DISCLAIMER: This recap of the Doom Patrol episode “1917 Patrol” is riddled with spoilers. Proceed at your peril.
Welcome back, residents of Doom Manor! Doom Patrol returns with bountiful character growth in more ways than one. Our misfit crew’s encounter with the Sisterhood of Dada unleashes a new phase for them. Rita follows her bliss while Larry finally gets closure with his son. Jane learns that acts of kindness are commodities for Kay’s personas, while Cliff discovers he can be a better person for his daughter and grandson.
Lastly, Vic gleans a vital lesson from his dearly departed mother: his next steps in life are of his devising.
Bolstered by a brilliant performance from April Bowlby, “1917 Patrol” is a poignant yet optimistic take on how we choose to live life despite its pitfalls: from a place of happiness or deep sorrow.
Ready to delve into “1917 Patrol”? Let’s get to it.
We open with Rita (Bowlby) spinning through time and space in her capsule. She reflects on her life and finds that every significant choice before this moment was made for her. So, with this next move, Rita decides to follow her bliss. However, every tear she sheds erases her memories. Like Laura, she lands in 1917, Iowa, with no recollection of who she is or why she’s there.
Rita’s greeted by a tough-as-nails farm woman, with the Bureau of Normalcy hot on her heels. They grill Rita regarding her identity, but she’s bereft of her memories. Rita procures a piece of notebook paper from her pocket, saying, “Laura De Mille, Sisterhood of Dada.” They don’t believe her, so she’s escorted back to the Bureau’s headquarters.
Meanwhile, we see Brain and Monsieur Mallah (Jonathan Lipow) observing Rita’s arrival from afar. At this point, the Brotherhood of Evil is going strong, and they’re hellbent on destroying the world.
In the present, Larry (Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk) watches over Paul (John Getz) while the latter feverishly mutters gibberish. Jane (Diane Guerrero) helps Kay (Skye Roberts) flee the Underground to purchase new shoes.
Next, Vic (Joivan Wade) finds Cliff (Brendan Fraser/Riley Shanahan) succumbing to the siren song of online gambling. Oh, and he’s befriended a cam girl, Ginger. Vic seeks advice from Cliff about the meaning of life — why did he become Cyborg?
However, Cliff’s too preoccupied with his online life to help Vic with his existential crisis.
In 1917, Rita’s led to the Bureau of Normalcy’s “Meta Recruiting Lab.” We see Laura De Mille (Michelle Gomez) spearheading the Burea’s meta lab. She doles out paperwork for Rita to complete, but our girl still has no clue who she is. Oh, how the tables have turned!
Rita undergoes a series of tests of Laura’s creation to determine where she fits in the Bureau. Laura concludes that Rita is not a weapon.
Back at Doom Manor, Cliff’s game suffers interruption courtesy of Laura. Present-day Laura wants info on the Sisterhood of Dada, but all Cliff provides is the Sisterhood’s scathing reaction to hearing Laura’s name. He roughly sketches a design of the machine the Sisterhood of Dada is creating.
Laura also reveals Rita’s disappearance; however, Cliff doesn’t seem to care.
Later, we see Rita’s placed in the mailroom with Holly McKenzie, a.k.a. Sleepwalk (Anita Kalathara). Rita demonstrates her stretching powers, much to the delight of Shelley Byron, a.k.a. The Fog (Wynn Everett); Sachiko, a.k.a. The Quiz (Gina Hiraizumi); Lloyd Jefferson, a.k.a. Frenzy (Miles Mussenden) and Malcolm (Micah Joe Parker).
Then, Rita sits down for lunch among the Bureau’s employees. But her presence stirs the pot, and several of those workers clear the space when she attempts to mingle with them. Lloyd ushers Rita through a door marked “Metas,” and if this isn’t a metaphor for segregation, I don’t know what is.
We see Holly, Shelley, Sachiko and Malcolm on the other side of that door. The metahumans aren’t supposed to socialize with run-of-the-mill humans.
Meanwhile, Jane watches Kay find freedom topside as she shops for shoes. Kay spots a bike and decides to take it for a spin. Pretty Polly (Hannah Alline) warily observes Jane.
Next, we see Vic hiking the same trail he did with his mother in the afterlife. He spots a few folks surreptitiously snapping selfies with him, so he asks Grid to mute his notifications. Back at the Bureau, Rita finds correspondence for Niles Caulder in the mailroom. Something inexplicably stirs within her — a strange pull regarding that name. Laura inquires as to why Rita reacted to seeing Niles’ name, but no dice.
Laura leads Rita, a.k.a. “Bendy,” as her new pals call her, to the Sisterhood of Dada’s swanky party. Initially, the group started as a free-thinking movement — a deliberate act of cathartic rebellion. Merriam-Webster defines “Dada” as “a movement in art and literature based on deliberate irrationality and negation of traditional artistic values.”
Anyway, Lloyd constructs a beautiful hat for Rita, and everyone busts out their best dance moves. We hear talk of the movie the Sisterhood of Dada plans to shoot, and it’s safe to assume this is the same one Laura watches in the present.
Rita connects with the silent and sweet Malcolm, who lacks a heart but has a canary in a gilded cage in its place. Malcolm enthralls Rita.
After Malcolm and Rita emerge to join the others, a night of unadulterated debauchery and delight unfurls.
Cliff learns from Ginger that he has insufficient funds on his card, so she must leave the chat. However, when Cliff discovers Ginger’s affinity for Vic, he auctions off a date with Vic on the internet. Then, Cliff launches into a monologue about how the cosmos methodically mapped out his life (note that Rita earlier refers to herself as a “feather floating on the cosmos”).
Additionally, he believes his path leads to his daughter and grandson — he must be a better person for them. Fraser continues to impress in this role vocally.
Later, the following day, Rita discusses with Laura and Lloyd about choosing happiness despite one’s struggles. The Sisterhood of Dada purposely chooses to be happy as an act of rebellion. Rita wonders whether they can aim higher; reach for the stars. However, Lloyd reminds her that she’s privileged enough to dream bigger. Here’s another metaphor for race and class privilege.
Jane giddily watches Kay as she zooms through the streets on her bike. Suddenly, a strange man stops Kay in her tracks. Jane frantically asks Kay to let her talk control, but the man only wants to warn Kay about her speed — as a new biker, she must take it slow.
Meanwhile, Paul appears to be lucid again, and he’s sitting at Larry’s dresser. Paul reveals he wasn’t tricked into working for the Sisterhood of Dada; he eagerly accepted the challenge. He longs to hit Larry where it hurts.
Larry finally stands up to his son, acknowledging his mistakes as a father while simultaneously reminding Paul he had no control over his situation. Larry kindly asks Paul to leave.
Vic finds the place where his mom hid stones on the trail. He’s ready to seize control of his destiny.
Rita and her new friends hit up the cafeteria again. Suddenly, Rita’s face and limbs lose their cellular structure, and she starts looking a bit melted. The Bureau of Normalcy employees sneer at her. Thankfully, Shelley and Malcolm swoop to her rescue and calm Rita down enough, so her body reverts to its normal state.
Then, the Sisterhood of Dada kicks up their heels and parties in front of the normies. Sachiko gives everyone clown costumes while Lloyd whips up some winds. An irate Bureau officer barges in and ushers the metahumans out.
We see the said officer is Laure De Mille as she shapeshifts into her regular form. She urges them to flee since the real authorities are on their way.
Back in the Underground, Kay’s other personas confront Jane for her recklessness. Kay returns from her trip topside, happy as can be. Even though Jane’s the primary, the personalities feel she should’ve consulted them first before sending Kay up. Jane chastises the group and condemns their idle threats before leaving herself.
But it seems Dr. Harrison (Catherine Carlen) has more nefarious plans in store.
Cliff continues to sell his roommate’s belongings. We see everything from Rita’s Old Hollywood posters to Vic’s prized sneaker collection. Speaking of Vic, our Cyborg makes an appointment with a doctor for synthetic skin surgery. Larry’s lump returns, and this time it brings with it a world of pain.
Rita and Malcolm stand before the time machine that brought her to 1917. She wonders aloud why she’s here, and Malcolm persuades her to stay. Rita decides to make this place her home, and just when they’re about to kiss, someone walks by. Malcolm gives Rita a paperclip shaped like a heart, and she places it inside the cage where his heart should be for safekeeping. Such a sweet moment.
Later, we see present-day Laura pouring over documents in Doom Manor. She wants to know what the Sisterhood of Dada wants, and an answer reveals itself in the fireplace. “Piffle Paffle” is spelled out in flames that erupt and spread like fiery fingers behind her.
It’s great to see our usually forlorn, downtrodden heroes find their voices again and take back their power. “1917 Patrol” turns the tides for Season Three in an exciting way, and I can’t wait to discover where this journey goes. I’m curious if anyone besides Cliff and Laura gains awareness of Rita’s absence in next week’s episode.
Doom Patrol is so delightfully weird and wonderful, and I feel like this episode encapsulates its essence. Overall, this outing has a more positive vibe compared to “Dada Patrol,” but I have a sneaking suspicion that dark times lie ahead for our misfits.
New episodes of Doom Patrol are available to stream every Thursday on HBO Max.
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