After stealing Laura De Mille’s time machine, Rita Farr finds herself stuck at the Department of Normalcy in 1917 — without her memory. She quickly learns that not everyone is as normal as they seem. It’s time for Rita to meet the Sisterhood of Dada.
Following on from the darker depictions of the characters last week, the Sisterhood of Dada is seen in a very different light here. It feels like a breath of fresh air to see these characters embrace absurdity as a means to slough off the worries of the world. Doom Patrol has always been weird, but there’s a perfect unnamable joy in seeing that weirdness result in such happiness.
The scenes with the Sisterhood tie perfectly in with Rita’s journey through the whole series. She desperately wants to be important, to mean something in the grand scheme of things, to feel happy and wanted, regardless of the direction her life has taken. As Laura says of the Sisterhood, “At some point, they chose to be happy, despite everything.”
Even though Rita didn’t quite choose to end up where she is now, she did make the decision to take charge of her destiny and step into Laura’s time machine. In a fantastic Wizard of Oz-esque opening sequence, Rita finds herself over the rainbow, landing in a place where she’s no longer burdened with her decades of hang-ups.
April Bowlby plays these scenes of Doom Patrol splendidly, showing us a version of Rita (or “Bendy,” as she’s known in 1917) who doesn’t carry every mistake with her. She’s a blank slate, and she’s never seemed happier. This is brilliantly reflected in how easily she’s able to use her powers, showing she’s no longer worried about what could happen if she were to lose focus.
Outside from the predominant plot-line of Rita’s time in 1917, this episode manages to pack in some beautiful emotional victories for other members of the team. Cyborg journeys to the mountains to prove to himself that his brush with the afterlife was real, and Joivan Wade plays this scene wonderfully with very little dialogue. There’s a quiet shock of discovery in his eyes that gives way to reserved vindication, and you can see every moment in his face.
Meanwhile, the scene between Larry and his estranged son provides viewers with one of the most rewarding monologues in Doom Patrol, as Larry finally asserts himself and speaks his truth. Matt Bomer sells the sadness and the love in Larry’s words, while Matthew Zuk’s insistent body language brings this all home. For once, Larry isn’t lying to himself or anyone else.
The one section that didn’t entirely land was Cliff’s continued descent into a drug-addled spending spree. Although the effects of the pills he bought online led to some interesting self-discoveries and fun physical comedy in last week’s episode, this part of the season is beginning to feel a bit like an after-school special. Cliff’s monologue recapping his absurd life is a bit of fun, but his sudden obsession with online gambling and webcams feels like it sprang up awfully fast. This may be leading to some greater purpose, but I’m hoping it gets there sooner rather than later.
As of right now, the biggest question I have is how the seemingly downtrodden and love-seeking Sisterhood of Dada will become the formidable threat that Niles Caulder has made them out to be. Is that even possible? Or will this lead us to just one more reason why Niles Caulder should never have been trusted? As Season 3 of Doom Patrol enters the home stretch, I find myself genuinely curious to find out what else this show has cleverly hidden from us.
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