“Dollhouse” 1.9 mini-cap: “A Spy in the House of Love”

Someone is in Topher’s chair, getting a particularly nasty treatment. De-activated Actives, Sierra and Echo, look up impassively at the frosted glass of Topher’s treatment room, see sparks flying, hear a gunshot, and witness blood splattering against the window. They shrug and make their way to yoga class. When you’re a doll, the only cause for alarm is the kitchen being out of crepes.

Flashback to 12 hours earlier. Echo, dressed in her finest domme-wear, is returning from an S&M session. In the van with Boyd, she tries to explain the finer points of domination and submission: It’s all about trust. Trust, and a bustier onesy with a dog collar neckline, garters, and a better quality leather whip.

Is “more please” a safe word?

Inside the dollhouse, Adelle tells Dominic she’s being called back to the home office for a couple of days, and puts him in charge of the dolls. Meanwhile, Topher finds Boyd and shows him a chip he found while tidying up his room. Topher suspects someone used the chip to “access the primary imprint protocol” which means that when Topher makes a cheerleader, “they” can make a cheerleader who kills (creepy) or a killer who does cheers (funny). Life can be either a tragedy or a comedy; it’s all about how you phrase it.

Echo isn’t acting like all the other oblivious zombies today. Not only does she eavesdrop on Adelle and Dominic’s conversation, she watches from a discreet distance as Topher tells Boyd there’s a spy in the house. Taking some initiative, Echo asks Topher, not what the dollhouse can do for her, but what she can do for the dollhouse.

Echo: I can help you.
Topher: Why would you want to?
Echo: Why wouldn’t I?
Topher: Did I just lose an argument to a doll?

After Topher imprints Echo with spy hunting skills, he turns November back into Mellie and returns her to Agent Ballard’s apartment building. Ballard thinks his love-starved neighbor is back in town for a little shower action, but their foreplay is soon interrupted when she zones out and re-emerges as November, who has a very important message for him: Her name is not Mellie, she’s a doll, and the dollhouse has been watching him, watch them, for months. Oh, and by the way, “Don’t tell Mellie.” Ballard’s jaw hits the floor. Relationships are complicated.

With the boss lady out of town and a security breach on his hands, Dominic takes action. He sends Sierra to impersonate an Asian NSA employee with nothing more than a similar outfit, a wig and a poison pen.

Sierra breezes past security as an imposter and handily knocks out a guard while making off with a Top Secret file, thus confirming what we all know to be true: All Asians look alike and know kung fu. While making her mad dash of an escape, Sierra calls for an “extraction on the south end.” Sounds painful.

Meanwhile, Victor is implanted with the personality of “Roger,” a suave, British escort. The van drops him off at an older woman’s house. He hands her some roses, goes straight out the back door, get into a sports car and drives until he arrives at, wait for it, Adelle’s house.

I’m pretty sure there’s something in the employee handbook against this sort of thing.
After throwing Adelle’s cell into the ocean and some chitchat, they get down to a sweaty bout of fencing. Roger continues with the parry and thrust in her bedroom. But Roger isn’t just a booty call – Adelle seems to want someone to talk to. It’s so lonely at the top. She offers some post coit-y insights into the state of human connections:

Everyone has their first date. And the object is to hide your flaws. And then, you’re in a relationship and it’s all about hiding your disappointment. Then once you’re married, it’s all about hiding your sins.

The British are so pithy.

Perfect, sensitive Roger soothingly suggests they chuck it all and buy a bar on the beach. Sounds like heaven, except Roger doesn’t exist, and everyone knows it but him. Adelle starts to cry.
Back at the ranch, Echo is now a spy hunter, courtesy of Topher’s magic barber’s chair. She interviews Ivy, Topher’s put-upon, overqualified assistant, her handler Boyd, and Dr. Scissorhands, who hasn’t left the dollhouse since getting a face lift from the original rogue doll, Alpha. It doesn’t take Echo long to figure out that Dominic, her nemesis, is the traitor from the NSA.

Echo delivers Dominic to Adelle, who’s back from her business trip on Fantasy Island. Upon interrogation, Dominic reveals he’s not there to bring down the dollhouse, he’s there to make sure Adelle doesn’t eff it up.

Dominic: The technology needs to be reigned in and controlled.
Adelle: By a clandestine organization with little government oversight?
Dominic: It’s embarrassing how naïve you are. You believe in the dollhouse and its mission? You believed in me, and look how that played out. You were wrong.

He manages to make it her fault for allowing him to be a dick? I think I dated Dominic’s sister once. Unlike the rest of us, Adelle has the power and technology to erase Dominic from her life with one nod at Topher, who gladly flips the switch.

In the struggle to keep Dominic strapped to the chair, Adelle is accidently shot in the side. She doesn’t even flinch, and orders the procedure to continue. It’s just a flesh wound.

After Dominic is safely tucked in the attic, Adelle goes to see the Doc to have her bullet removed. I love this scene because the shirtless hero getting patched up with no anesthesia by a woman who hides her awe behind a mask of distain is usually a sweaty guy chomping on a cigar. But not this time, action movie fans.

After it’s all over, Topher warns Adelle that Echo is evolving. Adelle chooses to let that play out — perhaps Echo’s usefulness has yet to be fully exploited. She gives Boyd a promotion and Dominic’s old parking spot. Echo gets a new handler sporting a caterpillar on his lip and no bedside manner whatsoever.

Adelle looks wistfully at Victor. She orders that Roger be erased. He won’t be needed anymore.

Next week: Adelle has Echo imprinted with the memories of a murdered friend to find the woman’s killer. Agent Ballard snoops into Mellie’s past life while Topher imprints Sierra for a secret engagement.