While Doom Patrol Season 3 Episode 5 treads new ground with new villains, new complications, and new potential twists, I have to reiterate a major lesson from decades of sci-fi/fantasy television viewership and investment.
Time travel's a bitch. It can make or break a show. Doom Patrol's played with it before, but this season's take on it seems purposefully convoluted.
With Rita taking off to past points unknown, I'm tempted to ignore all the timeline shenanigans and just dissect the amazing, juicy, fabulous interactions Cliff, Jane, and Vic had with the Dada minions.
The crux of the issue is that the script was so unbalanced in terms of character development.
On the one hand, we have Jane being seduced by Shelly Byron (nice gender flip, btw), aka The Fog, Vic being challenged on his very sense of identity, and Cliff confronting the limitations of his life by venting to a Japanese woman in a box.
I didn't think I'd ever be scared of death. Spent most of my life chasing it, and then decades thinking about it, wishing for it. I mean, I've been dead two times over. Undead too. But, now, it's scary.Cliff
On the other, we have Rita and Rouge getting boozed up and Rita obsessing about time travel until she grabs the keys and goes joy-riding in the machine.
It's laughable how little I actually care about finding out how Rita's face is ending up everywhere now that more important things are on the table.
I mean, seriously, KAY.
The fact she wants to go up to the surface, wants to be in control of her own body, wants to experience life and grow up is HUGE.
It could mean the end of the personas, a final integration that allows Kay to become a functional individual.
Of course, considering every one of her personas has their own superpower, it would also make Kay the single most powerful metahuman EVER.
Or maybe, only Jane and Kay need to integrate. Together, they might stand a chance against the neuroses embodied by the other personas.
That's the main issue with full integration. Kay's defense against the trauma of the world has been to create personas to bear those burdens so that she can stay a child.
She's growing though, and either the other personas sense that this endangers their existence, or they don't think she can handle it.
Either way, they don't appreciate Jane siding with Kay, and now Kay is effectively barred from interacting with her current primary persona. Talk about a house divided.
Anyone want to hazard a guess as to Pretty Polly's power? It's not documented anywhere in canon that I could find. I suspect she embodies a lot of the self-harming thoughts Kay harbors. Maybe she is impervious to physical pain?
Hammerhead's my hero. A persona that can literally break through a psychological construct like Byron's sweets shop window is just bloody impressive.
Jane: You were wronged and now you want to burn the whole world down.
The Fog: Sometimes you have to set worlds on fire, so you can make something new.
Now Byron/The Fog is an incredibly intriguing antagonist. If that's what she is.
Considering Rouge/Laura isn't entirely aware of her true identity, the Dada dislike of her doesn't necessarily mean that they're the Big Bad. She could be much worse. Once she figures out how to make her powers work correctly. And remembers what her mission is.
Larry's mobile baby bump is several degrees of weird past the level where a hundred-plus-year-old radioactive male pilot is impregnated by a negative energy spirit.
I also find it odd that he's the only one who drives the Doom Bus. I mean, Cliff used to be a race car driver, and Vic has all that tech. Larry drives with his physical eyes covered by his bandages. How have they not been pulled over by Highway Patrol?
(Ooooh, I wonder if they'll ever use that as an episode title?)
Larry: How does this crap keep happening to us?
Jane: Because no one else gets sent on a mission by a time-traveling bird lady to go hunt down some art freaks who pissed of a half-man, half-butt monster who may be trying to destroy the world.
Larry: Yup, got it
It's interesting that Larry's the one left to guard the bus and also the only one to see someone he knows in the fog. That he's able to bring Paul back to the mansion with him makes me wonder if his circumstances made him uniquely uninteresting to the Dada interrogators.
Vic's had a pretty rough run so far this season.
Parting ways with Roni, being cut off from S.T.A.R. Labs access, dying, seeing his mom only to have to leave her again, becoming a zombie, having to eat Niles' brain. None of it sounds like it would be on Cyborg's list of bucket-list activities.
Furthermore, his relationship with Silas has been put through the crucible of stress. Again.
Silas: I never wanted to be the kind of dad who pushes his son down some preconceived path. Maybe turning into one's own father is an unavoidable tragedy.
So for Dada bruh to take him to task for not being able to answer the question of, "WHY are you?" it's understandable that he's a little put out by the whole experience.
Cliff's whole adventure is the most surreal of the trio's. His trip through the portal when all he wanted was an ice cream novelty just seems like such a Cliff way of stumbling towards enlightenment.
Some of the questions I'm left with -- of many, many WTH thoughts -- include: why the Japanese woman was imprisoned in the glass cube; who the ice cream driver is; is the portal accessible from both sides since the driver appeared to use to by walking into the back from her seat?
It's weird. I was made to last forever, but I guess I can't even do that right.Cliff
It isn't surprising that Cliff opens up more to a total stranger in a language he doesn't speak than to any of his teammates or even his family.
His metal body is a clanking, malfunctioning metaphor for his personal defense mechanisms. A double-edged armor, you could say, that has cut him off from physical sensation and left him yearning for emotional connection.
If I could cry, I'd cry. A lot.Cliff
By overdosing on his Internet-bought meds, he manages to induce a level of neurological stimulation that mimics "feeling" of some sort.
To be sure, the looming armageddon, The Eternal Flagellation, is described in deliberately obtuse, overly poetic terms by the Dadas.
Possibly that's in keeping with the nature of the nominal Dada movement.
Possibly it tips their hand that they have no idea either.
But we can count on running into some or all of these new players again.
With Rita gallivanting through time and space, I am curious whether her memory will be wiped like Rouge's. It might improve the character to lose some of her baggage to the space-time continuum.
Apparently, I'm a time-traveler. Who makes films. And has allies in the afterlife. I don't feel worthy of that either, but I have to believe that eventually my purpose or destiny will come and snatch me from this infernal stasis. In the meantime, I drink.Rita
Where do you see her emerging? Did she make a beeline to 1917 to make her film? Does she take a scenic route through history's most influential moments? When does her face become the Brotherhood of Evil's Most Wanted Dead?
Will Larry's bump hatch soon? How will Paul feel about his new half-sibling?
Who else chuckled at Jane's Doctor Who reference?
Hey, Doctor Who. Did you get us all in here so we can watch you do your kegels? Or did you actually have something to say?Jane
Hit the comments with your most out-there questions and theories! Chances are they'll all be blown up by our next adventure anyway!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is a lifelong fan of smart sci-fi and fantasy media, an upstanding citizen of the United Federation of Planets, and a supporter of AFC Richmond 'til she dies. Her guilty pleasures include female-led procedurals, old-school sitcoms, and Bluey. She teaches, knits, and dreams big. Follow her on Twitter.