This week’s episode of Doom Patrol slows things down a bit and gives us some one on one time with each member of the team. Most of the episode takes place in one location, Doom Manor, with the exception of some flashbacks (I’ll get into those momentarily) and one excursion by a member of the team. At the start of the episode, we know that Cliff has had a violent outburst though we aren’t sure why yet. The episode then plays with the narrative structure and pacing of the episode in an intriguing way, which helps distract (in a good way) from the fact that we aren’t making any moves forward to find Niles.
The episode is structured in different parts. We see each member go through there morning, starting with Cyborg knocking on their door to alert them of the impending team meeting, up until Cliff’s violent outburst where we then we cut to see the next member’s door being knocked on by Cyborg. Not only do we see each of their mornings, accompanying them are flashbacks to each of their childhoods. This episode is all about exploring each characters traumas and this insight into the upbringings of everyone helps strengthen their character and the emotion we feel for them.
Each flashback gives way to a particular member struggling with their everyday anxieties and obstacles. This episode excellently puts a spotlight on how hard it is for the entire team to just live from day to day. Larry is in a state of perpetual self-loathing, Cliff can’t feel anything, Rita doesn’t know who or what she is, Jane is at constantly at war with herself, and Vic struggles with how much of himself he truly is. Every one of them is so different from each other, but they share the common trait of being severely messed up in one way or another. This similarity leads Cliff to demand the team go through some group therapy.
I won’t get into detail but the group therapy scene is one of the best scenes of the series. I have said it in every one of my reviews, but the team chemistry is off the charts and everyone brings their A game for the emotional delivery, and their timing for the comedic relief. Miraculously this show is still laugh-out-loud funny while dealing with incredibly mature and traumatic themes. It strikes a perfect dramatic/comedic balance and never slows down. There’s also something near the end of this episode that broke my heart more than anything I’ve seen in the series so far. I won’t spoil it, but I promise you’ll know.
There’s a slight bit of headway made in the search for Niles and there is a pretty huge revelation for the team near the end. This combined with the team finally admitting that they need to open up more make this episode feel like a narrative turning point for the season. And in case you happen to be wondering, every technical aspect of the show remains top notch. Fantastic cinematography, practical and special effects, music, set design, etc.
Overall “Therapy Patrol” offers an even more in-depth look at each member of the team while building up their cohesion with one another. The conflict is shifted almost completely internally with this episode and it works wonders. The team has always been the highlight of the series, and so an episode highlighting each member of the team was bound to be a hit. It’s truly impressive that this series keeps delivery hit after hit with each episode.