Posted: May 13, 2019 by Max Byrne

Director – T.J. Scott

Writers – Tom Farrell & Tamara Becher-Wilkinson

Enter The Man of Muscle Mystery this week, as Flex Mentallo made his presence felt in a big way. In an episode that belonged to Flex and Rita Farr, for very different reasons, we were treated to yet another captivating episode. It is extremely bittersweet that the season only has a mere two episodes remaining now, as we can eagerly anticipate the events that will unfold. But, with a second season still to be confirmed by DC, could it be that we only have two more fixes left of our beloved characters? It is inconceivable that the show won’t come back, but stranger things have happened. Let’s cherish them while we can with everything crossed for a swift return.

Firstly, a very special mention must go out to April Bowlby this week, for another excellent performance as Rita Farr. Her character’s evolution over the course of the season has perhaps seen the biggest journey from A to B, as the self-obsessed, deluded Hollywood princess of the early days has been replaced by a much more nuanced, layered character. Her resolve has strengthened by acknowledging the sins of her past, and none more so than this week. The hinted at tragedy involving a baby from the past was fully explained here, concerning Rita acting as a conduit for illicit meetings between a Hollywood producer and young wannabe starlets. Rewarded with key roles and a revamped career, Farr convinced herself that it was “win, win, win” for all concerned. The tragedy that resulted as a consequence of one of these encounters has obviously weighed heavily on her for decades, and her frank confession to an elderly hospital patient (played by the legendary Ed Asner no less), was a wonderful performance from a talented actress.

With Asner’s elderly gent revealed to be the omnipotent Mr Nobody incognito, the endgame is in sight. With last week’s breaking of Vic Stone removing him from the board, Nobody has been manipulating the team in order to break them, weakening them for the coming confrontation. Alan Tudyk’s wonderful monologue at the episode’s conclusion was a meta-delight, as, decked head to toe in official Doom Patrol merchandise, he was a social media complainer writ large, moaning about his misgivings towards the team and the show in such a clever piece of writing married to a charismatic performance. Hope springs eternal that he will prove to be the worthy adversary that he has been built up to be as the show has gone along.

As previously mentioned, the main crux of the episode was the main stage debut of Flex Mentallo, perfectly portrayed by Devan Long. Revealed to be the mysterious inmate 722 from last week’s visit to The Ant Farm, his backstory was given full service this week. Lifted straight from the comic book pages of the early 90’s where he was originally conceived by Grant Morrison, the depiction was spot on. Able to alter reality by flexing his pecs, Long pitched the character as very likeable and honourable, with a loving wife. The stark contrast between his early scenes as a man of action and his broken down, bearded wreck of a man was a sight to see, giving the character range and depth. Indeed, his tragic re connection with his powers at the episode’s conclusion was a cross between a Thanos-esque snap and a Mr Universe competition (yes really).

So, where do we go from here? Will Flex join up with the team for the final battle? Are the Bureau of Normalcy due to play a further part? Will Vic come back if his father recovers? And finally, how will the relationship between self-loathing Larry and the negative spirit solidify, as Larry is now seemingly willing to let the spirit go free at the cost of his own life.

Just two left, don’t miss out, see you next week for ‘Penultimate Patrol’.

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