DC Universe.