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Dollhouse: A Spy in the House of Love

Echo: "Sometimes it is about the pain."

This episode was just electrifying, in a brain wipey sort of way.

Echo's dominatrix imprint in the opener signaled what this episode was about: betrayal of trust, punishment and pain. Dominic just got his. He's probably the last person I would have expected to be an NSA mole. But he wasn't the one who programmed Echo and November to talk to Paul Ballard. Dominic really was trying to take Echo out because she was a threat to the Dollhouse. And she just took him out because he was a threat to her.

Which made me a lot more interested in Echo, who hasn't been well served in the character development department so far. I noticed that there were several inappropriate conversations in front of her, which must have set her off. But volunteering for an imprint so she could take Dominic out? How much did she know? What is going on inside of her? Is she directing all this, or is someone using her? Could it be both?

Adelle DeWitt has been raiding the Dollhouse cookie jar. That was both shocking and surprisingly delicious. She's been getting more and more interesting as the series progresses. Here, she condemned Dominic to a living death without so much as blinking, and then punished herself for Victor by giving him up. And how about that bullet wound, huh? She just ignored it until she finished doing what she had to do, and then she made Claire patch her up with no anesthetic. She's a piece of work, as Dominic said. Gold acting stars for Olivia Williams. She pretty much covered several acting octaves in one episode.

DeWitt kept talking about Victor/Roger being real when she knew damned well he was not. And she told him she used to work in a more useful division of Rossum, replacement organs out of stem cells, something she could tell her friends. Did she used to believe in Rossum, and now she doesn't? Do they have something on her, perhaps? Victor's British accent while imprinted made me wonder if the real Roger was someone she loved. Was the exotic sports car Roger's, too?

Paul just got punished for getting too close. From here on out, he'll have to play a game with Mellie. He'll almost certainly have to have sex with her, even though he won't want to. Like a doll, but without an imprint. (Did November activate when Paul started to unbutton her dress? Or was that just a coincidence?) November told Paul that he needs to investigate why the Dollhouse exists, what their purpose is, not just try to take them down. Okay.

Boyd wanted to stay with Echo, but he just got promoted to Dominic's job. Echo has a new handler named Travis. I don't like him, and I don't even know him.

Bits and pieces:

-- Sierra didn't get an emotional scene like everyone else, but she got to carry out an exciting mission while wearing an unbelievable set of heels. But wouldn't someone at the NSA have noticed that she wasn't Ms. Sato? Don't they work with her?

-- And hey. The NSA is helping control the Dollhouse, not bring it down? That can't be good.

-- The Attic is even worse than I expected: it's mental death without actual death. Permanent mind suck in a box. Horrible.

-- I was right. Claire Saunders doesn't leave the Dollhouse at all.

-- Dominic nearly sacrificed Topher's gopher Ivy to save himself. (I'm going to miss Dominic. He was so vicious and creepy.) If Echo's body language test worked, which it did, then Ivy isn't the other mole who is helping Paul. Neither is Topher.

-- Topher thought Boyd was the spy, and likes him so much that he gave him the heads up.

Quotes:

Dominic "You're behind schedule."
Topher: "Somebody's a grumpeteer today."
Grumpy puppeteer?

Topher: "I make a cheerleader. They make a cheerleader that shoots people. Or an assassin that does cheers."

Echo: "I'm not trying to incriminate you. I'm just trying to nail down your feelings about the Dollhouse."
Boyd: "We're pimps and killers, but in a philanthropic way. Can I go now?"
Best line in the episode.

Dominic: "The agency will figure it out and they'll come looking for me."
DeWitt: "And when they do, you'll tell them everything's fine. And then we'll put you back in your box."

Echo: "I can take care of myself."
Dominic: "I know. That's why I'm smiling. Because one day you'll be erasing them. Even after all this, they still won't see it coming."
Now that was a really interesting exchange. He really did try to kill her because she was a threat to the Dollhouse, and for no other reason. And now he wants her to succeed.

Outstanding. Four out of four dolls,

Billie
---
Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

17 comments:

  1. Hey, long time reader first time poster. I have to say I'm incredibly impressed on how much this series has improved in just a few episodes. Like you said in earlier reviews, the first few episodes were okay, but nothing really gripping. Now I can't wait for next Friday, and if the preview means anything, it's gonna be a doozy.

    Also, can I mention how good of an actor Enver Gjokaj is? He was able to go from shady underworld contact to lifeless doll to federal agent to latin lover very convincingly.

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  2. Ridiculously good ep... I almost wish it didn't get this good, because now my heart will REALLY be broken if they cancel the show. Adelle was both shocking and human. Victor is awesome, and I'm glad that Echo has a character again. As I said last week, I really didn't like Caroline at all, but now I'm back to wanting to know more about her, like I did in the beginning.

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  3. The show keeps getting better and better (didn’t see the Dominic twist coming, nice surprise). Yet the ratings are not improving. And we’re now not getting the final episode (like a Segal movie it goes straight to DVD).

    The future does not look bright. The Cancellationer is sharpening his axe. To quote Jack Bauer, Damnit!!!

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  4. Topher: "Somebody's a grumpeteer today."
    Grumpy puppeteer?
    ~~~~
    I must be a lot older than you. The only thing I thought of was grumpy Mousketeer, from the Mickey Mouse Club back in the 1950's.

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  5. This was a fantastic episode! The stuff was Sierra was fun in an 'Alias' spy mission way, and the rest was just fascinating and wrenching. Great stuff with Echo, Paul and Mellie, Victor and Adele, Dominic, Boyd, and the rest. Nice to see Adele in an emotional light and in her tough-as-nails, vengeful mode.

    I really liked Echo in this episode. I've always liked Echo and felt sympathetic towards her, because she's always had the slightest hint of her own personality (which is a bit different than Caroline's). I liked getting to see more of that this week. Was it just me, or was Echo still looking at Boyd when doing the trust imprinting at the end?

    My favorite line was when Adele said it was ironic that 'Roger' was the realest person she knew, and he corrected her telling her no one uses the term irony properly. Funny *and* sad that he didn't realize just how correctly she was using the term.

    It's a shame that this series probably won't get renewed. It has been getting better and better. I look forward to it more and more every week.

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  6. A really good episode, probably the first one I liked without any reservations. Finally it seems we are seeing some progress - some stuff happened and it wasn't all reset to the status quo at the end of the episode.

    Oh, and yeah, poor Paul Ballard. He'll be forced to repeatedly have sex with an attractive woman to keep his cover. I feel for him, I truly do! ;-)

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  7. Did anyone think that Echo as the hooker was a bit Sopranos? I thought she sounded like Adrianna from that show.

    With the series making stellar episodes, I hope we do get a second season now.

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  8. I have to admit I was somewhat apathetic about Dollhouse when it started; I felt obligated to review it, since I was so deeply into Buffy, Angel and Firefly.

    But now I'm starting to love it for itself. I'm starting to care about the characters, particularly the dolls, and I really want to see what happens next. If it's canceled, I'm going to be pissed. And not just because it'll mean Joss Whedon will never do television again. Although that's a big part of it.

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  9. This episode was excellent. Lots of OMG moments.

    1. Echo asking Topher to imprint her. There has been a lot of criticism regarding Eliza's acting. But she has gotten better and is really into Echo. The teaser rocked and mostly because of her. The only moment her acting bugged me was inside the van, with Dominic. Her narrowed eyes expression was too fake. Apart from that, she was good.

    2. Mellie and Ballard. Dear God, I kept waiting to see how Ballard would find out Mellie was a doll, but not in a million guesses I would've seen this coming. Great acting from both actors. Tamoh desperate expression ("don't do this") was heartbreaking, and Miracle Laurie switched from Mellie to inside person information conduit very nicely.

    About Mellie, she saw Echo and asked "where do I know her from?" At first, I thought she was remembering Echo, but no, it was Caroline. Mellie saw Caroline's picture and the video too, right? If that's the case, the Dollhouse just let something major slip through their fingers. Won't Mellie eventually tell Ballard "hey, I know this girl"?

    3. Adelle was the most interesting part of the episode. Joss said this show would talk about humanity (and stuff like that), and this was the first time the show actually raised the moral questions towards its premise. Adelle actually BELIEVES in the "cause" of the Dollhouse. She had her own fantasie. My head is still spinning because of this.

    If we could, would we want a perfect partner? One we can share, trust, that we know will never be unfaithful? That seems so good, but at the same time, it's just a program. A lie. And requires using another person. How many people wouldn't be willing not to take those cons on count and actually live the life they always wanted even if based on lies? And, how many of us don't already do that without a dollhouse? Head. Spinning. Nonstop.

    4. Dominic was the spy! But, yeah, just one, there's clearly another one. And this other spy probably already knew Dominic was NSA, and maybe even set him up.

    5. The Attic. Wow. It reminded me of the electric chair death scene from "The Green Mile".

    Bonus: Sierra and her Alias like mission. Although the producers should have gotten someone that actually looked like Dichen Lachman.

    This show needs another season. It's getting quite popular here in Brazil and Latin America Fox Network hasn't even announced when they will start airing around here (no need to worry, though. Fox always delays their shows. Buffy and Angel seasons only premiered on March!!!). Fans of Whedon are downloading Dollhouse like crazy around the world. Come on, Fox!

    About the episode that won't air:
    http://www.whedon.info/Fox-paid-for-13-Dollhouse-episodes.html

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  10. That's been two excellent episodes in a row now. I'm encouraged. And the impossible happened too this week. I actually started to like Topher. As soon as he uttered the line...."or an assassin that does cheers"...I inexplicably started to like him.

    PK

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  11. This ep was amazing! The show is really getting better.

    The developpement of the caracters is really getting better and I was si surprise about Adelle and Victor. I mean, it was great to see that she can have feelings too, that she was ''human''. It reminds me of Madeline, when she shots Operations and wanted to get away with the man she loved.

    So, I agree with you, this episode was really great! :D

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  12. Hahaha whoa so many great comments in addition to Billie's.

    Like Tom L I was most interested in Adelle and think the acting and the chemistry was just fantastic, with such complex text, subtext, and wider meaning to the scenes. AHHH So good.

    If Dollhouse is cancelled I'm going to book a plane to the US and assasinate the Fox execs. Undercover as a cheerleader of course.

    I was quite confused about all the Dominic stuff to begin with - let me get this straight - he was a mole but he just wanted to keep tabs on the Dollhouse and possibly kill Echo. He had nothing to do with the chip in Topher's equipment and the messages via doll will therefore keep on getting to Ballard?

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  13. I agree - this is the first time I actually like Topher. He's no Xander, and he's still immature as hell, but when he gave Boyd a 5 minute start to run, it really endeared me. And I'd have thought he'd cover his a** with Adelle re: Echo, but he came clean. Clearly he was trying to protect Echo with Dominic.

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  14. Now, if that doesn't save Dollhouse, nothing will:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Aa84Zu9_4w

    :)

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  15. Loved this episode. So twisty and turny.

    Dominic being the mole (or one of two) was something I didn't see coming. I wish I had though in respect given that it makes some sense.

    His motives seems to be stopping the Dollhouse from imploding on itself and he's got a fair point there.

    Sending him to the Attic was harsh but Adelle clearly doesn't deal with betrayal all that well.

    It makes sense that Dominic would believe that Echo will erase the Dollhouse but maybe not in quite the bloodbath he's anticipating.

    Topher must genuinely like Boyd enough to give him a headstart. That's interesting.

    Claire doesn't leave the house. She's a prisoner or a Doll.

    Adellle and Victor, comparisons to Hearn and Sierra can definitely be drawn. Just wrong Adelle.

    Sierra's little spy mission was a cute Alias nod, am I right?

    Mellie revealing to Paul that she was a Doll was devastating. Now I do feel bad for him.

    Overall, this show is getting there, 9/10.

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  16. Really good episode. Eliza as Echo gets better with time. I love Adelle´s storyline and Sierra rocked.

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  17. Topher warning Boyd was the first minute of likable Topher we've gotten. That was so interesting.

    This was such a good episode. It was masterfully constructed.

    I'm going to miss Dominic. I hated him, but he was a really interesting character. His intense, irrational hatred of Echo was fascinating. There has to be a backstory there, right?

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