Season 3, Episode 8 of Doom Patrol, “Subconscious Patrol,” delivers a heart-wrenching journey into the subconscious journey our lead characters have been on. The episode has many impactful themes and commentaries, an element of Doom Patrol that has always been fantastic.
The episode begins with the four Doom Patrol members going on their own individual journeys into their own subconscious. With Cliff, the robot Cliff runs into his human form outside some bar. The robot version claims to not remember this place, while the human version claims that he should. A Dada bird arrives and takes the human form away, while Cliff’s old “frenemy” Bump tells the robot version to come on inside. Cliff then encounters a bunch of people, who roll out “something special” for him, which is a cake that looks like Cliff’s race car, but it has a stripper who jumps out of it. The stripper leads Cliff away but ends up telling him a “secret” that there is a little girl left in a car outside. Cliff realizes that she is talking about Clara and in response, he freaks out and a portal opens in front of him and jumps inside of it.
Meanwhile, Larry arrives at church, where after searching it, he finds his past, pre-radiation self in a tuxedo. A Dada bird arrives and takes the past Larry away. Larry realizes that this is the day that he got married to his wife Sheryl, while his mother walks into the room. She talks about how happy she is that he is getting married to Sheryl and how much she prayed for him so that he doesn’t shame the family, obviously referring to Larry being gay. Larry’s mom gives him her ring to give to Sherly, but Larry responds by talking about how he has always been invisible to her. Suddenly, Cliff comes running into the room, resulting in a portal opening, which the two of them jump into.
We then move on to Victor, who sees his younger self shopping for toys with his dad. While searching, Victor throws the toys that seemingly don’t interest him, on the floor. This causes the manager to confront Victor and threaten to call the police, with racial prejudice being strongly implied. The young Victor mentions that he is looking for a black superhero but can seemingly only find white ones. Before Victor’s father Silas goes to make good with the manager, he decides to tell Victor that they don’t get to make mistakes. Silas finds a black soldier toy, named General Tony, telling his son that he needs to be a soldier, maybe not a literal one, but certainly a figurative one. A Dada bird arrives and takes the General Tony toy away and puts the current Victor in his place. The toy Victor tries to get his younger self to not be discouraged and continue being a child, to seemingly no avail. Young Vic doesn’t believe that he can be a child and cites from his father that he can’t make any more mistakes. Cliff and Larry then arrive and take the toy Victor and jump with him inside another portal that has opened for them.
Lastly, we find a puppet version of Jane exploring her Dada subconscious which is called Underground Avenue. She finds some of the other personalities, now looking like puppets as well, singing the ABCs with Kay, who is the only human in the room, though she does appear as an adult. This is a clear reference to shows like Sesame Street, where the human children are being taught some sort of lesson by puppets. Along with the other puppets, the stuffed animal that Jane rescued from the well, Harry, is here. Jane is explained to that they are in Kay’s subconscious and that it looks like this because Kay has never grown up as an adult. A Dada bird arrives and takes the adult Kay away, which causes all the puppets to panic. Jane claims that she can fix things, but Harry chimes in saying that he’s the only one who hears Kay’s true feelings, so only he can help. However, this angers all the personalities, including Jane, so they rip him apart. Cliff, Larry, and Victor all arrive and escape through yet another portal, this time with Jane as well. After the four leave, the other personalities are clearly upset that Jane has left, with Dr. Harrison, declaring that Jane will never again leave them to clean up a mess.
While all of this reflection with the Doom Patrol has been going on, the pre-radiation Larry, the adult Kay, Human Cliff, and a life-size and partially human General Tony arrive at Doom Manor. On the television, there is a kid talking about how he’s scared about the creatures coming from the fog. Rita walks into the room and explains that this is the Eternal Flagellation. She explains that their conscious selves have been swapped with their subconscious selves so that no one will be able to hide who they really are. She also explains that their conscious selves will repeatedly live shame until they have a breakthrough and that Laura De Mille, otherwise known as Madame Rouge, is here to destroy Niles’ legacy. The four subconscious selves then leave Doom Manor with Rita, in search of Madame Rouge.
In 1949, Rita crawls through the vents of the Brotherhood of Evil’s HQ and it is revealed that it was actually the Brotherhood who had sent Laura to 2021, not the Bureau of Normalcy. Laura talks to The Brain and Monsieur Mallah, who discuss with her how she was disposed of by the Bureau after betraying the Sisterhood of Dada. The Brotherhood had managed to recreate the time machine that Rita arrived in, in 1917, and wanted Laura to go to 2021 and steal Niles’ inventions so that they could create them in 1949. The Brotherhood names Laura as Madame Rouge and Laura implies that it was Niles’ fault that she was kicked out of the Bureau because she wants to destroy him.
Rouge then encounters Rita at the Sisterhood’s Lounge, where Rouge chastises Rita for doing nothing with the time machine. Rita responds by telling Rouge that she believes that power is all Rouge has ever wanted and that helping the Sisterhood gave Rouge power over them. Madame Rouge admits to Rita that she is probably right, to which Rita responds by saying that Rouge destroyed her life. Madame Rouge wonders if Rita’s lost memories are that she too is evil. Then, Rouge transforms herself into Malcolm to taunt Rita and says that it still felt appropriate to say goodbye to Rita because she is one of the best friends she has ever had. As Rouge is wearing the clothes, we first see her in at the beginning of the season, I think it is safe to say this is what happens right before she gets into the time machine to arrive in Episode 1.
Sometime later in 1949, Rita disguises herself and finds the time machine that is in the Bureau of Normalcy. The ship’s AI, Shipley narrates her once again going back through time, saying that she now has more confidence than she did in her previous life. Rita starts remembering all the stuff that happened to her before she used the time travel machine to travel to 1917. Shipley says that Rita isn’t sure what memories will stay when she travels, but a determined Rita declares to herself that they will stay. Before Rita makes it to where Madame Rouge has gone though, Rita arrives at the events of Episode 2, and pushes herself back into the room, making sure she dies in the episode. This was something we saw back in the episode, so it is exciting to finally see why that happened.
In 2021, the subconscious Doom Patrol is walking through a fog-filled forest when they decide to just let Rita go on ahead and turn around to go back to Doom Manor. At Doom Manor, they set up a pillow fort, where the pre-radiation Larry questions whether Dada is right and decides that he himself wants everyone to air everything out into the open. They reveal a bunch about themselves to each other, including Cliff who reveals that “He is going to do the most ordinary thing he can do; he’s going to die.” Meanwhile, the conscious minds of the Doom Patrol are traveling through a rainbow portal, using a miniature version of Cliff’s stripper cake, to help themselves arrive back at Doom Manor, where they quickly find the pillow fort.
The conscious Doom Patrol comes face to face with the subconscious Doom Patrol where they are finally able to air everything out between each other. The tuxedo-wearing Larry says that he is from the day that Larry closed himself to love, and when the conscious Larry says that he will make the other Larry’s struggle worthwhile, the subconscious Larry is absorbed into the conscious one. The subconscious Cliff admits to the group that he left his daughter in a car to go do blow and to get with a stripper and that he felt nothing for leaving his daughter. Before the conscious Cliff absorbs the subconscious one, the subconscious Cliff says that he is pissed at Cliff for making the same mistakes again with the meds and selling the stuff at Doom Manor.
Victor leaves the fort and General Tony follows him asking Vic who there is to protect the two of them. He also brings up that Vic lost his childhood that day in the toy store and went from being a child to being a soldier. General Tony tells Vic to take back what was taken from him and to find happiness. Victor admits that he didn’t want a black soldier toy and really wanted a black superhero toy, which causes Victor to absorb General Tony. Finally, we come to see Jane and Kay talking, where Kay admits to Jane that all she does is cause her pain and that Kay wishes that Jane would just die so that she could finally try being on her own. After admitting to this, Jane is put back into Kay’s body but angrily tears apart the pillow fort after hearing what Kay had to say.
From Vic’s struggle with the burden placed on him by his father to Jane’s struggle with feeling that she is no longer needed, to Cliff’s storyline about trying to fix the fact that he didn’t want to be a father, and to Larry feeling of not being accepted and that he should just hide in a marriage to a woman, these are all incredibly unique and interesting character backstories. All the actors really do their part to sell the specific emotional obstacles and make sure that all the emotional beats hit effectively. It doesn’t hurt that the writing these actors are given is spectacular, especially with hitting on the struggles that the characters have gone through throughout these three seasons. I just hope they don’t regress anymore, instead of working forward with these goals because if they don’t, I fear these arcs will come across as more annoying than anything. I fear that they will just become more of a nuisance and I certainly don’t want that to become the case with this show.
The four Doom Patrol members end up being put back to where they were towards the end of the last episode. Cliff is in Clara’s house, but unfortunately for him, Clara has now discovered “Ginger” and tells him that she doesn’t think it’s working anymore with him, to which he agrees. Jane arrives back at the Underground, finds Kay, and says that they will find a way to work things out. However, Kay informs Jane that all of the other personalities are gone. Larry is back in the woods and goes to find his tumor, which is still alive, and decides to take it and comfort it. Then there is Victor, who wakes up from his surgery discovering that he now looks completely human. The episode then ends with Rita, still walking through the forest coming face to face with Madame Rouge.
“Subconscious Patrol,” has given us the most interesting individual character moments for the characters, but with that comes very little progression in the overall story. However, this has been my favorite episode of the season because these moments were so great. It was also fantastic to see the quirkiness of the show come in full force within these moments. This episode, in particular, has made me very excited to see what will be coming our way with these final episodes and I cannot wait to see how things will be wrapped, particularly with Rita, Madame Rouge, and the Sisterhood of Dada.
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Joel Tapia is a contributing writer at All Ages of Geek. You can follow him on Twitter @tapioca621