Echo's imprinting experiences a setback, Agent Ballard continues his search for the truth about the Dollhouse, and rogue Alpha causes more trouble for the organization that created him.
Sound familiar? Yeah. I think I could have put that introduction on the past three blogs and it would still work. As vague as it might be, it would be applicable.
I should really be more specific. What does TVGuide.com have to say about the episode?
"Echo's stint as a safecracker doesn't go as planned, causing Sierra to be imprinted with a familiar persona. Meanwhile, Ballard delivers an ultimatum to Lubov, and Adelle shares shocking information with Topher."
Yep. Another week, another engagement gone awry at the Dollhouse. Oddly enough, they always get paid.
What if Danny Ocean's mind turned to goo in the midst of pulling the job of the century with his 10 buddies? Thanks to this week's episode of Dollhouse, I think we might have an idea. That is, if Danny Ocean was being played by the stunning Eliza Dushku and also had a spare version of himself to pick up the slack.
The 10-minute teaser began with Echo delivering a baby at a swanky lodge in the mountains. I'd love to be able to tell you why this couple paid the outrageous fees associated with the Dollhouse to have Echo deliver their child, but unfortunately if we were told the answer, I must have missed it. Did I fall asleep?
"For a little while."
Ah, Topher. Our resident genius/narcissist spent this episode trying to exonerate himself of blame while doing very little to actually help the situation. Early in the episode, he shared some observations with his new "manfriend" Boyd. Topher is disconcerted by the fact that Echo, Sierra and Victor are "grouping" by routinely eating together at the same lunch table.
The three Goo Heads discuss their exercise routines (Echo did 30 laps) and the nature of being your best. I think this is the type of talk that frightens Topher to death.
In another part of the Dollhouse, the conversation is more in line with Topher's comfort zone. Adelle DeWitt is having her final meeting with a client before the imprinting. Yet again, the price for the service is increased due to the special circumstances involving the engagement.
Seemingly, Echo has been sent as the 21st century equivalent of the woman in the cake to the bachelor party of the client's "nephew," Vitas. Her name is Taffy (yes, really), and when their party gets a little too loud for the hotel bar, the manager persuades them to take the party upstairs in exchange for not one but two complimentary bottles of champagne.
A short time later, a panicked Taffy (complete with a bloody lip and mascara running down her cheeks) runs out of her room and through the halls. Just before the bachelors catch up with her, she runs into the manager from the bar. He takes Taffy through a security door and makes her an offer — he'll give her $10,000 if she doesn't get the law involved. She just wants to leave. Besides, she believes in working hard for her money. The kind of work that involves plotting a bachelor party gone wrong scenario so she can gain access to a vault of stolen treasures.
Now if only she can get rid of the manager. Oh, she knocks him out and plunges a syringe with contents unknown into his neck? Well, then everything is...
Taffy is direct. Her boss says she's the boss. End of story. The rules of the gig are simple. It's a no-kill job. While the security is being updated, there will be a shut down of any surveillance for a single "grey" hour. During that time, they'll break into the vault and leave with what they came for -- smaller segments of sculpted marble stolen from the Parthenon.
"They're called breasts and yes, they are exceptional... Mention that when you blog about this later."
I'd be happy to....
... but, this isn't Playboy.
"You ready to go boom?"
Vitas turns out to be the team's explosives man. After the grey hour begins, he blows a wall between the room Taffy was taken to and a room just outside the vault.
Once there, Taffy will crack the lock while tech guy Walton, monitors for guards.
Vitas has a thing for Taffy. And who wouldn't after the scene she was making in the bar?
"Hey. Old stuff expert? Old stuff's in here."
The Old Stuff Expert (O.S.E. from here on out) absconds with the marble once he finds it. After stabbing Walton, he triggers the vault's doors which trap his ex-teammates inside. Taffy does like a good doll and calls her handler immediately. During her conversation with Boyd, there is a high pitched squeal. "Did I fall asleep," Echo asks after she drops the phone.
"Ivy, babe, add juice boxes."
This episode introduced the character Ivy, an up-and-coming tech at the Dollhouse. While she seems to be very intelligent, Ivy spends her time doing menial chores for Topher. Perhaps he knows she's smarter than him. And maybe she is, because she's the one who points out the spikes in Echo's vitals.
"Can I go now?"
With the wrong kind of tech guy there to help her, Echo is in a state of panic. She's been remotely wiped, something the Dollhouse didn't believe was possible, and she needs her code phrases to put her at ease. Vitas doesn't care for Echo as much as he did Taffy. At least you can say he really looks at what's on the inside. Well, what's been imprinted on the inside anyway. Echo isn't responding to his questions and the nice guy who asked Taffy out suddenly isn't so nice anymore. He slaps a scared Echo. Oh, he's lucky Boyd didn't see that.
Boyd's too busy trying to catch O.S.E. Outside the building, he traps O.S.E. and we're given a glimpse of what Boyd might have been like in his cop days. I definitely saw shades of Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry and Danny Glover's Roger Murtaugh .
Adelle, Topher and Laurence play back Boyd and Taffy's last conversation. Despite not believing it to be possible, Topher deduces that she's been remotely wiped and there's nothing they can do to fix it.
"Hello Taffy. I'm Adelle DeWitt and I need your help."
Sierra wakes up as Taffy. Adelle and Topher keep her on a need-to-know basis. Taffy 2.0 is understandably pissed that the Parthenon job was given to some "chowderhead" who came down with amnesia in the middle of the job. With only nine minutes left before the end of the grey hour, Taffy 2.0 doesn't have enough time to even get out of the Dollhouse, let alone get to the vault. But Taffy's so good all she needs is a phone.
If only Echo would answer her phone.
Instead, Echo connects with Walton over the various pieces of art around the vault. She doesn't understand why it is that abstract art makes her feel funny. She likes the sky, especially the blue kind, but doesn't know why.
Still insisting this is not his fault, Topher theorizes to Ivy about who might be trying to set him up for a fall. His theories lead him to one thing: "multi pronged conspiracy." At the center is Yumio Takahashi, a computer programmer from Tokyo trying to show Adelle his, "mad skills."
Topher does admit there's one person who could have figured out the remote wipe but "he's dead now."
Finally, Taffy gets through to Echo. The grey hour is over but they still have some time to open the vault before the motion detectors go back online. Taffy walks Echo through a procedure to crack the vault door. Without her imprinted skills, Echo botches the job and the alarm begins sounding immediately.
Inside, Vitas prepares for a showdown with the guards once the doors open. If there's something a Goo Head doesn't need, it's mixed messages. Walton is telling Echo to surrender while Vitas tries to make Echo kick off the showdown by firing the first shot.
A confused Echo ultimately chooses to stab Vitas in the neck with one of her syringes. He falls to the ground and starts firing at the oncoming guards. Echo takes this opportunity to get away but not before carrying out Walton.
In what I believe is a first, we were shown the Dollhouse can also wipe a wipe. Echo's entire adventure in the vault is taken from her brain in a flash.
So, what happens to Topher? He's totally fired, right? Nuh-uh. Adelle needs Topher's mad skills (take that Yumio!) to figure out how Alpha has been orchestrating all this mayhem, so she gives Topher a promotion, a bump in security clearance and the incontrovertible statement of fact that Alpha is actually far from dead.
So, how does Topher react to the admission that Alpha is still alive?
"I'm scared. I am scared like a little girl."
As Echo returns to her daily routine at the Dollhouse, we wonder what she's learned from this week's engagement. Before the engagement Echo was doing 30 laps in the pool but afterwards, she sinks like a stone.
Not only that but as we watch her draw on a steamed mirror, we realize she's retained some elementary thoughts about art.
What did you think about this week's imprinting? Actually, both of them.
I really enjoyed Sierra's character this week. Dichen Lachman wore the Faith-esque Taffy every bit as well as Dushku did.
Cracking the Safe
Did anyone else notice the seductive way Taffy caressed the safe before cracking it? How about the way she slid down the safe and out of frame? OK, so Joss didn't make it as obvious as the, um, climax of Tara's performance of "Under Your Spell" from "Once More with Feeling," but the subtext was there. I'd say more but again, this isn't Playboy.
I haven't felt worse for Echo than I did when she was slapped by Vitas.
In Adelle's final meeting with the client, we were given a hint about where the storyline is headed. Her conversation is interrupted by a phone call from an unknown individual. The conversation is clearly about what Victor as Lubov is doing to throw Agent Ballard off the scent of the Dollhouse. Adelle is seemingly cut down to size by a few unheard comments.
The cracks in Topher's work continued to show this week. And how does Adelle Dewitt reward him? With a promotion, of course. Now that we know what happens to the Dolls when they don't receive their code phrases, it really colors those scenes. At least in the one from the beginning of this episode, I could feel that Topher takes so much pleasure in controlling these people. He loves the power of the phrases, "For a little while" and "If you like."
Which brings me to...
Topher and Ivy
While I watched their scenes, I actually thought it was sort of nice. Topher was being given a character to connect with. Maybe there was some romance there. Nerd flirting and what not. But Topher freely admitted why he was sending her on ridiculous errand running. "I break you down to build you back up." No different than what he does with the Dolls. He was holding his knowledge about technology of the mind over Ivy and it comes on a quid pro juice box basis. I thought Ivy was a terrific addition to the Dollhouse staff. Unfortunately, according to IMDb, Liza Lapira does not reprise her role as Ivy this season.
However, they've been known to be wrong before. For instance, about his week's episode. Despite her inclusion in the IMDb's episode credits, this episode was Acker-less. Her character, Dr. Saunders, was wholly absent from this week's story.
Lubov: Your locks are for crap.
Echo: This is fun. Are you having fun?
Taffy 2.0: Is this the chowderhead?
Echo: I don't know.
Taffy 2.0: Clearly, yes. Here's the dealio....
Echo: Where are the better rooms?
The show just isn't driving forward and it only proves that Joss was not given as much control over the show as he needed in these first six episodes. The network did not "get" Firefly. They aired it out of sequence and ultimately, canceled the show before its final episodes had the chance to air. They wanted to avoid this with Dollhouse, I think. So, what we're being given are five episodes that can be seen as individual pilots. Five episodes which please each and every person who sits around the Fox boardroom. But they're stagnant. Joss doesn't wear stagnant well.
Yes, it's fun seeing Eliza become someone new every week. It's interesting seeing Echo become self aware. Yeah, she retains some memories every episode but how is this actually affecting her? How is each thing she's retaining building on what came before?
I'm comforted by the idea that Joss had gotten more control over the show during more than 50 percent of the its production and the thought that we need to know Echo as a blank slate so we can appreciate who she develops into by the end of the season. We're on her journey.
I just hope Echo, as whomever, declares "No! I'm not ready for my treatment," sometime soon.
Next week's episode, "True Believer", will air at the same time, same place. 9 pm on Fox.