There's a lot to be said for taking the time to build towards a season finale, and Doom Patrol Season 3 Episode 9 is an excellent example of how multiple plot threads can entwine to create tension leading into the big climax.
In the aftermath of the Eternal Flagellation, we have a very different set of team members. Whether they are becoming less dysfunctional is debatable, but the team dynamic is most assuredly transformed significantly.
Rouge and Rita. The Brain and Mallah. Jane and Kay. Whether adversaries or allies, the pairings in and of themselves are microcosms of intense emotions and motivations.
I'm not sure what I expected of The Brain and Mallah, but finding them in a Boca Raton retirement community probably wasn't in my Top 10.
And while it sort of made sense for Rouge to have contacts to point her in the right direction, it borders on absurd that Vic could find their location so easily on the Internet.
The remnants of the Brotherhood of Evil are distinctly underwhelming, but maybe that's on purpose. It makes for a solid contrast with the mind-bending awesomeness of the Sisterhood of Dada. Or even the relatively effective efforts of the Doom Patrol.
Those weren't lies. They were just truths that changed over time.Rouge
To have Laura/Rouge change so much that she goes from being a founding Dada member to being what amounts to an Evil hanger-on is galling. After all, this is a meta-human with incredible shape-shifting abilities.
Byron: It's called Woman Petting Cat
Rita: You can change into a cat?
Rouge: Well, yes, of course, I can turn into a cat. I can turn into anything I like. That said, I will not be turning into a cat. I will be turning into a bird.
Rita: A bird! Why?
Byron: Because I'm allergic to cats.
Rouge: Because Shelley's allergic to cats. And neither of us could be fucked changing the title.
Despite not reading the source material, I understand that The Brotherhood of Evil was never all that successful at either world domination or destroying The Chief and his minion, but were they ever even a serious threat?
Rouge, on her own, seems more dangerous than anything The Brain's cooked up with Mallah seconding.
Her major downfall is expecting the Brotherhood to have her back even though Mallah makes it very clear that he is not interested in rebooting the bad old days.
Art is the only path. The only path through this messy life is paved with moments of pure expression.Rouge
I'm still fascinated by what morphed her between 1917 and 1949. It feels like it has to be more than just a hunger for influence and recognition.
I mean, it could've been, and, alternatively, it could be something as trite as jealousy over Rita and Malcolm's relationship.
Ultimately, although the premiere needed to tie up Doom Patrol Season 2 loose ends, this has been the Season of Rouge.
The original mission relied on using my anonymity to spy on Niles Caulder and his creations, but unfortunately, I instead relied on Niles Caulder's creations to undo my anonymity, and effectively run a mission counter to the original goal.Rouge
A glorious and whimsical combination of bewildered naïveté and intrinsic, matter-of-fact arrogance, Michelle Gomez has conveyed nuance and contradictive traits without a trace of irony.
Besides the expected hatred for Niles, amnesiac Rouge shared unique common ground with each team member.
Like Jane, she suffers no fools and shoots from the hip, er, lip. Like Cliff, she's in a body she doesn't have complete control over. Like Larry, when it comes to dealing with people she cares about, she has challenges. Like Vic, she feels her efforts to pull the team together are discounted.
Before either she or Rita knew how they connected, they were connected. Initially, it was Rita's fixation on becoming a time-traveler that drew her to Rouge. Then, it was 1917 Rouge who invited Rita into the Dada enclave.
Finally, when the memories were back in place, they stood alone after the Eternal Flagellation, sworn enemies to the end.
Change is hard, and when your teammates expect you to bring a superpower to the table, it's even more complicated when it means you aren't the superpowered individual they're counting on.
I made an erroneous assumption that if Kay's alts were to go away, she would assimilate their powers into her repertoire, making her the most powerful metahuman on the team.
Of course, all those powers would be a bit much for any individual to control, forget that Kay's maturity is that of a very sheltered twelve-year-old.
Does anyone else wonder why Kay-on-the-surface looks different each time and also different from Kay-as-Jane's-subconscious?
I get why Vic feels let down by his teammates' underwhelming support for his choice to remove his tech, but I can't help but think that he's still approaching life from an entitled perspective.
Silas's father recounting his Flagellation moment made sense of a lot of Silas's choices when it came to his son. By the way, Phil Morris OWNED that scene. Bravo!
I had a choice, not just to save my son's life, but to give him a suit of armor, to build him into something the world could not tear down. Build him into something that could walk the world free.Silas
But Vic doesn't give his father an inch. He still holds him responsible for everything bad that's happened to him as Cyborg. Honestly, it's a hard angle to sell. Vic comes across as privileged, egotistical, and self-righteous.
You traded my humanity for a symbol. You robbed me of the chance to define myself. Why the hell would I give a fuck about how people see me?Vic
Or maybe his life as Cyborg never allowed him the time and space to mature into a reasonable adult. That may be why he and Kay connect so well. Hm.
Larry's subconscious is still in overdrive if his dream about Jane and Cliff stealing his space larva baby is any indication.
And, without the Negative Energy Entity inside him and highly distracted by the shock-happy, empathic bug baby, Larry's not exactly in fighting form.
Who'da thought that a deadbeat robo-dad with a brain disease is the only capable member left on the team? Larry's got a baby. Vic's depowered. And Jane's head is empty. We're two bananas short of a dog-shit sundae.Cliff
That leaves us with Cliff to anchor Rita's master plan to defeat the Brotherhood of Evil.
And, of course, he's the one the Brotherhood sends Rouge to abduct.
Rita's just not having a great day as team leader, is she?
Having done a little research on the interactions between The Brain and the Doom Patrol, it's kind of twisted to note that Niles (in the graphic novels) originally built the Robotman body to store The Brain. Crazy, right?
So, as we move onto the finale, what is the lay of the land?
Mallah has dumped Cliff's brain and Rouge's body into a ditch in the woods.
The Brain's dancing up a storm in the Robotman body.
Kay's been triggered in the Underground with a knock-on effect being her superpowered fear scream emanating from Jane, which caused Larry's space baby to uber-zap everyone and sent the bus flipping down an embankment.
Will the finale bring back any of this season's guests to help save the day?
Kipling, Dorothy, the Dead Boys, the Dadas?
I'd be happy for any or all of them to return for a curtain call.
How do you think the season will resolve itself? Will it take a team effort, or will it come down to a singular sacrifice? Hit our comments with your best theories!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.