“Dollhouse” 1.8 mini-cap: “Needs”

Sorry for the late mini-cap, kids. Anyone who’s ever been Dinah’d knows the recovery is a bitch. But we’re back and given the theme of this episode — some memories are to be buried at all costs, even if it means giving up your life and answering to a NATO phonetic alphabet name — maybe I need a “treatment.” Just call me Whiskey.

Anywho. Ballard has a dream in which Echo gives him a nocturnal admission: She’s escaped from the Dollhouse with a message. She also seems to want him in the worst way. But before she can show him a good time, she’s white as a sheet and unresponsive on the couch. Mellie appears out of nowhere, bleeding from the head, and gets crazy jealous. It’s just like the Dinah.

Back at the Dollhouse, Adele holds a staff meeting to discuss this month’s objectives: Echo has gone “off mission,” Victor is having a little too much fun in the showers, and Sierra is starting to remember things she shouldn’t. Handlers need to be on the lookout for aberrant behavior and report as needed. The building’s security system is being upgrading and please be aware there maybe be intermittent power interruptions. Also, if everyone doesn’t stop fighting over the office thermostat, she’s going to put a lock on it.

Topher wanders in late, as Adele’s sidekick, Dominic, reminds the handlers to think of their Actives as pets in need of discipline. To quell the rumblings of what could be an uprising, Topher, the Doll Whisperer, offers to pump more sedatives into the sleep chambers and to “advance the proteins corrosion of the long-term potentiation.” Sensitive Dr. Scissorhands doesn’t like the sound of that, mostly because it was pure gibberish, but Adele reminds her who signs her checks, so she shuts her keloid yap.

Back in the sleep pods, Echo awakens prematurely and finds she’s her old self again. Unfortunately, her old self doesn’t remember climbing into a coffin for a nap. Panicked, she claws her way out with her bare hands, cutting herself in the process.

Soon, the others in her sleep circle also wake up, also in possession of their real personalities. Mellie, whose Active name is November, turns out to be a woman who likes someone to take care of her, and needs to gloss over anything uncomfortable. You know the type.

“Maybe something bad happened to us and they’re helping us heal?” Mellie offers hopefully as Sierra makes it clear she’s happy to leave everyone behind and escape on her own. Sierra also has a brand new, old accent. Maybe I never noticed it when she talked like a robot.

Echo nee Caroline, is alert now and asking smart questions, while Victor reverts to his former soldier self. A guy named Mike wakes up to the belief they’ve been abducted by aliens and suggests they shield their reproductive organs from probes. Good idea. And later, they’ll make hats out of tin foil.

Everyone decides to blend in until they figure out their next move, so they join the other Actives for, what else? Banana pancakes. An attendant notices Echo’s hand is cut and sends her to see Dr. Scissorhands.

In the office, the doc mutters to Caroline that she’s on her side and reminds her they’re being watched. Mike gets caught talking about aliens again, and gets sent for a “treatment” while the others partake in a group shower. Mellie likes co-ed showers more than the others, because she’s also that girl.

Meanwhile, it becomes apparent that Dominic and Adele know full well the fantastic four are planning an escape – it’s a set-up and a test. They monitor Caroline, Sierra, Mellie and Victor as they make their way down the back hallways.

Slowly, everyone’s memories start to return. Sierra remembers being assaulted and kidnapped by a man with a gun named Noland. Mellie thinks she might have a daughter. Trapped, with no memory, hiding in a rack of clothes from personality vampires, Victor and Sierra share a moment, but to my deep disappointment, no one says, “I think I’m kinda gay.

While the others commandeer a big black SUV for their escape, Echo decides to stay behind and liberate the other lab rats. She dukes it out with a lady handler, open the gun locker and grabs a weapon.

Meanwhile, Ballard takes a Dollhouse gizmo to his own underground Apple Genius Bar but it’s no iPod he’s got there. His pal orders some scrambling devices, an RF doohickey and a 4 GB gonkulator.

Out on the road, Mellie/November asks to be let out of the car. Sierra and Victor drop her off, leaving her to wander the nearest schoolyard, looking for kids that look like her. She walks until she finds herself in a cemetery. Uh oh.

While Mellie mourns her daughter, Sierra and Victor find Noland, and confront him. He admits he paid good money to send Sierra to the Dollhouse in retribution for turning down his advances. There is nothing worse than a creep with money. Victor smacks Noland around, but not around enough. Why
Sierra doesn’t have Victor hold Noland while she kicks him in the nuts is beyond me.

Back at the ranch, Caroline exceeds Adele and Dominic’s expectations when they see her on the monitors, snooping around the Dollhouse, instead of escaping with the others. Topher is also surprised to see Echo, even more so, standing in his lab and pointing a gun in his face.

Caroline demands answers from Topher and Adele, so they explain she volunteered to forget herself, lose her right to “choose, think and feel,” and that her mail’s been being forwarded to the Dollhouse for a very long time.

Gun in hand, Caroline leads an exodus of Actives from the Dollhouse. Without imprinted personalities, they’re docile and mindless and follow her into the sunlight. As soon as Caroline looks up at the sky, she lays down where she stands and falls asleep.

Simultaneously, Mellie snoozes on her daughter’s headstone and Victor and Sierra take a nap in their hiding place, while Noland’s thugs search the building for them. The experiment is over.

Dr. Scissorhands reveals that by letting them have some closure, they’ll be better Actives from now on: November grieved, Caroline helped the others escape, Sierra confronted the man who took away her freedom, and Victor just wanted to get the girl.

Obviously harboring issues of her own, Dr. Scissorhands tells Echo’s handler, Boyd, the world is no place for a person.

Clearly, the dolls are better off in the fetal position, eating banana pancakes, while someone else does their laundry. Boyd cares about the Actives, too, but not to an unhealthy extreme.

Dr. Scissorhands: Do you think I had fun?
Boyd: I don’t know you very well.
Dr. Scissorhands: You have to look after Echo. I have to look after all of them. She wasn’t leading them to freedom. She was leading them to a world of terror and chaos that would have destroyed them.
Boyd: She’s not leading them anywhere, anymore.
Dr. Scissorhands: You should be grateful.
Boyd: Yeah, I’ll work on that.

Elsewhere, Ballard finally gets a file drive to work and hears an old recording of Caroline begging him to save her. And I’m having memory flashbacks begging references of more than half a dozen Buffy scenes. Can you name them?

Next episode: Echo and Sierra are programmed to root out a spy who’s infiltrated the Dollhouse. Ballard gets some shocking news from Mellie. Adele wants to know who stole her tuna sandwich out of the break room fridge.