REVIEW: Doom Patrol, S1E11 – Frances Patrol

“Frances Patrol” marked the first episode in awhile that Doom Patrol attempted to flit back and forth between three storylines in order to incorporate the entire cast, which made it feel slightly scattered. Nevertheless, it packed a powerful emotional punch and represented the culmination of Cliff (Brendan Fraser) and Larry’s (Matt Bomer) season-long arcs.

Man just wanted to finish his dream.

Filling in the Larry-shaped blanks of the previous two episodes, “Frances Patrol” opened on the memory Negative Man let Larry bask in while they were busy keeping Cliff in Jane’s Underground. He and his lover John were enjoying each other’s embrace in a discreet motel before the accident, with Larry expressing his love joyfully – only to be rudely interrupted when Jane (Diane Guerrero) and Cliff made it back. Though he begged Negative Man to let him live the dream once more, this time around he was instead presented with a different and less pleasing scenario. Rather than a private motel room, he and John met up at a very public club so that the latter could introduce Larry to his friends.

This may seem innocuous, but Doom Patrol cleverly expanded on Larry’s fears of exposing himself and of living his life to the fullest. No longer able to find refuge in one of his happiest memories, he was forced to relive a more problematic one that reminded him of why he and John could never make it work. But whatever Larry might think, this wasn’t Negative Man’s form of torturing. It was actually a message that the real John needed him at that moment, which brings up questions about the extent of his powers. Was this just a matter of intuition that Larry knew to follow up on, or is the energy source omniscient? Either way, it led Larry to John’s doorstep for a bittersweet and beautiful reunion that drew more than a few tears from my eyes. It provided closure for not only Larry, who got to share his love for John and receive his forgiveness, but also for his entire storyline up to now. “Frances Patrol” leaves some room for him to reconnect with his children down the line, but for now his demons have passed peacefully with John.

Nobody puts Cyborg in a corner.

The other big turning point in the episode came when Cliff learned that his old buddy Bump had kicked the bucket after losing a fight against an alligator named Frances. Despite Jane’s angry pleas that he stick around to help find Niles, Cliff decided to take Rita (April Bowlby) along to the funeral in order to reconnect with his daughter Clara. Or at least to check up on her, since informing her that her dad was now a brain inside a robot suit seemed a little daunting at first. The introductions at the wake, which took place in Bump’s bar, made for some light comedy at Cliff’s expense – and also showed off Rita’s method acting skills.

But Cliff wasn’t feeling so light after he found out that Clara had gifted Bump his old watch, engraved with the phrase “To Dad: you’re my hero” to boot, and Bump had lost it along with his life. This sent Cliff on a jealousy-fueled mission to recover said watch from Frances, dragging poor Rita behind him as she threw out words of wisdom and cautioned him against frying his circuitry to prove himself the bigger. In the end, he did face off against the alligator, and he also proved himself the bigger man in the way that really counted. He dropped off the watch for Clara without revealing himself as her father, choosing to keep her world intact and her memory of Bump precious.

Unfortunately, two excellently executed storylines meant that someone had to get the shaft in this week’s Doom Patrol. The honor went to Jane and Vic (Joivan Wade), who were tasked with trying to find Niles while also discovering what in the world might be wrong with Vic’s system. He found out that he was progressively turning more cyborg than human, which was a horrifying revelation that was not given enough time to sit. It would be easier to handle if we hadn’t been waiting since “Therapy Patrol” to deal with what Jane’s painting meant for him. It’s a revelation that may be put off yet another week, because he and Jane were kidnapped by the Bureau of Normalcy while tracking down Mentallo’s wife as a lead to Niles.

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