blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Doom Patrol (2019) s03e06 – 1917 Patrol

The A-plot this episode is April Bowlby in the past. We get to see her trip in the time machine, which explains how time travelers lose their memories—it’s an intense, affecting sequence with narration from Matt Bomer (I think). Or maybe guest star Micah Joe Parker. Or neither of them. Either would also make sense.

But she gets to the past and pretty quickly finds herself in the custody of the Bureau of Normalcy, where she finds some answers to the questions Michelle Gomez is asking in the future. Only Bowlby can’t remember she knows Gomez in the future and isn’t trying to get back to the future, not when she finds good friends in everyone in the past and a love interest in Parker. Of course, Bowlby and her friends are meta-humans being exploited by the bigoted Bureau (not to mention held captive), but it could be a lot worse. Especially since her friends all have good escapism powers.

It seems like the show will eventually do an intricate time travel loop with the past informing the future informing the past. Wait, it already does. Add another couple of loops. The show’s having a good time with it, but also getting in some excellent character development. And it’s nice the guest star “villains” last episode, the Sisterhood of Dada (who Bowlby finds in the past), have a thoughtful backstory.

Meanwhile, in the present, Gomez is still trying to figure out what the Sisterhood wants with her, not to mention being pissed Bowlby stole her time machine. She can’t get any help from Robotman (Brendan Fraser and Riley Shanahan) because he’s busy being addicted to online pay-to-play gaming and cam girls as a way of avoiding problems. The episode places a hold on Fraser and Gomez this episode—Shanahan gets more than Fraser to do in the part this episode, which doesn’t often happen–while keeping the other team members’ arcs going.

So Diane Guerrero gets the B-plot. Little kid version Skye Roberts wants to drive the body and see the world for the first time in seventy years. Guerrero encourages her, the other personalities do not. It ends up being Guerrero doing a Roberts impression, and it works well enough. If only Guerrero were as compelling playing “herself” as when she’s playing other people controlling her body. The subplot is simultaneously rushed and truncated, but it keeps the arc going.

Similarly, Matt Bomer and Joivan Wade make some progress. Bomer with his estranged, old man son John Getz (who’s absolutely fantastic), Wade as he tries to work out his whole existence. On the sliding scale of episode investment, Wade comes in just above Fraser, but it’s really good stuff. “Doom Patrol”’s doing a great job making its characters the most compelling aspect.

Particularly great acting from Bowlby, Gomez, and Bomer.

Also, Omar Madha’s direction is excellent. It’s actually an uneven episode, but the peaks are so sky-high they easily compensate.

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