I have never been so happy to be proven wrong. Doom Patrol Season 3 Episode 6 delights with three seemingly disparate plotlines tied together by the theme of breaking free of one’s past.
Rita goes from being the most annoying, narcissistic, and self-sabotaging character on Doom Patrol Season 3 Episode 5 to an endearing, optimistic, and empowering leader once her memory is wiped away.
Jane gives Kay a taste of life on the surface, without fear and full of wonder, while Larry lets go of the guilt he’s carried for so long when he finally sees the type of person his son has grown into.
I’ve become the world’s biggest DC Dada fan after just two encounters with this anarchist metahuman team of … villains?
Sure, they want to purge the world with the Great Flagellation.
Sure, they hate Laura/Rouge with a real trancends-time-and-space sort of loathing.
Sure, they separate and isolate and challenge the team members who came in search of them.
But they didn’t harm any of them. And, in Larry’s case, he found his son. Hell, in Cliff’s case, he figured out some major truths while chatting in Japanese with Quiz.
Even Vic’s turned a page after his run-in with Lloyd/Frenzy. One could argue the Sisterhood’s been the kick in the butt everyone’s needed.
And when Rita arrives in 1917 with no memory of her trauma, identity, or previous affiliations, Laura saves her from being sent to the war front, Holly befriends her, and Malcolm falls in love with her.
The metas in the Bureau of Normalcy are treated as subhuman despite having abilities that are more advanced than the typical human.
One will recall this is a loud echo of Samuelson’s derisive comment about metahumans at the Codsville Mountain Resort on Doom Patrol Season 3 Episode 2.
Although only Jane, Rita, and Larry really fit the metahuman bill, the Doom Patrol has always been a team of outsiders.
Vic, as Cyborg, is the closest to being an accepted superhuman by mainstream society. Since his enhancements are technological, he (and Cliff, arguably) are more like high-tech humans than meta-anything.
Rita: What happened to that crackerjack woman with the clipboard?
Rouge: Oh, that bitch is off the clock.
In contrast, the metas in the Bureau have found a way to belong with each other that the Doom Patrol has never been able to access.
The closest they come is dancing together, led by Kay really, to “Forever Young” at the Codsville Resort. Right before Samuelson kills them all.
The reborn Rita finds her way into the Sisterhood with grace and an inquiring mind. Despite lacking all her memories of the world she comes from, she still feels the injustice of how they are treated.
No matter what baggage she carries in (or doesn’t), Rita’s got a natural sense of entitlement, it seems.
Rouge: Some think of Dada as more than a temporary fling and carry the wild idea that it can change the world.
Rita: But why shouldn’t they risk it? Follow their mad bliss, plant their flag, and stand for something?
Having seen what the Sisterhood develops into, it’s incredibly fun to see their team in its infancy.
And when Malcolm urges Rita to, “Never let them see you sweat”?
I audibly sighed when that connection was made to the man who saved them on Doom Patrol Season 3 Episode 3. That his love for her carried over to the Afterlife just strums all my emotional heartstrings at once.
In the Underground — which, to be fair, is spending less time actually underground — Kay’s day out is equal parts anxiety and exhilaration.
Knowing how horrific Kay’s experiences in the world have been, it’s not hard to imagine her odyssey for new shoes going terribly wrong.
I was expecting someone to confront her about stealing the bike, or her being hit by a car, or some other completely mundane wrong turn that could trigger further dissociation.
Jane: It’s never been about what I want. Haven’t you ever done a kindness simply for the sake of it?
Pretty Polly: Dr. Harrison says there’s no such thing as a selfless act.
Jane: Pretty Pretty Polly, wake the fuck up. We’re a construct. Kindness may be one of our only commodities.
And, recognizing that anxiety, even Jane has to understand what all the other personas are experiencing as Kay begins to grow into independence.
Point of fact, she never actually gets new shoes.
Another point of fact, it clearly doesn’t matter.
Dr. Harrison: She doesn’t understand the danger, can’t you see that?
Jane: I just watched a girl teach herself how to ride a bike after being held captive in her own mind for almost seventy years. In one afternoon, she freed herself from that bondage and found a little joy. Some things are worth the risk.
There are bound to be bumps along her road to self-actualization and the integration of the personas. I can’t imagine Hammerhead going quietly into the good night.
I have to hope that we’ll see more successes that outweigh the setbacks but this is Doom Patrol, so my optimism is tempered with the knowledge that if sh*t’s going to happen, it’ll happen to this team.
Larry, Vic, and Cliff are all having some daddy-son issues and dealing with them in some hugely diverse ways.
Larry gets the most satisfying, if bittersweet, resolution, where he finally accepts that he’ll never win over Paul to his perspective on their family and relationship.
Paul has been too damaged by the life experiences he’s had, and Larry’s realization that he has to stop blaming himself for how twisted Paul’s worldview has become is probably one of the hardest ones a parent could ever face.
Meanwhile, he’s about to spawn a new offspring thanks to Negative Energy Spirit, so here’s to second chances, I guess?
Vic’s sense of self has taken a real beating this season.
There’s the whole talk with his mom in the Afterlife where she voices her wish that he hadn’t been weaponized by Silas.
Then Frenzy really pushes his buttons with the “Why are you?” interrogation.
Vic: I’ve been thinking. Am I the hammer or the nail?
Cliff: My brother, I hear you.
Vic: I mean, am I the proximate man? Why am I even Cyborg?
Cliff: What? Huh? Because you’re a fucking god. You can basically bang anybody you want. Like the entire cast of The Love Boat or Knots Landing. Why in God’s name and nutcheese would you want to change that?
Vic: Maybe because it’s not all about who you can bang?
Cliff: Said no superhero ever.
Despite some reconciliation with his father, it appears that Vic’s looking to un-Cyborg himself. That’s bound to do a number on his sense of identity.
It’s a lonely road to walk, for sure.
Oh, Cliff. Just when you think Robotman couldn’t possibly dig himself a deeper hole, he finds himself a bigger shovel.
A lot of his current issues could be solved cold turkey with a timely power outage. The Internet really isn’t meant for the carefree and unaware.
Vic: This really isn’t the kind of talk I was hoping for.
Cliff: Oh, sorry. Stupid life choices really aren’t my specialty.
I have to figure he’ll hit some sort of rock bottom eventually. Or some enterprising Internet associate builds him an entirely new family of Robotpeople.
I wonder if FuzzyRimJob42 is someone we know?
The team’s a bit fractured, each dealing with their individual crises, at the moment, and that’s not even taking into account Rouge and her firey visitation from the Sisterhood.
Where do we go from here? Will Vic take the leap into synthetic skin?
Will Cliff sell himself for a few more poker hands?
Will Rita retain some of her coherence and selflessness when her memory returns? If her memory returns.
Check in to the comments with your wildest guesses! Chances are they won’t even touch on the craziness to come.
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.