There were a lot of red herrings laid out on Doom Patrol Season 3 Episode 7, to the point that I found myself completely re-evaluating the definition of "flagellation" just in case I'd missed another piece of the puzzle.
With the exciting news that HBO Max has renewed Doom Patrol for a fourth season, I can only imagine that they'll develop even more mind-bending adventures with even more ludicrously surreal conflicts.
For a show that takes absurd pride in its rough and blunt dysfunctional nature, it has delved into some pretty cerebral sort of dilemmas. In fact, I'd venture to say it makes me think a lot more than I signed on for most days.
You could be forgiven for forgetting that, considering the distracting flood of were-butts, but it was our (first) amnesiac time-traveler's initial and solitary clue to her identity.
Everybody, come! I know who I am! I'm a bird! And I can fly! I think.Rouge
So the birdcage had to be for Rouge, right?
And the nest? Well, it seemed a little big for the bird form we saw her change from in the film, but that had to be for her too. After all, we hadn't seen any other birds.
I am curious, did anyone else have no idea what the symbol the Sisterhood of the Dada kept throwing around was?
I mean, until the giant egg (that Laura didn't lay, don't think I didn't notice that) hatched, I kind of thought it was just a giant scribble or an abstract interpretation of one's mind taking flight.
The fact that it was actually Malcolm's face with wings attached really never occurred to me.
There is something deliciously foreboding in watching the past unfold, revealing glimpses into what we've seen already.
Rita's mask for her pantomimed dance with Malcolm is clearly Malcolm's face in the Afterlife when he rescues Rita on Doom Patrol Season 3 Episode 3.
Rita: I'm a little worried about her, if I'm being honest. Lately, she just seems so...
Malcolm: Sour? She's been sour for fifteen years.
Rita: It's her job. That sort of work just has to weigh on a person's soul.
Malcolm: Yeah, if she still has one.
Furthermore, ever since the revelation that Malcolm was Rita's rescuer, we've known that he is the doomed member of the Dada Sisterhood, making his burgeoning romance with Rita/Bendy even more bittersweet.
And Malcolm is such an enigma. Technically, heartless but moved deeply by emotion. He's the quietest member of the group, but when he speaks, it's with conviction. Prone to disappearing, but he always turns up when it matters.
His resurrection is everything one would expect from a Dada member. Grotesque, supernatural, overwhelming, and breaking all the barriers of sense and logic.
A flagellation is traditionally meant to beat out the evils in a body. The Eternal Flagellation brought about by the Sisterhood is obviously meant to purge the world of its evils.
Quiz: This was just the prologue. The prologue to reckoning.
Cliff: That sounds bad. Is it bad?
Lloyd: Only if you are.
It doesn't bode well that the Malcolm-birds took out all the members of the Doom Patrol in the final moments, but not completely unexpected.
Previous to their Dada-spurred reunion, each team member (except Rita) had revealed their individual devices of downfall.
Cliff's Internet addictions threaten his relationship with his daughter and grandson.
Vic's identity crisis leads him to reject his tech, basically everything that makes him a super-human.
In essence, by opting for synthetic skin replacement, he's destroying Cyborg, a path that Roni cautions him about.
You can sign all the online petitions that you want, but when there is a guy with an arm cannon at the table, you're gonna want to listen to what he has to say.Roni
It's a level of entitlement that she, rightly, calls him on. What was impressive was how gently she laid into him. I suspect it's a dilemma she's faced herself.
We have our preferred methods, but, at the end of the day, we want the same thing. Change. Now, I'm blasting through the backdoor, demanding it, while you're walking in through the lobby with a big, dumb smile on your face, talking about,'Hi! I'm Cyborg, Nice to meet ya!' but sometimes change comes from the inside. You taught me that.Roni
Vic's decision is one I'm surprised he hasn't contemplated before. It goes a long way in showing the changes he's undergone since meeting the Doom Patrol and Roni, as well as seeing his mother again in the Afterlife.
Jane's standoff with Kay's personas has me more conflicted.
Part of me wonders if it's all part of the plan for Kay to regain control of her body and life.
Kay is maturing, growing, and striking out in ways she's never attempted before.
Harrison: If the girl is going to be hurt, it's better it be on our terms than on theirs. Don't you agree?
Jane: We were created for one thing. It was to protect the girl.
Understandably, this freaks out the personas as it may mean they are no longer needed. However, if they're frightened, doesn't that reflect Kay's anxiety about the changes she's undergoing?
Jane is the only persona with a clear vision of what her purpose is, and she is very clear that she is ready for Kay to take the reins for good when she's ready.
And then there's Larry and evidence of exactly how bad a dad he actually was.
I mean, there were signs of it throughout his flashbacks to his non-Negative-Energy-possessed life. He was closeted and egocentric, and trapped within his own social construct.
Despite every indication that he loved his family, what good is love without honesty?
After his final confrontation with his son on Doom Patrol Season 3 Episode 6, I expected a different reception for his space baby.
Larry: What should I do?
Rouge: Let's use our brains here. When one expels a living, sixteen-pound parasite from one's body, there is really only one reasonable response.
Larry: Give it a name?
But, instead, in the vein of his instinct to pose the Doom Patrol corpses at the dining room table, he drops the larva in a duffel in the woods, abandoning it to the weird fog creeping in.
So, it looks like Judgement Day has come calling on the Doom Patrol.
Assuming they all survive the Eternal Flagellation experience, I predict they'll all be changed significantly by it.
And how does Rita return to the fold? Does she?
Top marks for the recreation of Laura Demille's moment of sin. Powerful, evocative, and dramatic. It was a quality moment of cinema.
What are your thoughts on where the Flagellation takes us?
Who do you expect to be redeemed?
What will the Dadas do with those who remain? Hit our comments with your best theories!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is a lifelong fan of smart sci-fi and fantasy media, an upstanding citizen of the United Federation of Planets, and a supporter of AFC Richmond 'til she dies. Her guilty pleasures include female-led procedurals, old-school sitcoms, and Bluey. She teaches, knits, and dreams big. Follow her on X.