In case you’ve been under a rock this season, the theme has been parents and how they mess up their kids and Doom Patrol Season 2 Episode 8 focuses a tight spotlight on dads in particular.
While Niles isn’t the monster that Kay’s father was, he’s still dealing with a lot of regrets in how he’s parented Dorothy, if leaving her in a underground prison under a sentient street for ninety years counts as parenting.
Cliff, on the other hand, gets a bit of a free pass in that he was completely absent from Clara life so all her insecurities and hang-ups about marriage and commitment get pinned on her deceased adoptive dad.
We even get a look at Larry doing his dad routine with Paul. Remember Paul? The son who called the Bureau of Normalcy on his old man recently returned from the presumed dead?
And then, in a weird (even for Doom Patrol) twist, Vic gets the chance to play dad/mentor to Rita and unwanted moral compass to Roni.
But, as usual, the most intriguing storyline (of the many, many storylines they insist on piling on us) for is Jane’s.
The usual angst and self-doubt emo-ness has morphed into a bit of a mystery with the arrival of Miranda.
As noted on Doom Patrol Season 2 Episode 7, Miranda is a pleaser when she’s on the surface, working with other people, taking care of everyone, and trying to get them all to get along with each other.
However, while she’s in the Underground, she seems more invested in having everyone fall in line. Furthermore, disappearing alters doesn’t seem to bother her at all.
Meanwhile, Jane is bothered by the disappearances and understandably worried about being made redundant by the all-powerful Miranda.
I don’t want to fade away.
Amongst all the scary impressive superpowers Kay’s alters possess, Jane’s most marketable attribute has been the fact she emerged AFTER all the traumas.
She doesn’t have a visceral fear of The Well and Kay’s father when even Miranda is incapable of returning to the farm to retrieve Kay’s toy.
Jane can do things the others can’t because she is untouched by that past. By that reasoning, she can also see things they can’t because they share a perspective — one of abuse survivors — that she doesn’t.
I know doom and gloom is kind of your whole vibe but it’s a little tragic when you can’t see hope staring you right in the face.
In keeping with the theme of dads, discovering that Kay’s father would exile her to the bottom of the Well as punishment makes the Well’s significance more clear, and the connection to her father makes more sense.
The fact that the Well seemingly resurrected Miranda who went there to die but is now where Miranda is killing the other alters makes me suspect that this reborn Miranda isn’t the primary she once was.
Larry’s flashbacks to fatherhood are always pretty poignant vignettes to us but they never fail to disturb him.
I doubt we’ll get a satisfactory explanation this season for the Negative Spirit’s insistence that Larry reconnect with his family but I’d hypothesize that Larry’s guilt is what keeps him radioactive and unable to become one with his spirit.
Larry: I know a lot of people look at this stuff like it’s magic but I see it as something more powerful.
Larry: Math. Numbers never make mistakes.
If there was a mathematical way for the Spirit to communicate with Larry, maybe he’d take the messages more seriously.
Of all the team members, Larry really seems to be the most stuck and yet, he’s the one with an entire other entity living inside him with a galaxy’s worth of wisdom to impart.
It’s so frustrating to watch him spin his wheels sometimes.
One of the primary criticisms I’d give this season is the sheer number of unrelated plot threads introduced. Every team member is having their own existential crisis and because every episode touches on each of them, few are given enough time and detail to matter.
Case in point, Roni and Vic (and Rita) get three short scenes to establish that (1) Rita’s a superhero now, (2) Roni’s killed a guy, and (3) she’s taken ooma jelly to fix everything and can now kick Cyborg’s butt.
Similar to Larry’s chronic guilt, Roni’s always felt she’s unworthy being thought good of. She’s determined to be the villain despite confessing to real feelings for Vic.
Vic’s character growth will probably progress through this break-up but, honestly, there’s no time left in the season to establish Roni as any sort of Big Bad so what was the point of dragging us through all this … unless Quorum are a going concern in Doom Patrol Season 3?
Cliff proves himself the best dad of the bunch. #TotallyCalledIt.
Yeah, he nearly served his pregnant daughter a severed human finger with her sausages but for a robot, his heart is in the right place.
Even though it was Niles’ goal to have a perfect day with his daughter, I’d argue that Cliff and Clara had a much better day.
They really get to know each other, learning that they share a lot of the same insecurities and that they both drop F-bombs like punctuation.
Okay, here’s the deal. If you’re pissed as hell and you want to run, stay.
Even Cliff’s advice (forget the singing) is spot-on. It comes from his own experience and is wrapped in all his hopes for her happiness.
Now, there’s a DAD.
And that brings us to Dorothy Day and the father who just can’t accept he can’t control everything and everyone.
Not only that but, in the literal DECADES he kept his daughter incarcerated and so lonely that she manifested multiple “friends” with terrifying supernatural abilities, it never once occurred to him that he could be training her to control her powers.
His child had the power to destroy the world with a wish and the only strategies he could come up with were jail her or kill her?
Niles, you suck.
Even after she came to Doom Manor, his only direction to her was to “never make a wish” which, said to a child, is pretty much like telling her to never blink.
So when Candlemaker started to grow in power as she approached maturity, no wonder her only reaction was to run, both literally and psychologically.
Candlemaker: It’s time.
Dorothy: No, I’ll never let you out.
Candlemaker: You don’t have a choice.
There’s a parallel between her not understanding about getting her period and not being prepared for her role in fighting the Candlemaker. Ignorance may have been bliss but it was never safe.
It’s obvious that the Candlemaker will take center stage next. How and if the team unites to fight him, it’ll be a brutal event.
How would you like this conflict resolved?
Given the choice of one other team member’s plotline, who would you like to get some closure?
My vote’s for Jane (duh) but Larry would be a close second.
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.