NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Doom Patrol” are present in this review
There’s clearly a very important link to the past brewing between the Doom Patrol and the Sisterhood of Dada, and Rita is determined to sniff it out!… Or, she was anyway. “1917 Patrol” adds a big bit of unfortunate context to Laura de Mille’s time traveling after Rita steals her time machine, namely that the time machine causes amnesia in pretty much anyone that uses it, thus leaving Rita unable to remember who she is or where she came from. Traveling back to 1917 creates another complication for Rita as well, after she’s quickly captured by the then-active Bureau of Normalcy, leading to Rita being forcibly confined alongside some surprising new friends.
New antagonists, the Sisterhood of Dada made an excellent first impression during the previous episode of Doom Patrol, and they once again take center stage throughout much of, “1917 Patrol.” Now that Rita has lost her memory however, she doesn’t recognize the quarries that her present-day team needs to be on the lookout for, instead leading to Rita discovering that the currently peaceful Sisterhood of Dada are simply the weird kids that can’t eat with the other employees at the Bureau of Normalcy. This has a twisted adult high school-esque feel that further develops and deepens the complexities behind the Sisterhood of Dada, as they’re shown to be just the latest known victims of the Bureau of Normalcy, at least in 1917.
This core storyline with Rita and the Sisterhood of Dada is so appealing in fact that I wish this episode had just entirely focused on it, and not interrupted the narrative by checking back in with the present-day Doom Patrol every so often. The tiny subplots that unfold with the rest of the team are meant to continue illustrating the theme of finding meaning in a world that’s determined to reject you, and how the Sisterhood of Dada eventually rejects meaning in general, but all told, the rest of the Doom Patrol mostly serve as either comic relief or further dramatic tension in this case, and not much else.
Granted, it is pretty funny to see Cliff’s increasingly desperate desire to distract himself from his tremors, which eventually includes a cam girl, a pop-up squirrel game, and online poker, after Cliff ignores Vic’s warning to not click internet ads. Likewise, seeing Kay take her first steps back into the real world by learning to ride a bike around town, and finding that the citizens are surprisingly nice to her, is legitimately heartwarming. It’s just too bad that so much of this material doesn’t connect very smoothly to the Rita plot in the past. Larry and Vic are particularly underserved here as well, with Vic notably spending this entire episode wandering aimlessly, eventually ending up in a synthetic skin clinic that obviously won’t mark meaningful change for his character. Larry, meanwhile, has another fight with his ailed son, and eventually kicks his son out of Doom Manor, leaving the Trainor family drama once again frustratingly spinning its wheels.
Still, the core narrative surrounding the Sisterhood of Dada nonetheless occupies most of the storytelling here, as it should. We even meet a formerly unknown member of the Sisterhood in this episode, Malcolm, based on DC Comics’ Brotherhood of Dada character, Agent !. Malcolm turns invisible whenever anyone engages in conversation around him, though he does eventually strike up a friendship with Rita, which eventually blossoms into a romance. This is nicely bittersweet, because, for the first time, Rita has found a place to belong, and a place to be truly happy and live out her own bliss. This builds well off of the start of this episode too, where Rita’s time travel sees her confronting just how little she’s lived for herself throughout her life, before she’s eventually blessed with the chance to become a blank slate and reinvent herself.
Of course, on the other side of this issue, Rita’s intervention in the past could inadvertently contribute to the menace behind the Sisterhood of Dada in the present. This begins to become apparent after Rita emboldens the Sisterhood members to defiantly sit with the Bureau of Normalcy agents in the mess hall, before Sachiko turns them into clowns, forcing a disguised Laura to bail everyone out. It would be tragically ironic if the Sisterhood’s first true taste of corrupt agency came from Rita’s own quest to define her worth and take charge of her existence in the past, something that would probably leave Rita once again struggling with her own sense of personal values, and whether her desire to step up and be a hero truly is the best thing for the people around her.
For now however, Rita opts to stay in the past with Malcolm and the Sisterhood of Dada, happily forgetting about whatever life she formerly led in 2021. Obviously, that won’t stick forever, but the latest complex threat to the Doom Patrol finding new ways to expand without their direct knowledge remains engaging and thought-provoking. “1917 Patrol” may underserve its litany of subplots, but this season still remains a particularly strong offering for Rita, even as she’s cut off from the rest of her friends for the immediate future. It’s already apparent that Rita’s meddling in the past is further strengthening the threat behind the Sisterhood of Dada as well, particularly when this episode ends with Laura seemingly being called back to her former allies via Doom Manor’s fireplace. As usual, the dysfunctional superheroes that are meant to keep a lid on threats like the Sisterhood of Dada are snoozing on the job, and the fact that this is a consequence of their own pursuit of happiness continues to feed Doom Patrol’s compelling tragic irony.
- Rita's interesting capture by the Bureau of Normalcy
- The peeks at a more benign Sisterhood of Dada
- Rita opting to stay in the past, at least for now
- Larry and Vic subplots in particular are underserved