Strap in, because it is about to get weird. Doom Patrol continues to be amazing as it delivers one of its most poignant–and also one of its most bizarre–episodes yet. The description of this installment reads as follows: “A sentient, gender-queer, teleporting street named Danny who’s being hunted by the secret Bureau of Normalcy needs help from Niles – but gets Vic and Larry instead.” As always, you should beware of spoilers . Here are five thoughts on “Danny Patrol.”
1. Cool Beans
“Danny Patrol” follows two storylines, one of which will be the main focus of this review, but the other revolves around a newly introduced member of the sixty-four personalities of Jane: Karen. This personality is, as Rita puts it “a lovestruck psycho stricken by her obsession with rom-coms from the nineties.” Karen is also one of the more entertaining characters to date in this show. A walking cliche of millennial catchphrases, she sounds youthful, and Rita hates her. Despite criticisms presented in the review for the pilot of this series, Diane Guerrero continues to shine as the menagerie or cacophony of various voices that make up Crazy Jane is explored and expanded upon.
Karen’s inability to act as a suitable umbrella while she casts her spell upon Doug–and later his family, Rita, and unfortunately not Cliffy–is a joy to watch. Though there are shades of Envy Adams during the phone conversation between Karen and Cliff, everything else about this feels fresh and is presented with hilarity as Doom Patrol takes the opportunity to skewer Rom-com tropes.
This arc also offers further setup regarding Jane, as something has clearly broken within her, evidenced by a mysterious and unknown figure dragging Karen away within the depths of Jane’s mind.
2. Where’s Niles? Asked the Cake Shop
The aforementioned Danny legitimately is their own character here. This sentient street has personality abound and offers subtle laughs throughout the entirety of “Danny Patrol.” As Maura Lee Karupt notes “if the party stops, then Danny’s heart stops right along with it.” Voiced by text presented in a number of ways, from floating leaves to steam from a manhole to electronic signs, Danny speaks often, and with depth. “Follow the cake, Vic” leads to Danny, and all roads do not lead to Danny, just as Danny is not all roads.
There’s a wonderful juxtaposition here in the way that Larry and Vic struggle to deal with what Danny is, despite their own identities that leave them ostracized from society. In contrast, being an actual cyborg and a horrifically burned man inhabited by an entity from parts unknown neither can wrap their head around a sentient street that identifies as being non-binary, gender-wise.
3. Boys, Girls, and All Those in Between
On that note, gender identity is explored heavily throughout this story. One would be hard pressed to think of a better place to do so than a show like Doom Patrol. It is a show about “freaks,” those who are misunderstood or even looked down upon and vilified by “normal” society. “Danny Patrol” sees fit to not only address this with a character but with one that does not inhabit a body in the same sense that others do. Danny the Street defies not only society’s ideas about gender, but what it even means to be a person.
By that notion, Danny is more human than much of the cast of this show. They care deeply for the residents of their street, offering their own body as a haven for those without a place in this world. Danny knows who they are, and hides only to protect the ones they care about.
4. You Know a Lot of Sentient, Gender-Queer Streets Lately?
Agent Darren Wilson, the subject of Larry’s Vision in “Therapy Patrol” is revealed to be a member of the Bureau of Normalcy, an agency that seeks to stifle or remove aberrations from society which also held Larry captive for an unknown period of time. Danny seeks help from Niles as they are on the run from the Bureau, but unfortunately is aided instead by Larry and Vic as they continue to seek information about The Chief.Continued below
5. We are all Misfits in a World on Fire
I’m going to break a rule of reviewing here. One should never make what should always be objective criticism about themselves personally. We aren’t even supposed to say “I” when writing these things. But it would be a betrayal of everything this episode, and all of Doom Patrol, are about to not talk about the personal connection I felt from “Danny Patrol.” When Larry steps up to karaoke it was the first time that this series has brought me to tears.
Doom Patrol is about freaks, rejects from society, those who fail to fit in and why we should rebel from that instinctual desire. As fans of nerd culture, we have all felt that at one time or another, regardless of the identities we hold, be they of gender, sexuality, color, or creed. Even the gate-keeping old guard of comics fandom who have become what they hate have felt looked down upon at one point in their lives. All of us are the damned, the lost, and the forgotten. This is why my chest became tight, my eyes welled up, and my throat contracted as Larry and Maura Lee perform a rendition of “People Like Us” by Kelly Clarkson.
And then the show pulls the damn rug out from under us, revealing that Larry doesn’t “do karaoke.”
Doom Patrol, like Danny the Street refuses to be held down by traditional conventions. It treads upon tropes without trepidation and plays with conventions like a jovial juggler laughing as it defies your expectations. If a drag queen kicking the ass of an agent of an organization called the “Bureau of Normalcy” isn’t a relevant take on geek culture in 2019, then god damn it I don’t know what ever could be.
Vic may not have been able to find his middle finger emoji in “Danny Patrol,” but I find a billion clap ones for this episode, even if our website’s format doesn’t really support that textual representation.