Episode 4 of Doom Patrol Season 2,”Sex Patrol,” is finally here, and it’s party time for Danny! Check out our review and reflection on the episode.
Previously on Doom Patrol
Doom Patrol Season 2 Episodes 1, 2, and 3
S2E4 Review (Spoiler-Free)
Danny the Street, who is now a brick, is now a broken brick. What will the Patrol do to help them be whole again? Well, the Doom Manor gets a welcome visit from the colorful cast of characters that used to live on Danny the Street, called the Dannyzens. The mission: throw a massive party to resuscitate Danny the Brick. Dorothy Spinner (Abigail Shapiro) is tired of being treated as a child and wants to play with the grownups. While festivities commence, Rita Farr (April Bowlby) is still having trouble controlling her powers so she seeks help from Flex Mentallo (Devan Chandler Long) to help unleash her full potential, in an interesting way with some wild results.
Will the Danny party help make Danny whole again?
Is Dorothy ready to “grow up”?
Just how does Rita’s help from Flex turn out?
All these and more answered!
Doom Patrol continues to showcase one of the best ensemble casts on TV right now. Everyone consistently delivers solid performances and makes every scene compelling and entertaining to watch.
Abigail Shapiro is solidifying her place as the star of the season, shining with her acting ability and range. In this episode, she is given the opportunity to sing, and we get to see more of her theatrical and musical talent. Whether she is surrounded by a crowd of people or isolated alone in her bedroom, Shapiro is an absolute treat to watch.
Due to the return of the Dannyzens, we get to enjoy the return of Devan Chandler Long as Flex Mentallo and Alan Mingo Jr. as Maura Lee Karupt. Long is the focus of the B plot, along with April Bowlby, and the two play off each other so well: Bowlby taking charge and Mentallo, innocent and sincere, doing his best. Mingo Jr. puts in another inspiring performance, with a rallying heartfelt speech to kick off the episode and providing his usual guidance throughout. So happy we get another episode to enjoy the Dannyzens again
As always, Diane Guerrero keeps putting in the work when it comes to Jane and her multiple personalities. Watching the show, it could seem easy for viewers to take for granted how much skill it takes for Guerrero to nail down the different personalities with such seamless transitions. She probably shows the most acting range on a consistent basis and is required to shift gears the most. Major props to her.
Finally, I want to shout out Brendan Fraser and Riley Shanahan for this episode. As I’ve said many times, this show has revived Brendan Fraser, and Shanahan helps round out the character of Cliff Steele. In this episode, their combined efforts are so much fun to watch. We get to deal with the aftermath of his trip to Florida while watching Cliff cut loose. So much fun.
This episode is bonkers. Aside from some well-placed flashbacks, the episode plays out in Doom Manor, which provides an comfortable, insulated feeling for Danny’s (and everyone else’s) growth. The different rooms of the Manor give us different atmospheres and tones that work for what the scene is driving towards.
The main area for the party is fun, lively, and all-encompassing. This keeps in spirit of what Danny represents, which is inclusion and loving oneself. While the energy is high and positivity is all around to celebrate Danny, we’re taken to other parts of the manor, as the Doom Patrol members don’t always seem to fit on the dance floor. Other moments for character growth, especially Rita, take place in rooms away from the party. Rita brings Flex into her bedroom, and that’s where the exploration into her mental block occurs. This is a recurring theme to the episode, in order for the Doom Patrol characters to be truly vulnerable, they have to leave the party and isolate. It’s a stark comparison to the Dannyzens and Dorothy, really adding weight to those moments.
The story then doubles down. Man, I can’t go into detail without spoiling the third act of the episode. I will just say again, it is insane. This is another example about how this show can give you emotional highs and lows, which are accompanied by insane moments, where you find yourself saying what the fuck is going on. Of course, it’s amazing. Eric Dietel and Tanya Steele really do a fantastic job finding that classic Doom Patrol balance. I can confidently say that this writer’s room is one of the most talented collection of artists working now in TV.
One thing I really want to bring to attention is the power of this show’s writing, which shines the most in Danny themselves. Usually, bringing characters to life on screen is a partnership of excellent writing executed by excellent acting. When it comes to Danny, whether street or brick, the writers of Doom Patrol do a phenomenal job of presenting a strong, unique voice. This was true in Season 1 and continues to be true in this episode. Writing Danny’s dialogue prompts the right tone and expression, and it really needs to praised.
Love, love, love, love, love, love, love. Is that a solid enough takeway? Seriously though, this show continues to produce quality. Where episodes 1, 2, and 3 played like a movie, episode 4 stands out and can be recorded in the books as another iconic Doom Patrol episode. It also gives us another heartwarming piece of positivity and love, which we all desperately need in times like these.
Episode 4, “Sex Patrol,” cannot be placed into one box, one category, or one genre. A celebration of Danny and what they represent, “Sex Patrol” accomplishes a lot and balances a lot of emotions. There are times when we’re having fun, partying, indulging in all the love of others and ourselves, and then there are times when we’re taking a deep look at ourselves, trying to understand what is driving us or stopping us from moving forward.
The celebration of Danny, the party meant to bring them back to life, acts as a positive, supportive environment. This is, initially, meant for Danny themselves, but it really benefits Dorothy the most. The episode opens up to a flashback of Dorothy’s time, living on Danny. She is sharing a pleasant moment with her father, one of the precious times they have together when he comes to visit. Eventually, like always, he has to leave. This devastates her because Dorothy is all alone. Not only does she live on Danny, but she lives in the underground of Danny. While the other Dannyzens are enjoying life and partying, Dorothy is alone in her quarters, hidden from the world. She isn’t allowed to socialize with the Dannyzens or anyone, which Niles confirms over and over again is for her benefit, but, in being the overprotective parent, he is making Dorothy a prisoner. Even Danny realizes this and calls out Niles for his lack of involvement.
Dorothy, having lived on Danny for nearly a century, has a close connection to Danny. In fact, her song at the party and love for Danny (also her guilt for breaking the brick) is actually one of the driving factors that leads to restoring Danny’s heart and pushing the party in the right direction. As the Danny revival party goes into the night, Niles tells Dorothy she has to go to sleep because it’s her bedtime. Dorothy complies, at first, but, at the behest of one of her imaginary friends, Candlemaker, she goes down to enjoy the party. Sure, there are things she probably shouldn’t be seeing, but she is able to confront her situation. She is always been obedient to her father, but now she is challenging his opinions and judgment. In taking these necessary steps, Dorothy is challenging her experience and perspective. This push to leave her comfort zone (listening to her father) is an essential step to her growth and becoming the adult she needs to be eventually be.
This growth, of course, comes with heartache and pain. Growing isn’t always an easy and fun process. In a heart-wrenching moment, she asks Danny if they were a friends to her or just a prison for her to stay in. Danny answers the best way they possibly can “Oh Dorothy, I wish I could say I was only your friend.”
(In my best Cliff voice) Chief, you fucking bastard.
This really highlights what I believe is the theme of the episode: losing your childhood innocence to move forward. The positive loss of this childlike innocence is realizing that you need to progress and continue. Growth cannot be achieved by being stagnant. Dorothy can’t grow, sleeping in her room or stuck on Danny; she had to go back into the party and make the mistakes or the discoveries herself. Sure, what she finds out destroys her, but she would be stuck if she didn’t find out the truth, which is the second time she’s had to discover it on her own this season. We see this also represented in her imaginary friends. Herschel the spider is one of the friends that wants to protect her as if she is a vulnerable child, to keep her happy and guarded. Candlemaker refers to him and other friends as her child friends, kid friends. Candlemaker, the most sinister and evil one, is her “adult” friend, and he is the one that pushes Dorothy to go to the party. This season, Candlemaker has told her terrible things about what’s going on, forcing her to have to confront uncomfortable truths.
We see this loss of innocence throughout the episode. The B plot involving Rita touches upon it. With the help of Flex, Rita wants to achieve orgasm because, to her, it’s the only time she’s felt like she had a clear mind. Because Flex is able to clear his mind and use his mystery muscle powers, Rita wants the same thing to better control her powers. As she is able to live in her climax, she comes across a mental block. It’s revealed that, when she was younger, she was up for a movie role that she was excited to get. Rita’s mom told her the role was hers and that the producer was coming over tonight. Rita wants to put a performance to secure the job, but Rita’s mom tells her that she has other talents and not to worry. She’s told to go to bed, just like Dorothy, and, just like Dorothy, a young Rita sneaks down to see what happens. What young Rita finds is her mother having sex with the producer, bring the revelation that her fame started with a sexual favor. Young Rita is in tears, as her mom makes eye contact while riding this producer on their living room couch. In that moment, Rita lost her innocence, and now she has to lose it again in order to move forward in her life.
The loss that Larry and Cliff experience is an innocence that doesn’t come from their childhood, but their actual children. Larry’s son, Gary, has died, and Larry is not able to reconcile the fact that he was a terrible parent and didn’t care about his family. Cliff is devastated that his attempt to reconnect with his daughter failed immensely. Their perspective of how they were in their past lives, that they were better before Chief interfered, is tainted by their failures. Cliff, having visited his daughter, now doesn’t know what to do with himself. Jane was a kind of surrogate daughter for him, but she is on her own path. He doesn’t know how to struggle with this loss of not being able to connect with his daughter and opens up to the Niles about it, with barely any cursing too. He admits that he can’t get out of his own head. The Chief, as a kind of peace offering of sorts, gives him the robotic version of ecstasy. Cliff is flying, enjoying the distraction. Putting aside his anger towards Niles will be his only chance at getting better. Larry doesn’t have this benefit of a still living child or drugs. Larry doesn’t have the benefit of getting out of his own head, even when he tries to enjoy the Danny party. He has to live with the fact that he wasn’t there for his family, and he can never make it up to Gary. The end of the episode leaves us with the feeling that he may have to sacrifice staying in the Doom Manor, which has been his place of comfort, to move pass this.
Finally, the last bit of loss of innocence is the strangest and most upfront: the Sexmen fighting the Sex Demon and Sex Ghosts. Dude, what a fucking ride. The last time I remember being so joyfully baffled while watching this show was the episode from Season 1 with the man-eating butts. The Sexman were hysterical: a weird hybrid of the X-Men and Ghostbusters. Responding to an extremely high level of sexual energy (Rita’s self-discovery orgasm caught the attention of a terrible Sex Demon), the Sexmen say that they have to keep the situation in check or it could be life-threatening. If the Sex Demon has too much sex(ual energy), it will give birth to a baby. If this baby cries, it will erase every single child from existence. The overexposure to sex will essentially kill the innocence of the world, which is a look at how the aspects of adulthood comes from losing blissful ignorance and destroying the confronts of a child. In this situation, it would destroy the whole world, but, for a lot of the characters, losing their own innocence has destroy their worlds as they know it. This threat to all children causes Jane to focus on task at hand, as she and the other personalities don’t want Kay to be erased. This gives us a scene where Jane literally takes the Sex Demon’s baby and shoves it right back up the Sex Demon. What the hell is this show? (I love it). Because of all this, Jane is able to re-secure her place as the primary.
Doom Patrol is a show of depth, exploration, and all the weird parts in between. Catch next week’s episode, and the whole series thus far, on HBO Max and DC Universe.