Doom Patrol continues to make the DC Universe streaming platform something that is actually worth paying for. While the service is woefully lacking in content, the quality of this show is more than enough to justify the $7.99 per month price point. We’re in the endgame here, with this being one of three final episodes. So how does “Flex Patrol” lead us toward a season one climax? Here’s five thoughts and, as always, you should beware of spoilers .
1. Best Supporting Ass Clown?
“Flex Patrol” opens up on Flex Mentallo in the past, before rejoining the present back inside the Ant-Farm with the return of the butts and agent Darren Jones. While Vic holds his father’s nearly lifeless body, due to Vic’s own actions, the team continues to bicker about how to escape. As has often been their relationship Cliff demands Flit teleport them away only to have Jane once again angrily retort “that’s not how it works.”
At the close of this episode there’s a touching moment where Cliff lets everything fall to the wayside, all of his emotions and pride are dropped as he apologizes to Jane, and tells her it is okay for her to be upset with him. While she does turn away at first we see the facade fade away as Cliff places a hand on her shoulder. There are no words that need to be exchanged between the two for that brief instant as everything necessary is conveyed to the audience.
While Cliff often goes overboard in his attempts to connect with Jane and she in turn rejects him through hostility and mockery, it is clear the two have found something in each other they both desperately needed. In an episode, and indeed an entire series, that has shown a tremendous amount of heart this is yet one more tear-jerker. But it is far from the only one in “Flex Patrol.”
While the titular character spends most of “Flex Patrol” in a somewhat-amnesiac state that offers up an abundance of hilarity we also witness the moments that make him both a hero and vulnerable. Originally being captured trying to help a little boy rescue his cat in the 1960s the flashbacks show the grit and never-give-up attitude of Mentallo, as well as his willingness to finally submit to the Bureau of Normalcy in order to save his beloved Dolores.
That sacrifice winds up having been in vain but when the team brings Dolores to him both of their memories are jogged and they share in a lost lifetime recaptured in a brief minute before being stripped away. As Dolores tells Flex, the Bureau told her if she ever went looking for him there would be consequences before one of the most impactful character dustings since Peter told Tony he doesn’t feel so good.
3. Is There Somethin’ in There With Ya?
There’s a payoff to Flex’s ability to hear Grid–or Nobody’s impersonation of Vic’s operating system–as we also see he can hear and speak to the spirit inhabiting Larry, which Flex endearingly nicknames “Sparky.” Through the flashback explaining this the spirit is able to further communicate with Larry indirectly.
This flashback gives us insight into both Larry and Flex and their time in the Ant-Farm as Flex continually tries to get Larry to aid in their escape. Larry finally realizes what he put both the spirit and Flex through leading to the episode’s climax and to Larry telling Sparky to be free of him, even though it will kill Larry.
Briefly flying out of the mansion and finally free, Sparky stops before returning and reinhabiting a dying Larry, saving him in the process. There’s so much catharsis to be had in here I need a catharolonic after watching it.
4. We Have to Own Our Mistakes
Speaking of catharsis, Rita’s personal demon is revealed in just what it was she did to Mary Beth Wooten. As she accompanies a hospital patient played in a cameo by veteran actor Ed Asner, the two share stories of their greatest regrets. Asner’s character is an absentee father who abandoned his family in the night, leaving himself alone in his later years with no one left to care for him as he wanders the halls of the hospital looking for his room.Continued below
Rita’s secret feels less salacious than it has built up to be but that also feels as though it is part of the point of the things Nobody has been holding over the team members heads. These dark secrets are only as shameful to the ones who hold them in. Rita carries a burden that the rest of the team may likely forgive her for, yet she tortures herself nonetheless, stating there is no absolution to be found.
5. 13 Pointless, Meandering Episodes of Character-Driven Schlock
As Rita picks herself back up just in time to get Vic’s head back in the game and then triumphantly exit the hospital, Asner’s friendly geriatric is revealed to have been Nobody all along, giving her that cathartic push she needed. Nobody gives yet another of his fourth-wall-breaking monologues among a number of Doom Patrol marketing materials revealing that his plan all along is to get past the character development and give him a super hero team worth fighting.
Tudyk’s parts so far have been sparse in this season but these crumbs have been a treat. He delivers as gifted a performance as he does in any other projects he works on and leaves you begging for more with each miniscule scene he eschews.
Next week’s “Penultimate Patrol” begins what looks to be a two-part season finale leading to the final confrontation with Tudyk’s Nobody, the return of Danny the Street, and the pinnacle of one of the absolute best television adaptations of a DC Comics property ever.