Rita sits outside of Doom Manor and remembers the past.
Los Angeles, 1956
Rita is waiting the reception room of Bloom Pictures and adjusts her face in her compact mirror. Sydney Bloom finally calls her in and Rita says that she wants the romantic role in his latest picture. Bloom tells her that word has it that Rita is abusive and moody, and she needs a miracle. He invites her to sit on his knee and starts kissing her, and tells her to show him how hungry she is for the role. Rita loses control of her body and her flesh stops holding its form. Her blob form swallows Bloom up and he smothers to death. The secretary comes in and sees Bloom's corpse, and says that he had a heart attack. She gives Rita her sweater, tells her that she was never there, and ushers her out.
Larry joins Rita and says that Eliot isn't coming back.
Cliff does a 'net search for his daughter Clara and discovers that it's only viewable by friends. He then takes Jane sandwiches and asks her for help. One of the personas knocks the sandwiches out of Cliff's hand and closes the door, and then watches a VHS tape of Baby Doll complaining that Niles is leaving for a few days. On the tape, he promises to have pancakes and think of her, and she has pancakes at the same time and think of him. Niles tries to cheer her up and Baby Doll worries that he'll like the "Doom Patrol" more than him, and Niles says that they have silly names.
Vic is in the main room checking his injuries when Cliff comes in. He asks to hack into his daughter's online profile, and Vic complains that Cliff put him into safety mode and he can't move his body without his father's okay. Jane comes in and asks Siri in Vic's body what the Doom Patrol is, and explains that Nobody asked her to find them. Vic does a microfiche search and finds a reference to the Doom Patrol, a minor superhero active in the late 50s and then just disappeared. Rita and Larry come in and Rita recognizes the Doom Patrol, and says that she was romantically involved with one member, Steve Dayton, aka Mento. Mento wears a helmet that amplifies his mental functions. Jane asks for more information, and Rita says that it was an introspective period in her life. She figures that Nobody wants them to find the Doom Patrol, but Jane doesn't care, switches to Flit, and teleports Larry and Rita away with her.
Jane, Rita, and Larry arrive at the house in the picture in the article. A fireball goes by, and Jane confronts the woman responsible, Arani, who was in the photo. She's with the third person, Rhea, and is lecturing a group of students on how to subdue their opponents. Arani freezes Jane's mouth shut when she complains, and another man, Josh Clay, comes out and asks Jane where Niles is.
Silas arrives at Doom Manor and checks Vic's injury, which is healing over with metal. Vic explains that he deployed his arm cannon to get Niles back, and Silas insists that if Nobody was a threat, the Justice League would know about it. Silas is less than enthused about helping Niles and says that he's a pseudo-scientist and a weirdo. He tells Vic that he'll put him in sleep mode while he reboots him. Cliff watches a TV report on Steve, the "Stupid Criminal of the Week", who fought his secondary dinosaur head during a robbery gone wrong. Silas checks Cliff and finds one of Vic's fingers stuck in his robot body from the explosion earlier. Once he leaves, Vic asks Cliff not to leave him alone with Silas once Silas powers him down. Cliff agrees if Vic helps him with Clara. When Vic refuses, Cliff walks out.
Josh tells the trio that Niles started the place after the Doom Patrol retired. The building was their HQ until they retired, and Niles turned it into a school for metahumans. Rhea, Arani, and Steve stayed on as teachers. Larry thinks that he recognizes Josh, and Josh says that he was in the military briefly. Josh takes Larry and Jane to Jane's former room, and Jane explains that Niles was taken by Nobody. Arani arrives and recognizes the name, and Josh says that he and Jane should talk while Arani shows Larry around.
Rita is sitting outside and remembers the past.
Doom Manor, 1958
Rita tells Niles that she can't keep herself together doesn't give her hope that a stranger can help her. She warns that she needs to nip her "business" in the bud or she'll never work in Hollywood again. Niles warns that her issue is as much psychological as physiological, and Steve can help her. Steve arrives with his helmet and says that he used to be disfigured, and it would be his privilege to work with Rita. he explains that he'll teach her how to quiet the mind, and Rita refuses to let a telepath read her thoughts. Steve promises that he won't gawk at her thoughts without permission and turns away.
Steve, looking just like he did in the 50s, spots Rita and comes over. They half-jokingly insult each other and Steve suggests that they have a drink together. As they leave, the fountain flickers briefly.
Josh sits at his desk and tells Jane that they can't help her. He insists that he's an administrator, not a superhero, and Jane and the others have to leave. Jane asks if she was supposed to be a teacher or a student, and Josh admits that they didn't know each other long. When Jane points out that Josh quickly sent Arani away, Josh tells her that it's none of her concern. He suggests that they revisit the matter if she moves back in. Jane agrees to leave if he tells her everything he knows about Nobody and settles down to wait.
Arani shows Larry around the school and the entire structure flickers briefly. She dismisses it as a student's prank and explains that she's married to Niles.
Rita and Steve have martinis in the school's storage room, and she realizes that they're trophies and Steve is showing them off. Rita is surprised that Steve wants to impress her given how things turned out between them.
Rita talks to Steve about her roles and how she used to be Rita but doesn't know who she is now. Steve tells her that she has to decide who she wants to be, and Rita says that she wants to be herself. He puts on his helmet, and finds herself in a black void. Steve tells her to keep breathing, and then repeat to herself that she's her. Her legs turn back to normal, and Rita finds herself back in the real world. She kisses Steve and he kisses her back.
Later they end up in Steve's bedroom, and she suggests that he wears the helmet while they have sex. She admits that she's scared of hurting him, and Steve says that she's scared but he knows that she doesn't need it. Rita admits that she's not sure but they continue kissing.
Silas reboots Vic, who goes into sleep mode. While he reboots, Silas checks Cliff's body and says that he doesn't need replacements. He explains that Niles had Silas consult on Cliff's body design, but then refused to use any of his suggestions. Silas assures Cliff that his body would have been better, and Cliff describes the explosion. Silas says that Vic could have been killed for nothing, and Cliff tells him that what Vic did was noble. Silas asks him if he knows what it's like to be a parent, and Cliff says that he does and asks what Silas will have in the future with his son. He walks off and Silas looks at Vic.
Arani tells Larry that it was a small wedding ceremony, and Larry says that he's known Niles for 60 years and he never mentioned a wife. The woman says that it took a year for Niles to tell her that he had a daughter, and they fought Nobody.
Steve tells Rita that they fought Nobody.
Josh tells Jane that the Nobody fight was the last one in the Doom Patrol's career. Niles brought Josh in later to oversee the school.
Arani says that they fought Nobody on Memorial Day weekend. She and Steve describe how Nobody sent a giant balloon shaped like a pair of buttocks with a jukebox attached into a park. Everybody who heard it for twenty minutes went insane, and the jukebox was equipped with a transformation ray that turned the police into piñatas. When the Doom Patrol arrived, Nobody and an army of vinyl warriors leapt out of the jukebox.
When Larry is understandably skeptical of the story, Arani tells him to ask Niles himself. Niles comes in and says that Nobody went away years ago. Larry reaches through "Niles".
Steve offers to show Rita the balloon, and Rita says that Nobody came back. The room flickers and the lights dim, and Steve insists that Rita is lying. He's furious that she came to take his wins away, and a woman—Marybeth--appears. She cries and says that she was too scared to say anything, then cuts her wrists. An old man in a wheelchair appears wearing the Mento helmet.
The lights in Josh's office fade, and he tells Jane that Steve is going to his dark place. The house has turned old and decrepit, and Josh finds metal knives stuck in his office door. He warns Jane that it's Rhea and that the others are losing control of their powers, and says that there never any students and tells Jane to stay there.
Out in the hallway, "Niles" confronts Josh and says to forget the others because they have more work to do. He says that they both know where Josh's talents truly lie, and Josh insists that he can't and won't ever again.
In Josh's office, a jigsaw puzzle piece falls out of a cupboard. More pieces rain out, and a man's voice tells Jane not to keep him waiting.
Arani's rooms turn into decrepit relics of themselves, and an elderly Arani hobbles out and then realizes that Niles is gone. She blames Larry and throws fire and ice at him.
Jane runs down the hallway as thousands of jigsaw puzzle pieces pour out of the rooms. They become a flood surrounding her, and a man's hand emerges from the pieces and the man tells Jane to come toward her and heads toward her.
As Larry walks through the house, a man in a black suit appears and tells him that as an officer, Larry knows that there's no getting out. He asks if Larry and his partner are ready to continue their mission, and Larry tells him that it isn't happening.
Rita stares at Marybeth's corpse and says that she didn't mean for it to happen. The young Steve tells her that she's been grinding the axe for 60 years, and Rita realizes that he's doing it. Marybeth's corpse laughs and Steve says that Rita started it.
The Man in the Black Suit reveals that his fingertips are syringes, advances on Larry, and says that Larry gets to make the world safe for democracy. The Negative Spirit emerges from Larry, flies to the storage room, and removes the Mento helmet from the old Mento. The young Steve disappears and the Spirit gives her the helmet. Rita realizes that the old Steve is the real Steve.
Jane discovers that the hand and the jigsaw pieces have disappeared.
Later, Josh tells the trio that Niles formed the Doom Patrol as a government program. One mission put them on Nobody's radar and they lost. He got into their heads and turned them against each other, and their minds and bodies deteriorated. The "school" was a safe place for them to rest. Josh stabilized Steve's mind with drugs and kept the environment stable until the trio arrived. Josh admits that he's a metahuman but doesn't like to use his powers, but they're helpful just in case. Arani being married to Niles is also her fantasy. Josh explains that Steve used their greatest fears against them, and says that they should leave. He shows them Rhea, magnetically levitating knives, and Arani, torturing herself with fire and ice as she cries out to Niles. Rita offers to try fixing them.
Vic comes back online and Silas tells him that he's fine. He says that he's heading back and that it's up to Vic where he stays. Silas tells his son that he enabled his son's privacy mode for real, and says that he's listening when Vic says that it's time to be his own man. Vic hugs him and Silas, surprised and then touched, leaves. As he goes, Vic realizes that there's a flash drive in his hand.
Rita sits with the real Steve and remembers the past.
Rita wakes up to find Steve getting dressed. He says Marybeth's name, and Rita realizes that he read her mind. Steve says that he's sorry that he didn't do it sooner and leaves.
Rita tells Steve that 60 years ago she decided that she deserves to be punished because she was petty and small. She says that she doesn't want to be that Rita anymore, but without her she doesn't know what she wants to be. All Rita knows is that she doesn't want to be like them, and maybe if she faces the things that haunt her than Nobody will lose his power over her. She thanks Steve for giving her that knowledge and forgives Steve, kisses him on the cheek, and puts the helmet on him. As she leaves, Steve reestablishes the illusion of the intact house.
Jane asks Josh how often Niles comes to see his former team, and Josh admits that he abandoned them. She insists that Niles never treated her like she was broken, and Josh tells her to keep looking for Niles and ask him herself. Josh figures that Nobody wants Jane to give up and that's why he sent her there: to see what happens to those who cross her. He wishes her luck and tells her to be careful.
Vic visits Cliff and brings up Clara's 'net profile for him. Cliff says that he stuck up for Vic with Silas, and Vic suggests that it's better for Cliff and Clara if he met Clara from afar.
Josh takes publicity photos of the Doom Patrol so that folks remember what they mean. In reality, he gives them drugs.
Vic activates the flash drive and overrides the permission lockouts.
Larry takes out his old pilot patch and remembers what the illusion told him. The Spirit glows in Larry's chest, and he tells it that he doesn't want to think about it either.
Rita takes down of herself from her acting days.
Jane discovers that the door to her room is unlocked.
Cliff studies Clara's web page and finds photos of her with her "dad": Bump, Cliff's former pit crew chief. Furious, Cliff smashes the computer.
Written by Gadfly on Mar 23, 2019