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Spoilers ahead for the first two episodes of Doom Patrol on DC Universe.
After only two episodes, Doom Patrol set itself up as one of the wildest and most entertainingly unpredictable comic book shows on TV. The second installment introduced Phil Morris as Silas Stone and delivered the first good look at what makes Doom Patrol's version of Cyborg tick. Versions of Silas Stone often don't come across as the most sympathetic considering what has to happen to his son for him to become Cyborg, but Doom Patrol has added a twist that begs the question: is Silas actually a villain?
For most of Silas' scenes in Doom Patrol so far, he seemed mostly task-oriented and serious in handling his son as Cyborg, but there was one sequence that seemed to hint at a genuinely dark side to Cyborg's dad. While Victor was stuck in another dimension (accessed through the mouth of a donkey, naturally), Nobody forced him to relive the explosion and aftermath that turned him into Cyborg, and he also planted a seed of doubt.
The scene got downright creepy as Vic relived his amputations while Nobody spoke through his father's mouth, telling him that he had "programming" rather than memories of that terrible night, when he lost his normal life and his mom in one fell swoop. The implication is that Silas tampered with his son's memory, and that's generally not what good guys are expected to do.
Phil Morris chatted with CinemaBlend about Doom Patrol, and he said this about the hint of Vic's memories as programming:
The only thing I can say about that is that what that sets up is, is Silas a good man or a sketchy or bad guy? Silas never sees himself as the bad guy. That doesn't mean he doesn't do questionable things. I cannot unfortunately tell you what side of the ledger that ends up falling on. That's the journey the audience has to take with Silas, with Victor, and with the Doom Patrol team. I don't want to spoil what that is because that is a part of my journey. It's why I'm here, to play Silas in that way. So yeah, he's questionable. We don't know if he's tampered with his memories, but in Silas' mind, if he has, it's to save Vic. It's to save him emotional distress. Whether that's tampering with the memory of his mother's death... Was Silas responsible? Was Vic responsible? Was it all Elinore's doing? Again, I can't say what the reality of that is, but those are the questions, and that's why people don't trust Silas. That's why Victor doesn't trust him.
Although viewers should probably take a lot of what happened in the donkey dimension with a grain of salt, Vic didn't seem to question what Nobody showed him about the accident that forced him to become Cyborg. The accident seemingly happened at the Stone home when Vic and his mom were working in a lab. Something went terribly wrong, an explosion happened, Elinore was killed, and Vic lost enough body parts that becoming Cyborg was the only way he could survive.
Is what Vic relived really what happened, though? Was there somebody to blame in a way that Vic was programmed to forget to at least remember differently? Phil Morris naturally wasn't going to drops spoilers aplenty for what promises to be an intriguing arc, but it sounds like Silas' priority is going to be protecting his son and doing what he can to prevent his son from being hurt further. Does that mean that other people will be hurt for the sake of keeping Vic as safe as possible? Possibly.
Silas may not come across as trustworthy to Vic and he may make the kind of questionable decisions that make viewers kind of uncomfortable, but he doesn't do it for the sake of villainy like Nobody. In fact, his motives aren't even to advance his own agenda. The father's focus on his son rather than perhaps the greater good is understandable, although it may not be admirable down the line if things get really bad and Vic wants to do distinctly dangerous things.
Can Cyborg's programming be reprogrammed? We've already seen that Silas has ways around Vic's privacy mode. Only time will tell on that front. Given the fact that Silas with all his brilliance is key to keeping Cyborg up and running, it was possible that he'd begin to see Vic as more of a tool than his own son. When I asked Phil Morris if he felt Silas viewed Vic as something other than just his child, he said this:
No, I think Silas sees him definitely as his son. But Silas is like a military general in a way. His way is the right way, and there may be casualties and there might be collateral damage, but at the end of the day, 'Darn it, this is the right way to do this, and I know best.' He can sometimes fall on his sword and be wrong, but he's willing to do that to keep his son alive, and I think that at the end of the day is what he's all about. He's not about creating the perfect weapon, he's not about developing science to a certain degree. Does it thrill him? To no end. Does it excite him as a scientist? Absolutely. But as a parent, he's doing it all, in my opinion, he's doing it all to help his son survive and be the best Victor Stone that he can be.
Silas may seem somewhat cold and calculating in his treatment of his son and his focus on Cyborg's maintenance, but his heart is in the right place. Although viewers haven't gotten to see too much of the character yet, Silas' investment in the science and technology that keeps Vic up and about is already apparent.
He's creating revolutionary technology and has pulled off something that has never been done before; that doesn't mean he's doing it for bragging rights or fame. What's wrong with a man loving what he does? This is just not something that most people have the ability or capacity to do. Family dynamics in superhero shows are rarely normal anyway.
Will the ends justify the means when it comes to Silas' methods of protecting Vic? We'll have to wait and see on that front. Phil Morris elaborated on what sets his version of Silas Stone apart from others:
It feels great. My opinion of Silas is that he's so egotistical that he always feels he's right. He always feels at the end of the day he's doing the right thing. Whether he is or not is a point for debate, but in his mind, it's always to do the best thing for his son and to keep his son safe. He's bound by his oath to his wife who passed unceremoniously, and he feels responsible for. He is not going to have that happen to Victor on his watch. It creates a certain calculation in him, a certain detachment from Victor emotionally that Victor does not appreciate. I think if Silas was Victor, he wouldn't appreciate it either! But he isn't. He's Silas, and he feels like 'I know best.' As most parents do about their kids, beyond their child's knowledge. For me, it's not hard to play that. I have had that dynamic in my life with my son. Not necessarily that distant, certainly not these kinds of stakes, but I'm familiar with having to say things and do things that they don't like, because they want to do something, and you feel, 'No, that's dangerous. You can get hurt. Don't do that. Don't play in the street.' There is that element that is a thread for every parent, and that exists in me. So I'm bringing that to Silas 100%. And we'll see where it goes.
The death of Elinore -- however it really went down -- sounds like it could be key to both Silas and Victor's stories moving forward on Doom Patrol. Since fans can't really trust Vic's memories from the donkey dimension until it's revealed with certainty whether or not they were programmed into him, speculation is the name of the game at this point. Phil Morris' comments do reveal that Sials feels responsible for her death, and he made an oath to her.
If working with a certain degree of calculation and detachment on his son is his way of honoring that oath... well, Vic might not respond too well to that in the long run. The misfit Doom Patrol members may have their flaws, but they hardly qualify as cold or calculating. If anything, they might have stayed out of trouble so far if they'd been more detached!
See what happens next for Silas Stone, Cyborg, and the rest in new episodes of Doom Patrol, which release Fridays on DC Universe. Interestingly, the Doom Patrol versions of Vic and Silas are the second ones to premiere on DC Universe. Both characters debuted in the first half of Young Justice Season 3. That show is currently on hiatus. For what you can catch now and in the coming weeks, check out our midseason TV premiere schedule.