Doom Patrol: Sex Patrol

"I’m in a full blown psychological crisis, and you’re offering me ecstasy."

Oh my.

Gentle reader, we've known each other for some time now. And I feel like our shared journey has brought us to a stage in our relationship where we can talk frankly and openly, as adults, about some delicate bedroom issues. This is a safe space.

So, Rita thinks all of her problems will be solved by bringing a musclebound stud back to her bedroom to give her a gigantic orgasm.

To be fair, a lot of us have made this mistake once or twice. It's called 'College'. And let's be honest, I can't think of many problems in my life currently that wouldn't be solved by Devan Long showing up at my door in tiger print briefs.

But I'm being frivolous. Let's start from a different angle.

This week's episode is about childhood innocence. Period. Full stop. It approaches the subject from a variety of viewpoints, and is actually a delicate and thoughtful exploration of the subject. Which is surprising when one of the characters involved casually mentions that he nearly chose to go by the codename 'Hand Stuff.'

At the heart of the issue is Dorothy, chronologically 100 and a half years old, but in practical terms perpetually stuck at the age of eleven. Niles, as her father, wants to keep Dorothy safe from everything in the world (and vice-versa, but that's not the issue right now). Dorothy, as kids do, wants to get out into the world and experience things that Niles wants to keep her away from. That's fairly standard parent/child drama stuff, and the pure normalcy of the tension between them as regards the issue anchors the episode.

Niles has chosen to go full Rapunzel and lock Dorothy away from the world in order to keep her safe. He was using Danny to achieve this, but now Danny's broken and so Niles has to find a way to bring Danny back so that he can again be Dorothy's prison. Not that he thinks of it that way, of course. Like most overprotective parents, he's terribly good at justifying the lengths to which he's going.

Just one hitch – the only way to bring Danny back to life is a full tilt Diva sex party, which even regular level protective parents are justified in keeping their 11 year olds away from. OK, to be fair it's more of a rave than a sex party, but even leaving Rita and Flex aside, there's a lot of adult stuff going on in the fringes.

That's the core of this story, and it's really well structured drama. Everyone but Niles is going out of their way to be kind to Dorothy, which brings his seemingly unkind actions toward her into sharp relief. He seems nastier, just through the contrast.



Rita, understandably jealous of how much control Flex has over his own body, encounters the memory of her own loss of innocence moment, which would seem cliched and gratuitous as a character revelation if it didn't fit so amazingly well into the theme of the story. She asks Flex to do that same flex he used accidentally last season to give her an... ahem... special personal moment, because the last time he did so was the clearest and most relaxed her mind has been in a long time, and that's the key to her mastering control of her own body. So, no thinly veiled metaphor there.

Unfortunately this... extended petite morte... has the side affect of dislodging the memory of when she saw her mother sleeping with the movie producer to get Rita into the movies as a little girl. And notice the change in how Rita treats Dorothy afterward. Early on she's kind, but after encountering the memory of her own loss of innocence she's thoughtlessly cruel.

Jane, meanwhile, is imprisoned in the underground while a variety of other personalities take turns driving. Good that Cliff realized immediately that it wasn't Jane he was talking to, by the way. Hammerhead makes the completely valid point to Jane that 'protecting the girl', i.e. the core personality, is the only thing that matters. And they aren't wrong. That is the entire function of having dissociative personalities. They exist to protect the host by being able to perform certain functions that the host can't handle. And the show indirectly acknowledges that it understands this by having Cliff call out the Hangman's Beautiful Daughter on that exact point. She can't handle all of day to day life because she was never meant to.

Which leads us to the least subtle metaphor in a field already teaming with not particularly subtle metaphors. (Not a criticism, by the way. There's no law that subtlety is automatically better.) The Sex Men show up and announce that all the sexual energy is causing a baby to be born, and if that baby lives long enough to cry, all the childhood innocence in the world will be destroyed forever.

Thematically, it had to be Jane who resolves the issue by forcefully shoving the baby back into the male sex demon currently birthing it, as this resolves the ongoing discussion of whether Jane should be helping the Doom Patrol or leaving them in order to protect 'The Girl.' She has to stay, because 'the world not ending' is kind of an important part of protecting 'The Girl.' It's not a coincidence that it's Hammerhead that is the one who actually has to perform the world saving reverse birth.



Bits and Pieces:

-- Interestingly, Maura Lee Karupt mentions her Trans Sisters. It's interesting, because the phrasing sort of implies that Maura identifies as Trans, which I don't think we knew before. Many trans people do use cabaret as a vehicle to explore their gender identity before transitioning, which is why Rocky Horror still exists, so it's entirely possible that Maura is a trans woman, regardless of what J.K. Rowling thinks #TransWomenAreWomen. Alternately, she was just using 'sisters' in a broader LGBTQAII+ sense. It's really only her business.

-- The sight gag of Flex with lipstick on his nose from keeping it pressed to the circle on the wall out of respect for Rita's privacy was both hysterical and endearing.

-- I don't care much for the song 'Pure Imagination.' There. I said it.

-- Really nicely done set ups and payoff in this one. The ice pick, the 'ladies sit still' line, and others. A lot of care went into structuring this.

-- Danny got some character development and is now evolving into Danny the Ambulance. That seems less convenient for the Dannyzens as far as living arrangements, but I'm sure they'll work it out.

-- All of the Ghostbusters costume details in the Sex men costumes was really nicely done.

-- The Chief offered an olive branch to Cliff in the form of fixing his fingers, and when that was refused went to his backup plan of offering him drugs. This was much better received.

-- Seriously though, why isn't Dorothy aging? Did she make a wish not to age? Niles certainly knows to be afraid of the power of her wishes, and she seemed to have been about the correct age for her age when he found her in the circus. Why isn't she at least aging emotionally? At 100 and a half, she'd have had plenty of time to process through all the emotional growth.

-- What exactly did the Candlemaker want out of any of this? His motives seemed self-contradictory.

-- Serious props to Alan Mingo Jr. It is not easy to get up on a table and make a speech in those heels.

-- The framing device of 'X Hours to Bedtime' was a lot of fun, and set the right 'childhood innocence' tone.

-- Today I learned that I can not consistently spell 'Innocence' correctly.

-- I really appreciate that Flex is slightly older than how the usual muscle stud character would be cast. Also that they retained the chest hair from the comics. It's a bit out of fashion at the moment.



Quotes:

Flex: "I felt a muscle spasm in my upper thigh and knew Danny was in trouble."

Rita: "Can’t you just pump Danny up?"
Flex: "Heh.. I don’t pump. I… flex."

Cliff: "Whose job is it, the lady with the sun for a head?"

Flex: "Well hey there little lady. Why the long face?"
Dorothy: "This is just how I look."

Scarlet Harlot: "Never trust an art major to leave a house!"

Kiss: "Are we talking potential world wide sextinction here?"

Kiss: "I’m Kiss. She’s Torture. We’re here to save the world from a paranormal sexual event."
Jane: "I have so many questions."

Niles: "Listen to them Vic, they’re sexperts."

and finally, with apologies for the length, but it's beautiful and amazing, and I hope a million high school drama kids out there are memorizing it even as we speak for a transgressive audition piece:

Maura Lee: "The Dannyzens and I have been out in the world for the past month. And, sadly, the world hasn’t changed that much. People still made jokes behind my back and to my face. My trans sisters still being murdered. Human beings are cruel to people that are different from them. Out there, I had to read a motherfucker. He was screaming at me calling me all kinds of freak. I let him know, he hated the fact that I was human. Just like him. That’s what disturbed him. That we somehow breathe the same air and walk the same streets. So much self hatred out there. And people turn that hatred on anyone that doesn’t look or act like them. Life is short, Vic. Go where you feel love. And if that love’s consistent, stay.



A truly thoughtful piece with a lot to say about innocence and its loss. Pretending to be an hour of sex jokes. Only this show, right?

Nine out of ten reasons to stop being a prison. Or gigantic orgasms. Depending on mood.

Mikey Heinrich is, among other things, a freelance writer, retired firefighter, and roughly 78% water. You can find more of his work at the 42nd Vizsla. If you'd like to see his raw notes for this and other reviews, you can find them at What Was Mikey Thinking.

3 comments:

Nonei said...

I love reading your reviews... I don't usually comment on these because I am enjoying the show vicariously here (not enough hours in the day to watch it right now!)
I'm commenting this time because I hope you get a chuckle out of this too... I initially read the last paragraph as
"Nine out of ten reasons to stop being a prison. Or (Nine out of ten reasons to stop being) gigantic orgasms."
LOL

Unknown said...

Correction: Dorothy is 100 and three quarters.

Mikey Heinrich said...

Nonei - that made me laugh out loud. Hey, you there! Stop being a gigantic orgasm! Glad to hear you're enjoying the reviews

Unknown - I stand corrected :)

Next ep review hopefully up later today