And with "Jane Patrol" we get to see more of the much gaslit Underground, and what's going on with Crazy Jane. Sort of.
First of all, anyone who is concerned we've been getting too much Rita, Larry, and Vic, "Jane Patrol" should set your mind at ease. Although there is a hint something went on while Cliff was inside of Jane's mind ("It's a long story."), the story otherwise focuses on Cliff's adventures in Jane's mind. And if you're familiar with Jane from the comics, then the Underground inside of her mind should come as no surprise.
For those of you who haven't read Doom Patrol Vol. 2 #30 (cover date March 1990), the Underground is Kay Challis's way of organizing her multiple personalities. "Jane" is just one of the persons, a "primary", which represents the personas in the real world. Before her was Miranda, but Miranda went into the Well and was destroyed.
The personas have dragged Karen back, apparently for going out on her own. We get to see a number of Kay's personas, including ones we've already met like Hammerhead, Scarlet Harlot, Baby Doll, Lucy Fugue, Flit, and Silver Tongue. As well as new ones like Pretty Polly, the Secretary, Driller Bill, Mama Pentacost, Kit W'the Canstick, Jill in Irons, The Nun. They're all played by different actresses, rather than have Diane Guerrero play all of them.
Guerrero does play Driver 8, the conductor and drive of the subway train that ferries Jane to the "surface", aka the real world. Jane doesn't want to go back but the other personas insist. She convinces Driver 8 to pull the emergency brake, causing the train to shut down temporarily.
In the real world, the team tries to wake up Jane without success. When Vic suggests they shrink down and go into Jane's brain (like The Magic School Bus), the Negative Spirit pulls another of its seemingly endless powers out of its bag and mentally links Cliff to Jane. Cliff (Brendan Fraser) finds himself in the Underground. He wanders around for a while, talks to Driver 8, gets captured by Hammerhead, is tossed into a cell, talks briefly with Karen, and busts through a wall into one of Jane's memories.
Penny Farthing (Anna Lore) helps him get out, and explains what's going on. The three-headed Sisters have advised Jane to go to the Well, because that's what they tell any persona (including the aforementioned Miranda) who talks to them. Penny refuses to go there, but she takes Cliff there. A monstrous persona, Black Annis (Helen Abell) guards the doorway and refuses to let any man through. She rips off part of Cliff's human face, and he rips off the face and declares he's not a man. Black Annis lets him through.
Jane is at the Well beyond the door, saying there's no turning back. The ground is covered in jigsaw puzzle pieces, and Daddy (Dave MacDonald) forms out of the pieces and bites off Cliff's legs. Jane rejects him to save Cliff and they pop out in the real world. Cliff tells his teammates Jane is better. Jane goes to her room and hears Daddy's voice in her head, indicating she's not entirely over her childhood trauma.
What childhood trauma? As we see in flashbacks, Daddy sexually molested young Kay as she was working on a jigsaw puzzle. The sexual molestation caused her multiple personalities, and as is never explicitly stated but is clearer in the comics, each of Kay's personas handles a different part of her emotions. Some personas suffer endlessly, Hammerhead is Kay's anger, Karen presumably represents Kay's search for a stable relationship, Penny does the running away, and so on.
A lot of the subtext isn't clear. It's there if you look for it, but whether it's actually there and writer Marcus Dalzine put it in. Or it's just something you can read into it if you want and Dalzine left it out to make things clearer to the audience, relies on your interpretation of the episode.
The TV show makes it a bit clearer why Cliff has latched onto Jane: he imagines her as the daughter he lost when he literally lost his head. In the comics Cliff just... latched onto her. Jane spends most of the episode telling him to go if she loves him. Until the end when she sees him bitten in half and rises up in Cliff's defense, and her own.
One of the beauties of the episode is there are no superpowers other than the Spirit mentally joining Cliff and Jane. Jane could be a "normal" person with multiple personalities: the superpowers each persona has, have no bearing on the plot and are never seen. That means the episode reads more as a psychiatric analysis than a superhero adventure. Then again, Doom Patrol has never been about the superheroics but about the weirdness surrounding supertypes. So if you go in expecting Rita and Cliff to punch people and the Spirit to blast enemies and Cyborg to sonic-blast his opponents, you'll be disappointed.
However, we're nine episodes in. There's been nothing to indicate that's what you should expect. So, if you've stuck around this long, you should know better by now. "Jane Patrol" is more of a horror story than a superhero story. There's dark corridors, and monstrous creatures like the Sisters, Black Annis, and Daddy's jigsaw-piece manifestation. That's not so different from Titans, which had a spooky old house, mental landscapes torturing their owners, and a creepy cult.
In fact, "Jane Patrol" would make a perfectly good horror movie. And probably has at some point or another. As I noted earlier, there's no superpowers at play beyond the convenience of the Spirit letting Cliff enter Jane's mind. There have been horror movies where people have entered other people's minds, or mindscapes, or dreams, or nightmares, or any and all of the above using machines and psychic powers, which are no more unusual than a Negative Spirit.
Be warned, the episode does focus mostly on Jane. Cliff does get some resolution on his whole "Am I a man or a robot?" issues. But those haven't been that substantive anyway. Mostly the episode is about Jane: what she is, what personas we might see in the future, and multiple-personality-wise, how she got that way. How she ended up with 64 sets of superpowers is never explained or mentioned.
So if you don't like Jane and Diane Guerero, you almost certainly won't like "Jane Patrol". Fortunately, I do, and it's a fairly accurate adaptation of the aforementioned issue of Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol. Duly streamlined and sanitized for TV, but that's been the case throughout the series to date. Keep the basic Morrison weirdness, but adapt it just enough to make it American-TV-palatable. Get rid of the really weird stuff like the Scissorman, the Painting That Ate Paris, and the Men From N.O.W.H.E.R.E., and drip on some more standard characterization. Cliff has daughter issues, Vic has father issues, Larry is wrestling with his sexuality. Doom Patrol still retains a lot of Morrison weirdness, but it's definitely toned down thanks to the wonders of pay TV.
But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?
Written by Gislef on Apr 13, 2019