If Doom Patrol Season 4 Episode 5 feels like a set-up for a finale, it’s because it sort of is.
It leaves us with multiple characters in peril or imminent demise, holds back the presence of the Big Bad, and still hasn’t reunited Dorothy and Space Case with the rest of the team.
That being said, sudden onset adolescence proves to be an excellent device for airing inner angst. With next week’s midseason finale, I expect the fall-out from these hijinks to raise the stakes significantly.
It’s ironic that Dr. Janus’s extraction of Rita’s portion of the Longevity Talisman through emoting seems to have increased our resident diva’s ability to make everything about her.
Upon awakening from an unexplained unconsciousness after saving her friends from her own bad D-movie space adventure, her first thought is to battle wrinkles and grey hairs, not whether her teammates made it home okay.
Finding Niles’s box of Experimental Untested Dangerous potions is so ridiculous a coincidence that I suspect the Immortus gang of leaving it out for her to find. No proof, but I need to tell myself something to make that make some sense.
Leaving aside Willoughby’s erroneous assumption the box was locked — which it wasn’t — did Rita just pick the de-aging spell/curse because it was a pretty blue color? Did she plan to drink it? Bathe in it?
Cliff: Does aging work differently for bird-lady ottomans too?
Rouge: Oh, no, I just held my breath. Old Bureau training kicked in. If you see a cloud of smoke, don’t breathe, don’t choke. Simple.
Also, I have a lot of questions about the effects of the spell/curse. How did it dress Jane since she wasn’t around in Kay’s teenage years? Is that how Miranda dressed?
Was Cliff dressed as a cowboy normally in high school?
Why is Vic the only one who got acne?
Willoughby’s assertion that it isn’t a very good spell/curse is not a bad way to plot armor the semantics of the situation, but then again, it is Doom Patrol. It never pays to look too closely at the whys and wherefores.
The combination of teenagehood and access to pot and booze raises the randomness meter significantly.
It’s like a janky carnival ride that makes you want to puke but also one you don’t want to get off.
There are impulse control issues, which Cliff has never really claimed to have overcome, but it’s fun to see Vic let loose a bit.
There’s the existential philosophizing.
Jane: I’m starting to think that the world’s always going to need rescuing. But you gotta wonder… I mean, you’re out there saving the planet, who the fuck is rescuing you?
Vic: You are so high right now.
Jane: I’m pretty lit, yeah.
And then there’s the drama. Oh, the drama of it all.
The brilliant thing is it’s their respective “maturity” that’s kept Rita and Rouge from properly coming clean to each other.
So now, caught up in the hormonal cesspool of adolescence and with their incompletely formed frontal cortex impeding all executive functioning and decision-making, they can ride their emotions to a meeting place of absolute candor.
My mother used to always say that heartbreak stains the soul. Well, I believe that to be true. Except for me it’s different. It’s like a void, a chasm, standing between me and any hope of finding a true meaningful connection. Maybe that’s why I am the way I am. Maybe by now, I am the chasm.
Of course, that doesn’t stop Michelle Gomez from delivering what should be a melodramatic monologue on her state of isolation with poetic aplomb.
And Adult Rita’s inflexible thinking on the state of their relationship doesn’t stand a chance against the irresistible force of her teenage emotions.
There’s no guarantee that their reconciliation will hold once Bunbury has a chance to sneeze his cure on them, but it’ll shore up the team’s defenses if they can trust each other again.
Speaking of trust, I appreciate how Jane’s search for direction repeatedly has her questioning her choices.
For someone whose whole existence has been defined by a “protect the girl” mandate, it can’t be easy to give into moments of personal pleasure and… er, recreation.
It’s funny that Rouge’s advice to Cliff regarding the car can also apply to Jane’s activities.
The best cure for the body is a quiet mind. Everyone deserves their own private slice of peace.
Of course, most of us don’t have to contend with sharing a subconscious with dozens of other personalities who might be watching via the spyglass construct in the field.
From how they interacted with Jane in the Underground, I suspect there’s a major disconnect between the other alters and Jane.
Where Dr. Harrison always kept tabs on Jane and the happenings up top, since Kay’s decision to divorce from the system and disengage, it seems like the others are just in stasis, unaware and uninterested but not unhappy about it.
Now, Willoughby’s always good for an adventure, and one wonders if his foul-mouthed reluctance to return to Doom Manor doesn’t belie a subconscious enjoyment of the team’s ability to draw every manner of bad luck to their doorstep.
Willoughby: I thought it was all just legend. Tall tales about an ancient, forgotten god, but as it turns out, Immortus is real, and it’s coming. We are wandering into the literal end of days as we speak.
Cliff: Actually, we took care of the end of the world last week. Consider the Butts wiped, front to back.
Maybe he sees it as a challenge.
Perhaps it’s his way of doing penance for his misdeeds.
Bunbury certainly uses the situation to knock his most recalcitrant Knight Templar into line.
It occurs to me that Bunbury had the Knights Templar bring him to rescue Willoughby to prevent the team from reaching Miss April.
Will Vic, Rita, or Rouge reach her before they are baby-fied? What will Cliff look like at that stage?
And then, of course, there’s Larry and Keeg, who have no idea what’s going on with the rest of the team. Conversely, the team has no idea what’s happened to them either.
On a completely divergent adventure of their own, Keeg makes a friend for Larry by basically squatting in Mister 104’s body and refusing to budge until he and Larry accept their similar experiences and connect.
I’m having a hard time with the Bureau’s use of agents as test victims for metahuman powers.
Also, if Brahma/Mister 104 can turn his skin to lead, why was an agent aiming a gun at him even considered a threat?
Since Larry’s obviously been taken by the Immortus squad for his portion of the Longevity Talisman, that leaves Cliff and Jane standing in the way of the end of days.
Unless Bunbury extracted Jane’s portion in that last scene. That bunny’s got an agenda, for sure.
What sort of random crazy will we go out on, Fanatics?
Will Dorothy and Space Case find them in time? Will we find out who the comic artist is?
Hit our comments with your thoughts and theories!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.