Doom Patrol: S01.E11. “Frances Patrol” Review

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Screen Capture: Brendan Fraser as Cliff Steele / Robotman in the Wayne Yip-directed Doom Patrol episode “Frances Patrol.”



The Wayne Yip-directed “Frances Patrol,” the 11 episode in Doom Patrol’s first season, dropped Friday, 26 April 2019.

promotional poster
“Doom Patrol” promotional poster. Image Credit: IMDb

SPOILER WARNING

If you have yet to watch this episode of Doon Patrol, you might not want to continue reading past this point.

Brief Episode Synopsis

With a teleplay written by the series developer Jeremy Carver, this episode sees Larry Trainor / Negative Man (Matt Bomer) paying a visit to his long-lost love. Meanwhile, Rita Farr / Elasti-Girl (April Bowlby) assists Cliff Steele / Robotman (Brendan Fraser) reconnect with his daughter. Then there is Victor Stone / Cyborg (Joivan Wade). Victor has serious concerns about his operating system.

Larry Trainor’s Dreamscape Lover

Screen Capture
Screen Capture: Wayne Yip-directed “Frances Patrol.”

What did you make of Larry’s dream sequences? Did they add anything of substance to the episode or detract from it? The episode opens with an exterior shot of a motel. In one of the motel rooms is Larry. He initially seems startled. This is possibly one of his memories.

Screen Capture: Matt Bomer as Larry Trainor / Negative Man in the Wayne Yip-directed Doom Patrol episode “Frances Patrol.”
Screen Capture: Matt Bomer as Larry Trainor / Negative Man in the Wayne Yip-directed Doom Patrol episode “Frances Patrol.”

There is a knock on the door. A man shouts “Open up. Captain Trainor. Are you in there?” It’s apparently the military police. When the door opens, it’s John, Larry’s lover. Negative Energy was outside of Larry during these sequences. It therefore affords Larry the opportunity to explore different aspects of his memories.

This is what was occurring with Larry when Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero) and Cliff were in the underground. Giving us a glimpse of what Larry was up to while Jane and Cliff were busy elsewhere is interesting, I thought. Because we got to see what Rita and Vic were doing, it was only a matter of time until we got around to the former test pilot.

When Jane and Cliff return from the underground, Negative Energy re-enters Larry. As a result, Larry is abruptly awoken from the dreamscape. Naturally, he wants to go back in. Larry begs Negative Energy to take him back to the dreamscape because he longs for John’s companionship. Larry is finally making a little headway with Negative Energy. The former test pilot is coming to terms with its presence.

Negative Energy does return Larry to the dreamscape, but it is not to the motel Larry is taken. It is to a gay bar. This is a dream gay bar John is at with several friends. John appears happy Larry has shown up at the bar. Despite John feeling comfortable with his surroundings, Larry still has a problem with being in such a public place. Because Larry continues to worry about what other people think of him, being in a gay bar is problematic for him. If these dream sequences were set in present day, Larry might have less of a problem.

When John says, “I’m not going to spend my last days doing this with you,” Larry realises what he thought were dreams might not be dreams after all. When Larry exits the dreamscape, he finds Negative Energy has left for him a message written on a post-it. The note simply reads “Erie.” Larry journeys to Erie and finds elderly John. Consequently, confirmation of my suspicions is attained. Negative Energy had somehow created a subconscious link between Larry and John.

The two men spend some time talking about what happened after Larry’s accident. John explains that he moved on with his life. He found other loves. Unlike John, Larry really has not been able to move on from his one true love. Larry has not been able to establish any form of intimate relationship since John. This is a touching moment. It touches upon Larry’s story on several levels. Larry has made piece with himself and his past.

This is a good episode for Larry. Character development is such a hugely important aspect of a show. It consequently ensures the shows longevity because people have a deeper connection with the characters. With how Negative Energy manages to connect the two former lovers via their subconscious minds, we are learning exactly how powerful this entity is. While Negative Energy is powerful, we might come to find Larry is more than just a vessel for a powerful being.

Cliff and Rita Attend Bump Weathers’ Funeral

Screen Capture: Brendan Fraser and April Bowlby and Diane Guerrero as Cliff Steele / Robotman and Rita Farr / Elasti-Girl, respectively, in the Wayne Yip-directed Doom Patrol episode “Frances Patrol.”
Screen Capture: Brendan Fraser and April Bowlby and Diane Guerrero as Cliff Steele / Robotman and Rita Farr / Elasti-Girl, respectively, in the Wayne Yip-directed Doom Patrol episode “Frances Patrol.”

Cliff discovers Bump Weathers (Alan Heckner) has died. He was seemingly eaten by a gator. The title of this episode “Frances Patrol,” is a reference to the name of the gator.

Screen Capture: Brendan Fraser and Bethany Anne Lind as Cliff Steele / Robotman and Crazy Jane, respectively, in the Wayne Yip-directed Doom Patrol episode “Frances Patrol.”
Screen Capture: Brendan Fraser and Bethany Anne Lind as Cliff Steele / Robotman and Crazy Jane, respectively, in the Wayne Yip-directed Doom Patrol episode “Frances Patrol.”

Weathers worked with Cliff when he was a race car driver. If you recall the series premiere, Bump was the guy Cliff’s wife, Kate (Katie Gunderson), had an affair with. After everyone assumed Cliff was dead, Bump raised Clara (Sydney Kowalske and Bethany Anne Lind) as his own daughter.

Cliff and Rita end up at Bump’s memorial. It’s at a bar which Clara also works at. While Rita is relaxed enough to reveal her real name to the locals, Cliff is tense. He is having difficulty revealing his identity to Clara. She has probably come to terms with her father’s ‘apparent’ death. It has been more than a decade since the accident.

Screen Capture: Cliff's watch in the Wayne Yip-directed Doom Patrol episode “Frances Patrol.”
Screen Capture: Cliff’s watch in the Wayne Yip-directed Doom Patrol episode “Frances Patrol.”

The watch Clara had had engraved for Bump originally belonged to Cliff. When Frances consumed Bump, it is believed the gator also ingested the watch. To prove himself, Cliff promises Clara he will retrieve it. Even though Rita thinks this is one of the stupidest things she has ever heard, she accompanies Cliff into the swamp.

Cliff has a breakdown and almost goes back to the bar empty handed. When Frances jumps out of the water, Cliff seizes his opportunity to get the watch back. Not surprisingly, Cliff is not able to give the watch back to Clara, face-to-face. He places it on a table at the bar so that she will find it. Cliff did not get to have the reunion with his daughter viewers, inclusive of myself, were looking for in this episode.

Rita got more out of this trip than Cliff. The thing we are seeing with Rita, through the plotlines for the other principle characters, we are seeing her growth and character development. Regardless of this, it would be nice to see more of Rita’s story from her perspective rather than the other characters. We need a plotline where Rita is central to the narrative.

Crazy Jane and Victor go looking for the Hero on the Beach

Screen Capture: Brendan Fraser, April Bowlby and Diane Guerrero as Cliff Steele / Robotman, Rita Farr / Elasti-Girl and Crazy Jane, respectively, in the Wayne Yip-directed Doom Patrol episode “Frances Patrol.”
Screen Capture: Brendan Fraser, April Bowlby and Diane Guerrero as Cliff Steele / Robotman, Rita Farr / Elasti-Girl and Crazy Jane, respectively, in the Wayne Yip-directed Doom Patrol episode “Frances Patrol.”

During this part of “Frances Patrol,” Jane seems to have a renewed energy to find The Chief / Niles Caulder (Timothy Dalton). This could be as a result of her needing answers to unresolved questions. Where was he going to leave her? What exactly is The Chief’s motives? Is he the friend he professes to be? She calls a team meeting, but attendance is poor. Very few members bother to show up.

Screen Capture: Joivan Wade as Victor Stone / Cyborg in the Wayne Yip-directed Doom Patrol episode “Frances Patrol.”
Screen Capture: Joivan Wade as Victor Stone / Cyborg in the Wayne Yip-directed Doom Patrol episode “Frances Patrol.”

Immediately before we see Jane seek Victor’s help, we find that Cyborg is going through issues of his own. Victor is talking to Grid. Grid sounds like he has lost a few too many marbles. Grid is telling Victor he’s getting more powerful. Is Grid right? Is Victor becoming more machine than human? Grid tells Victor he is now 63 per cent cyborg 37 per cent human. It is clear Victor is questioning this revelation. Victor cuts his own arm open to see exactly how much of his boy is still human. look at how deep Victor cuts into his arm. There should probably be more blood.

Screen Capture: Joivan Wade as Victor Stone / Cyborg in the Wayne Yip-directed Doom Patrol episode “Frances Patrol.”
Screen Capture: Joivan Wade as Victor Stone / Cyborg in the Wayne Yip-directed Doom Patrol episode “Frances Patrol.”

The Wheels on the Bus go Round and Round

There is a scene in the mini bus where Victor and Jane seem to have a heart-to-heart moment. Before anyone gets the notion this is the 1980s detective series “Hart to Hart,” I’m really not. After what she experienced in the underground, Jane is being a tad more personable than that which we usually see from this character.

Screen Capture: Joivan Wade and Diane Guerrero as Victor Stone / Cyborg and Crazy Jane, respectively, in the Wayne Yip-directed Doom Patrol episode “Frances Patrol.”
Screen Capture: Joivan Wade and Diane Guerrero as Victor Stone / Cyborg and Crazy Jane, respectively, in the Wayne Yip-directed Doom Patrol episode “Frances Patrol.”

Jane genuinely wants to understand what’s going on with Victor. Because he can see that Jane’s interest in her eyes, Victor confides in her to a certain extent. Victor explains to Jane he does not want everyone knowing what is going on with him. He has a right to privacy. He does not want his dad to know either.

Shortly after, Victor and Jane are ambushed people with strange devices on one of their elbows. “look at my elbow” is such a strange line. These devices emit a blinding light which seem to render people that see it unconscious. Jane kicks butt as per usual, but Victor is kidnapped in the confusion.

Who took Victor? It looks like it might have been Agent Darren Jones (Jon Briddell). This could be a set up for something bigger that is coming later down the road. I am guessing the reason the kidnapping occurred towards the end of the episode is that it was setting in motion more threads for viewers to puzzle over. While it was clearly more interpersonal with both Larry and Cliff, what we saw with Victor will ultimately flow into something significant for the series.

Who is the Mystery Character?

Who is Flex Mentallo? This is seriously strange. This is a reference to the comic books. First appeared in the 1991 issue #35 of Doom Patrol. Flex Mentallo is a DC Comics character which was created by writer Grant Morrison and artist Richard Case.

Is there a trailer?

Final Thoughts

Relative to the previous three or four instalments of the series, the narrative in “Frances Patrol” was not as intense. It had a stronger feeling of intimacy between the principle characters. Yip seems more interested in the interpersonal dynamics of the main characters than he is with ramping up the weirdness. Sometimes, it takes a slower pace to allow characters to reveal more of their backstory. As a result, we get to see significant character development playout on screen.