Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Dollhouse Doubles: “Meet Jane Doe”

snapshot Another awesome week for Dollhouse this week, two great episodes that bring us ever closer to the post-apocalyptic future of Epitaph One. The first of this week’s two episodes focuses on a 3 month period after Echo frees herself from the Dollhouse (a moment I wish had been underscored with Rage Against the Machine… lol…) written by Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen who brought us not only Epitaph One, but the excellent Belonging too.

The episode opens merely days after “The Left Arm” finishes. Boyd is looking (probably not very hard) for Echo and Ballard, while Mr. Harding is piling the pressure on DeWitt to get her House in order. Meanwhile Echo is lost and alone, unable to reconcile the world she knows of spas and treatments with the real world of hate and violence. After she steals some food from a snapshot(1)store the sheriffs come after her (and an illegal immigrant called  Galena).

It is at this point that Echo discovers she can access her old imprints, or at least the skills they possess, in this case, the martial combat skills. This is a process she will hone to a fine art over the next three months. She kicks the crap out of the sheriffs and escapes, Galena isn’t so lucky.

Three Months Later

Harding has now taken control of the L.A Dollhouse, reducing snapshot(2)DeWitt to little more than a secretary responsible for booking in  clients.

Meanwhile Echo is working at a Hospital now, as a seemingly well adjusted nurse. Through a little deviousness Echo bags herself the Jail run, giving flu vaccines (or some such) to the inmates, including Galena, to whom Echo feels she owes a debt. Continuing the run of “guest stars I recognise” Glenn Morshower makes his Dollhouse debut as Sheriff Rand. A jackass and a rather stereotypical bully, something very different from the mild mannered Aaron Pierce.

Meanwhile Topher and several Actives, including Victor and Sierra are working round the clock on orders from Harding. snapshot(3) Interestingly Topher seems to have integrated the mask that Bennett used for imprinting into his own chair design.

After slipping a pill to Galena, Echo returns home, to where Ballard is waiting for her. It seems he he came to her not long after she escaped from the House. They have been training together. Paul has been putting her through her paces, physically, as well helping her through the pain of accessing her imprints and the subsequent headaches that result.

As we quickly discover Paul and Echo are planning to return to the Dollhouse, to presumably free all those still trapped there. snapshot(4)Getting Galena out of prison is the final stage of Echo’s training. 

So, over a candlelit dinner Paul and Echo deliver a little exposition just to clue us all in. “So why then? Why not right after Alpha dumped all the engagement personas in you?” Mr. Ballard makes a valid point… “I think it was because of Bennett” Echo explains. “She showed me something Alpha didn’t, Caroline.” Echo believes that after she experienced Caroline from an outside viewpoint it trigger something within her. Something that made her feel as if Caroline wasn’t worthy of the body Echo now inhabited. Of course, we know at some point snapshot(5)Caroline will be allowed to return into Echo’s body, but we don't know the terms of that return.

Right after that Echo tries to hit on Paul, in a scene that forces us all to look at the true nature of the horrors being committed by the Dollhouse. It is an uncomfortable moment for all concerned and it is a moment that really defines what the show is about. The  Whedons allow us to grow comfortable with the Dollhouse, encourage it even, but they never let us forget it is the enemy!

Meanwhile back at the Dollhouse DeWitt comes to see Topher, to get him to sign off on an engagement. She doesn’t however expect to run into Harding, who belittles her in front of Topher. On the verge of sticking out her bottom lip DeWitt leaves and heads off to snapshot(6)see how Boyd is getting on with finding Echo. 

“Topher’s finally showing his true colours.” DeWitt fumes, it would seem that Topher’s desire to impress his new master somehow makes him disloyal. Boyd however is busy on the phone to Ballard, talking in code so that DeWitt wont realise they are in contact. “Tell me where you are.” But Ballard refuses “I’ll let you know when it’s time.” Echo gets out of the shower. “Who was that?” Ballard gives her one of his patented lost-little-boy looks, “Boyd, he’s ready when we are.”

So I was right then that Boyd will attempt to help Paul and Echo in what I would guess will be the season finale, breaking the Dolls out of the House.

Back at the prison Galena takes the pill Echo gave her which causes her to look as if she is having a seizure. Naturally Echo is called in to help her. However instead she gives her a shot to make it appear as if she has died, the effects however only last for snapshot(7) four minutes, not long enough for Echo to get Galena out and the two girls end up being caught.

Back at the House Harding calls a meeting of the Northern Division. Present apart from Boyd, Topher and Harding is Mr. Ambrose, a man who will soon come to DeWitt with an offer she has no choice but to refuse. Harding has asked DeWitt to come to the meeting to introduce her to the head of a new House in Dubai. Apparently Harding intends to transfer some actives from L.A, possibly all of them. 

DeWitt nods and smiles meekly before heading to the elevator with Boyd. “You need to take this House back.” Boyd states simply. “And how am I supposed to do that?” DeWitt snaps. “The Adelle I knew would never ask me that question.” Unwittingly snapshot(8) though, Boyd sets in motion a chain of events that will lead to the apocalypse… Oooops!

Accessing an old imprint (Taffy from “Gray Hour”) Echo busts open the lock and her and Galena make their escape, aided by Ballard who offers to arrest anyone who tries to follow the girls for prison inmate abuse.

Back in the House Topher is demonstrating his new Remote Wipe Gun. The gun completely wipes an active back to “A perfect Doll State” or so claims Topher, but he’s been wrong before. “Well done” Harding congratulates Topher. “I’ll give you the specs for the other Houses.” Topher says. I found it odd that he would just hand over this important tech without much in the way of snapshot(9) recognition, but as it turns out he is being more than compliant to hide a far more important discovery.  

“Are they grouping?” Harding asks, indicating Victor and Sierra. “Happens all the time, it’s very common and easily dealt with. Split them up, put them in different Houses.” Somehow I think what Victor and Sierra share is very different from what might occur in other Houses, as no matter what personality they are imprinted with, including their  original selves, they still find themselves drawn to one another.

Topher drags DeWitt up into his office and then down one of the back passages we’ve seen before, the kind of place that is off limits to other Dollhouse residents. “I’ve been hearing about your device all day, but with the resources at your disposal now I’m surprised snapshot(10)it took you this long…” DeWitt sneers. “It didn’t.” Topher says, looking rather uncomfortable, a moral dilemma pressing down on his shoulders.

“I finished it two months ago, I spent the rest of time trying to come up with another way to do it… A stupider way, a parlour trick. That wouldn’t lead to anything else… anything bad.” DeWitt  asks the question, but we already know the answer “What bad?”

“There are 22 Houses right?” Topher asks. “23 now.” DeWitt replies. “Each working on their own, relatively harmless technology. So I got to thinking…” “It’s a component.” DeWitt finishes his sentence. “I think they are trying to build a portable device that will be able to imprint anyone.” Topher explains. “That’s unnerving” DeWittsnapshot(11) says in that typically understated British way. “No,” Topher replies. “What’s unnerving is I figured out how to do it.“

Topher shows DeWitt the plans (and where they are kept) but that’s ok, because we’ve seen Epitaph One, we know that Topher can trust DeWitt, we know they fall in love. Err… WRONG!

Echo and Ballard say goodbye to Galena, they have saved her and set her free. “One down.” Echo remarks, but Paul is less optimistic. “Things are going to be a lot harder when we go back to the Dollhouse.” Boyd shows up not long after that and takes Echo back with him.

DeWitt hands over Topher’s designs to Harding, she is as cold as  ice, all the signs we’ve seen this season of her softening are gone now. “You did the right thing Adelle, I imagine you only did it in snapshot(12)the hopes that I would give you your House back, but I don't much mind.” Adelle replies “I did it because I understand how it works now, how much Rossum has at stake. I accept the situation, I did believe the power we have could be used to help people, but in the end power is always used to get more power and if Rossum has this much I have very little interest in being on the other team…”

There really is only one word for Adelle… BITCH! All season we’ve been lulled into a false sense of security, the Adelle we see in Epitaph One making us feel we can trust her, that she is, at heart, one of the good guys makes her betrayal cut all the deeper… Love it!

“Are you out of your British mind?” Topher screams. “You gave Rossum the deadliest tech I’ve ever heard of.” “Which you designed.” Adelle points out, Topher tries to defend that decision but he knows he has some of the guilt to bear. “You were fascinated, you were playing.” Adelle sneers. “Don’t put this on me. I trusted you. You are the coldest bitch on snapshot(13)this planet.”   Topher curses, moments before he is slapped across the face.

Echo, Boyd and Ballard return, coming before DeWitt for a debrief. DeWitt is more than sceptical and her recent loss of power makes her all the more determined to hold onto her position and she knows that her biggest threat comes from these three (and their new found ally Topher Brink). “She’s having headaches.” Ballard explains. “I’ll see what I can do.” Topher replies, everyone but DeWitt seemingly eager to get Echo back in the chair. “Or we’ll see just how much more she can bear. Place her in isolation. She’s lasted through these last three months, a few more days wont hurt.” Adelle looks around at the faces filled with scorn. “Come on.” She smiled, almost jests, “We all know that Echo’s special, lets see what she’s capable of.” 


In our next instalment Alan Tudyk returns as the ever popular Alpha, while Boyd, Ballard, Echo and Topher plan to overthrow DeWitt and the whole Rossum Corporation… Stay tuned very soon for another Dollhouse Double.

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