So far this season on Doom Patrol, the DC Universe series has given fans glimpses of each character's origin story. This week, it's Niles' turn with an episode that takes things back over a century to the past to reveal the mission that changed not only The Chief, but the history of the Bureau of Normalcy as well.
Spoilers below for this week's episode of Doom Patrol, "Hair Patrol", beyond.
The episode starts with Niles, back in 1913 on a mission for the "Bureau of Oddities" investigating some sort of creature. Niles takes an optimistic approach about the creature while his partner assumes it would want to do him harm. A bit later, the pair are attacked by wolves. Niles escapes, but ends up badly hurt and the mysterious creature finds him.
Back in the present we met a guy living with his mother. His walls are decorated with all sorts of things revealing an obsession with beards and when his mother makes him go to the store for her, we see that obsession with beards in real life as he weirdly approaches a guy with facial hair. At the checkout, though, the Bureau of Normalcy recruits him. The want him to bring in Niles. Ladies and gentlemen meet the Beard Hunter.
The episode picks up then in last week's "Jane Patrol", setting the stage for "Hair Patrol" to cover what happened while Cliff was in The Underground. Vic and Rita are left alone while Jane is unconscious, Cliff is inside, and Larry is knocked out thanks to the Negative Spirit leaving his body. Back in 1913, we find Niles in a cave where he tries to explain to a mysterious figure that he is not a threat.
Back in the present, Vic tries to explain Danny the Street to Rita and the pair try to figure out what the clue is. Rita notices that the "hunky man" from an advertisement is missing, like he just walked out of the comic book. Elsewhere, Beard Hunter breaks in and immediately extracts hair from a sink that he then eats, reacts, then passes out.
In 1913, Niles grows upset with his primitive captor and insists that he will not only go home, but properly bury the other dead. When she realizes how upset he is, she takes one of the dead to a sacred place for a funeral pyre and that's when Niles discovers that she is the last of her tribe, ancient -- and when she summons the curious beast Niles was looking for, he knew nothing at all. He chooses to stay with her and learn more. Over time, they develop an intimate relationship.
Meanwhile, Vic and Rita find Beard Hunter who tries to tell them that Niles isn't who they think he is and that he can trace Niles' beard across space and time. Vic and Rita go off to sort out what to do and Beard Hunter manages to inhale one of his facial hairs which gives him access to everything about Vic. He insists that Vic doesn't really want to find Niles and that once they know who Niles really is, they won't like him. After Vic's tech goes haywire, Rita makes Beard Hunter leave. Vic reluctantly tells Rita something is wrong with him since the reset button was hit. Rita reveals that she stuck the tracker on Beard Hunter, so they'll still be able to track him.
In the past, Niles remains with his primitive companion for years when suddenly one day his old partner shows up, having survived the wolf attack. World War I is in full swing, now the Bureau of Oddities has become the Bureau of Normalcy with the goal to find the strange and kill them. Niles tries to throw his former partner off his companion, but the partner knows about her. He forces Niles to take him to her. Niles walks him across the frozen lake knowing that it will crack, and the partner will fall in. Niles allows it to happen and chooses not to save him, all in the name of protecting his companion and throws his journal in the freezing water as well. He then surrenders to the other men. He goes back home and tells the Bureau that he somehow survived his ordeal on his own and it made him stronger.
It turns out, though, Mr. Nobody is eavesdropping on his memories. He is still trying to get deeper into Niles' head. Mr. Nobody wants him to answer just one question: where is the girl? Niles, it seems, is still trying to protect his companion after all these years and Mr. Nobody wants to know where she is. Niles refuses. He's even willing to sacrifice the Doom Patrol to keep the secret.
The episode closes with Beard Hunter finally tracking Niles to what he thinks is the end...only for him to be ambushed by the creature Niles' primitive companion summoned in the woods over a century before.
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