In “Bird Patrol,” we rejoin the Sisterhood of Dada in 1949, and things are looking bleak. The war effort has put a strain on everyone’s friendships and sense of self. How could it get any worse — and how did the Sisterhood become the threat they are today?
One of Doom Patrol’s greatest strengths since the beginning has been the way in which it shows how much people can change over the years. After World War 2, Laura’s outlook on the world has changed, and Michelle Gomez plays these contradictory emotions to their fullest extent. She believes in peace and love, but no longer seems to think it can be achieved through the Sisterhood’s methods.
Even so, the pain she feels over her decisions in this episode is evident in her every glance and gesture. Laura looks to be in physical agony in some moments. Towards the end of the episode, Gomez shows the years of regret in her face, but also elegantly selling the determination that led the character to do the awful things she’s done.
Oh, and she also gets to have a bit of fun with a never-ending hallway. It’s a testament to Michelle Gomez’s compelling performance and Omar Madha’s confident direction that a static shot of Laura trying to figure out why she can’t leave a room is one of the most entertaining and clever bits of the episode. Kudos to editor Brian Wessel for brilliantly putting it all together — the shot of Laura jumping off one side and landing on the other made me laugh out loud.
Of course, it’s not all fun and games on Doom Patrol. The Sisterhood of Dada’s collapse into a malaise is heartbreaking to see here, especially since the sheer joy on display in the previous episode was so infectious. Like Laura, the Sisterhood has only seen the world getting progressively worse.
The Quiz (played with furious aplomb by Gina Hiraizumi) is angry at any attempts at levity, because nothing the Sisterhood has done has seemingly made the world a better place. Meanwhile, Miles Mussenden brings a devastating sense of loss to Lloyd, who cannot even find the words for his disappointment in the state of humanity. April Bowlby, meanwhile, completely obliterated me in a particularly emotional scene towards the episode’s end.
The continued descent and horrifying plight of the Sisterhood of Dada is so compelling that it makes much of the rest of the episode of Doom Patrol feel a bit like filler. Cliff’s struggles with gambling addiction and webcamming just continue to ring as untrue to me, while Jane’s arguments with the other constructs of the Underground feel repetitive. It seems like these are the same arguments she’s always had with them, only they feel like they hold less weight than ever in light of the fact that she’s saved them over and over again — and recently.
Of the present day scenes with the team, it’s the exchange between Vic and Roni that really worked for me. The chemistry between Joivan Wade and Karen Obilam is still strong, even when these two aren’t in the same shot. Their conversation really hammers home the themes of the season and Cyborg’s continuing struggle between being the hero he’s expected to be and being actually proud of himself, and both actors deliver on every layer of the conversation.
The final moments of the episode give us some of the wildest imagery we’ve ever gotten from Doom Patrol, along with twist after twist that could change the series forever. As the season heads into it’s final act, it’s hard to know who to root for — and I can’t wait to see how it all plays out.
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