“Dollhouse” 1.6 mini-cap: “Man on the Street”

Rumors of a secret organization implanting personalities into unwilling zombies aren’t just the purview of why-does-no-one-believe-me lone rogue, FBI Agent Ballard. A TV show airs a show about the urban myth of the Dollhouse, including interviews with everyday people. What would they do if they had a doll for a day? John and Jane Q. Public have one thing on their minds: Sex.

An old man would like a doll that reminds him of the hot movie stars of yesteryear. A woman blushes at the thought of having a willing gigolo. Joe the Closeted Plumber speculates: “A guy wants to know what it’s like to, ya know, be with another man. Just once, nothing queen-y. Two guys, checking it out. And then, the other one forgets. That could be sweet for some guys.”

This episode was written by Joss. He’s still got it.

The Dollhouse has its own disturbing revelations coming to light. Echo and Victor are mindlessly eating their doll lunches when Sierra sits down at an empty table next to them. Smitten with his shower buddy, Victor approaches Sierra and touches her shoulder. She leaps away, screaming like an angry chimpanzee.

Sierra reports to Dr. Scissorhands that Victor likes to pretend they’re married, which may explain her violent reaction to his touch. Also, her request for a minivan and complaints about who’s doing the lion’s share of the housework.

“There’s a difference between being attracted to someone and hurting them,” claims Dr. Scissorhands, confirming she’s never watched Jackie and Mimi on Season 1 of Workout.

Meanwhile, Agent Ballard is still hot on Caroline/Echo’s trail, and his neighbor, Mellie, is still hot for him. After a hard day at the office, he brags about uncovering a money trail that starts with an internet mogul and leads straight to the Dollhouse’s doorstep.

The next day, Ballard moves in on the dot-com billionaire and Echo, who’s been programmed to be his sweet, doting wife. After Ballard goes Bruce Lee on the security guys, he corners the happy couple in the kitchen of an empty house and tries to “rescue” Caroline/Echo. Too bad Echo has no idea what the crazy man with the gun is talking about and clutches her chubby hubby.

A fight breaks out. In the confusion, Echo’s handler, Boyd, appears out of nowhere, as he always does, and whisks her away for a reboot. Empty-handed, Ballard is left with nothing to do but interrogate the client, who explains his real wife died just before he could tell her that his revolutionary internet ideas had made them rich beyond belief.

The mogul truly is a visionary; he instantly sees right through Ballard — chasing Echo isn’t just a job. It’s a knight-in-shining-armor adventure.

“Tell me you haven’t thought about it. Her grateful tears, her welcoming embrace, her warm breath,” he says as Ballard smirks and squirms uncomfortably. Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.

Back at the Dollhouse, Boyd smells something fishy and it isn’t because it’s Sushi Thursday in the cafeteria. He looks pensively at the locations of the hallway security cameras, and then orders Victor and his handler be detained. Case closed? Hell, no.

Sierra’s handler brings her into a small room and tells her to lift up her dress. Before things can get any creepier, Boyd bursts in on them and smashes the handler in the face, sending him through a glass door. Busted.

Apparently, having sex with the dolls is only acceptable with a credit card payment and a small restocking fee.

Elsewhere, Ballard’s thin yet loose lips continue to blab every last top-secret detail about his day to Mellie, who’s crushing on him so hard, she probably washes his car on her day off. Moments later, those same no-lips are locked on hers and they end up in bed.

While Mellie’s dreams finally come true, Adele orders Topher to activate Echo. She’s had enough of Ballard’s snooping and wants to take care of the pesky agent once and for all. Topher chooses a particularly nasty persona, while his underappreciated assistant, Ivy, looks on.

As the computer copies the personality file to an external drive, Boyd calls Topher into the hallway to talk about nothing. OK, not the most subtle moment, but it’s Joss, so I forgive him.

Ballard is out picking up some postcoital takeout when Echo jumps him. She kicks his ass in the restaurant’s kitchen. The pots and pans are flying and the knives are slicing wildly through the air, as they trash the place. It’s just like Top Chef, without Jamie Lauren’s deafening gaydar pings and the Carla’s adorkable charm.

The fight spills out into the alley, where Echo ends it by stomping on Ballard’s back. She reveals the real purpose of their encounter:

Echo: The Dollhouse is real. They know you’re after them and they’re going to have you taken off the case. That’s why they sent me.
Ballard: Why are you telling me this?
Echo: We have a person inside. This person corrupted the imprint while the programmer wasn’t looking.

Echo tells Ballard ominously that he doesn’t know the Dollhouse’s real purpose. He has to back off, if he’s going to take them down for good. She then reveals his worst nightmare: There are not one, not two, but 20 Dollhouses, spread out all over the country. He’s gonna need a bigger box.

Echo grabs Ballard’s gun as they hear, “Freeze!” behind them. She shoots a cop who stupidly tries to stop their fight.

Back at Ballard’s apartment, Mellie has problems of her own. Sierra’s creep, rapey handler is there, trying to separate Mellie’s head from her shoulders.

The phone rings. From the Dollhouse, Adele says into the answering machine, “There are three flowers in a vase. The third flower is green.”

Suddenly, Mellie’s eyes go from panic to predator. She gets the upper hand, er, foot, and snaps his neck against the coffee table.

Way to go, doll!

Adele then says, “There are three flowers in a vase. The third flower is yellow.” Mellie returns to her implanted personality just as Ballard comes home to find her simpering over a dead guy on his floor.

Ballard gets suspended, pending an investigation into the cop shooting. Mellie goes back into her mild-mannered, puppy-crush state. Echo goes back to the internet mogul to complete her assignment.

But nothing will be the same from here on out.

Next week: Echo goes back to school when a college experiences a viral outbreak.