After last week's shocking cliffhanger -- which saw Mr. Nobody head back in time to implant the concept of (probably) destroying the Doom Patrol in Crazy Jane's head -- we're back at Doom Manor in the the latest episode of DC Universe's Doom Patrol, "Doom Patrol Patrol"...
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!
We find Rita still mourning the untimely death of Eliot in "Paw Patrol" -- and awaiting his potential rebirth. As usual when a Patrol member is feeling low, it's flashback time. This time, we're back in the Golden Age of Hollywood, where Rita is put in a compromising position by an abusive studio boss, whom she promptly drains of life after he tries to coerce her into sex. (You go, girl!) Luckily, his reputation has preceded him and his receptionist helps Rita cover it up.
Back in the present, Cliff is looking up his estranged daughter; but the internet is confounding him, and his attempts to get Jane to help don't go very well. The troubled young woman is locked in the Chief's chambers watching videos of their sessions together in the hopes of finding the original Doom Patrol -- and, lo and behold, it looks like she just might have found them. Fortunately for Cliff, his robot buddy Cyborg is a bit more accommodating, even though Cliff's choice to put Vic into safety mode means the young hero is essentially locked out of his own body.
Before they can solve the mystery of Cliff's daughter and her private "Face Hole" account, Jane appears, revealing the quest Mr. Nobody set her on. Vic, Cliff, and Jane do some research and uncover an old group of superheroes. It turns out Niles had introduced Rita to the team in the '50s, so she knows a little bit about them. Though Larry is incredibly unhappy about Jane following Mr. Nobody's plan, they teleport through time with Rita in search of the team. Where they end up, there's a new group of metahumans being trained by a team of superpowered heroes who know Niles.
Back at Doom Manor, Vic has been visited by his sinister father Silas, who is overly joyous about the young man's recent misfortune, as it's giving him the chance to learn more about his robotic enhancements. During this exchange, Vic tries to warn his dad about Mr. Nobody but Silas brushes him off. In an incredibly creepy move, Silas attempts to reboot Vic in sleep mode and so Vic enlists Cliff to keep an eye on him.
It turns out the school that Jane, Larry, and Rita found was established by Niles after the dissolution of the original Doom Patrol, and the headteacher is a man named Josh Clay, whom comic book fans may know as Tempest. We're also introduced to two other key players from the Doom Patrol comics: Arani Desaid (a.k.a. Celsius) -- Niles' wife, who took over as head of the Doom Patrol during writer Paul Kupperberg's run on the book -- and Rhea Jones, a.k.a. Lodestone, another character introduced during Kupperberg's run.
Rita is living the flashback life as we join her and the Chief in 1958, where he's trying to help her harness her powers whilst she dreams of joining her peers back in Hollywood. It's the first time we've really gotten a good look at Rita's early days with the Chief, and we also get a look at her one-time beau Steve Dayton, who goes by the name of Mento. Utilizing his psychic abilities, Steve attempts to help Rita gain control of the powers she picked up in the Congo. Back in the present, the pair are reunited on the grounds of the school whilst Josh tries to convince Jane she and her colleagues need to leave. Jane is having none of it though, and she does a pretty good job at trying to get info about Mr. Nobody out of the jaded ex-hero.
Larry and Arani are taking a tour of the school when she reveals her marital status to a very surprised Negative Man, who never knew Niles had a wife. As Rita and Steve reconnect in the future, we get a glimpse at their past as the handsome young man tries to help her gain a sense of herself in the basement of Doom Manor. Mento fans will get a big kick out of Steve's helmet, which he uses to put Rita inside of her own mind. It's an interesting insight into Rita's coping mechanisms, which we've seen her use throughout the series, and a look at her romantic entanglement with the man who, in the comics, would become her husband.
While all of this is going on, Cliff oversees Silas rebooting Vic, which leaves the big Robot feeling a certain level of empathy for Cyborg; especially after Silas reveals he almost had a hand in creating Cliff's new body. The pair get into an argument as Cliff defends his young friend and sticks up for his actions. The fight leaves Vic in a vulnerable situation, but might give Silas the wake-up call he needs.
By this episode, we're starting to truly see a form when it comes to Niles Caulder and his abundance of secrets, as again it's revealed Niles has kept something from his family. It turns out he actually fought Mr. Nobody before, along with the original Doom Patrol, and the scene the old members describe is a horrific one, as a massive buttock-shaped balloon played music that drove an entire field of families mad, leading them to eat a bunch of cops who got turned into pinatas by the villain. At first, the story seems like the strangest part of the episode, but things soon get even weirder.
In a dark twist, it's made clear that there was never a school. The entire experience having been projected into the team's minds by a broken Mento, who's been creating an illusion to trick them into thinking all is well. The reality is that the building is a rotting mess, in which the former team is imprisoned. The world has become a nightmare, in which Mento orchestrates the team's fears in order to control them. After Rita and the Negative Spirit manage to disarm Mento, Josh explains the team did fight Mr. Nobody, but that they lost their minds. So Niles set up the home as a place where they could safely retire so as not to harm themselves and others.
It's a bleak reminder to the Patrol that Niles has used, abused, and abandoned people. While Vic and Silas share a seemingly profound moment, with the latter giving him freedom and the former struggling to trust him, Rita tries to rectify the damage done to her former lover and his teammates. She entrusts Steve with the helmet and forgives him for his misdeeds, leaving the home in the idyllic state in which they found it. As the team leaves, Josh encourages Jane to continue trying to find the Chief, as it Mr. Nobody appears only sent her there to make her doubt Niles' intentions.
This episode shows a huge emotional and mental toll on our heroes. As we leave them, they're trying to work out where they stand. Rita seems to be in a place of self-acceptance for the first time since we've met her, and Larry and the Negative Spirit appear to be working in sync (though they also might be hiding a secret from the past). Cliff can't believe his luck when Vic creates a Facehole profile for him so he can check on his daughter, but he's dismayed to find out the man who was having an affair with his wife apparently adopted his little girl. Meanwhile, Vic finds proof his father wasn't so trustworthy after all.
There's plenty of introspection taking place at Doom Manor, but what will happen when Mr. Nobody rears his ugly head again? We'll have to wait until next week to find out.