The Butts are gone (for now), so what are the world’s worst superhero team getting up to this week? Read on and find out!
We begin with an old movie overlaid with Rita’s scathing commentary, as it seems that this was a role she lost out on. She sits before the TV devouring one of the day’s roasted chickens, tearing chunks off the bone while she hate-watches the black and white film.
The doorbell rings, prompting a yell of “Door!” from Rita. Despite several attempts, no one else goes to answer it. She begrudgingly hauls herself out of her armchair. By the time she gets there she’s met with only the breeze — though that does deliver a stray flyer, announcing a Rita Farr retrospective at a theatre in Cloverton.
Rita is delighted, grinning with glee as she picks up the paper and reads it. She slams the door imperiously, yelling to the empty hallway that at least someone appreciates her!
Elsewhere in Doom Manor, Jane is talking to herself about “finding a purpose,” as instructed by Kay. From her frantic tone and the mess of puzzle pieces heaped on the floor, it doesn’t seem to be going well. Jane decides to try and drown out her thoughts with loud music, but it doesn’t last more than a minute before she’s back on the floor, grumbling angrily. For the first time, though, as she sifts through the sea of blank pieces, one appears that has a pattern. A single eye. “Shelley?” Jane asks, picking up the piece cautiously. As she says the name aloud, smoke pours from the piece and overtakes her. Her breath rachets up and she falls back — looking very, very happy for a moment — until suddenly the smoke cuts off, and the room is quiet once more. “Woah,” indeed, Jane.
In Detroit, Vic is going to meet up with some old friends, as he’d promised himself. They greet him warmly, though one of the guys — Calvin — seems notably cooler than the others. They are surprised that his tech is gone, and the revelation that he hasn’t got his powers anymore. Although Calvin seems a little suspicious, for the most part the group seem happy to see him, and they reminisce about old times and the robotics club they were in.
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Back at HQ, Larry is still on the outs with Keeg. He’s trying to cook as the lights flicker, but he doesn’t get any further with the electronic alien baby. Just burns his dinner. Rouge appears as Larry is exclaiming his frustration to Keeg, and Larry comments that she must think he’s off his rocker. Not really, she says, but he may want to consider that Keeg is just gone. Larry isn’t impressed. Is that to be the summation of his life? To be alone? After checking whether he has any powers at all without Keeg (he does not), Rouge suggests that Larry enjoy the peace and quiet. With a touch of snark, Larry says he gets it: now that Rouge is team leader, she’s going to have emotional wellness check-ins. He suggests that before she goes around giving advice, she should make amends with the person she hurt the most.
Rita is at the theatre. Surrounded by tubs of popcorn, she settles in to watch her own retrospective in the otherwise empty theatre. (Her fans must be late, of course.) As the first film, Secret Rendezvous, begins, thick smoke can be seen entering the theatre and heading for her. She can smell cotton candy; within a moment, the greenish mist swirls around her and she’s out cold. The mist heads for the screen.
Returning to Detroit, Vic is reminiscing with his old friends. There’s an awkward moment as Vic’s mom comes up, but he explains to them that he did get to say goodbye to her, in the afterlife when the Doom Patrol half-died. Calvin is still verging on unfriendly at every turn and says they’re talking about Vic way too much. So, Vic asks Derick what he’s been doing in Detroit. He tells Vic that he’s running a robotics club now, teaching local kids. Vic’s offer of help is rebuffed, however. Derick has the other guys to volunteer; he can rely on them. The awkward moment is smoothed over by the announcement of a laser tag tournament, and even Calvin loosens up and agrees to play.
Rita awakes on a pillow-festooned sofa as orchestral music plays. The world is looking suspiciously sepia. “Oh no,” Rita quietly exclaims, looking around. It only takes a moment for her “mother” to arrive, and to confirm that Rita is in Secret Rendezvous. She begins to protest but is taken aback by the arrival of another actor, Kincaid. The handsome man surprises her with a jewel and places it around her neck. Swept up for a moment in the kind of life she wishes she had, Rita can’t help but play along. After all, she says, “Why not me? Why shouldn’t I be loved?” The necklace shimmers as she gives in, and a drop of something almost bloody in appearance begins to fill it.
In the Movies
Back in the real world, Cliff is contemplating his oven glove. Jane arrives and flops down on the opposite couch. As Cliff immediately notes, she’s glowing — she looks great. “What happened?” he questions. “Remember when we were in Cloverton,” Jane begins carefully, “and Flex did that thing, the thing that made us all feel…” Cliff catches on immediately. “The orgasm thing? I don’t wanna talk about it.” He doesn’t want to talk about orgasms, or feelings, or little butts that go pop in your hand, apparently. Clearly Cliff still has a lot on his mind that he’s keeping between himself and his smiley oven glove.
Larry announces that what they should do is sit in peace and quiet, as they all have stuff going on — but he’s cut off by an alarm and Rouge’s entrance, calling a team meeting. To the team’s horror, she’s proposing a trust exercise (though as Larry points out, it’s not that the team doesn’t trust each other, or didn’t, but that they don’t trust her). What Rouge suggests for their first exercise is to go support Rita at her retrospective. Very, very begrudgingly, the team come on board to help her. Even Larry, after initial resistance and some chanting, agrees to pause his Keeg reconciliation attempts and head to the theatre.
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As the group arrives, Secret Rendezvous can be seen playing on the screen, still. Polly — now Rita — is acting her way through the scenes. Larry, who has seen the old movie before, quickly latches on to the fact that the dialogue isn’t right. It’s Rouge who puts it together — Rita is in the movie. On screen, one of Rita’s costars begs her to say the right dialogue and do what “she” wants. Unfortunately, he pops out of existence a moment later. “What the hell is going on here?” Rita exclaims, before the smoke envelops her onscreen. The team in the theatre are next. Cliff can smell Nutella. They all pass out, with the exception of Rouge, who manages to quickly turn into her bird form and escape the cloud.
Black and White and Spooky
Rita wakes up in The Haunting of White Manor. She is less impressed with the second movie; this one gave her nightmares. As she starts freaking out, a second blood-like drop fills the jewel that is still strung around her neck.
Over in Secret Rendezvous, Larry finds himself at the gazebo where Polly is supposed to have met her secret lover, the handsome Oliver. Larry calls bullshit on the guy’s introduction, and he responds that he is also just someone trapped in the movie by “her” whims. He tells Larry that her name is Dr. Janus, though not before asking a lot of probing questions about Larry’s bandages and his lack of human contact. Oliver suggests they team up.
“Think, think, think!” Rouge mutters as she arrives back at Doom Manor. She starts by finding the retrospective flyer. It bears Dr. Janus’ name at the bottom, a fact which seems to alarm Rouge. She goes hunting through Nile’s files and quickly locates a folder on Dr. Janus —an emotional vampire who creates artificial realities. Unlucky for Rouge, the part of the file that would tell her how to combat Dr. Janus has been heavily redacted. Because Niles is an asshole, Rouge declares.
Cliff and Jane aren’t sure where they are, but it’s black and white and spooky. They think they’re probably in one of Rita’s movies, but both of them confess that any time they tried to watch one of her movies they ended up watching Top Gun instead. While pretending not to be scared, the duo get spooked by a creepy kid and end up hiding in a closet.
Laser tag! Vic and his old friends are kicking ass in the game, until Vic tells Derick that he has his back. “Yeah, that’s what you always said, but you left,” Derick points out. The two get into it behind a neon set piece, the game continuing around them. Vic was grieving. He didn’t want to be Cyborg. But the more his friends tried to reach out to him, the further away he got. He’s trying to make up for it now, returning to his body and the people most important to him. But it’s too late. They’ve changed, they aren’t the people they once were. While he was invincible, they were vulnerable. Derick lost his best friend. But Vic did too — and he’s here now. Why can’t that be enough? Game over.
In the closet, Cliff apologizes for blowing Jane off earlier. If she wants to talk about orgasm feelings, they can do that. Jane asks if Cliff remembers Shelley, the fog. She explains about the eye on the puzzle piece and the “tender, gentle” feeling that blew her away when she found it. Cliff asks what the problem is, if she liked it. Kay, of course—Jane is worried about what’s best for Kay. “Fuck it, forget about Kay!” Cliff exclaims. But Jane can’t, and that’s the problem. Larry interrupts with Not-Oliver, swinging open the closet doors and letting them know his new acquaintance can help them find Rita.
Rita is having a bad time with the spooky kid. “Just do what she says,” the kid tells her.
“It can’t get much worse!” Rita exclaims. “Not for you,” spooky responds. “For your friends.” The green mist overtakes Rita again.
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Rouge lines up a drink or three, thinking that she’s sent the team to their deaths. She takes a verbal tour of her worst hits before drunkenly promising herself that if the Doom Patrol returns, she’s going to make Rita leader again. Deciding that she needs a bigger bottle, she heads off to find one and leaves her strewn documents behind. When the coast is clear, Keeg flickers his way out of the lights and goes to examine the files.
This time, Rita wakes up in a sci-fi movie. Not-Oliver, revealed ominously to be Mr. 104, has led Larry, Cliff, and Jane to her — but of course, he was working with Dr. Janus all along. To wring yet more emotions from Rita, the rest of the Doom Patrol are snapped into a cage over a flaming ravine. Furious, Rita tries to save them. Her family. The people she loves most, even if they chose Rouge over her. She tells them so, and Dr. Janus — who appears for the emotional finale — fills the last of the gem with Rita’s passion. “Immortus will rise,” she intones, disappearing with the jewel. Leaving the Patrol caged, and Rita scrambling over the flaming ravine.
Thank goodness, Keeg zooms in and saves the day. Instead of jumping back into Larry, With a blinding zap he enters Mr. 104 instead. They all wake up in the theatre — except Rita, who is still out cold.
Back in Detroit, Vic and his friends exit their old hangout spot. They bid their goodbyes and say it was good to see each other, but something is just not quite the same. At the last moment, Derick stops and returns with the robot that they built way back when. Time to share custody. He had the first 10 years, the next are on Vic. Vic tells him that he’s proud of him.
With a screech of breaks, Cliff and co arrive home, waking Rouge. Rita is still unconscious and being carried by cliff. Vic asks what’s happening, and Larry somberly answers that they have no idea what’s going on.
Doom Patrol season 4 releases new episodes on HBO Max every Thursday. Be sure to stay up to date with all of our coverage, including news and recaps.