My viewing experience with DC Universe’s Doom Patrol kind of reminds me of a seesaw. Or maybe a boat on choppy waters. I’m not going to beat the metaphor over your head but spoiler alert, my feelings are all over the place. On one hand, eight episodes in, I’m not entirely sure that the series knows its identity. Does it want to tell a streamlined narrative or does it want to be a weird case of the week procedural like The X-Files and Fringe that tries not to ignore the overarching main story? The inconsistencies are slightly frustrating and have led to some uneven momentum throughout the season. There have been times where character has been pushed aside for the sake of weirdness, and Doom Patrol is at its absolute best when focusing on character. “Danny Patrol” is more of the same but pushing aside frustration, this episode highlights the message that lies at the core of this series, and at the end of the day, it’s that message that sells the show for me.
All season long Doom Patrol has driven home the point that no one should be isolated or ostracized for being a certain way, and “Danny Patrol” is a celebration of that idea. Of course this being Doom Patrol nothing is that straight forward. The idea, the show’s thesis really, is hidden behind Danny the Street, an actual street that can teleport itself where ever it wants and communicates through whistles, street lamps, and billboards. Danny the Street is also a place that houses and protects those who society view as “different” and offers them a safe haven. A place where they can be themselves without judgment and safety. The idea is both beautiful and terribly sad when you think about the fact that these people actually need a safe haven like this. I admire Doom Patrol for using its platform to send a message especially one that holds such social significance. Be who you are. Be happy. Own your weird. It’s a beautiful message.
Danny the Street is this week’s weird of the week and while it feeds into the inconsistencies of the show, I don’t mind so much because the message is so positive. Putting Cyborg and Larry in Danny’s world works out perfectly as they are two characters who are desperately searching for identity, and outside of a karaoke daydream neither character really advances their personal journey. The episode ends with Danny giving Cyborg a clue as to where to find Chief, in the form of a comic book, and Larry still struggling with who he is. At some point, this season is going to have to pull the trigger on Larry as it seems each week he reluctantly chooses to help, learns nothing from it, and then does the same thing the following week. The idea of Larry’s evolution was teased during last week’s internal flashbacks, but there is no progression made to the character, which is frustrating considering how Danny the Street tackles issues like sexuality, self-worth, and celebrating identity. Larry still hides in his shell and I’m not sure at this point what’s going to change that. Larry is just on a hamster wheel going round and round and he’s not alone.
Continuing the frustration is the rut that Cliff, Jane, and Rita seem to be in. Each episode is the same thing. Cliff wants to be a father to Jane, Jane doesn’t want anything to do with him, a crazy personality steps forward to hide Jane, Cliff is sad, personality is angry, no one knows what to do with Rita, repeat. This week’s Crazy Jane subplot is entertaining, and yes Diane Guerrero continues to be fire in the role, but it’s more of the same. Jane remains in hiding, maybe finally free at episode end (?), as one of her personalities gets into some hijinks. This week it’s manipulating a poor man and his family into a wedding. I love how each personality has a different power but I am getting exhausted from the hamster wheel everyone seems to be stuck on. Here’s hoping that that’s Jane we see at the end and she’s finally coming forward again. Otherwise, we’re in for more of the same next week.
My frustrations with the show aside, I believe the true star of this episode is the message and I can get behind that. I just wish that while the show used its platform to put some positivity into the world that they didn’t allow it distract from potential character advancement as this episode could have been a fantastic launching pad for that. While everyone on Danny the Street has found their identity and celebrates it, Doom Patrol is still struggling to find it.
What do you think Geeklings, am I right here or are you happy with the progression of the show and its characters? What did you think of Danny the Street? Was that finally Jane at the end? Sound off in the comments. If you’d like to talk more Doom Patrol with yours truly feel free to throw me a line over on Twitter @iamgeek32. I’ll see you all next week with a brand new episode review. Until then, own your weird my friends!