Doom Patrol's April Bowlby Discusses Rita's Journey From Blob to Boss

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Before April Bowlby took on the role of Rita Farr, aka Elasti-Woman, on HBO Max's Doom Patrol, she was a familiar face on our televisions. Most notably, she played Stacy on Drop Dead Diva, Kandi on Two and a Half Men, and Meg on How I Met Your Mother.

However, since Farr was introduced on Titans Season 1 Episode 4, the "Hollywood star with a tragic past" has undergone some immensely significant character developments and revelations, preparing her for the mantle of leadership.

Doom Patrol Season 3 Episode 10 closed out a season that saw Rita grow from a literal puddle of goo into a woman with confidence in herself and her abilities.

Always Ready - Doom Patrol Season 3 Episode 5

Speaking with TV Fanatic over a Zoom call, Bowlby spills on how she found that silver screen starlet cadence and style she exudes when playing Rita.

"I watched a lot of old movies. I watched a lot of Bette Davis, and I watched Katherine Hepburn. The greats, if you will. And I just took all their moves and inflections."

Yet, despite that poise and polished control, until this season, Rita has never been able to control her powers of elasticity effectively.

Mentally blocked by insecurities sowed in childhood and fostered by traumatic events throughout her life, she spent much of Doom Patrol Season 2 seeking a way to work past it only to have the team's leadership thrust upon her by The Chief as his final request of her.

Tapping Out - Doom Patrol Season 2 Episode 9

Overwhelmed by the thought of it, Rita retreats into despair by going into full blob mode in a planter on Doom Patrol Season 3 Episode 2.

Bowlby sees Rita's transformation from Cloverton's Blob Lady to the Doom Patrol's Boss Lady as an intrinsically motivated one. The change had to come from within to be sustainable.

"[At the beginning,] she is still riddled with so much shame. She gets this call to action from Niles, who she hates and loves -- a very unhealthy relationship -- and she can't come through.

"She really wants to be good at something, and she wants to show everyone that she's worthy, and she fails. She just can't get it together. Everyone else seems to be doing fine.

"Then enter Madame Rouge, this mysterious character, who Rita kind of feels akin towards and something familiar about her.

Rouge and Rita in the Library - Doom Patrol Season 3 Episode 4

"Also, [she's] a strong woman, and that perks Rita up. She's like, 'Who is this woman who knows nothing yet is such a sharpshooter?'

"Then, {Rita] basically steals her time machine because this woman is like, 'You're definitely not an important time traveler, and you don't really know who you are.' And [Rita]'s like, 'I'll fuckin' show you who I am.'

"She travels back in time and is separated from the Doom Patrol. While she's time-traveling, the shame of her previous existence has disappeared, and now she's like a blank slate.

"In 1917, she's taken under the wing of Laura DeMille, this beautiful, strong woman who is teaching her about Art and how to be a woman in Art.

Rita Farr aka Elasti-Woman (April Bowlby) - Doom Patrol

That is why we make art, Bendy. The world is complicated even when they try to make it simple.

Rouge

"Then she falls in love. I think that's the strong point for Rita. She gets her whole person cracked open, and she finds the love of her life, which is taken from her by Laura DeMille.

"And now Rita travels into the future [fueled by] revenge, and she doesn't care about anything else. She doesn't care about the Doom Patrol. She wants nothing but to punish the woman who took her love away.

"[That love was] the most important thing for Rita. It helped her grow and change and really become a whole person.

"Through that journey, I think Rita has had to face the fact that she lost something so important to her, and she has to survive that, and that's where the finale [leads].

"Rita becomes the leader of the Doom Patrol because she's suffered, and she's accepted and survived. And she's faced the worst thing that could happen to her -- the love of her life being murdered --, and she's stronger for it, and she wants to be better. I mean, what a journey!"

Rita in Time - Doom Patrol

Does Bowlby think Rita could have ever become the leader the team needed if she hadn't time-traveled and had all her memories erased?

"I don't think so. I really don't think so. I think she needed a clean slate. It's almost like when you get your -- I mean, it's on a smaller level -- when you get your back adjusted by the chiropractor. There's no way you would've been able to stand up straight on your own. You needed that back adjustment."

The change in Rita is apparent to everyone the moment she returns from her time in the past. Bowlby gives a great example from the beginning of the season finale where she's rallying the team.

"[After the bus crash], she's like, 'We're going to do this,' and everyone else is like, 'No... I don't [wanna]...' They've become the Rita. And Rita's become the Vic."

Set Back - Doom Patrol Season 3 Episode 10

As the curtain descends on Season 3, Madame Rouge has signed up to join the Doom Patrol.

How will that work, considering Rita still holds her responsible for Malcolm's death?

"Rita does not trust her. It's too much of a betrayal, although, once again, Rita loves her.

"As I'm saying it, I'm like, 'Oh God, it's Niles! Dammit!'

"Probably, Rita will eventually melt in with Rouge, but it's going to take some time. They probably will forever be fractured.

Never Let Them See You Sweat - Doom Patrol Season 3 Episode 6

"I don't think that Rita will... god, will she just forget? No, I don't think she'll forget. But I'm sure there's some sneaky way Rouge is going to make everything okay."

Michelle Gomez joining the show for Season 3 re-energized the dynamic. She simultaneously fulfilled the role of a mystery to be solved, a happenstance ally, an unwitting (and then witting) enemy, and even the sardonic voice of common sense.

Oh, it's probably nothing, dear. Y'know, I probably just crawled through the earth currents of time and space to simply sit around, drinking weak tea in a halfway house for a bunch of self-loathing layabouts.

Rouge

"Oh my gosh, she's a force! Man, she really brought so much life to everything she was in. You had to be on your toes when you played with her.

"And you never know how she's going to play a scene. We did a scene, and she ended up lying down on the table. I was like, 'What? What's happening? Okay...' and it worked beautifully."

Paying Attention - Doom Patrol Season 3 Episode 5

While Rita was in 1917, she became part of the Sisterhood of Dada, a group of pacifist metahumans with a holistic approach to life and consciousness. What was it like joining a team so different from the Doom Patrol?

"It was very interesting. In a strange way, it felt a little isolating as an actor just because my friends were over there on the other set shooting, and [it was like] the first day of school, and you have to make all new friends.

"It worked for the episodes, but I think Rita and I both felt a little out of place. It was hard to be away from the Doom Patrol, but I also think it was great. Especially for Rita, it was imperative."

One of the most apparent differences between the teams was their respective home bases -- Doom Manor versus the Dada Salon. Did that inform Bowlby's take on Rita's reactions?

"Very much. The Doom Manor, it's very dark. It's very [much] a quiet haven. And then you walk into the Dada Salon, which is velvet cushions and smoke and incense and pot, and there's no rigidness in that set at all.

A Dada Cuddle Puddle - Doom Patrol Season 3 Episode 6

"It's almost dangerously sexy. So I think that made Rita a little like, 'Ooooh... is this an option? I didn't know.' The set design was so much fun. Our show really brings all the flavors. It's crazy.'

With the Doom Patrol already renewed for Season 4, Rita's at the helm, but her team members have been markedly changed by the events of Season 3. Who will Rita rely on as her second in command?

"Golly, would she have a clear second in command? Who would it be? I lean towards Jane, but Jane is not really doing so well right now.

"I would maybe say Robotman would be her second because I feel like [since] Vic is not a Cyborg anymore, so I think she'd go for brawn."

One of the season's major climactic moments occurs on Doom Patrol Season 3 Episode 8 with The Eternal Flagellation, a global event orchestrated by the Sisterhood of Dada to force all of humanity to dive into their subconsciouses and face their greatest moment of shame.

Since Cliff, Larry, Jane, and Vic all survive their flagellations, we can assume they've repaired some of the damage they've carried for so long.

Since the Doom Patrol's trademark from the beginning has been their individual and group super-dysfunction, does this mean they've lost that aspect of their groove?

Bowlby's pretty realistic about her team's capacity for being messed up.

Rallying Speech - Doom Patrol Season 3 Episode 10

"Look, I don't know if everyone else is at the level that Rita is, so I think that the dysfunction is very, very alive and well. Rita will do her best not to get dragged into it again, but you're only as strong as your weakest link.

"I have a feeling she's going to be treading water, trying to stay afloat."

We'll keep our fingers crossed that she won't have to tread for long!

All three seasons of Doom Patrol are available to stream on HBO Max. You should have lots of time to watch (and rewatch) in preparation for a deep dive into Season 4.

Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Doom Patrol Quotes

Edwin: I get that you're doing the very adult thing of using humor to hide anxiety, but you're a tourist here. Right? Death is no joke.
Charles: Death's quite nice, actually. And she is super fit. It's the things that work for her you'll have to worry about.

Show's over, Chief. You're not my friend. You're just a scientist who did fucked up things to a broken girl.

Jane