Bad Hair Day
After last week’s fantastic episode, it was always going to be difficult for Doom Patrol to match up to that excellence and it does pale by comparison. Still, there’s enough here to make for an enjoyable watch, with more background behind Niles and what happened in the lab whilst Cliff and Jane were in The Underground.
We begin the episode in the frozen North in 1913. On an expedition, Niles is taken to a cave by a strange antlered beast where he meets a tribal woman.
While Niles gets acquainted with the person who kidnapped him, a brief prologue shows basement dweller Ernest Franklin being activated by the Bureau of Normalcy. Going by the name of Beard Hunter, this hair-eating man goes on the hunt for Niles Calder, making his way to Doom Manor to begin his investigation. Creeping into the bathroom, he gathers up a clump of old hair and eats it, fueling his mental powers.
After initially being captured by Cyborg and Jane, Beard Hunter breaks free and finds a stray hair from Cyborg’s beard which he gobbles up, allowing him to learn more about the man. Anticipating several punches, Beard Hunter blocks every move he throws before gleefully proclaiming he’s now connected to Cyborg’s brain stem. Overwriting his mainframe, Beard Hunter activates his gun, ready to fire. While Jane pleads with him to turn it off, Cyborg panics, throwing his fist toward the lab and causing an explosion to rock the room.
While Beard Hunter happily skips away having defeated Cyborg, Niles Calder grows closer to the tribal woman in the wilderness. Realizing he knows nothing about her strange abilities, he sees her conjure the deer-creature before the two huddle closer together for warmth. One thing leads to another and the two sleep with one another. Two years pass and Niles emerges from the cave, rejoining civilization after abandoning his notebook. Unfortunately, this all turns out to be a memory which Mr Nobody has exploited, determined to find the tribal woman. He explains that not everyone will make it to the finish line which feels like a good bite of foreshadowing here.
The episode then ends with Beard Hunter descending down some spiral steps and finding Niles Calder. Or, at least a version of him. This strange stuffed figure reveals the beast from earlier in the episode who growls menacingly, leading to the inevitable conclusion that Beard Hunter’s ending may not be a particularly nice one.
While the episode itself does well to prepare the pieces ready for the inevitable fight later on in the season, it doesn’t do an awful lot else. Given some of the surprising and intense episodes we’ve had this season, Hair Patrol doesn’t quite have the same allure and tight-knit writing this show has become synonymous with. It does feel like a bit of a filler episode and a way to catch our breath before diving back into the heart of the show. Hopefully that’s the case but for now, this is unfortunately one of the weakest episodes of the season.