NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Doom Patrol” are present in this review
After taking a break from the strange and the bizarre over the past couple of episodes, to mixed effect, Doom Patrol finally returned to the realm of the perverse and the inexplicable with, “Danny Patrol”, and the show is a lot better for it! It’s awesome to once again see Doom Patrol proudly embracing even the weirdest and most off-the-wall personalities and storylines from its DC Comics inspiration. In the case of, “Danny Patrol”, yet another of the especially weird Doom Patrol comic book personalities is introduced to the TV show, namely Danny the Street. Yes, the character is an actual sentient street. Because Doom Patrol.
In the case of Doom Patrol’s small screen universe, Danny the Street also happens to be a genderqueer sentient street that can teleport anywhere in the world, where they hide from the prying eyes of the Bureau of Normalcy. The Bureau of Normalcy surprisingly doesn’t appear to exist in DC Comics lore, despite them effortlessly sounding like natural enemies of the Doom Patrol and their circles, but their boss, Darren Jones, is indeed plucked straight from the DC Comics universe, where he has the same agenda as he does in Doom Patrol; A persistent desire to eliminate anything bizarre and unusual in the eyes of nature. You really have to pity the poor bastard then, since he lives in the DC Universe, where that kind of mission is truly a fool’s errand. That’s even more true when Jones spends his days hunting Danny the Street, after they teleport off with one of the Bureau of Normalcy’s finest agents.
It’s Larry and Vic that end up anchoring this episode’s core Danny the Street plot, after a mysterious cake shows up at Doom Manor, begging The Chief to check in with his, “Old friend.” We never do find out exactly how The Chief became acquainted with Danny the Street in this universe at this point, but Larry and Vic nonetheless decide to take a trip to Springfield, Ohio, once Vic determines that there is no, “Danny Street” in that city. Upon arriving, they discover that the ‘Dannyzens’ of Danny the Street are free, happy, and able to embrace who they truly are, outside of mainstream society. Since the party is waning and spirits are plummeting however, Danny is weakening, leaving them very vulnerable to the Bureau of Normalcy, who are closing in on their location.
Vic is the by-the-book hero of the episode, true to character, but it’s Larry that ends up being seriously challenged by his time on Danny Street. Meeting the displaced Bureau of Normalcy agent, now a proud drag queen named, “Maura Lee Karupt”, Larry continues to struggle with being comfortable in his own skin. Making this plot even more interesting is that Larry had a former run-in with the Bureau of Normalcy back in 1963, who conducted horrific experiments on him and his negative energy spirit, overseen by Jones. It’s fun and fulfilling to see Larry get gradually worn down throughout the episode by Danny however, eventually culminating in an uplifting and wondrous karaoke sequence that sees Larry briefly returning to his regular human form. This mix between drama and inspiration among the ‘Dannyzens’ would have been ideal if Jones and the Bureau of Normalcy weren’t such underdeveloped villains-of-the-week though. Danny even magically whisks most of the villains away with no effort, when they inevitably do show up. Why was Danny, Maura or anyone ever worried about the Bureau of Normalcy in the first place then, if it was that easy to get rid of them?
Fortunately, there’s an effectively fun and ridiculous subplot with Rita and Cliff in this episode too, who take it upon themselves to bring Jane back to Doom Manor. It turns out that Jane’s body has been overtaken by one of her worst personalities in an especially down moment, that being Karen, a romantic comedy-obsessed and perpetually lovesick blonde personality that keeps pursuing the same tired milquetoast man every time she resurfaces. The fact that Karen has the power to control minds makes things even more complicated, as she hypnotizes the man and his family into going along with her romantic vision, with Rita having to step in as Karen’s, “Bestie” to try and motivate Karen to retreat, and Jane to come home. The stakes really get heightened when Hammerhead briefly comes out before Rita as well, aggressively urging Rita to get Jane and all of her personalities back to Doom Manor, since they all can’t stand what Karen is doing.
Unfortunately, Cliff spends most of the episode on the porch of the house that Karen is at, since Karen kicks him out, which forces Cliff to just screw around with a kid that mocks him for most of the episode. It felt like the show didn’t really know what to do with Cliff here for the most part. That’s unfortunate, since it seemed like Cliff should have been the one trying extra hard to bring Jane home, rather than Rita. I suppose that the problem lies with Cliff being a robot, who is thus impervious to Karen’s powers, but even so, Rita being seen as Karen’s, “Bestie” is never effectively explained. Likewise, Cliff being invited back into the house at the end of the episode is sudden and inexplicable, and is ultimately merely used as a device to inevitably and forcibly break up Karen’s wedding, which leads to her being dragged deep into the Underground, rendering Jane catatonic in the final seconds of the episode. Well, that’s probably not good, is it?
Despite some of the small story hiccups in, “Danny Patrol”, Doom Patrol nonetheless achieved a much better balance between comedy, weirdness and tragedy in this episode. Fans of the source comics will definitely appreciate the show bringing in Danny the Street as well, one of the most absurd, yet endearing characters from the Doom Patrol’s comic book history. The subplot with Karen is also equal parts goofy and intense, even if Rita is allowed to have a lot more fun with it than Cliff ultimately is. Everything may have been resolved on Vic’s and Larry’s end, allowing Danny the Street to teleport somewhere else and continue living a happy existence, though Jane being rendered catatonic means that the Doom Patrol’s present issues aren’t quite over yet, and Mr. Nobody will still have to wait for now. Regardless, I imagine that this sets up a hell of a trip into Jane’s psyche, and I really can’t wait to see what ludicrous horrors the team finds in there!
- Fun, memorable trip to Danny Street
- Larry facing more of his uncomfortable past
- Karen's humourous, but sinister romance obsession
- The Bureau of Normalcy are disappointingly under-developed
- Cliff being sidelined for most of the episode