DISCLAIMER: This recap of the Doom Patrol episode “Nostalgia Patrol” contains spoilers. Proceed at your peril. 

Welcome back, misfits and Doom Manor residents! This Doom Patrol outing takes a retrospective turn with “Nostalgia Patrol.” Our heroes strive to progress but are incessantly thwarted by their pasts and mistakes. Rita is tempted to relive her glory days, while Vic hopes to make amends with the friends he left behind. In Larry’s bid to repel perpetual loneliness, he sees nothing but his mission to reel in Keeg. Jane struggles to find her purpose without Kay. Laura comes to terms with her sins. Cliff keeps the past (and his condition) at bay by focusing on reuniting with his grandson.

The character work in this series never fails to surprise me with its depth and nuance. I’m more interested in seeing how characters operate in surrealist, magical settings. This show takes our misfits in exciting directions in “Nostalgia Patrol” while introducing two new baddies and planting more Immortus seeds. It’s a solid episode. 

Ready to delve into “Nostalgia Patrol”? Let’s get to it. 

RELATED: Doom Patrol Recap: (S04E02) Butt Patrol 

We open with Rita (April Bowlby), watching an old-school soap opera while munching on food. She feels scornful, stewing in the rejection from her housemates. Well, if they don’t want her to lead them, that’s their loss! Rita hears the doorbell and ventures outside to find the rude person who would dare interrupt her valuable sulking time. She discovers a flyer from the Cloverton Arthouse for a Rita Farr retrospective. Said arthouse will run a marathon of her iconic filmography. Naturally, this makes Rita giddy. 

Jane lounges in an armchair in the living room in Doom Manor in Doom Patrol Season 4 Episode 3, "Nostalgia Patrol."

DOOM PATROL — Season 4 Episode 3, “Nostalgia Patrol.” Photo credit: Dan McFadden/HBO Max.

Meanwhile, Jane (Diane Guerrero) tries to find her purpose sans Kay. She jams out to some tunes, but that doesn’t yield answers. Then, Jane flips through the massive pile of blank puzzle pieces on the floor. Surprisingly, she spots one bearing the eye of none other than Shelley Byron, a.k.a. the Sisterhood of Dada’s foggy host. Fog materializes around Jane, and she ostensibly orgasms. Who needs Flex Mentallo? 

Next, Vic (Joivan Wade) reunites with his long-time friends Deric (Elijah R. Reed), Calvin (Zuri James) and Marcus (Moses Jones) at a restaurant in Detroit. While his initial welcome is enthusiastic, it quickly turns lukewarm when Vic reveals he gave up his Cyborg tech. They reminisce about the good ole days. Vic talks about reconnecting with his late mother in the afterlife and launches into a brief recount of his exploits with the Doom Patrol. 

RELATED: Doom Patrol Season Premiere Recap: (S04E01) Doom Patrol 

At Doom Manor, Larry (Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk) tries to coax Keeg back into his body. Laura (Michelle Gomez) urges him to process the fact that Keeg might not return. Perhaps he’s gone permanently, much like he is in the future. They talk about moving forward and making amends. Laura’s endeavoring to be a good leader and is on the path to redemption. Larry believes she can’t honestly give that kind of advice until she mends fences with the one she’s hurt the most: Rita. 

Vic sits in a restaurant next to a small robot figure in Doom Patrol Season 4 Episode 3, "Nostalgia Patrol."

DOOM PATROL — Season 4 Episode 3, “Nostalgia Patrol.” Photo credit: Dan McFadden/HBO Max.

Meanwhile, Rita attends her retrospective but finds the theater inexplicably bereft of moviegoers. Tubs of popcorn surround her; however, nary a beverage can be found. How can you consume all that popcorn and not get thirsty? While watching her breakout film, Secret Rendezvous, a peculiar green fog knocks her unconscious before zooming toward the screen. 

In Detroit, tensions bubbling beneath the surface come to the fore when Vic hits a nerve among his friends. It’s abundantly clear they feel he abandoned them when he became a superhero. Vic hopes to remedy that and make up for lost time. 

RELATED: Doom Patrol Season Finale Recap: (S03E10) Amends Patrol

Suddenly, Rita winds up inside Secret Rendezvous. She interacts with her long-dead castmates. Oliver Truman (Riley Shanahan), Rita’s love interest in the film, puts a necklace around her neck. It appears to fill with a red liquid — possibly blood. Something’s afoot, y’all. In the real world, Cliff (Brendan Fraser/Riley Shanahan) rewraps his new hand with the dirty oven mitt. Jane approaches him, asking if he recalls the Flex Mentallo collective orgasm incident. Cliff states he’d rather not remember it. Larry overhears the perpetually disgruntled duo and reveals they’re all going through something right now. 

A bell sounds through the manor, signifying a team meeting. Laura walks briskly through the living room while armed with a giant notepad. She displays an acronym for TRUST: Team building, respect, unity, solidarity and tea time. That last one is super important to me as an avid tea drinker. While there’s no imminent threat, Laura believes they need to partake in a team-building exercise. She declares it’ll consist of supporting Rita at her movie retrospective. Larry seems hesitant, but after some persistent and loving pestering by his pals, he agrees to join the fun.

RELATED: Doom Patrol Recap: (S03E09) Evil Patrol

Next, our quartet arrives at the Cloverton Arthouse. Rita’s not there, but they sit down among her mountains of popcorn to watch Secret Rendezvous. Larry remembers the film and is taken aback when the dialogue seems strange. Laura realizes Rita is stuck in her own movie. Suddenly, the green fog reappears, knocking everyone save Laura unconscious and transporting them inside the theater screen. Laura transforms into a bird and escapes. 

Laura stands next to a large piece of paper with "TRUST" written on it while looking skeptical in Doom Patrol Season 4 Episode 3, "Nostalgia Patrol."

DOOM PATROL — Season 4 Episode 3, “Nostalgia Patrol.” Photo credit: Dan McFadden/HBO Max.

Meanwhile, Rita lands in another one of her films. This time, it’s a Gothic, black-and-white horror flick. She carries lit candles while roaming the corridors. Larry wanders onto the pavilion, where Rita’s character is supposed to meet her secret love. He encounters a mysterious man (Sendhil Ramamurthy) who approaches the gazebo. This is Rita’s character’s lover. The man harbors awareness of their situation and that someone named Dr. Janus trapped them in Rita’s filmography. Oh, and he knows where Rita is, so he volunteers to take Larry to her. 

Then, Laura returns home to contemplate her next move. How will she save her teammates? She rummages through Niles Caulder’s files until she lands on Dr. Janus. Janus is an emotional vampire who ensnares people in artificial realities and hallucinations. Unfortunately, most of the answers in the file are blacked out, so Laura can’t figure out how to combat her. How very helpful of you, dead Niles.

RELATED: Doom Patrol Recap: (S03E08) Subconscious Patrol

Jane and Cliff wind up in Rita’s Gothic horror flick. They talk about the timelessness of Top Gun and how you can’t refrain from watching it when it’s on TV. True that. The pair realize they’re being followed by the creepy kid in the film, sending them to the nearest closet for shelter. My big babies! Meanwhile, Vic and his pals play laser tag against the restaurant’s resident champs. Vic hopes this will help them reforge their bond. So far, everyone looks like they’re having a ball. He and Deric have a heart-to-heart while hiding from the enemy.

Deric feels like Vic abandoned them. Vic asserts he was merely taking time to grieve the loss of his mother and heal after nearly dying himself. Deric and the others wanted to help Vic through his grief. So much time has passed that it might be too late to mend fences. They’re all different people now. Vic reminds Deric that he didn’t ask to be a superhero. This feels like a conversation where neither person truly listens to the other. Eventually, Vic and Deric are tagged out of the game.

Jane and Cliff stand in the hallway of a sprawling mansion in a black and white film in Doom Patrol Season 4 Episode 3, "Nostalgia Patrol."

DOOM PATROL — Season 4 Episode 3, “Nostalgia Patrol.” Photo credit: Dan McFadden/HBO Max.

While stuck in the closet, Jane brings up her encounter with The Fog and seeing Shelley’s eye on one of her puzzle pieces. She explains to Cliff that her orgasmic experience felt different than the one courtesy of Flex. It was more … tender. Larry and his new friend find Cliff and Jane in the closet. Rita encounters the creepy kid and effectively tells him off. 

RELATED: Doom Patrol Recap: (S03E07) Bird Patrol

Back in reality, Laura consigns herself to imbibing. She rattles off a laundry list of her mistakes, even mentioning poor Malcolm and the Sisterhood of Dada, along with what she did to Rita. Laura ponders whether she can truly commit to a life of goodness over her inherently “evil” nature. Gomez is a force of nature on this show. After she wanders off to find more booze, Keeg swoops in and examines the mess of documents on the table. Meanwhile, our heroes find Rita stuck in her first sci-fi film (In technicolor!), which turned out to be a box office flop. They all look like they’re in a knock-off Star Trek project. I love it. 

We learn Larry’s mystery pal calls himself Mister 104 (a known enemy of the Doom Patrol in the comics). He discloses Dr. Janus’s desire to entrap Rita. Suddenly, he traps Cliff, Larry and Jane in a small cell surrounded by a raging fire. A rickety wooden bridge stands between Rita and her friends. Jane tries to summon Flit or Hammerhead to help them escape, but no dice. Larry doesn’t have Keeg, and Cliff can’t bend the metal bars of their cell. Yay!

Jane, Cliff and Larry stand in the living room at Doom Manor while listening to Laura speak in Doom Patrol Season 4 Episode 3, "Nostalgia Patrol."

DOOM PATROL — Season 4 Episode 3, “Nostalgia Patrol.” Photo credit: Dan McFadden/HBO Max.

The infamous Dr. Janus (Timeca Seretti) appears, revealing why she brought Rita here. Rita possesses something that doesn’t belong to her, so Janus wants it back. As it turns out, this “something” happens to be Rita’s emotions, which are stuck in the necklace Oliver Truman gave her. This feels very Little Mermaid, minus the voice bit. Janus and Mister 104 give Rita an ultimatum: either Rita hands over her emotions or her pals perish. 

RELATED: Doom Patrol Recap: (S03E06) 1917 Patrol

Rita saves her friends by crossing the unstable bridge over the roaring flames. She delivers a monologue worthy of Rita Farr. She explains how much she loves her misfit buddies, her Doom Patrol, and how she couldn’t live without them. It’s incredibly touching and encapsulates the crux of this series: found family. In typical Doom Patrol fashion, Jane, Larry and Cliff roll their eyes at Rita’s display and wonder whether she’ll save them in time. 

Janus swipes Rita’s necklace and flees. Before departing, she mentions the rise of Immortus. Suddenly, Rita slips through one of the wooden panels on the bridge. While she scrambles for purchase, Mister 104 grabs one of the ropes that threatens to send the bridge toward the fire. Suddenly, Keeg arrives, soaring through the air and toward our heroes. In a surprise move, Keeg chooses to fly into Mister 104. However, after a flash of light, our crew lands in the Cloverton Arthouse. They try to wake Rita, who’s still unconscious. 

Rita stands in a bedroom while wearing a pink robe with a white wedding gown hanging on the closet door in Doom Patrol Season 4 Episode 3, "Nostalgia Patrol."

DOOM PATROL — Season 4 Episode 3, “Nostalgia Patrol.” Photo credit: Dan McFadden/HBO Max.

Meanwhile, Vic bids farewell to his friends. He moves in to hug Deric, who decides to fist bump instead. Deric expresses his gratitude for reconnecting with Vic before giving him the robot they made together as youngsters. Vic now has custody of said robot for the next decade. Later, Vic sits in his room while examining the robot. He overhears the arrival of Cliff, Jane and Larry, and he and Laura head toward the commotion. We see Cliff carrying Rita, who won’t wake up. 

RELATED: Catch up on all the weird sh*t with our Doom Patrol recaps!

So, Janus are the Roman god of “transitions, beginnings and endings.” They’re split into two halves: the male embraces the past, while the female turns toward the future. I’m wondering if Dr. Janus is the future aspect of this god. General Immortus has lived for thousands of years. In the comics, Niles helped recreate the potion that gave him immortality. Niles also formed the Doom Patrol to put the kibosh on one of Immortus’s plans.

It’s unclear whether we’ll see Immortus in part one of this season or the back half. However, since his presence will usher the end of days, we’ll undoubtedly get another apocalypse requiring our heroes to save the day. 

“Nostalgia Patrol” is a heartwarming and tender outing that lovingly fleshes out these characters. I love the creativity of the premise and the black-and-white Golden Age of Hollywood cinematography. Any time Doom Patrol goes the thought-provoking route with a dash of weird surrealism is bound to be a good time. 

What’s Mister 104’s deal? Will we see Dr. Janus again? Is Rita now emotionless? Only time (and more episodes) will tell. 

Doom Patrol drops new episodes every Thursday on HBO Max

Geek Girl Authority Crush of the Week: RITA FARR

Follow me!