When DC Universe released Titans last it was with the intent to broaden the greater DC Universe. To bring a subdivision of the greater DC Universe to our screens. Obviously, the movies focus on the larger than life characters, or the big three, which has allowed for smaller scaled storytelling on the streaming network. Storytelling that could focus on the characters that live in the shadows of your Wonder Womans and Batmans. Titans did a superb job of giving us strong character stories while also expanding the DC Universe in a way that didn’t seem forced or in some cases, exceeded the movies. Doom Patrol is a completely different animal though. If Titans was a subdivision of the great DCU then Doom Patrol is a subdivision of a subdivision of a subdivision. We know that the show is a part of the greater DCU through the mentions of the Justice League, Bruce Wayne, and pretty much anything to do with Cyborg but outside of that… Doom Patrol seems like it could be within any universe really. I often think of it as a branch off of the Umbrella Academy.
Doom Patrol has suffered more inconsistent than Titans too as it has searched to discover what kind of show it wants to be, and that has led to some frustrating viewing experiences. Part of that is a new show trying to find its voice and other parts is a show just not understanding what it wants to be. But where Doom Patrol tends to shine the brightest is when it decided to focus on its characters. Often time we’re told how the inhabitants of Doom Manor are feeling with little follow-up or progression. A lot of this first season has been spent spinning wheels with our characters essentially leaving them in the same spot we met them eight or nine episodes ago. But “Jane Patrol” might have been the first time we made some actual progress.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still flaws to be found within this episode, although minor. There is no mention of the possible progress made by Larry during last week’s adventure, instead, his power just jumps into action without consulting him. Back to square one there. Rita is still being treated as a nuisance who gets in the way, and that got old four episodes ago. At some point the show is going to have to start treating her as a character worthy of our respect otherwise she just becomes an aside. There is so much potential there that keeps getting pushed aside because Cyborg and whatever hang-ups he has with women. Although it seemed that next episode might touch on an incident that occurred while Cliff was trying to help Jayne so maybe there’s the hope of progression.
Looking beyond those minor complaints, “Jane Patrol” is hands down the strongest episode of the season and it’s carried by Diane Guerrero’s layered performance, this seasons hands down MVP, and Brendan Fraser who gets to step outside his metal exterior. The relationship between Jane and Cliff has been the center of the series thus far, and after many episodes of seeing Cliff want to be a father to Jane and Jane pushing away, we finally get to see these characters chew on the material. “Jane Patrol” is rich in character and felt like a step in the right direction despite not having anything to do with the main plot.
Part of the beauty in the Crazy Jane character is the wealth of personalities that live within her and seeing all these personalities exist within the Underground (Jane’s mind) helped to clarify the madness within. I was slightly disappointed that this wasn’t’ a full Orphan Black type situation where Guerrero played every personality as her varied performances have been fantastic, but it didn’t negate the impact of learning that Jane’s mind is filled with memories that do and don’t belong to her. With conflicting personalities roaming around and waiting to get called up for their moment in the spotlight. If they can handle it. Other characters would gladly be consumed by the negative memories that live in The Well causing them to fade away completely. Jane is currently one of those personalities looking to slip into non-existence and it’s all Cliff’s fault.
Not for reasons that you would think though. Cliff’s crimes aren’t based on yelling at Jane or forcing her to do therapy, no. His greatest crime is giving Jane hope something that seems more like a bad word than the hundreds of f-bombs that spill from her mouth. As we learned, Jane has some intense trust issues thanks to her disgusting father and has had very little reason to believe in happiness or acceptance ever since. This laundry list of personalities are Jane rebelling against the world that turned on her, but with Cliff trying to act like a father to her and promising that things could be better… it’s almost too much to handle. So Jane decides not to. What’s the point in hope if the world is just going to turn on you anyway? Doom Patrol, when it focuses, does an excellent job on tackling some major themes which make the poor episodes even more frustrating.
Cliff finally steps up and acts like a father instead of just talking about it. His endless pursuit of Jane is the least selfish thing the character has done since we’ve met him, and it’s his actions that are able to pull Jane back into the real world. “Jane Patrol” is one of those episodes that is leaving me optimistic about the remainder of the season, I just hope the show doesn’t go backward again. We’ve had some serious progression from two of our most important characters. I can deal with the fact that the pursuit of Chief sits on the back burner as long as these characters are growing. Otherwise… more frustration.
What did you think Geeklings? Were you happy with this week’s episode? What did you think of the Underground? Did Cliff do the right thing? Sound off in the comments. As always if you’d like to talk more Doom Patrol with yours truly you can find me on Twitter @iamgeek32. I’ll be back next week with a brand new episode review. Stay weird everyone!