Doom Patrol delivers the best episode of its third season with episode 7, “Bird Patrol.” The episode primes viewers for what is expected to be the explanation as to what has been happening throughout the season and just how everything is connected. The Eternal Flagellation has begun, and in classic Doom Patrol fashion, it is absolutely crazy to behold. Both the events of the past and of the present come crashing together by the end of the episode, in an extremely satisfying way.
We begin the episode, with the Sisterhood of Dada in the present, building what looks to be a birdcage. As they are doing this, the wind picks up around them. The wind seems to be the eternal flagellation that we have been hearing so much about these past few episodes. As the wind is going around, flyers begin to fall all around, with the logo seen in the fire at the end of last week’s episode, along with the words “tonight.” Holly then goes on to build what looks to be a foghorn, symbolic of the fog that is coming for the Doom Patrol. When Sachiko hears the foghorn and sees the fog, she yells “It’s Time!”
At Doom Manor, Larry throws up the tumor that had been growing inside of him, which looks like some sort of larva. He lays on the ground to catch his breath and one of the flyers that the Sisterhood had lands on him. Downstairs, Jane is confronting Cliff about selling her records so that he could make money when suddenly, she coughs up a t-shirt with the exact same stuff on it as the flyer. Cliff then notices that the shirt that he is wearing has the same symbol as the flyer. Laura De Mille arrives and tells them that they need to fortify the mansion, but the two of them simply respond by telling her to get out. Jane then finds out that Cliff had also sold her workout tapes and Flit takes control of Kay’s body and decides to teleport Cliff to Clara’s house where she dumps him off and leaves him behind.
Laura, continuing her quest to get the Doom Patrol to help her, goes upstairs to wake up Larry. As she is trying to wake him up from outside his room, she notices the tumor on the ground. Larry wakes up and pours water on the tumor and sure enough, the tumor is still alive. She tells him that it seems to be a space parasite that he got while he was in the Negative Nebula. Laura tells Larry to burn it and then meet back up with her, so he takes it out to the forest, though can’t bring himself to leave it out there, constantly going back to give it supplies to help it survive on its own. Larry then looks out as he hears the foghorn sounding. The tumor plotline seems to be more weird and unnecessary, and not one that has major implications on the plot, however, I believe that this is meant to show Larry’s paternal instincts, which if that is the case, it most likely will be important when continuing Larry’s reunion with his family.
In the Underground, Jane finds Kay crying because someone had stolen her bike. Kay then snaps at what Jane has to say citing that it is because she doesn’t want to be treated like a baby anymore. Kay then says that she never wants to go up again. Jane goes on to confront the other personalities about the stolen bike, but to her surprise, they are happy the bike is gone. They then are seemingly mad that there is no one to protect themselves. Jane goes to bring Kay some shoes and lies about the bike, saying that it was just lost. Kay calls her out on her lies and slams the door in Jane’s face. Some members of the Underground seem a bit more hesitant at listening to Doctor Harris, so I’m curious to see who ends up siding with Jane.
At Clara’s house, Clara and her wife seem to be happy to see Cliff and that their baby is never as relaxed as when Cliff is holding them. Clara compares Cliff to his father, her grandfather, to which Cliff is obviously not happy to hear, especially after the conversation he had with his father earlier in the season. Cliff tells them that they should go out for a bit, to which Clara’s wife hesitantly agrees, despite noticing that Cliff’s hand is still shaking despite the medicine he claims to have been taking. Cliff struggles around the house and turns off the radio, which is talking about the fog, saying that he doesn’t want to hear anything negative. Cliff is visibly tempted by the credit card that his daughter had left him, but before he can do anything, the fire alarm goes off, which he accidentally hits in response. Clara and Cliff’s daughter-in-law arrive back home, and the daughter-in-law goes to put Rory to sleep. Clara asks about the weird fog, to which Cliff says that he promises that he will keep the family safe. Unfortunately, while saying this, Cliff eyes Clara taking the credit card back. I hope that this moment is only to express just how low Cliff is and that he won’t actually go through with stealing from his daughter because that will be incredibly frustrating for his character to do it.
At Orsus Labs, Victor is meeting with an old friend of his parents, who is willing to go through with the procedure, however, she warns Victor that everything besides his artificial organs would have to be taken away if he wanted synthetic skin. She tells him that it can help to have someone on his side, saying that he should talk to his dad before going through with the procedure. However, instead of his father, Victor reaches out to Roni, who is still on the run and is out in the woods. Victor informs Roni that he wants to go through with the procedure, however, Roni argues that he shouldn’t because he is someone that the people in charge are willing to listen to. If he takes away his cybernetics, then they will be much less likely to hear him out. She says that “None of us ask for what we got,” and that all that matters is “What we do once we got it.” She also says that he is a more effective agent of change as Cyborg and that this decision is coming down to whether he wants change or for himself to be happy. However, before they can talk more, they lose each other with the signal going out. Victor goes on to decide that he wants to go through with the procedure, but when the procedure is about to start, he notices that the sisterhood mark is on a picture in the room. It was nice to see Roni again and she brought some interesting commentary with her on who exactly people are willing to listen to, something I don’t believe the show is done exploring yet.
In 1949, Laura is busy still working for the Bureau and meets with a new meta. This meta is named Wally Sage and has the ability to make things from a comic strip come into the real world. Unlike when she met Rita however, Laura marks Wally down as a weapon, which Rita sees as she is in the office making her rounds for the mailroom. Rita questions why Laura doesn’t look out for these people anymore, to which Laura cites the war being the cause. Laura goes on to question Rita for being complacent with being in this time, instead of finding out and going back to where she is from. Rita is visibly shocked but then tells Laura that the members of the Sisterhood would all love to see Laura again and leaves her a paper with an invite to their meeting place.
Outside Laura’s office, Rita runs into Malcolm and talks to him about being worried about Laura. It is revealed that she has been this “soulless” person for the past fifteen years. Rita thinks that maybe it is time for the Sisterhood to save Laura like Laura herself had saved them. Rita and Malcolm go on to dance in the hallway but step aside when they see soldiers come marching down. They hold hands, but when they notice that a soldier has seen them holding hands, they quickly let go and stand at attention.
Laura is hanging out by herself in the dining hall, when her apparent superior, Willy Hodges comes into the room. It is revealed that Laura has a recruitment record, however, she is informed that because the Bureau has noticed her protecting her friends, she won’t ever find herself in any true leadership position. She is more worried about them than she is in “Protecting the moral core of the nation.” She claims that the metas she is protecting are all pacifists, but Hodges claims that they are freaks that are an untapped resource along with herself. When Hodges leaves, Laura becomes enraged and upset over what she has just heard. She looks at the letter given to her by Rita, which has the same symbol as the flyers in the present day.
In their lounge, the members of the Sisterhood of Dada are visibly bored, but Rita and Malcolm run in wearing masks that look like the other’s face, with the mask representing Rita being her face when melting. It becomes clear that Malcolm is indeed the man Rita ran into when she died because the face he is wearing in this scene looks identical to the one that the man was wearing in that episode. Rita and Malcolm’s dance impresses no one, instead of causing some members to bring up the Eternal Flagellation again. Rita claims that they should want to make the world a better place, but Sachiko insists on giving the world an “enema.” Lloyd yells about the injustice happening, not just with them, but all over the country, and that they are all complicit for keeping their heads down. The group, won over by his impassioned speech, then go on to work on their project which is set to give a middle finger to the Bureau of Normalcy and that if Laura chooses the Bureau over them, they don’t want to have anything to do with her again. Laura arrives as the group makes their plans for the Eternal Flagellation and Laura looks visibly upset when she sees them practicing a group dance number. Laura says that she is proud of them, right before she has a group of soldiers, along with Hodges come into the room to capture the Sisterhood members.
In the present, the fog arrives and takes Jane, Cliff, and Victor, who is just about to get his procedure done, and brings them to the seemingly abandoned lounge that the Sisterhood of Dada would gather in. At Doom Manor, Laura hears whispers as she walks around the manor and is stunned to see that the Sisterhood has managed to trap her inside. Larry arrives home and asks Laura about the foghorn, but before they have any chance to really talk, the fog transports the two of them to where Jane, Cliff, and Victor are. The four Doom Patrol members are controlled into doing the same dance number from 1949, while Laura watches them, clearly starting to remember just who she is.
Laura is then controlled into declaring the members of the Doom Patrol as being weapons, just like she did of her own free will in the past. However, it is revealed that Rita had refused to get on her knees and be marked as a weapon, so the soldiers prepare to attack her. Malcolm defends Rita instead, being killed by an electric weapon because the strike shocked and killed the bird inside his birdcage. He is killed wearing the Rita mask, which Rita takes off to look at him and cry over his death. She takes the paperclip heart and angrily looks at Laura, who is seemingly upset that this has all gone down this way. Before, the Bureau soldiers can grab Rita though she is able to escape.
Back in the present, it is revealed that Rita has stuck with the Sisterhood of Dada all this time and that she had Laura reenact the events that lead to Malcolm’s death. Rita takes Laura and the Doom Patrol to meet with the rest of the Sisterhood, in front of the birdcage from the beginning of the episode, which now has a giant egg inside of it. The egg hatches to reveal some sort of bird creature that seems to have Malcolm’s face on it, which then transforms into many tiny birds with faces on them. The Sisterhood says Laura has a chance to atone by freeing Malcolm. Laura declares that she atoned back then when she made them useful agents, to which in response, Rita angrily lets the birds in the birdcage go. It is revealed that for some reason, Laura is the one that was supposed to open the cage so that the Sisterhood could bring Malcolm back, so why Rita herself opened the cage is questionable, even if it was out of anger. Laura transforms herself into a bird and escapes with the rest of the birds, and Rita, claiming that the Eternal Flagellation is for the best, vanishes along with the rest of the Sisterhood of Dada. Four different birds then run into the four Doom Patrol members, which causes them to be teleported away.
It was an awesome reveal that Rita had never come back to the Doom Patrol and lived out with the Sisterhood of Dada for a century, so I am curious to see whether or not Rita remembers who the Doom Patrol are and what they mean to her. She has two families to choose between and it is up in the air which one she will end up choosing. At the end of the day though, “Bird Patrol,” is an incredible episode of the show overall, and if this is only the beginning of Eternal Flagellation, then I am excited to see just what else is in store for us.
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Joel Tapia is a contributing writer at All Ages of Geek. You can follow him on Twitter @tapioca621