NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Doom Patrol” are present in this review

 

 

Doom Patrol finally introduces us to the major antagonists of its current season in, “Dada Patrol”, that being the Sisterhood of Dada. Unsurprisingly, this episode marks another emotional gauntlet for the ever-troubled Doom Patrol members as well, with Rita being the one to stay behind this time, tasked with supervising Laura while the rest of her teammates go to look into the Sisterhood. Even with most of the Doom Patrol intact to face their first battle against the Sisterhood however, the team quickly find themselves in over their heads, facing opponents that deal in the abstract and the unintelligible.

The bizarre creativity behind the Sisterhood of Dada allows Doom Patrol to start flexing its cinematography and production values again, more so than the season’s previous trip to the underworld did. This is also paired with some especially sharp, emotionally charged writing that spans the entire cast, in turn leading to, “Dada Patrol” standing as easily the best episode of Doom Patrol’s third season so far! It’s also the weirdest episode so far this season, but that tends to go hand-in-hand with Doom Patrol’s all-time best episodes.

Even Vic manages to get a pretty good storyline here, once Laura properly sends the team after the originators of a series of symbols that have popped up around the world, foretelling of something called, “The Great Flagellation.” Vic has even been reactivated by his father, who was recently fired from S.T.A.R. Labs due to Vic’s interference with Roni, though Vic having the combat advantage is the only edge the team gets on their latest mission. Cliff incapacitates himself into a dopamine-loaded mess after overdosing on some sketchy internet pills, Larry quickly becomes distracted by a strange tumour-like mass that’s moving around his body, and Jane has found herself at odds with the many personalities of the Underground, after she advocates for Kay’s growing interest in re-assuming control of her body.

It’s surprising to see this great tragicomic flavour also lend itself so effectively to Rita’s and Laura’s subplot, which takes off after the team leaves, and Laura points out Rita’s strange presence on the Sisterhood of Dada film from 1917. This leads to Rita gleefully declaring herself a time traveler, while Laura sinks into a pit of despair, eventually leading the two women to drink to their polarized emotions. The two have a very rich heart-to-heart in the process, one that’s very effectively balanced out by Rita having to be the voice of encouragement, despite relating her own struggles with impotence and futility over her long life. Despite this positive vibe however, Laura eventually insults Rita’s uselessness, and subsequently goads Rita into stealing her time machine, before Rita goes back to 1917 in order to prove herself, something that serves as a superb cliffhanger for the end of this episode.

What’s less surprising is just how greatly the Sisterhood of Dada steal this episode, immediately finding awesome new ways to test the Doom Patrol by poking at their increasingly damaged psychologies. This also doubles as an efficient way to introduce the Sisterhood’s various members, as each is paired with one of the separated Doom Patrol members, following their bus getting lost in a thick fog. Larry is the one team member that isn’t paired with a Sisterhood challenger here, instead being tasked by Jane to guard the bus, though he does find his own intriguing stake in the current mission, after Larry’s son, Paul is found wandering aimlessly through the fog, babbling nonsense.

The Paul twist is just one of many inspired turns within the Sisterhood’s territory, as Vic and Jane in particular find themselves facing unique introspective challenges. Cliff, by contrast, serves as comic relief to some degree, after he encounters Sisterhood member, Sachiko/The Quiz, a Japanese woman that possesses any metahuman ability that no one has thought of yet, a very quirky and interesting series of superpowers. This unique metahuman state makes Sachiko appear very fearful of Cliff, even as she reflects Cliff’s own growing fear of death, since Cliff is still refusing to get his hand tremor examined. Cliff’s weird mental journey with Sachiko is eventually interrupted after the Sisterhood learns that Laura sent the team after them though, eventually resulting in another Sisterhood member, Holly/Sleepwalk, knocking Cliff out, and leaving him to wake up on the bus with his confused teammates.

Jane meanwhile meets the actual mastermind behind the mysterious fog, Shelley Byron, a.k.a. The Fog, the mystery woman on the 1917 video with Laura and Rita. Shelley also happens to have Kay in the custody of her safe zone, which takes the form of a candy shop, at which point Shelley asks Jane if she truly has Kay’s best interests at heart. This serves as a complement and opposite to Vic’s conflict, with Vic meeting Lloyd/Frenzy, a mysterious artist that challenges Vic to identify ‘why’ he is. Both Jane and Vic are eventually angered and exasperated by these personal and philosophical challenges, learning very little of the ‘Eternal Flagellation’ in the process, and ultimately blabbing about Laura, which, as I mentioned, is what leads the Doom Patrol to be booted from Shelley’s mental world.

While the team basically got nowhere in their first battle against the Sisterhood of Dada, the existential questions posed by the Sisterhood’s members, alongside Larry unexpectedly reuniting with his estranged son, nonetheless made for a brilliantly memorable first encounter with Doom Patrol’s latest antagonists. “Dada Patrol” continues to have the team grappling with their existential dread in the wake of Chief’s death, and true to form, their latest stint of denial has only made their problems worse. For viewers however, Doom Patrol hits a comedic, artistic and emotional high note here, right at the halfway point of its third season. This episode immediately cements the Sisterhood of Dada as compelling, unpredictable villains, turning the overwhelming and the inexplicable itself against the Doom Patrol, and in the process promising a back half to Season 3 that’s only going to get weirder and more wonderful.

Doom Patrol 3.5: "Dada Patrol" Review
Doom Patrol's third season soars to a high note in, "Dada Patrol", introducing the eponymous antagonists with an emotional and eccentric bang.
THE GOOD STUFF
  • Excellent introduction to the Sisterhood of Dada
  • The various Doom Patrol members being defeated by their own existential dread
  • Larry's unexpected reunion with Paul
95%Overall Score
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