When Cliff spent time in Crazy Jane’s Underground and Cyborg and Rita faced the Beard Hunter, what happened to Larry? He was dreaming a beautiful dream of a romantic night long ago, courtesy of the Negative Spirit. But all dreams must end, and Larry pleads with the Negative Spirit to send him back so that he can be with the memory of the man he loves once more. But maybe the Negative Spirit can help him even more?
Meanwhile, Cliff learns of the death of Bump – his former best friend who adopted Cliff’s daughter. Cliff and Rita head out on a field trip to Bump’s wake, hoping that Cliff can find his daughter after so many years have passed. Learning more of the events of Bump’s death, as well as gaining new insight into what kind of a man Bump was, Cliff decides to battle Frances – the alligator that ate Bump. If he can achieve that then he may be able to retrieve Bump’s watch and give it to his daughter as a way to reconnect with her. As for Cyborg and Crazy Jane, they investigate the mysterious Flex Mentallo while Cyborg makes a terrifying discovery about his own humanity…
Running three parallel plotlines at once can sometimes be a handful, and result in an unfocused mess. Thankfully, this episode of Doom Patrol manages to pull it off and with impressive results too.
While Cyborg’s discovery is simultaneously disturbing and intriguing, it does enough to keep his story progressing without having it dominate the other elements of this episode. It’s also good seeing him discussing his problems, especially with Crazy Jane since their characters do have similarities even if it isn’t immediately obvious. The pair work well together and it’s good seeing them share some quieter, more introspective, moments.
However, the real winners for this episode of Doom Patrol have to go to Larry and Cliff’s storylines. They both deal with the loss of a loved one – even when they’re still alive. In Larry’s case, by avoiding the issue of who he is he’s become isolated and distant. The man he loves is still out there and always has been, yet he’s been unwilling to reconnect and it takes a push from the Negative Spirit to help him realise that. For Cliff, he’s so desperate to reconnect with his daughter and so obsessed with doing it perfectly that he can’t do it at all. He points out that actions speak louder than words, using that to justify his Ahab-like quest masking his inability to speak to her at all.
That haunting mix of feelings of grief, regret, powerlessness and a lack of self-acceptance is pretty powerful stuff. Sorry isn’t always the hardest word to say; sometimes any word spoken at all can seem like an impossible challenge.
This Doom Patrol episode marks an important turning point for Larry’s growing acceptance of himself and his relationship with the Negative Spirit, and it’s handled in a far more touching and sensitive manner than previously. The episode also offers up a fantastic opportunity for Rita to continue to shine as an emotional cheerleader as she sets the example for self-acceptance despite having some problems with that issue herself. Cliff’s plight should be relatable for any estranged parent, even given the ridiculous circumstances of his situation.
The stories work well together and it’s a strong episode, even if this may not be the wild and crazy ride that some were hoping for. It’s absolutely right for the Doom Patrol and a great change of pace from the last several episodes, with a lot more character development. For fans, this is exactly what was needed and at just the right time.
Doom Patrol Frances Patrol
An emotional, solid episode that gets it right.