Dorothy and Baby Doll are new best friends, Cliff butts his way into Vic’s love life, and Rita tries to help Larry reconnect with his family. This is an episode of Doom Patrol in which everyone does their best to mend all of their broken parts.
This is another episode that works splendidly because it mostly steps back from the action and tells a human story. All of these characters have really become a family unit, and that is so clear through their interactions throughout “Finger Patrol”.
This episode is directed by frequent Arrowverse helmer Glen Winter, who previously directed Doom Patrol‘s superb pilot episode. Much like last time, Winter brings some lovely performances out of this ensemble cast, even getting some poignant beats from some particularly silly scenes.
One of the more humorous sequences is the dream that sees Robotman and Cyborg starring in their own ’70s buddy cop drama. It’s clearly meant to be played for laughs, but there’s a sincerity to the way all of the characters tackle it that makes it work so well. That’s this show in a microcosm: it’s so wholly absurd, but the characters themselves are not the joke. It also helps that the music during this sequence absolutely slaps.
Speaking of Robotman, it’s really nice to see Cliff kind of drop the attitude in this episode. Cliff has been understandably angry since the season began, but it was beginning to make the portrayal of the character feel a little one-note. Seeing Cliff confronting his own limitations while also being his usual goofy self felt like a more balanced approach to Robotman than we’ve seen in recent episodes.
Riley Shanahan seems to be having a blast playing Robotman in the ’70s dream sequence. Not only that, but Brendan Fraser’s vocal performance was the strongest it’s been in a while. We got to hear more sides of Cliff than rage, which certainly gave the actor more to chew on.
The rest of the cast also have opportunities to show different sides to their characters. It’s interesting to see the Chief interact with Baby Doll, especially when we see how it’s just ever so slightly different from the way he talks to Dorothy. With Dorothy, there’s a warmth that feels almost artificial when Baby Doll is concerned. Niles’ interactions with Baby Doll always feel a little bit calculated, but it’s never been more clear than when we get to see Baby Doll and Dorothy under the same roof. Timothy Dalton plays these subtle differences elegantly, never quite drawing attention to the fact that the Chief is trying not to be obvious about his favoritism.
The Chief isn’t the only person dealing with a familial landmine. Larry is doing his best to help his family clear out his dead son’s old home. From the moment these people meet in the yard, there’s a palpable sense that things have gotten away from Larry.
Larry’s question of “So, where should we start?” couldn’t be more loaded. The embrace that follows is a lovely moment, but it also raises a ton of questions involving the last act of the episode. Without going too far into spoiler territory, there’s a reveal toward the end of “Finger Patrol” that doesn’t quite ring true with the way this first reunion scene played out.
Likewise, the resolution to Cyborg’s romantic troubles feels a little too simple. It almost makes it feel like last week’s heartbreak was done for the sake of stalling for time. Of course, part of the joke is that somehow Cliff’s advice helps Vic out, but it still seems at odds with how this relationship has been portrayed so far.
Despite a few moments that didn’t feel like they properly followed from what we’ve seen before (and allowing for the possibility of these twists being explained further), “Finger Patrol” was a solid character-driven episode. The final moments of this week’s installment tease major repercussions for the team going forward. Without exaggeration, at least one member of the Doom Patrol will never be the same.