This doesn’t start out too promisingly as Echo gives us a twirl in a hooker outfit while writhing to a Lady GaGa tune. But one personality download later and she’s a kidnap negotiator. Why the father of the kidnapped child just doesn’t hire a real negotiator isn’t explained.
What is clear however is that all the Dollhouse employees are scum. From scarred Dr Saunders (Amy Acker of ‘Angel’) to Head of Security Dominic (Reed Diamond of ‘Journeyman’) to Echo’s handler Langton to Dollhouse boss DeWitt to Topher, the nerd TPTB are determined we’ll love. Meanwhile borderline sociopath FBI agent Paul Ballard is assigned to Case Designate Dollhouse.
This ep has gratuitous shirtless scenes, gratuitous screaming, gratuitous co-ed showers, the idiot client causing Echo’s imprinted personality template to crack, someone gets shot and Echo has to save the kid herself. This was a shaky but okay start.
“I’m talking about a clean slate.”
“You ever try and clean an actual slate?”
“If you have everything, you want something else.”
“How is she?”
“See the blue areas? That’s fear.”
“It all looks blue.”
“The girls of Sigma Tau, sisters forever. Let’s hope those venereal diseases make you sterile you snobby ass pack of ho’s!”
Echo known as Jenny goes on an outdoors trip with her ‘date’. So far so very ‘A Perfect Getaway’. Her ‘date’ turns out to be a psycho who wants to hunt and kill her with his massive bow. Echo runs like she got an offer to be in ‘Wrong Turn 3’. Meanwhile Agent Ballard (Tahmoh Penikett of ‘Battlestar Galactica’ and some dreadful TV movie that co-starred Tori Spelling and Victoria Pratt) investigates the kidnapping from ‘Ghost’.
Paul chants to his neighbour Mellie and it is revealed that Alpha set Echo up with the psycho. The Alpha = Big Bad plot arc properly begins in this ep. He was an Active who had a composite event and went psycho.
This was good but Echo is treated like a hooker and nobody seems to care. And the Dollhouse can programme people’s minds but can’t fix Saunders’ scars?
“Secure the exits. Anyone tries to breach, shoot them in the head. Twice.”
“Can’t. Shouldn’t. Did.”
“Even a blind dog can find a bone if he digs enough holes.”
Rayna a singer and demented diva hires Jordan aka Echo as a backing singer. Rayna is unaware Echo is actually her bodyguard to save her from a stalker. But Rayna doesn’t want to be saved.
More actives named Sierra and Victor show up. Sierra works alongside Echo and gets abducted by the stalker and Victor works to confuse Ballard. As the stalker rips off ‘The Day of the Jackal’ in order to kill Rayna, Ballard is shot.
This was average and the ominous Attic is mentioned.
Echo is sent on assignment as Taffy a hooker/art thief until someone remote wipes her. So Echo is her blank slate child like self and she’s stuck in a vault with two other thieves. One nice, one nasty. Topher is outraged by the remote wipe, only he gets to play with the Actives like they’re his personal Transformer toys.
Sierra gets to play Taffy Mark Two as Echo bonds with the nice thief. Ballard acts like a jerk. Alpha turns out to be the mastermind behind events, again. No-one is as worried about the prospect of remote wiping as they should be.
“You’re privilege abusing.”
“They volunteered for this.”
“So we’re told.”
A cult is investigated and Echo goes in as Esther a blind true believer. And she has a camera implanted in her eyes. When an ATF raid turns into a siege, Echo has to save the day. Ballard continues his obsession with the Dollhouse and Caroline (aka Echo) Meanwhile Victor likes Sierra and Dominic tries to kill Echo mid-assignment. This was okay.
“Aren’t you supposed to be shot?”
“I see that.”
“If a serpent should enter, we must crush it underneath our heel.”
Man on the Street
The Dollhouse is a well known urban legend in LA but Ballard’s no closer to finding it. He does come face to face with Echo as she plays Rebecca the wife of an internet mogul. Ballard is a violent jerk ass. Are we supposed to dislike Ballard?
At the Dollhouse it is revealed that Sierra has been abused by her handler Hearn (Kevin Kilner of ‘Earth: Final Conflict’) so an angry Langton throws him through a plate glass door. DeWitt sends Hearn to kill Mellie but there’s a big surprise in store for Hearn.
The Dollhouse have Ballard’s apartment under surveillance and he gets beaten up by Echo. But a mole inside the Dollhouse sends him a message. This is the one bright moment of his day as he is suspended by the FBI for among many things: “violent paranoia.”
This was very good. There are twenty Dollhouses worldwide, so what is their true purpose?
Best Line: “The Dollhouse deals in fantasy. That is their business but that is not their purpose.”
Flashbacks show how Caroline stumbled onto the secrets of the Rossum Cooperation, her boyfriend died as a result and she was coerced into signing up for the Dollhouse. The Rossum Corporation owns the Dollhouses. This is worrying as they’re the types who make memory drugs.
One of these memory drugs is causing people to lose all their inhibitions on a college campus. So an army of Actives are sent in to deal with matters. But the drug makes the Actives have memory flashes.
Dominic freaks out, the disgusting Topher and DeWitt trip, Echo runs into an old tutor and is told her real name but doesn’t realise it and Victor has a memory of his real life. Apart from the forced comedy of DeWitt and Topher and Echo wearing a lace hooker outfit this was okay. I don’t find Topher amusing or cuddly, he’s vile and so is DeWitt and her endless tea.
Despite everything, nobody is looking for Alpha. Topher continues to get away with work inappropriate behaviour. It is revealed that the actives sleep in pods in the floor so that sedatives and anti-psychotics can be pumped in.
Sierra, Victor, November and Echo wake up without their programming and plan their escape from the Dollhouse. November looks for her lost daughter. Echo sees fellow Active Tango being sent out to do some ho work and is appalled. Sierra’s real name is revealed as Priya and she confronts Nolan (Vincent Ventresca of ‘The Invisible Man’ and ‘Prey’) who sold her into service at the Dollhouse because of a personal grudge.
Echo confronts Topher and DeWitt about their sick behaviour. But it all ends with the Actives being carried back into the Dollhouse. But not before Echo got a message to Ballard: “Please, please find us.”
This was good. Topher doesn’t care what he does to the Actives and Ballard seems to want to rescue Caroline/Echo so she’ll sleep with him.
“I work up in a five star floor coffin.”
“Pervs behind glass, getting off watching us.”
“What humans you know build circular pod rooms with stone cavities and peeping windows?”
“Owning you is better than real estate.”
“Deranged millionaire serial killers, that’s what I think.”
A Spy in the House of Love
Echo wears a hooker outfit. Victor sports an English accent as the Dollhouse pimp him out for the 10th time to DeWitt. And the Dollhouse learn they have a spy in their midst. Ballard waves a gun and is paranoid like he is main lining meth.
Sierra is sent on a mission that involves stealing hologram documents. DeWitt has been hiring Victor to sleep with him and tussle his hair with her cheap acrylic nails. Has she no decency? Topher is a jerk to his assistant Ivy. The spy is revealed and is sent to the Attic in a truly nightmarish sequence. All those ominous hints about the Attic? It pays off, nastily. The Dollhouse staff are awful, awful, awful people and engender sympathy for the most unlikely person. This was very good.
“Where’s the Dollhouse located?”
“You need to find out why it exists.”
Topher is the Andrew of this show. TPTB love him but I don’t. Echo is imprinted as Margaret a deceased old friend of DeWitt’s so she can solve her own murder. No-one seems to care about the whole life after death implications of this scenario. Topher is for one too busy imprinting Sierra to be his perfect toy for the day.
Echo’s imprint is shocked by how bitter and jaded her family is. There is inappropriate kissing, non-mourning and the terrible revelation of who killed her. Ballard runs November’s prints and as a result of what he sees, does something he regrets. This was good and for once Echo wears a tasteful wardrobe.
“Seems somewhat the worse for being stupefying drunk.”
“Nic, just like me when I was your age. Wooing all the women and sort of worthless.”
“What do you know Uncle Bill? We haven’t even seen you since mother banned you after the boat fiasco.”
“You should have seen our mother. Of course you would have turned to stone.”
“You said you wanted to comfort me.”
“Not with my tongue!”