“Dollhouse” mini-cap 2.7 & 2.8: “Meet Jane Doe” and “A Love Supreme”

Episode 2.7 “Meet Jane Doe”

Topher and Adelle have returned from Washington DC and things just aren’t what they used to be. Adelle has been demoted to being Harding’s butt monkey and Topher learned that Bennett’s pretty face and alluring dead arm belies pure, psychotic evil. Even for morally challenged Topher Brink, that’s a deal breaker. It’s too bad. I really thought those kids were good together.

Meanwhile, Echo, still stuck in doll-state, is on an extended walk-about across this great land of ours and dumpster diving and window-shopping. She’s made her way all the way to Texas, where the local merchants are proud they no hablo foodo stampo and get a kick out of humiliating poor people. Echo goes into a small market to have a one-sided convo with an ATM.

Hello? I’d like some twenties, please.

After witnessing a young Mexican woman get the all-American asshole treatment, Echo summons her inner Robin Hood and steals some crackers for her. Outside, the po-po are just pulling in. One easily grabs up the young woman because her get-away skills are about as nimble as her English. The other cop chases and tackles Echo in an alley. He draws his weapon on her. Staring down the barrel of a gun, something in Echo’s head clicks and all her former imprints come rushing back to her. She may not remember the Alamo, but she remembers how to beat a man senseless. Here, she uses the little-known Flying Squirrel Blow.

Three months later, Echo is impersonating a nurse and working in a hospital. Guess the job markets for mistress, dominatrix, bride, art thief, and naughty schoolgirl are in a downturn. She arranges to be sent to the local prison to give flu shots, and runs into the two cops and Galena, the Mexican girl she encountered at the market. No longer dirty and homeless, they don’t recognize Echo, although how you forget Eliza Dushku‘s face, smudgy or otherwise, is beyond me.

Speaking Spanish right in front of the monolingual cop, Echo tells Galena she’s going to help her. Galena doesn’t know what to make of any of this except maybe Americans are muy loco.

Unbeknownst to Adelle and the Dollhouse, Ballard is with Echo, sharing fighting techniques and low-rent dinners in their little secret hovel. Playing house with Echo, even if it’s just mac and cheese in a dirty basement is Ballard’s love-obsessed dream come true.

Ballard: Thirty-six personalities and not one of them can cook?
Echo: Look who’s talking.
Ballard: Honestly, I’m surprised. If I were paying for a romantic engagement, there would definitely be food involved.
Echo: More terrifying insights into the mind of Paul Ballard.
Ballard: No, that’s primal. Sex and food are sisters in human desire.

Um, when did Ballard become a bad lesbian poet? Echo retorts, “Well, I never did a sister act — with food, with cooking food.”

Echo says as soon as they rescue Galena, they should return to the Dollhouse, but Paul would love nothing more than to stay with Caroline in their little bubble forever. Echo reminds him she’s not Caroline, and that the Dollhouse made her “aggressively sexual, and phenomenally creative in bed — also, sociopathic, inexperienced, blind and at least seven times, gay.” The Dollhouse is like college, only cheaper.

They work out their frustrations with a sweaty training session.

Hey, here’s an idea: instead of showing Ballard’s abs and only alluding to the lesbionic engagements, why don’t they flip that? Maybe the show wouldn’t have been canceled. Just saying.

To make the prison break, Echo fakes Galena’s death with some heart-stopping drugs and a well-timed EKG. The sheriff panics because the last thing he needs is a dead illegal immigrant on hand pasty white hands. Echo conveniently offers to make the body disappear, so he lets them go. Echo is almost out the door with Galena on a gurney when the drugs wear off. Galena bolts upright with a loud gasp, freaking out the guard, who promptly soils his drawers.

Back at the Dollhouse, Adelle is still under the oppressive yoke of Harding’s cruel leadership. He tells her to gather a list of Actives to send to their new office in Dubai, none of which are likely to ever return. Boyd doesn’t like the direction things are going and tells Adelle she has to take back the Dollhouse. Broken and defeated, Adelle asks just how she is supposed to do that. “The Adelle I knew would never ask me that question,” Boyd replies. Adelle has an epiphany right then and there because sometimes, one remark can change your life. Especially if that remark is, “By the way, I’m getting married.”

As much as Harding’s cut Adelle’s legs out from under her, Topher’s been given a blank check to let his genius off leash. Flush with his newfound budget, he shows off his latest gadget; a gun that will enable Actives to be wiped without having to be brought back to the house.

But you’d still have to take them in so they can change out of their leather bustiers, no?

Harding sees Victor and Sierra being all lovey-dovey with each other and off-handedly says to Topher that little “grouping” is easily ended by sending Sierra off to Dubai. Suddenly, the Kool-Aid goes bitter in Topher’s mouth. Topher still believes in love.

Over at the big house, Echo and Galena are in big trouble. Not only because they got caught and the food sucks, but because summoning all those multiple personalities is taking its toll on Echo’s head. She loses her Spanish skills, grabs her head in pain and has a fun flashback.

Echo rallies and pulls the underwire out of her bra (yeah, I don’t know either) and an EKG patch from Galena’s boob, and uses them to MacGyver her way through the locks. They make it out of the joint and race off on a conveniently parked motorcycle. Afterwards, Galena is given a new identity and sent on her way to pursue the American dream. Before she goes, she thanks Echo, saying, “You are the strangest woman I have ever met.” Guess she’s never seen a Lady Gaga video.

Back at the house, Topher tells Adelle he’s stumbled onto Rossum’s nefarious grand scheme: each house is developing a component for a greater whole and when it’s complete, they’ll be able to imprint innocent people on the street, anytime, anywhere. One day, you’re standing at the corner waiting for the light to change, and suddenly, you’re a bank robber. Or a rodeo clown. Or a pole dancer. The possibilities are endless. And this is bad, how?

Then, Adelle does something no one saw coming: she hands over Topher’s evidence to her nemesis, Harding, saying she wants to be on the side that has the power. He’s shocked. He always wondered why she’s never simply sent a doll to assassinate him. “I’d like to think I’d have the courage to do it myself.” Oh, of that, I’m sure.

Adelle wants her corner office back and this is her way of getting it. Without a hint of remorse, she tells Topher exactly what she’s done. He wants to know if she’s lost her British mind.

Topher: I trusted you!
Adelle: Well who thought that was a clever scheme?
Topher: You are the coldest bitch on this planet!
Adelle: [slaps him across the face] That is the last time you will ever speak to me like that, or at all, unless you’re spoken to. You are off R&D and back on programming. You will imprint these dolls with dedication and precision. You will follow every single one of my commands as if it were your heart’s deepest desire.

Adelle sums it up by saying calmly, coldly, “I rule this house.” Right on cue, in walks Echo. There’s gonna be a showdown in Dolltown.

Adelle smells something fishy, and a possible coup and a rat. She tells everyone ominously that Echo won’t be getting the standard treatment. Instead, she wants Echo in isolation to see what she’s capable of.

Adelle studies Echo’s blank face, leans in and whispers, “It’s good to have you back, love.”

Episode 2.8 “A Love Supreme”

Love know no bounds and that isn’t always a good thing. Alpha is back, still in love with Echo, and psychotic as ever. Adelle has Echo in a straitjacket in solitary, making love struck Parrot Face so crazy, he can’t hide his discomfort. Polly wanna calm down?

Boyd cares about Echo as much as the next guy, (and there do seem to be a lot of them) but he’s too cool to fall for Adelle’s mind games. “I looked into her eyes and swore to protect her, same as you — before you,” Boyd tells Ballard, “Today, protecting her means not reacting while DeWitt tortures her. So, man up.” Yeah. What he said.

Imprinted as a doctor, Victor assesses Echo and finds her doll act believable. He reports his findings to Adelle, and gives her a bonus analysis of gender differences in sexual expression, and of her own feelings about Echo. “No wonder you despise the girl. She gets to be the virgin and the whore, and for that, she is celebrated,” he says clinically, as Topher looks on, bemused.

Since both Dr. Victor and Topher can’t find anything to explain Echo’s headaches, Adelle storms off in a frustrated huff to pour a drink and stick pins in her Harding voodoo doll. As soon as she’s out of sight, Topher tells Ballard and Boyd he does, in fact, have brain scans that are off the charts crazy. He wants to know what they know.

Boyd: Echo’s not a blank slate. She’s a person.
Topher: What do you mean? She’s self-aware?
Boyd: That’s not all she is. Everything you’ve imprinted her with for the last six months is still there.
Topher: So, she’s got five people worth of brains banging around up there?
Ballard: More. She’s got everyone Alpha dumped into her as well.

Ballard drops the big bomb: She can control all of her imprints. There isn’t even a word for that in the Dollhouse lexicon. How about “actor”?

Eager to get Echo back into the revenue stream, Adelle wants to send Echo out on a repeat engagement with yet another lovesick fool; one who’s having an affair with his sister-in-law. When Topher meets the self-aware Echo, he’s shocked to see her summon the appropriate imprint without needing his magic chair.

“I am obsolete. This must be what old people feel like,” he says with wonder, “And Blockbuster.”

When Echo finds her client, he’s been dead for days or weeks. Boyd and Echo instantly know the scene was staged for her: Alpha strikes again. Back at the house, Boyd’s police skills take over as he studies all of Echo’s past “loves” including one lucky woman who married Echo in San Francisco. If gay marriages aren’t legal, then marrying a doll with a temporary imprint is the most illegitimate of them all, but hey, I bet the honeymoon was fun. And they’re all dead now.

Alpha is killing all the people who love Echo, and who Echo loves. That’s one way to eliminate the competition. Hey buddy, she doesn’t love you. Get a life. Ply your pathological wares somewhere else, say Dubai. White slavery aficionados could be fewer and farther between.

Sierra returns from an engagement sounding like a 40s gangster moll: “I’ve been done wrong 10 ways to Sunday and it’s Tuesday. … Every Johnny Two-Step’s got a story and his was no different. Some scut done him rotten, so takes it out on me.”

The client, E.Hap Lasher, is an anagram for Alpha’s here. Another anagram is Ah La Herpes, but I doubt Adelle would give a doll to someone with herpes.

Boyd looks at the remains of the Echo Love List and finds Alpha’s most likely next victim, but they’re too late. Alpha has been waiting for the SWAT team to arrive with Boyd and Ballard, only so they’re there to watch him blow the guy up into a million pieces.

The last possible target is finally located on his secret retreat (the super low profile enclave known as Santa Monica) and brought to the Dollhouse for safekeeping. As Topher gives him a tour of his lab and assures him he’s safe as a baby, Alpha comes strolling out of Adelle executive washroom and tells her she’s almost out of toilet paper. Good security there at the ol’ House o’ Dolls.

When Adelle offers to hand over Echo, just like that, Alpha can’t believe is ears. “I’ve moved beyond chivalry onto self-preservation,” she explains. I know the feeling.

But Echo isn’t on the menu just yet. It’s Ballard, her handler, her guardian, her love, that he’s after. Alpha grabs Adelle and takes her out to the main atrium, where all the dolls are doing what they’re always doing: yoga.

Alpha turns on a device, sending white noise throughout the house. Suddenly, all the dolls go assassin and turn on the staff.

Adelle runs and hides in her office. From her holding cell, Echo hears the signal and grabs her ears. Ballard tries to rescue the client, only to discover it’s a trap set for him — Victor tranq’s him and he hits the floor with a manly thud.

When Ballard comes to, Alpha has him tied to Topher’s magic chair. He shows Ballard pictures of Echo and their Texas love hovel.

Alpha: I saw everything.
Ballard: There was nothing to see.
Alpha: That’s how I know I’m not wrong. For months, you shared the same room. You never slept with her. You could have, but you didn’t. If that’s not love — are you gay?
Ballard: No.
Alpha: Then it’s love.

Alpha hits Ballard with the juice, giving him a 21st century lobotomy. He jumps in the chair and imprints himself with his rival, Ballard’s, personality. And I thought stalkery girls who can’t leave well enough alone were nuts.

When Echo finds Alpha and sees what he’s done to Ballard, she goes ballistic on him. After falling through a window from the second floor, they crash land on the ground, amidst shards of glass. In a hilarious moment of irony, Echo raises a smooth river stone to finish off Alpha once and for all. That’s not very Zen of her.

He opens his mouth, and out comes Ballard’s voice. Since when can they do that? OK, well, it’s enough to give her pause and Alpha escapes yet again.

Topher remembers he has the parts for his remote wipe gun in another room. Using it, he and Boyd restore order, but it’s too late for Parrot Lips because he’s brain-dead now. Speaking as his dear deceased wife, Echo tells the client to go on with his life and re-marry. Love means never having to say, “If I can’t have you, nobody can.” Echo looks at Ballard and wonders if she’ll ever know the touch of his lip-less mouth again.

And Adelle watches it all, her face a mask.

Hell hath no fury like a woman lovelorn.