REVIEW: Doom Patrol, S1E10 – Hair Patrol

Doom Patrol went back and covered its tracks in “Hair Patrol” this week, providing a glimpse into what Vic (Joivan Wade) and Rita (April Bowlby) were up to while Cliff was busy pulling Jane out of the Underground. It also went much further back to the Bureau of Normalcy’s origin, and how Niles Caulder’s (Timothy Dalton) romance with an immortal woman named Slava (guest star Pisay Pao, who conveyed a lot of emotion without having a lot of lines) played a role in it.

Boys meets girl, makes fun of her fair, falls in love.

Half of “Hair Patrol” took place in 1913, back when Niles worked for the Bureau of Oddities as a researcher who would observe strange phenomena and report it. Rather than experiment on it or exterminate it, though, it seemed that the end goal was merely to learn – that is, until he was off the radar for several years and the entire world changed. The episode seemed intent on showing off Caulder’s elitist and xenophobic side despite placing him on the right side of history. After his partner got taken down by an unrealistically aggressive wolf and he himself was rescued by the mysterious Slava, instead of being grateful he was still alive, he immediately accused her of kidnapping him and continuously yelled a barrage of insults despite the obvious language barrier.

Eventually, whether it was because of her patience and consideration or his realization that she and her werewolf-looking spirit creature were immortal, Niles shed his previous ignorant feelings and replaced them with genuine affection. The two fell in love and remained together in the wilderness through the end of World War I, which is when his old friend and partner came looking for him. The world had turned upside down with the war, and now the Bureau of Oddities had become the Bureau of Normalcy. That meant that Slava could not exist, and Niles would need to bring her wolf creature in for experimentation and more. Thus another side of Caulder emerged: the one willing to kill those who endangered his people. After disposing of his old friend, he abandoned the wilderness and returned to the Bureau in order to report that nothing out of the ordinary had occured during his time away. But by the end of “Hair Patrol,” it appeared that neither she nor her immortal creature were as far from Niles and the Doom Patrol as we had been led to believe.

Teamwork makes the dream work.

Vic and Rita, meanwhile, were going a little out of their minds in the present as they tried to understand what had happened to Jane and Cliff. Rita was especially concerned, and accused Vic of being distracted by his own fear of turning into the murderous being in Jane’s painting. Further examination of his psyche was put on hold due to the appearance of one Ernest Franklin AKA the Beard Hunter. This strange basement-dwelling man turned out to be a Bureau of Normalcy agent with the ability to eat people’s hair and track them down, and this time around it was Niles he and the Bureau were after. He broke into Doom Manor and raided Caulder’s shower drain (gross), only to find himself in a face-off with Cyborg and Elasti-Woman.

The most interesting part about this plot line, and about “Hair Patrol” overall, was the revelation that Vic was still not in control of himself. His arm cannon began shooting off without his permission, and the computerized voice inside him was not following his instructions or anyone else’s. Rita managed to just barely keep him from killing Ernest, who escaped having ‘defeated’ Cyborg without even having to lift a finger. It remained unclear who was responsible for this change in him, Vic only knew that it began when Cliff hit his reset button and that he couldn’t ask for help from his dad or tell the rest of the team yet. Rita agreed to let him go at his own pace, solidifying their new friendship but also perhaps taking one more step towards making Jane’s vision come true.

Doom Patrol releases new episodes every Friday on the DC Universe streaming service.