Doom Patrol episode 9 review: Empowering messages for survivors


Set in the Underground, Jane’s character development in Doom Patrol’s “Jane Patrol” includes an empowering message for survivors.

Content Warning: This Doom Patrol review lightly references sexual assault, abuse, and suicide.

Doom Patrol‘s “Jane Patrol” was an emotional episode for Jane and for us. We’re not ashamed to admit that there was something therapeutic about being able to sob through it, especially during that ending. That was probably the show’s intention because it knows its source material, its characters, and its audience.

In any of its incarnations, Doom Patrol has never been opposed to balancing a weird angle on everything tragic and comedic (and the strange middle ground), and we haven’t left the fandom after years of crying through the bleakest moments in each character’s trajectory. Maybe its because we like a side of masochism with our comic book media or maybe it’s because we see something of ourselves in the team.

Regardless, “Jane Patrol,” creates it’s a unique spin on a classic comic narrative, and the journey into Jane’s Underground gives us an even more empowering message for sexual assault survivors.

Once again, this week’s episode illustrates that comic accuracy can also recreate old comic tales from an interesting angle that makes everything feel new. While we could create a clip by clip and panel by panel comparison of “Jane Patrol” to Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol 1987 #30, we’re more interested in how Doom Patrol handles Jane’s D.I.D. and her traumatic past to continue the series’ implicit mental health discourse. After all, the DC Universe series isn’t just well-versed in its characterization, comic accuracy, and oddities; it’s also proficient in positive and realistic storylines about mental health.

In an episode that initially starts with Cliff transporting in the Underground (with the help of the Negative Spirit), “Jane Patrol” isn’t necessarily about Cliff helping Jane through a mentally strenuous time. Episode 9 is about Jane helping herself through grief and self-discovery.

As the episode gives us some live-action interpretations of Jane’s alters, from Hammerhead to the violent misandrist icon Black Annis, “Jane Patrol” has triumph undertones where it shows parts of Jane (i.e. her alters) helping Jane in different ways. Driver 8 helps give Jane some reprieve from the surface whereas the other alters convinced her to act as the dominant alter again, and Penny attempts to stop Jane from piecing together Kay’s compartmentalized memories.

However, Jane isn’t Kay anymore and she hasn’t been for a while now. Because of this, Jane has a bittersweet but mostly triumphant ending to her journey, piecing together lost parts of herself and remember her past. After she remembers what her father did to Kay, Jane almost gives up but instead, she decides to fight for herself, but also for her friend, Cliff.

Jane develops a sense of agency at the end of the episode, as she recognizes that her unhappiness and compartmentalized self isn’t her fault. Jumping into the well and letting herself be utterly consumed by her traumatic memories isn’t her only option, and she chooses to denounce her father (hence the origin to her first trauma) as a part of her.

Witnesses a survivor choose to remove her aggressor’s influence — in a large, small, temporary, or permanent sense — is an empowering inclusion in “Jane Patrol.” In particular, the anger tinged with pain in Diane Guerrero’s performance shows how emotionally relieving it is for Jane to gain some control over herself and her trauma, even when she felt especially vulnerable. In an episode about surviving life after abuse, the ending of “Jane Patrol,” isn’t the only complement to Jane’s start psychological autonomy.

Powerful dialogue drives a lot of the emotion and mental health interpretations in the last half of the episode:

"“I don’t know if I’m supposed to feel happy.”"

As a realistic nod to mental health, sometimes survivors doubt our own happiness or whether we’re even capable of happiness. That sentence alone brings out a lot of emotions. After seeing Jane grow later in the episode, this line seems more critical because it shows that she’s now starting to accept that she can be happy and even hopeful.

"“I’m trying but I don’t know if I want to try anymore.”"

Given the circumstance, it’s clear what Jane reference here and how it reflects on mental health. And, we’re glad that Jane’s still trying.

"“You destroy everything”"

Jane’s father destroyed parts of her. He destroyed Kay, and Miranda, the original dominant alter. Watching Jane acknowledge that is a compelling scene on its own. Well beyond any of Jane’s quotes, this week’s Doom Patrol episode obviously packs in a lot of positive character development for Jane, and her growth resonants with many viewers.

While Jane has always been an inspirational character for survivors to look up to, Guerrero’s depiction of her character in “Jane Patrol” gives us a new way to relate to Jane. It strangely makes us feel less alone knowing that there’s another powerful and messy character who represents us.

Seeing that Doom Patrol doesn’t omit her flaws and struggles only makes her constant recovery from abuse and assault seem genuine — because it is.

Survivors of anything traumatic don’t suddenly have a mental health milestone (on our own, or implicitly with the help of a Robotman in the background). Sometimes we have powerful growth in our recovery process, but it’s an on-going process. Like Jane when she finally returned to the surface, we’re bound to regress and get consumed by our past traumas. It’s an ongoing process for a reason. The fact that Doom Patrol understand that can be a healing stepping stone for a lot of us.

However, Jane isn’t the only person to experience some introspective growth. Even Cliff recognizes that he’s changed, and he’s learned to embrace that. While both Cliff and Jane reflect on their past and who they are now, “Jane Patrol” does contrast a bit with the duo’s relationship in Doom Patrol (1987) #30.

Although Jane and Cliff were coded as being in a romantic relationship in #30, Doom Patrol bolsters their friendship in this episode. By the end of “Jane Patrol,” Cliff learns to better respect Jane and her boundaries, even if he did literally get inside her head throughout the majority of the episode.

Instead, Cliff is there for emotional support. Jane accomplished a lot of recovery milestones on her own but having a friend there helps. And, Cliff’s presence in the episode doesn’t undermine Jane’s process either. They’re finding the balance in their friendship, even if it isn’t explicitly said in the episode.

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Doom Patrol captured a lot of development with Jane, Cliff, and their friendship throughout “Jane Patrol.” However, the stories during this timeline aren’t necessarily over because we’ll get to see the strange happenings of Beard Hunter’s unexpected visit in next week’s episode.