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May 02 2009

(SPOILER) Discuss the eleventh episode of Dollhouse. The two-part US season finale kicks off tonight with 'Briar Rose'. And if you missed it, the episode is now available to watch for free on Fox On Demand and Hulu and can also be purchased at iTunes.

Miracle time!
Can't wait!

I also just read on Twitter that Dollhouse fans should go to the Ausiello Files after it airs cause there will be "big news".
I didnt know it was supposed to be a two-parter? Sweet!
It better not get interrupted by tornado warnings again... silly Georgia.
So excited! And my first time watching live, too!
I'm so looking forward to this episode. Alas, I'll have to wait to see it. Have fun, everyone!
I can't wait, less than a half hour!!! Yay!
Tonight looks so awesome. Can't wait. :)
dear basic cable WHY is the channel that shows dollhouse not coming in?
Briar Rose is my least favorite Disney princess. No bearing on this episode but, shucks howdy, do I ever hate her.
We have the flash flood map in Alabama, but it's not blocking the show. Yay!
Dominic comes out of the attic? Sweet!
Who is the counselor/social worker? She looks really familiar.
Topher said "frakked up"!
might be to early to tell, but why do i feel like Susan is a bit of a shutout to unsatisfied Faith the Vampire Slayer fans?
Hey, I know him!!! :)
sorry, Victor. That's really gross.
Susan is totally well adjusted Faith. No wonder I don't want to punch Dushku right now. Finally, a character she can actually play. Thank goodness for small miracles.
He's a leaf on the..

Oh, what have I done?
Saunders is a doll, and her name is Whisky. OMG.
Sneaky Ballard!
Oh, poor Dominic! Whiskey?
Damn, I was hoping we were done with the secret dolls thing. No wonder Saunders wasn't in Echoes.
Is that a clown on his t-shirt?
Medicinal carrots??
Alan is awesome.

And Enver totally rocked the Dominic character...he had Reed Diamond's mannerisms/delivery down perfectly.
Why doesn't Alan Tudyk have his own show? The man is awesome.

"Now there's a GUN." Beautiful delivery. As much as I love him in this role, he deserves one the size of Ballard. At least.

Oh, also, hey everyone. Long time reader, short-\ time member, first time poster. *waves*
I am suspicious that previous casting spoilers were crap.
"I'm not comfortable having people in my home that aren't delivering thai food"...brilliant.
Asking again for Enver to be the new Whedonverse hat trick.
me too, getting my Whedonesque cherry popped tonight : )
Yes, Enver was fantastic. I hope he's the real breakout star from this show. I Googled him, and he's done a lot of theatre work. You can definitely tell, and I mean that as a compliment. Much like Robert Sean Leonard, his performance is 100% committed.

"We have PHONES." Sounded just like Reed Diamond. Gorgeous.

Oh, man, someone stop me if I'm posting too much. I am so freaking excited.
I love how visibly agitated Topher is at having to deal with Victor-as-Dominic.

Anyone else thinking it's way too easy for Ballard to just follow November? And why didn't he think of that earlier? Has she checked back in at the Dollhouse since she told Ballard she's a doll?

And how does he think Kepler is going to be helpful and not a distracting liability?
Uh, Ballard...there are OTHER dolls besides Caroline.
"Get out of the car, or I show the DA your carrot plantation." Comedy gold!
Ha! I love Alan. So much.
OMG! He's reminding me of Andrew and Xander!
Was anyone else liking the paralell between what "Susan" was telling the other Susan and Echo's situation?
Crack security there, Dollhouse. Multibillion dollar company with connections at every level of government, unmatch technology and intense secrecy... one ventilator shaft from exposure.
It's always the pesky ventilator shaft.
Jana Banana,

Just like in the beginning of Serenity. Except they had lasers or something they could turn on. Maybe the Dollhouse does too!

Wonder what it would been like to watch the show without knowing what I know about Alan's character....
I don't know, NYPinTA. It seems a bit heavy-handed to me. Maybe it was just that one shot of the castle right after Ballard saw the black van go into the Dollhouse parking garage, but I feel like the writers/editors/director/whoever makes that choice keeps making sure I understand.

"Are you kidding? The apples are monitored." Excellent.
Me, too, Anonymous1. But it's also sort of exciting and riveting in a new way knowing what I do know... And I can't imagine I wouldn't have figured it knowing the episode summary and seeing Alan was on the show.
"I heart my porn, but this is cool." Does Whedonesque have quotations from Dollhouse on the main page yet? This episode is ripe with them.
JanaBanana, I'm thinking November never went back, so he had to break up with her to force her to go back.

Josswhedonaddict, yeah, I get a little annoyed by Ballard's one doll mind.
Wonder when it will make sense, how all this is connected to her...Alpha and Ballard's obsession. Please tell me it's more than looks.
"I went to grade school with Jenna Elfman."

*hee*
If they catch Paul, they could just turn him into a doll. No one seems to care where he is now that he's been booted from the FBI.
What happened to "they won't wake up even if alarms go off"? When did they add, "But hey, if you quietly whisper their name, they're all ears"?
Grade school with Janet Elfman?
I seriously want to know why Boyd would stop him from "saving" her.
Boyd is all sorts of beautiful gray area and unrevealed backstory.
I'm hoping he was planning on getting Caroline out, and THEN bring the whole thing down.

Alan Tudyk totally needs his own show. Or he could join the cast of "Castle" as Castle's line-in brother or something.
Gotta pay the bills.
C.A. Bridges, Alan does have reddish hair, which seems to be a requirement for being an ensemble member in Castle.
What a time to remember Ballard, Echo! Ouch!
Aaaaand here we go...!
You hurt Victor! You Bastard!!
I knew it!!!
Oooh, Alan looks really, really crazy.
Yay! I love the Boyd/Echo relationship.

YES!!! Crazy-with-the-knife Alpha rocks. Great reveal (of the worst kept secret in the 'verse). Would have liked to see a bigger reaction from Saunders, though...

Poor Victor! Wonder if his scars will match Saunders. He'd BETTER not die.
I think all the face slicing freaks me out more than anything else on this show.
OK. I was totally wrong. Spoiler proved to be true. Who TF did they imprint him with? Jack the Ripper??
I'm a leaf on the wind watch how I -- MY FACE!
Wash.... you is kind of a meanie....
Haha, Alpha's about to tell Saunders she's actually Whisky.

Ooh, I love Calculating!Adelle.
"indignation enough for everyone to have seconds"

I love the Adelle-isms.
I'm guessing Dr. Saunders is a doll of the real Dr. Saunders.

[ edited by mle on 2009-05-02 02:57 ]
Where are all the other handlers? They can't possibly just have Boyd as the only security staff at night.
They're all asleep.
WHOA. Lucky Eliza... Who's the imprint Alpha is saving?
Oookay, didn't see that coming.
He's saving Caroline. And.....JAW. FLOOR.
Wow. What an episode. This should have happened right after A Spy in the House of Love.

I thought Reed Diamond was credited for this episode. Did I miss him?
Oh, please, please, they have GOT to renew this show now!!
And now we've got Alpha and Echo as Natural Born Killers. :)
HOLY CRAP!! If they cancel this, we need to hunt someone down (not an actual threat of bodily harm).
Ugh. Worst episode yet. And Alan Tudyk couldn't have been more annoying.
So good. So GOOD! I steered clear of the Alpha spoilers, and it was so worth it!!
So is Alpha trying to destroy Caroline in a way? Were those her parents that he murdered back in the first episode?
I had mentioned to someone at MySpace that I thought Alan and Eliza would have incredible chemistry, but I never expected this. OMFG!!!
Dude, the preview for next week is all kinds of crazy-times. And Alan Tudyk is a scary, scary man. But also a hot man.
I was completely mindeffed by Joss Whedon.
Just excellent!
Another Jane Esperson masterpiece script.
Another absolutely masterful performance by Alan Tudyk.
Spellbinding.
Can't wait for the season finale.
Just dread the season finale (means no more--for now, or maybe at all).
Absolutely excellent. (I think I said that)
That was a fantastic episode. Alan was, of course, phenomenal. And next week: Ashley Johnson! He was able to bring her back...nice!
I'm glad someone else caught the reference to Whiskey, which is who Dr. Saunders really is. Just another doll, although she does not appear to know anything at all about it.

But I do not like the promo for next week, which no matter how misleading it may end up being still gives away too much.

And yeah, it was way too easy getting in, and Paul Ballard may be the most stupid agent in the history of universe. Where he knows dolls exist, he never considers that he might actually be dealing with one.
Well, okay. "Oh man" was about all I could say for ten minutes.

That was a really funny episode. Very high concentration of great lines. I was unspoiled for the Alpha reveal, so that was really awesome. Alan Tudyk was great the entire time, in both characters he played (and very appropriate on a meta-level that Alpha would end up being a familiar face).

I don't know if I like where the plot is going. I'll need at least some time to process, and quite possibly to see next week's episode to make up my mind.

Speaking of, the preview called it the season finale. Better than series finale, but it says they're not showing 13...
I hate that I have to wait another week now! Geez, this show is awesome. This latest episode was jaw dropping.
Typical of the Whedonverse...completely kicked the ass of every Lost mindfuck.
Did anyone notice
Yeah, Revolver, definitely noticed the "season finale" thing. Although I can't imagine they would say "series finale" even if they had already decided behind closed doors to renew.
That ending with Alpha and Echo was just badass.

Alan did a fantastic job. I laughed out loud several times during his stoner phase and was all creeped out by his Alpha persona.
Enver was FANTASTIC - yes he was perfect as Dominic but my favorite moment was when he was sitting up in his pod and Dr. Saunders asked him what happened and he innocently replied, "People were fighting on me." Just a wonderful, wonderful delivery.

The Briar Rose theme was nicely executed though it didn't "wow" me. I thought it was interesting that Topher was trying to use Echo to do something positive for someone.

I was very upset by Paul just looking at Novemember and saying "Can't get you. Sorry." and closing her back up then smiling with glee when he found Echo. That just felt wrong. :(

Victor getting cut was terribly upsetting. :( I truly feared for Claire. Amy Acker did a terrific job.

I was a little bothered by Mellie's begging Paul to stay/not break up with her. The first several episodes - I got a much stronger vibe from her when it came to relationshippy stuff.

The fight choreography on this show is really good.

Looking forward to next week. Oh what a tangled web Whedon weaves.

[ edited by CrystalSC on 2009-05-02 03:15 ]
Wow what an episode, can't it be next Friday yet? Alpha and Echo leaving together, very twisty. Gotta love Joss
The big question on everyone's mind -

Why does Tudyk get all the hot chicks?

I wish I hadn't been spoiled. I would like know whether I could have figured it all out for myself.

So attic=dead, but memories stored. Sorry Adele, but you do run a very bad place.
I was spoiled by the Alpha thing, but started to doubt it while watching the episode. And then when Victor got all Alpha-ed, I screamed in surprise. So it was still shocking for me. I was extremely afraid that Alpha had killed Victor. Great episode.
Wow. I really wish I hadn't been spoiled. So awesome. Best episode of Dollhouse yet, IMHO. Ballard vs. Boyd was crazy.

I love the fact that Paul is less and less the clear good guy. Very cool.

redeem147, that's not true. Dominic is still around (his body at least). Remember Adelle's awesome speech at the end of that episode?
Yeah, mouse, I noticed that right away (And posted about it! Now people will believe me!). It can't be Topher, Boyd, or Adelle (because they didn't glitch in "Echoes"). It has to be Saunders, who was conspicuously absent for that episode. Was anyone else in the room?

BTW, why did you hide that under spoiler text? Should I be doing the same?

Dana, I agree with the "too easy getting in" thing. I mean, has there never been a client before that's been interested in where their doll came from and just followed the black van? Are there no security sensors and no one watching the monitors? I would hope the cameras were for prevention, not just record.

But I don't think him not considering Kepler was a doll necessarily made him stupid. 1) He sought out Kepler; Kepler wasn't sent to him like Mellie, and 2) He didn't know Lubov was Victor, so he didn't expect that level of integration into his life.
Hello, Whedonesque!
Wow. Wash as Reaver. Nobody saw that coming. He will eat your face!

"Down...that hallway. Wait! No, that's right."
Interesting... I can't reveal spoiler text on an iTouch. I'm wondering if Caroline didn't replace the original Echo and that is why Alpha seems intent on hurting her... Or something.
Oh, right. Forgot, SteppeMerc. Isn't much of a difference though.

I figured that Alpha had hacked into the system to put his image as the tech guy, then pretended to be a nerd. He was obviously using Ballard to sneak into the building. I prefer to be surprised about that sort of thing.
Man, the Boyd/Ballard fight was just brutal. Everyone was talking about the Echo/Ballard fight in MotS, but this fight is every bit as good if not better.

I thought Tahmoh and Alan played off each other perfectly. Just a joy to watch the scenes those two were in together.

Oh and, Topher being a good guy and wanting to help someone? Not something I saw coming.
am I supposed to recognize the woman in the preview for next week who seems ?
So, looks like Frankenstein's monster really did want a bride. Huh.
How tall is Tahmoh? He makes Alan look like a wee little man.

I would fear to see him next to Marsters.
I wonder how Topher knew the girl. I don't think there was much in the way of money on the table- or maybe I missed that part.
I agree that getting in was easy, but couldn't that have been something Alpha set up ahead of time? Do we know for sure who sent Paul those messages? I'm convinced it was Alpha. He had been getting in and out before. He could have created specific blind spots and/or false security data. Bringing in Paul was to help distract from him stealing Echo.

[ edited by mle on 2009-05-02 03:22 ]
Fantastic episode. I was spoiled about Alan playing Alpha a while back but the reveal was still so chilling and awesome.

Poor, poor Victor. :(

And Claire is totally Whiskey.
getting in the airshaft was easy, but getting past the security once you are in is a different story if you don't have alpha or some other computer genius to get around some security (though the trick of having random doll guy come in and give you his clothes is, I suppose, available to anyone smart enough to know how the dolls work)
Yeah, Claire is Whiskey. I think that is why Alpha told her she was lying when he asked her whether she always wanted to be a doctor and she said yes.
doubtful guest: that's Ashley Johnson. Joss had mentioned previously about getting her on the show, but there were scheduling conflicts, I think. I'm glad to see he was able to bring her back.
holy crap. just wow. everyone i was watching with at the reveal (we're all very spoiler-avoiders), including myself, practically launched out of our chairs.

best ep. yet. if anything good came from bsg ending, it's that jane espenson returned to the mutant enemy family.

also, as someone who religiously watched "homicide: life on the streets" from the first episode to the series finale seven years later(if you didn't know, reed diamond was a member of the cast of homicide for 4 seasons), the actor who plays victor had every mannerism down, shift in voice that reed diamond actually sounds like, and then on top of that, attenuated it to his character on dollhouse. truly a stunning piece of acting.

i really hope ratings are good and word of mouth prompts a strong turnout for next week. if they don't get a tuesday night slot behind fringe or whatever, so what? maybe this will just be a great show that's on friday nights. (ironically, all seven seasons of homicide aired on friday nights) one can hope :)

this episode was made of win and covered in awesome sauce.
I can see your point, mle. Yes, he did send the picture and video of Caroline (picture was put in envelope and he was seen from behind in pilot, same handwriting for video), so he clearly wanted Ballard to have that drive. I can make some of the security stuff work in my head if he disabled the motion detectors. I just don't buy that the cameras were disabled and no one noticed/not being watched at all, there was no additional security on hand to deal with the situation (shouting, breaking glass, etc.).

Also, the kicking in of the vent was pretty sketchy. What could Alpha have done to make that part easier?
I definitely thought Whiskey was a doll's name, but I wasn't so sure it was Claire. Unless that's just a spoiler that's been floating around, in which case... damn it.

Maybe this has come up already in a thread I haven't seen, but has anyone else noticed that Ballard frequently reuses the same fighting moves? Particularly, he's always doing that thing where he grabs someone about the head and then knees them repeatedly in the side. I've never noticed anything like that before in any other Whedon show, but Ballard used that move twice in Man on the Street, once between then and now, and then tonight on Boyd. I think it's cool, it makes him seem a little more real.
hmm. just scanned Ashley Johnson's IMDB page and don't see a single thing I recognize -- I see she was on growing pains for a long time, but I don't really know that show, so I feel deficient in my pop culture education. Is there another reason she should be on my radar?
I admittedly just grumbled about this over at EW, but anyway: I did everything this week to avoid spoilers, including staying away (sorry) from Whedonesque.

Then I (perhaps stupidly) swung my Alan Tudyk's IMDB page early in tonight's episode, and they'd ALREADY listed his character name as Alpha! What the frak?!? Seriously, shouldn't IMDB have a process for waiting until after the episode airs? I feel just as bad for any West Coasters who happen across it early.

All of that said: really good episode, one of the best to date, IMHO, though I did almost nod off a little bit during the "mission" with Echo and her sort-of younger self. What can I say? I'm an alpha male. (Except I don't slice up people's faces. Well, usually.)

[ edited by Rick Gershman VII on 2009-05-02 03:38 ]
Jana Banana, I don't know if I needed that spoiler tagged or not, but I thought I should just in case.


I also forgot to mention that Enver did the most fantastic job playing Dominick! That was so good!
Wondering if Alpha has learned to program himself with multiple personalities -- stored simultaneously -- and then he can voluntarily switch among them to gain the skills he needs for a particular situation. One momement = stoner. Next moment = computer geek. Third moment = slasher. Etc. That'd be pretty powerful...
Revolver:
according to a podcast he did with ronald d. moore and grace park for the bsg ep "unfinished business," tahmoh explained(he was using a similar fighting style as this show) that he's spent more than a decade studying muay thai boxing, the fighting style shown in the first ep and since then. so in addition to being an awesome athlete and actor, odds are (and this is just speculation) tahmoh does almost all his own stunts.
I don't think Claire-is-Whisky (or even Claire-is-a-doll) has been circulated as an official spoiler. I mean, since the Victor reveal, everyone's been fair game. The only problem I have with that premise (zomg, doll!) is that they can use it ad nauseum, and everyone can say they "saw it coming." I'd have been much happier if they left it at Victor and November, but we'll see how the show goes if that's true.

Back to the security thing: after Ballard discovered (and broke?) the tracking device, I can't imagine the Dollhouse not putting something else on him. Now, if Alpha had shown up as the tech guy in "Needs" and jammed it on Ballard's behalf to "help," I can definitely see that working out as a more plausible scenario for Ballard not being monitored.
Oh yeah, following up what kefka said: Yes, Enver Gjokaj was awesome doing his take on Reed Diamond. Really believable. I also watched Homicide religiously, and also watched all of the episodes of the short-lived Journeyman, which also starred Diamond. I would have thought Enver had watched them all, too. He was spot-on.

I almost wonder if the producers actually filmed Diamond in the chair, delivering the lines the way he would, and asked Enver to study it and emulate the performance. That's how good Enver was. Very impressive work.
The Dollhouse was counting on Mellie to keep an eye on Ballard. Adelle has been a little busy lately, what with putting people in the attic and dealing with the death of a friend. And Boyd is just getting his feet on the ground as security chief. So I can see why they might not have gotten around to putting a new electronic monitor on Ballard.
Jana Banana -- I think they did a good job in "Echoes" of creating a good textual reason why Saunders is almost the only one of the major characters left who could be a doll (I guess Ivy is also possible) when we saw who was responsive to the drug (Saunders and Ivy were absent, so we don't know if they would have reacted).
Obviously an awesome episode.

And, you know what strikes me as particularly creepy/interesting? I think Alpha is obsessed with Echo, not with Caroline.

SPOILER FROM PREVIEW:In the preview when he says that only one person stands between them being together, or something to that effect, I think the person he's referring to is Caroline..
Ladies and gentlemen, here is Mr. Ryan O'Neil to sum up my feelings about tonight's episode: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9KyBdPeKHg
Thanks kefka. He definitely does great fighting scenes, but I never noticed him using that particular move on BSG (of course, I haven't seen nearly every episode of BSG). Great name, by the way (maniacal laugh).
About Ashely Johnson: Growing Pains is definitely what most people would recognize her from. Most recently, she was on an episode of The Mentalist, which I had mentioned here.
Okay, now kinda pissed at how great this episode was. My mind was still going over it when I looked up at the news and saw something about a Dr. Horrible performance in my town SOMEWHERE I DIDN'T CATCH, next weekend. Can't find anything about it online. Frakking hell!!
I don't know, ActualSize. Mellie can only be around Ballard so much, and he would be unlikely to take her on a mission like, say, breaking into the Dollhouse. Besides, they had an electronic monitor on Ballard before while Mellie was in his life. Why not now? Sierra had a harder time getting into the NSA building, and that was completely engineered.

I would rather have had this play out over two episodes and gotten rid of the great-premise-terrible-placement "Haunted."

doubtful guest, Ivy could be a doll in that she wasn't around during "Echoes," but I don't know why they'd imprint a doll and then teach her to do something (Topher's job) rather than imprinting her with that knowledge. Also, she never would have been suspected as a spy, and Dominic wouldn't have bothered to frame her.

Other than Saunders, the only other person I think could actually be a doll is Loomis. Wouldn't THAT be a twist?
holy crap revolver, i can't believe someone recognized my final fantasy 3/6 reference. best video game villain ever. he destroyed the entire damn planet!

to stay on topic, i believe that "unfinished business," which was somewhere in the middle of s3, and he and katee sackoff both use the fighting technique. (tho i think katee learned for the ep, whereas tahmoh has actually studied it).

i don't know if claire is a doll. part of me hopes not, but i think that's just the "i <3 fred" in me. the evidence of claire's presence at dominic's wiping and alpha knowing her seems to point in that direction.
I'm watching the ep a second time while reading comments. Re: the speculation of Claire being Whisky, when Dominic looks at Claire and says it she's immediately injects him and turns to Adelle and says "He wants a drink instead."
Why on earth would Claire say something so obvious to Adelle, Topher and Boyd - who are all obviously smart enough to follow the conversation - unless it was a deliberate attempt to make us not think of Claire as a doll so they could reveal it later?

There's a lot of eyecandy for me in this ep. Alan is gorgeous and his biceps had me drooling. And I don't mind showing my shallow side and stating that there was a very nice hiney shot of Tahmoh in front of a grate in the airway. :D

I don't like how, not to say "dumb" but yeah, I kinda do, Paul seems to be. What did he think he was going to be able to do by himself, on suspension - just walking into the dollhouse. I giggled at the preview for next week when he said "Alpha got out. I will too." And Adelle rolls her eyes and replies, "Alpha's a genius."

[ edited by CrystalSC on 2009-05-02 03:54 ]
Watching with a loved one...

SWOON! "Alpha!"

I leap from the couch and grab the front door and ask it to stop spinning.
Oh,man,amazing episode tonight.

I have to give props to Alan Tudyk.I was also spoiled for him being Alpha but it still didn't take away from his performance and the way he switched on a dime.Very menacing.And poor Victor.Also Alan and Amy's scens were also very creepy.

Can't wait until next week to see Alan and Eliza do there thing.The few scenes with them together tonight shows they have great chemistry to play off each other and the preview for next week just has me in major anticipation.

The return of Dominic via Victor I found actually very disturbing.

Loved the payoff of Ballard finally discovering the dollhouse and all the major players finally interacting.

The Boyd/Ballard showdown was intense especially since I think Boyde actually agrees with Ballard.The fight itself was kickass.

And also very interesting that Echo/Caroline is still imprinted on Boyd it seems.

[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2009-05-02 04:11 ]
It was Saunders that said, "He wants a drink instead"? Hmm... that puts an interesting twist on things. Also makes me realize I need to pay better attention when people are talking.

In order for my theory to hold true, either Saunders said that, not understanding that Whisky was her doll name OR she might have a level of self-awareness (and clearly, self-preservation) and knows that Adelle/Boyd/Topher doesn't know that she's a doll? That second scenario doesn't make sense to me.

I'm thinking it's scenario one. Maybe she was a doll cut up in Alpha's first attack. They can't lend her out as a doll anymore, so they make her a doctor. A Spy in the House of Love established she never leaves the Dollhouse.

Remember Hearn's line about Victor not playing doctor unless he's imprinted with an MD? The shot is Saunders for the first half of that line.

I'm often wrong, but never in doubt. Can't wait to see how this plays out.
The way I saw the scene with Dominick in the chair, he was addressing Saunders as "Whiskey", but since she's a doll, she doesn't realize he was calling her by name, and thought he was asking for a drink. Adelle knew what he meant, and probably Topher, too. Not sure about Boyd.
Less than an hour here on the west coast! Whoohoo!
Alan was great -- and did a completely different take on a drugged out person than the one he did in the funeral movie; he's got chops. And holy moly, looks like he's been working out.

But beyond the Alpha storyline, the Boyd/Ballard fight was difficult to care about because I have no idea who I should be rooting for. I was leaning towards hoping Ballard fails, but, it's not exactly a conviction. So it is an odd show to watch. But I watch.
And also very interesting that Echo/Caroline is still imprinted on Boyd it seems.

I actually don't think it has so much to do with the Handler Imprint because she flashed to what happened in The Target. That was when the real bond of trust was built between them imo. And of course, they're playing a fine line between the real trust and fabricated trust, but then trust is in someways predicated on an illusion, the perception of who we view a person. That's why the betrayal of trust is so shocking - who we thought a person to be turns out differently.

Really great episode. Yes, the Briar Rose metaphor was a bit heavyhanded but I enjoyed the ideas about the Princess rescuing herself but it being okay to need help. And I loved how many princes there were in this episode trying to rescue Echo from Boyd, to Ballard to finally Alpha. As Boyd and Ballard were fighting I kept thinking of the Prince fighting the Dragon in Sleeping Beauty, yet they're both the Dragon and the Prince in a way. Neither one plays the straight hero. And while they're not looking - the dark Prince steals Echo and restores her to who/what he wants her to be, his dark companion.

So the question still remains - why is Alpha so obsessed with Echo? Specifically Echo and not Caroline.

Agreed on all the fantastic performances this week - the two standouts being Alan and Enver. Incredible work. Gah, Alan was so thoroughly hilarios and entertaining to terrifying towards the end. Powerful switch and a fully realized performance.
me, my theory, which I stated a few eps ago, is that Saunders is NOT a doll, but an EX-doll (?used the money to pay for med school? got interested in medicine in order to help current dolls? dunno!). This is why she is so tortured and so interested in helping the dolls** and why Alpha might have a special place for her in his cosmology (that is: scar her (mark her as a doll?) but don't kill her).

**(and, yes, I know she's done some creepy stuff, but that doesn't undercut what she might believe is the best options available to her, so all you boring "if you ever walked into the dollhouse for one second you are irredemably evil rapists end of story" creepoids go find some other puppy to torture!)
The great thing about this show is so the characters are so complicated (and, well, messed up) you're not quite sure who to cheer for. Paul and Boyd fighting just made me want them both to stop and talk about things instead. That's a compliment.
Heh. I'm currently re-watching/introducing my wife to Homicide, and we're right in the middle of big Mike Kellerman stuff. So I, too, was very impressed by Gjokaj's performance - he embodied the mannerisms, and I almost wondered if Reed dubbed the voice, it was just so him in another body.

It's interesting to see how many of us were spoiled for the big reveal. I'm happy for those of you who weren't; many of us who had heard it are also spoiler-adverse, but either had the bad luck to come across threads where people had blurted it out, or, at least in my case, saw enough very thinly-veiled "clever" references, along with the aftermath of rouge spoilers, to put two and two together. But, since Alan's character through most of the ep had me questioning whether that conclusion could be right, I'm pretty sure that I would not have seen that coming at all.

And in all, an excellent ep, and I really don't know where it's going from here.
Jana Banana Saunders said that, not understanding that Whisky was her doll name
That would be my guess.
Maybe she was a doll cut up in Alpha's first attack. They can't lend her out as a doll anymore, so they make her a doctor. A Spy in the House of Love established she never leaves the Dollhouse.
But wasn't Saunders scar-free in the first ep? I could swear there was an ep where we saw her become scarred. Just went back and looked at the screencaps. Nevermind. She had the scars in the first ep.

[ edited by CrystalSC on 2009-05-02 04:28 ]
You saw her post Alpha-incident covered in new scars during "The Target" (episode 2, flashbacks), Crystal.
Thanks gossi. :)
doubtful guest, I like that theory. I hadn't considered her being a former doll, having served her 5 years and been released, only choosing to stay on as doctor. Knowing that the Dollhouse is faithful to their contracts when they could easily reneg would be a nice addition to the character (I consider the House itself a character in this case). The only confusing thing for me then would be why she would say that Victor-as-Dominic wants a drink after he blurts out "Whisky!" if everyone in the room knows about it. Unless only Adelle and/or Topher know and Boyd doesn't?

Ah, wait, crap. I think I know what you're talking about, CrystalSC. We haven't actually seen her unscarred, but I just remembered that Topher mentions that Saunders "looks like a jigsaw puzzle" in the Alpha flashback. That means she was Saunders before the incident OR the actual Dr. Saunders died in the event, Whisky was cut up, and Dr. Saunders was put into Whisky's body. We've seen with Haunted that people can scan themselves ahead of time to achieve "life after death." Perhaps that's what's been done here.

Still desperately clinging to my theory...
Exciting episode---the best of the season! Now I hope there's a second season...perhaps even a nine episode run?
Jana Banana, I like it. Let's go with it. ;)
Jana Banana, I like the theory too. Saunders seems to be a sleeper doll or perhaps a former doll. Surely Mellie/November isn't the only sleeper. Didn't we even hear that in one of the eps? (I forget which now...)
CellarDoor...

what a beautiful sounding name!


(sorry, couldn't help myself!)
I don't know, CellarDoor. I don't remember that specifically. The only thing I remember Adelle saying was, "Our sleeper active performed admirably." That's the only time I remember anyone being referred to as a sleeper.

Is it next week yet?
wonder if Saunders was a doll at another dollhouse or at the L.A. one before the arrival of most current staff, so that's why people don't know her on site (and Alpha, I guess, knows her because he clearly is making a point of knowing tons of stuff, such as who did the environmental consulting on the dollhouse).

Did ya notice how I pretended that my own supposition was an actual fact that I could build more suppostition on top of? I am so skilled! I can climb to the moon on a staircase made of turtles (um, really obscure physics joke behind that reference. sorry. sleeping now).
The Ballard/Mellie/Echo dynamic seems to be playing with the idea of people as second class citizens. Caroline is worthy of being saved, Mellie isn't because she's not real and not to be "trusted". When does a person become a person? Is Caroline more deserving of consciousness than Echo now?
I was a little bothered by Mellie's begging Paul to stay/not break up with her. The first several episodes - I got a much stronger vibe from her when it came to relationshippy stuff.

I think as the relationship strengthened between Mellie and Ballard, the imprints were probably more geared toward her remaining in his life. Or maybe that was the only driving force behind "Mellie" all along. When she first appeared in the hallway holding a freshly-baked pan of not-so-leftover lasagna, I thought she came across as needy-ish and desperate. I felt sad for her, knowing Paul only had eyes for Caroline for whatever reason. Then it wasn't until several episodes later that I started to see Mellie as her own person. Maybe it was watching November off Hearn.
I feel horrible saying this, but I really, really, like Alpha. Depending on the nature of his imprint on Echo, along with other factors in the next episode, I may be rooting for Alpha to WIN.

What does that say about me?
You're evil? Alan Tudyk is your master? Your mind has been bent by the Whedon?

I think the latter is true for all of us. ;)
Depending on the nature of his imprint on Echo, along with other factors in the next episode, I may be rooting for Alpha to WIN.

Maybe he should. We don't know why he does what he does.

Maybe he's the lesser of two evils.
Indeed Emmie, I choose not to think too much at present about how my mind has been bent by the Whedon while watching the run of Dollhouse episodes. I will ponder it at a later time though, most assuredly. I want another season, but even if we don't get it, you can bet pop-culture, film, and maybe even psychology and/or philosophy classes will be able to draw from Dollhouse for years to come. I'm hoping Jane Espenson already has plans to edit another essay collection (for Dollhouse this time, though *another* about Firefly would nto be unwelcome!), regardless of what Fox decides about renewal or not.
Regarding the theory that Saunders may be Whiskey:

When we see the flashback to Alpha's composite event in The Target, Topher says, "Doc Saunders looks like a jigsaw puzzle." This is before Boyd was hired to be Echo's new handler after Sanderson's death at Alpha's hand.

It isn't until the following flashback that we see Amy Acker as Dr. Saunders. Some time has passed, as Boyd is now present and being given a tour of the 'house. Amy sounds jaded and solemn, but that doesn't mean she is the "Doc Saunders" Topher was referring to. Amy could have been Whiskey, a doll left scarred by Alpha's attack but not killed.

With the real Saunders dead and mutilated, the staff of the 'house could've imprinted the scarred Whiskey--as suggested above--to act as the new doctor. It's likely that after Alpha's attack they were reeling and needed someone with all the medical expertise asap.
Loved. And Alan was great - I was spoilered unfortunately but the switch to Alpha was still jarring and surprising due to Alan being awesome.
Great episode overall but I had to pop in mainly to single out Enver's performance. Amazing. Amazing loads of amazing talent. I actually thought that Reed Diamond's voice had been dubbed over. It was perfection. I've been very inpressed with his acting talent throughout but this just blew my mind. Here's hoping the shocking 'Alpha-treatment' he received tonight doesn't decrease his engagements/screen time. (Wow, this show really needs to come back, I'm already acting like a second season is in the bag. Ah, self-delusion...)
Dr. Saunders is Whiskey??
That's the theory.
does "blew my mind" cover it? Not quite, but it's close. Let's just skip ahead to next week.
I Heart Alan Tudyk!
OMG! Ballard found the dollhouse! Loving Alan and Tamoh!
I don't understand... why is it that Dr. Saunders/Whiskey's scars don't fade... while I'm sure Victor's will?

edit: okay, I guess they aren't going to... but his primary engagements are romantic encounters.

[ edited by iwearthecheese on 2009-05-02 06:00 ]
Victor!!! His face! Oh my god, this is horrible....is anyone else on the west coast watching right now?????
After last week's very "meh" episode, and seeing Caprica, which from the very beginning provoked as much thought and emotion as I was hoping Dollhouse would have, I was getting kinda down on the D'House. But seriously. Wow. Mind, blown. Head, spun. Everything I could possibly want from a television show was in "Briar Rose," and Joss Whedon has again proven why I own a shirt that claims he is my master.

God, everything about it was beautiful. Echo's mission with the emotionally abused little girl. The "buddy cop" stuff with Ballard and Incognito!Alpha. "I went to grade school with Jenna Elfman." The absolutely EPIC Boyd/Ballard fight; these things do not usually put me on the edge of my seat, because I rarely believe that someone may actually die or get harmed, but I was just about falling out of my bed during this nail-biter. And then when we realized that Alpha was ALPHA...holy SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT.

I have never been more proud of my spoiler-averse ways. I had considered Tudyk as Alpha, but I never really had a concrete thought about it. But then he went FULL-ON EVIL and cut up Victor's face, and I literally jumped up. Seriously, he was reminding me of the Joker, with the imprinted-with-someone Echo as his Harley Quinn.

Everything about this episode was perfect and right and wonderful and awesome and insane and I will cry if the show gets canceled.

Thank you, Joss, for the single best piece of television thus far in 2009 (perhaps rivaled only by BSG's "Sometimes a Great Notion").
AMAZING! I LOVED it. Bring on the Season (not series) finale!!!!
Oh, Victor. :( Can one of the dolls be imprinted with a plastic surgeon? (Yes, shallow.)
Oh wow! What an awesome episode! But I have to say how bitterly I resent having been spoiled (not here, I was oh so casually spoiled at facebook) because it is obvious in the storytelling we were never supposed to know Alan Tudyk was Alpha.... until it was terrifyingly obvious he was Alpha.
And what a genius performance by Alan Tudyk! I'm guessing he has a lot of Topher in him... but of course a lot more in there too.

This is a brilliant show, I just cannot believe how good, and how complicated (and I'm really worried about Victor!).
I was spoiled with the Alpha/Alan tidbit but was still shocked with his cutting of Victor. Holy wow, I am so super confused thought about Echo. Did Alpha just imprint her with a killer brain of someone he new??? The former Echo? Someone from his real past? I guess I'll have to wait til next week. So many questions!
Oh. my. God.

I can't think.

Wow.

So good. And unexpected. And awesome.

Also, Tudyk is a fox.
ONLY a hundred and eighty posts in four hours? Seriously, whedonesque is falling off it's game.
I am goaded out of my silence to respond to that last, Haunt, but only to say that I haven't yet thought enough to post intelligently on the episode.
Definitely right there with you, Mercenary.

That was simply awesome TV.
I think it's possible that Victor's scars won't fade because my TiVo description for next week says: Technically, it could be any of them, but since I like her so much, I've been mentally preparing for something to happen to her since the show began. I don't think any Joss fan could blame me.
(I'm not sure what I wrote counts as a real spoiler, as I've seen it a couple other places, but I'm just trying to be extra careful.)

[ edited by mle on 2009-05-02 06:46 ]
Did not see that ending coming at all. When Boyd and Ballard were fighting, I was thinking here are the two potential princes duking it out, Boyd trying to save Echo and Ballard trying to save Caroline. Who will win? And then ZING, it's Alpha who is the prince. Question is, who did he rescue? It looks to me like he's hit Echo with a composite event, in which case OMFG!
Briar Rose is my least favorite Disney princess.


She's one of my favourite characters in Fable.
OMFG! Indeed, AlanD. Echo and Alpha reminded me a little bit of the Spike/Dru pairing: that is to say BIG TROUBLE!
lol
Okay, so with all the Prince mentions here I can't help but think of Buffy Season 8. Joss really has fairy tales on the brain, doesn't he?
This was as close to a perfect episode as we've seen. Really good narrative drive, excellent performances all around (and I totally include Eliza as the empath working with the damaged kid--props, E! That was some nuanced and heartfelt stuff.)

But this episode belongs to Jane Espenson. I love her writing, but the sheer density of quotable quotes, the layers of meaning, the subtle reveals as well as the HUGE REVEALS... damn, Jane, you knocked this baby out of the park. I was hanging on to every line. In fact, I re-wound stuff on the spot, just to hear it again. I almost never do that. Kudos.

I think it's now pretty obvious the concept has legs, and would be well served by subsequent seasons. Fingers crossed.
THAT WAS FANTASTIC!!!

Alan, Enver, Amy... everyone was terrific! The show was a complete edge-of-your-seat, holy-shit-what-the-fuck moment roller coaster.

I ^6 everything everyone said before that remarked how awesome this was.

Now to comment on what hasn't been said (not much):

23 Flower Street. Seriously? That's the Dollhouse's address?? What's it with Whedon and evil florists?? :D

Briar Rose story-telling. Has anyone else noticed that each episode is told a completely different way? MotS with "documentaries", "Echoes" with twisty turvy drug induced story telling, "Needs" with a employees at work approach, "Spy" with the Dolls themselves used as plot devices to tell the story, & "Haunted" to be seen through the lens of another (Topher via security camera, Margaret through Echo's eyes). And now tonight, this fabulous episode wrapped in pretty pictures and a fairy tale book. Wonderful!
Did not see that ending coming at all. When Boyd and Ballard were fighting, I was thinking here are the two potential princes duking it out, Boyd trying to save Echo and Ballard trying to save Caroline. Who will win? And then ZING, it's Alpha who is the prince. Question is, who did he rescue? It looks to me like he's hit Echo with a composite event, in which case OMFG!

Right with you there, AlanD! Boyd & Ballard were the princes who tried and failed, and it was meant to be Alpha all along! The "bad" guy, who's seems to be the "right rescuer" for the current Echo state.

In regards to Caroline/Echo, this is something that I brought up weeks ago regarding which one we're more attached to. When it comes time to "choose", who would you want to see remain in the body? It's a tough decision, because either way, someone has to die. And don't they both deserve to live?? I think so! May Alpha & Echo have a marvelous vacation from the Dollhouse! :)
This was a really good ep.
Before, I used to find Paul boring. Now I really,really dislike him.
He comes off incredibly creepy with his obsession to save *Caroline*. Not to bring down the Dollhouse, but to save her. He doesn't even care about the rest of the dolls. And I'm not sure he cares about what she wants either. It's like he's built a fantasy on his head and wants to see it through.

Alpha: I never thought I'd be terrified of Alan Tudyk. but I was. I'll have nightmares. I think I screamed on his reveal.

Whiskey: I really don't want Saunders to be a doll. I hope that she is a former doll like some said. but it makes a lot of sense for her to be a doll and it totally sinks my only ship in this show.

I wanted Echo to go alpha on Paul' ass.
Honestly, I think the show would be better without Paul. If it was about the inner workings of the Dollhouse and about Caroline trying to break out, about Echo evolving and all that. most of Paul's storylines seems a waste of time.
FANTASTIC episode! Easily my favourite of the series so far!

God how good was Enver? How is it even possible to imitate someone as well as that? That was just scary! And Alan did a fantastic job as well, Alpha certainly wasn’t a disappointment. He was as every bit creepy and insane as I imagined he would be. Also.. Wow! Eliza and Alan have a lot of chemistry and she did that sexy look she does, exactly like she did in ‘Enemies’ when Faith and “Angelus” pull away for the first time after kissing. It made me squee in a perverted kind of way!

The Ballard/Boyd fight was what I’d been waiting for all season long and it didn’t disappointment! Like everybody else has said, it was great to have these two princes fighting over who should be saving her. Though I just watched it again and couldn’t help but laugh at Ballard. When Echo knocks him over the banister and he just has that look on his face, it’s priceless. He’s trying to save the girl but she doesn’t want to be saved! Boyd seemed to get a kick out of it as well, “you heard the girl!” I’m starting to think that Ballard will try and save Echo even if she wants to be or not, it’s slowly becoming more about him and less about her… I also really enjoyed how Echo shows she still trusts Boyd but that it’s genuine trust, not the artificial kind.

The ending was just awesome, I love this show so much right now. Can’t wait for next weeks final. Lets just hope it's not " the final" if you know what I mean.
Loved every moment. The surprises just kept coming and I was spoiled all to hell to begin with. Enver was brilliant and when the hell did Alan Tudyk turn into a Greek God as well as a genius actor? Does he share a trainer with Nathan? Seriously. WOW! You all know that I am incredibly shallow, but I never thought that Alan would steal the stage from Tahmoh in that department. And he totally did.

Writing was great too. Really. Liked it a lot. :)

I kind of hate Paul a little now. Didn't think I could. He's an ass totally consumed with a ridiculous hero fetish. I'm rooting for the guy with the knife all the way.

Thanks Jane. :)
I don't invest in this idea of "oh, look, Echo doesnt' want to be saved". "Echo", the doll-state persona, is a turnip, non compus mentis, kept that way by her slavers. She is not capable of deciding what's best for herself in that sense. Only Caroline can do that, and they'd have to restore her to ask her. What the Dollhouse does has not yet once, in 11 episodes, been shown to be anything less than evil. Even to the extent that the engagements have been beneficial, one could make similarly consequentialist arguments in favor of all kinds of slavery.

Ballard may not be the smartest agent ever, but he's not wrong, not even sorta wrong, about the Dollhouse. "No provision for consentual slavery" is right.

Great fight scene between Paul and Boyd, though.

Most of what everyone has said holds -- Enver and Alan were amazing. So was Miracle, by the way. She played Mellie's pain so convincingly that it was hard, even knowing better, to remember that she's not "real" in any meaningful sense, that all her reactions have been tailored specifically to Ballard's needs.

I wasn't entirely buying the turn at the end, especially after watching the preview.

I assume that they'll either force Ballard into Active status with the same unambivalent evil with which they did Priya, or he'll get sent off to the Attic.
In regards to Caroline/Echo, this is something that I brought up weeks ago regarding which one we're more attached to. When it comes time to "choose", who would you want to see remain in the body? It's a tough decision, because either way, someone has to die.


With a composite event, they both kind of live don't they? But if I had to choose between them, then Echo all the way. Not a tough choice really. Echo is evolving and surprising and intuitive, while I find Caroline to be kind of annoying.

As for this composite thing releasing the twisted sadistic maniacal plotting manipulating evil super-genius -- that ring any bells in the Whedonverse? I'm seeing a lot of Angelus in Alpha.
I believe Summer Glau dubbed the voices of both young Rivers, the one in Safe and the one in the movie. Since Reed Diamond was shown in the credits, it;s possible that was his dubbed voice, too. It was just too perfect to be Enver, even though he did his usual amazing job on all the physical mannerisms. Any way we can find out? Because, if I'm wrong, I'm building a shrine to that guy.

Thought Eliza did a fabulous job with her characters tonight, all of them.

I wasn't spoiled for Alan as Alpha, though I'd contemplated it as a possibility before the reveal, so wasn't totally staggered or anything. Somehow I can't see him as a continuing character in the unlikely chance the show is renewed. He'll be finished off I think.

Have to say, I wasn't as impressed as everybody else. Jane's writing didn't work for me for some characters. I especially thought Alan's stoner character was overdone, as was Alpha actually - one step away from being a cartoon villain - I expected him to go mwa ha ha ha any second.

Ballard's lack of investigative smarts is not due to poor writing on ME's part. It's how they've portrayed him from the start. I'm sure he was chosen by a Dollhouse FBI mole to lead the investigation precisely for that reason. I think Lubov mentioned that it was a job given to him because he couldn't screw up too badly there, looking for a mythical Dollhouse. Or maybe it was Mark Sheppard's Tanaka character who said it. The Dollhouse didn't realize that his one personality trait that could hurt them was his bulldog tenacity. But, without Alpha's hints, he still wouldn't have gotten close in any case. It may be that that's why they were relying on Mellie alone, they just didn't exspect someone like him to figure out who she was.

Was Alpha aware of Ballard knowing about the eco-designer? What was the point of killing him otherwise? And was the bum who was killed at the dumpster the designer? I didn't get that part, or why Sierra thought that he wasn't really a homeless guy. Actually, I understand her reasoning, but does that mean the eco-engineer was pretending to be a bum? Confused.

Boyd recovered awful fast from being hit in the head with a rock.

[ edited by shambleau on 2009-05-02 08:56 ]
I kind of hate Paul a little now. Didn't think I could. He's an ass totally consumed with a ridiculous hero fetish.

Amen, TamaraC. I've actually hated him since last week's episode (and maybe a little before that). Tonight's episode was brilliant in pointing out why. I remember why I love Jane Espenson.

I can't really put together any coherent thoughts right now. But I thought that Enver did an amazing job as Dominic, I love Alpha/Echo...it's sooo wrong and yet so awesome, pretty much everything was amazing.

And with that I go to bed :)
I’d choose Echo too, not because she has more of a right but because I find her more interesting.

I disagree with KoC that Echo is incapable of deciding what’s best for her. She did exactly that when she asked to be imprinted to out Dominic as the traitor. I think she’s far more self-aware then people give her credit for. She knows about the imprinting process and twice now has volunteered to be imprinted. It’s her choice.

I agree with you AlanD about the Angelus resemblance. But even more so I think he resembles Twilight from Buffy season eight. He believes what he’s doing is right and justified but he does evil things to get there. Emmie said earlier that she noticed how fairytales were on the brain for Joss in both season 8 and Dollhouse and I agree. I’ve seen a number of things in both series that kind of show where Joss’ head is at right now.
Wonder what it would been like to watch the show without knowing what I know about Alan's character....
Anonymous1 | May 02, 02:36 CET


Before I read any farther, I have to reply to this. In spite of my best efforts to avoid anything remotely spoilery, of all the spoilers, this had to be the one I accidentally stumbled on, at least a month ago.
I am seriously bummed that it happened. No fault to anyone here, this is the best site ever, for posting spoiler warnings. It was just a fluke, but has it ever reinforced my hatred for spoilers.

I got robbed of that slow dawning of "OMG, could this really be ... ?" It wont happen again, and I'll enjoy this amazing ep more the second time around, when I'm not waiting for the bomb to drop. I can't comprehend why anyone would want to be spoiled for something like this.

OK, end of rant - I've been holding on to that for far too long. ;)
shambleau, if the eco-engineer were anything much like the version of him that Alpha portrayed, he would be interested in preserving the environment by using waste in which other humans were no longer interested, to minimize his carbon footprint. Dumpster diving might, in that case, not have been a last resort, but an informed decision.

Also, unless the chronological order of the episode were much different from what we saw, and Alpha could somehow hack Loomis' computer in real-time to change the image of the eco-engineer that Ballard pulled up, Alpha was definitely a few steps ahead of Paul - I posit that he killed the engineer, substituted in his own image (using mad computer skillz we saw elsewhere), and then smoothly stepped into his life.

Funnily enough, if I'm right then Alpha actually told the truth when he said those plants were there when he arrived...
Susan is totally well adjusted Faith. No wonder I don't want to punch Dushku right now. Finally, a character she can actually play. Thank goodness for small miracles.
project bitsy | May 02, 02:17 CET


Just IMO, but that seems really unnecessarily harsh and rude. I personally think Eliza has knocked it out of the ballpark every time. Not everyone here agrees with that, some more or less than others, although most who started out skeptical have been won over, from what I can gather.
But posters here are generally more with the constructive criticism, rather than the 'not so much as an IMO' mean spirited, subjective slams.
Not my place to call you out of line, but I found your means of expressing your opinion really offensive.
Was Alpha aware of Ballard knowing about the eco-designer? What was the point of killing him otherwise? And was the bum who was killed at the dumpster the designer? I didn't get that part, or why Sierra thought that he wasn't really a homeless guy. Actually, I understand her reasoning, but does that mean the eco-engineer was pretending to be a bum? Confused.


This is my take. Alpha has been leading Ballard on this investigation, giving him the external clues to the Dollhouse (photo, video...). Alpha knew this guy would take it and run with it. Perhaps Alpha has been following Ballard all this time and we never knew. Anyway, he finds out that Ballard is heading over to the eco-guy's place.

So Alpha hids in the eco-guy's dumpster, waits for him, and kills him. Then he tosses the eco-guy into a dumpster and takes him to Arizona. Then he mails the flash drive to Dominic to mislead the Dollhouse in his whereabouts.

Meanwhile, Alpha sets up home in the eco-guy's house. And who comes knocking on his door besides Ballard. Ballard knows the address, Alpha knows the inside... Alpha uses Ballard like a Trojan horse to get inside. Once Ballard is causing enough of a distraction, Alpha kicks his plans into high gear and rescues his girl.

[ edited by korkster on 2009-05-02 08:45 ]
I was completely mindeffed by Joss Whedon.

steph424 | May 02, 03:04 CET


t-shirt, t-shirt!! but more explicit. ;)
Yes, remarks like "No wonder I don't want to punch Dushku right now" are completely uncalled for. If people want to make nekulturny comments like that, then they'll find they will be doing it elsewhere.

And now back to the discussion.
One quick question before I head to bed, one that's been bothering me since I saw the episode: did Alpha (start to) kill all the sleeping Actives with carbon-dioxide before getting caught by Dr. Saunders?
Just my holla. A lot of right things have been said already.

It's so clear Saunders is a doll, that if you haven't known this for at least three episodes, you're either dumb or you have never watched TV before (ESPECIALLY Joss shows).

However he does it technique-style, it's always great to see Tamoh kicking ass on Friday nights.

Whomever Alpha "saved" via Echo is NOT Caroline. Which is obvious from the promos. I'm betting Alpha is your general Joss-style woman-hating socially-inept Big Bad.

However, this show is kick-ass.
I think so. He cut off the O2 and pumped up the CO2. Slow death as a signature that he hates that place?

It's so clear Saunders is a doll, that if you haven't known this for at least three episodes, you're either dumb or you have never watched TV before (ESPECIALLY Joss shows).

I DIDN'T see it coming and I'm not dumb. There were pondering back around "Echoes" that left that door open, but we haven't seen Saunders perform in anyway to tip her hand. You should watch what you say that might be taken offensively.
Never, before tonight, seriously considered Saunders being a doll. Do not consider myself to be stupid. YMMV.
I don't even know what to say. Amazing episode! Alan Tudyk was so fraking awesome! (Speaking of Frak, "frakked up" was sweet! ^^)

I almost thought that maybe he wasn't Alpha... and than BAM! In Victor's face!!! (poor Victor... =/)

The Whiskey thing... didn't caught that at all. But wow, makes sense!!! Wow!

And very curious about what imprint Alpha put on Echo... and that last scene of them was soooo Spike and Dru. Loved it.

Just amazing. Really. How can this show get canceled??
"She made him fight to get her out." Susan to little Susan. Hmmmm.
re: Alpha- tolddja.

best shot: 'There are no vertical risers on these stairs!' ( ankles to the waist very step down the staircase )

Saunders as Whiskey: Saunders was Dollhouse doc pre-AlphaSlice. Post-AlphaSlice,Saunders psyche is demolished by the psychological effect of the wounds, so Topher dumps her brain, tweaks her psyche a bit to get rid of the psychological damage, then reboots her with the new image. Doesn't QUITE fit the Alpha/Saunders conversation post-AlphaSliced-Victor, but it's the best I can come up with on an empty stomach.

No one but Alan could have pulled off this Alpha. And next week we get to see much more. I think Alpha is the kind of role any actor worth his salt would die to play.

Did anyone notice the 'art school' line about Alpha from Victor-Dominic?

I really enjoyed this ep. Loved Alpha's reaction to Topher's desktop PC security. Dug the heck out of Victor/Dominic. Happy about how Sierra always takes charge in her imprints. And Topher- slowly we've had reveals every week about his sensitive side. Maybe someday they'll be explained.

Kudos to all who worked on this. Excellent job!
I DO apologize for being offensive. People take data different ways. But it seemed clear to me when she was hurt by Alpha, had no outside life, and was then revealed to be living in the Dollhouse, that she was a doll and was being coddled because of how she suffered before. I did not mean to offend...I may have been too cavalier with my earlier comments.

[ edited by unDeadhead on 2009-05-02 09:45 ]
Closing shot: anyone reminded of Spike and Dru? Scary times. Or maybe Angelus...
Great Muppety ODIN. That episode was beyond awesome! Holy crap. I had no inkling about Alan, so there I was happily cackling at all his beautifully delivered one liners and BAM! I screamed out loud when he turned.

By far my favorite ep thus far, I dont think it hit a wrong note, the child actress was great. The Victor/Dominic scene was BEYOND horrifying, tho I am pretty sure his voice was dubbed in. I thought I caught a lag once. But it did not stop my skin from crawling the entire time.

I didnt catch the whiskey thing so, thanks for filling me in on that. :p

The fight scene was fantastic, I appreciate how well it is choreographed so much as most shows that is what gets the short shrift sadly. :( (I do like me some quality violence)

I was freaking out for Dr. Fred, she knocked that out of the park.

I have to watch it again tonight, I have to see it knowing what I know now. :p

Thank you Joss. You never stop coming through.
I totally missed the Whiskey thing until I read a recap.
The DH should maybe add, like, a night watchman or something to their super-secure systems. One of my favorite bits... the foreshadowing about the lack of risers leading to Ballard's downfall.
What an amazing episode. I could not possibly love Jane E. any more, she is just totally amazing.
Every single actor nailed it to the wall. Eliza was beautiful and moving with the little girl in the beginning, and all Natural Born Killers, at the end.

One element of the genius that is Joss that doesn't get enough mention IMO, is his unerring ability to cast the right actor in the right roll (OK, Eliza was part of the package from the beginning, but he couldn't have chosen better if he'd had a blank slate for the character) ;)

I really don't get the Ballard hate. I relate to him in every way, and have the utmost compassion for his dilemma. I think his motives are more pure than those of any other character, although he's allowed himself to go a bit over the edge with his obsession with Caroline.
But I don't agree that Caroline is the only thing he cares about, re. bringing down the Dollhouse. I think it was made clear in the beginning that the Dollhouse itself is his obsession, and Caroline was his way in. So naturally, he's going to focus more on her. And his life has spun completely out of control, to the point that he virtually is no longer certain what's real. But he isn't going to let go of his conviction that his crusade is righteously justified .... "no provision for consensual slavery". The guy's an idealist who's had his head twisted in so many directions, it's a wonder he hasn't been driven insane. But he still holds on to that core truth, even as he's been subjected to a living hell, and the landscape becomes ever more convoluted.
Plus, Tahmon is playing the hell out of a really ambiguous character.

This show cannot get canceled. There has to be a way .... pass a law, a constitutional amendment, mind-wipe everyone at Fox and implant them with a "Joss Whedon is my master now" imprint.
Gonna go and watch it again, my Monday night re-watch buddy will be out of town next Monday, so no need to wait. ;) Yay team!, everyone involved is swimming in awesome.

ETA: Yeah, after reading more comments, the Alpha/Echo (as ???) vibe was very Spike and Dru - loved that.

[ edited by Shey on 2009-05-02 10:27 ]
Some of you actually thought the Alpha casting rumor was a lie?

edit: So they didn't have any rope. How did they get down the 10 stories? This is worse than the 8 feet of sewer in Echoes.

Where DID Saunders go during that episode, anyway? She hasn't got anywhere else to go.

[ edited by John Darc on 2009-05-02 10:28 ]
Pretty much nothing I can say here that hasn't already been said. The episode was great.

And PLEASE keep the chat going! I've been watching it for hours! Good times.
I'm sorry. But I'm drop dead tired. Fell asleep in the chair. Even Dolls get beds. See you in the PM...
Holy bananas this show is off the hook. I am going to cry probably forever if it does not get a renewal.
'"She made him fight to get her out." Susan to little Susan. Hmmmm.'
Thank you, TamaraC for that little pondering as I too have been 'hmmm'ing over that same line. :)

I was at first wondering what that whole side plot had to do with this episode - which is crazy because it had EVERYTHING to do with this episode.

I love the layers! I love this show!
That was Enver's voice as Mr. Dominic. He had Reed's vocal inflection down, but it was definitely his own voice. I expect that Reed acted the scene and then Enver copied it, hence the Reed credit.

As for Saunders, I think the Alpha killed the original Doc Saunders and slashed Whiskey who then became Doc's replacement.

As for the comment further upthread about Mellie not being real... She's real as long as she's active. It's real pain and real tears. If we can equate saving Caroline with killing Echo, surely we can appreciate each persona's reality.
'"She made him fight to get her out." Susan to little Susan. Hmmmm.'
Thank you, TamaraC for that little pondering as I too have been 'hmmm'ing over that same line. :)

I was at first wondering what that whole side plot had to do with this episode - which is crazy because it had EVERYTHING to do with this episode.


Yes! ... and yes again. This was ultimate multi-layered, sub-texted Joss/Jane, at the top of the game. It doesn't get any better than this.
That was Enver's voice as Mr. Dominic. He had Reed's vocal inflection down, but it was definitely his own voice. I expect that Reed acted the scene and then Enver copied it, hence the Reed credit.


Proof/official confirmation? I just watched the YouTub clip linked on the thread Simon put up, and I find it hard to believe that it wasn't dubbed.
I hadn't considered that Saunders was a doll. The evidence seems pretty obvious now, though! I wonder if it will be revealed in the next episode, or are the clues being set for possible future seasons? (Assuming and hoping the latter!)

It's probably not important, but I'm stuck on wondering how Topher knew of that little girl, and how he got a scan of her brain.
No proof or official confirmation, Shey. Just my own ears and the fact that it would be more than a little silly to dub it.
Here's a question for everybody I found interesting:

During the Ballard/Boyd fight, who did you find yourself cheering for?

In other words, who do you consider to be the good guy?
After last week's very "meh" episode, and seeing Caprica, which from the very beginning provoked as much thought and emotion as I was hoping Dollhouse would have, I was getting kinda down on the D'House. But seriously. Wow. Mind, blown. Head, spun. Everything I could possibly want from a television show was in "Briar Rose," and Joss Whedon has again proven why I own a shirt that claims he is my master.

UPC, you read my mind. All through Caprica I kept thinking how much I wished Dollhouse had started out in a similar way. But this episode was a total home run. I loved the acting, Jane's writing, everything about the episode (even the quirky imponderables, like how they got down the 10-story shaft). I, too, had been accidentally spoiled for Alpha's identity--and had just given up trying to be spoiler-averse since--but I was still surprised by "Alpha's" appearance, after the stoner characterization. Tudyk was fantastic. Enver was fantastic. I love Ballard's linear thinking that just doesn't allow him to see what he should be seeing (although I wish he hadn't been so cruel to Mellie). And, yes, he's not the sharpest knife in the drawer--which makes him a wonderful counterpoint to all the cops and CSI people who so brilliantly figure out everything in one hour.

Thanks, Joss and Jane. This is possibly my favorite of Jane's episodes, and I loved the evil twist at the end.
chayes, nobody is the good guy in this show.

Topher's a kid-like asshole. I kinda like him still.

Boyd knows what they're doing is wrong, but he's doing it anyway. But he's doing it with heart. I like him still.

Paul - in theory - is doing the right thing. But he's totally one minded - blinkered. Which makes him dangerous. I don't like him at all.

Adelle is a mystery. I still don't get why she's doing this. I actually quite respect how she handles situations, and if I worked for her I'd totally fancy her because of that.
But even more so I think [Alpha] resembles Twilight from Buffy season eight.


I misread you there, vampmogs, and thought that I'd be spoilt for Buffy season 8. Alpha as Twilight? That'd be a big reveal!
So, here is a question: if the show gets renewed, where does it go from here? Now that Ballard knows it exists and where it is?

Possible kickers:
Paul is a doll
Saunders is a doll
Adelle is a doll
Echo is an imprint of Caroline, who is actually someone else
Someone will die: my betting is on Sierra
I'd make season two about the Dollhouse staff and the organisation behind it. Adelle, Topher, Boyd - they're ripe for backstory. Then delve into who's behind 'The Dollhouse' corporation, and what their goals are (they deal in fantasy, but that is not their purpose).
Loved this week's episode. Hoping we get another season, but at least we'll have great memories of a great show. As oppose to a missed opportunity for greatness.
As for next week's episode, my predictions:
Alpha and Caroline were doing a Ballard and investigating the Dollhouse before they got captured and turned into Dolls. Alpha has restored her old personality, and they're off to kick ass together: It'd be very Whedonesque for Caroline to be nowhere near as innocent as we had presumed.
It appears Saunders is Whisky (or Whiskey for like-minded Irish peeps). This makes sense since her facial scars from Alpha (presumably while a doll) would make it very difficult for her to be active. I wonder why they gave her Saunder's cynical/hurt personality though?
I think they'll use Ballard's non-saving of November against him next week. Him becoming a doll would be kind of dull (and would ruin the slow, steady character development they've worked so hard to establish). I always reckoned he might become a handler. I also think him and Boyd could have a very similar back-story, and that could convince him to do so.
Possible deaths:
Sierra, Victor, Saunders, or Topher's Asian sidekick.
My money's on November, however. She no longer really serves a purpose, and it could be used against Ballard to show him he's not as righteous as he thinks.
I can almost see this show turning into a different show now, at least for a bit, with Alpha/Echo the Adam/Eve of a new race of superbeings, breaking into Dollhouses around the world and liberating and compositing dolls, gradually growing their army. Alpha as Kahn from Star Trek.

Or maybe they are too self-involved for something so grandiose, and it will be more like Spike and Dru on a merry romp, with Ballard and Boyd teaming up to go after them.

Or, and here's a twist, Adelle suspected Alpha would try something like this, so she planted a trigger in Echo with which to take him down.
I think that there's two choices for Paul - work for the Dollhouse as a handler, or become a doll (not that he'd get to choose.)

I didn't catch that Saunders was a doll (though I think people are right that she's Whiskey), probably because I didn't want her to be. Heck, Adele could be a doll. Her friendship with the client in Haunted could be false memories. For me, every character who turns out to be a doll diminishes the impact of the characters to me.

I'm finding the plots improving (always love Jane) but the only character I really felt anything for last night was Alpha. And I don't know that says much for me. ;) Besides, I think Alpha is a doll with a screwed up programme and he's not really real either.
First off, wonderful episode, fantastic acting and great lines. Thematically it was brilliant. (I don't think it was mentioned in the ep, but Briar Rose was actually imprinted in Grimm's story, wasn't she? Not only with a curse, but with all the good stuff too? Interesting.)

On thing I didn't understand: Sending the body to Tucson and letting them know about that was done to what end? To distract one little doll?

Saunders as Whiskey. Hmmm. I can't quite figure out why Alpha would need to spare two dolls during his escape. I had the feeling that Original!Whisky was the personality he imprinted Echo with. That would explain why, while he was killing all around, he couldn't go all the way on her face since it was the face of the body he loved. Still doesn't account for the fact that he left Echo totally harmless. If he wanted to leave one Active behind, unharmed and ready to start waking up through his mind-games early in the season, why didn't he just leave Whisky?
No, to distract the Dollhouse, and make him think he was in Tucson going after the HQ, so they wouldn't expect him to do exactly what he pulled off.

[ edited by pat32082 on 2009-05-02 14:27 ]
The one thing that puzzles me about "Saunders is a doll" is that Echo had access to the Dollhouse files for her interrogation in Spy.
If Saunders was a Doll then why would they have a complete, false, file on her just ready and waiting for Echo to read?

ETA that I just realised that they would have to change her file since Dr Saunders clearly would have access to those files and couldn't open a file to find out she herself was a doll. D'oh!

[ edited by zz9 on 2009-05-02 14:22 ]
Deleted for ignorance of the English alphabet. :(

[ edited by redeem147 on 2009-05-02 14:29 ]
:D Deleted for lack of relevance after preceeding post was deleted.

[ edited by QingTing on 2009-05-02 14:33 ]
Kick-ass episode!

Everyone was amazing, especially Alan. I agree about the Angelus/Twilight resemblances, to me Alpha's mannerisms are like Angelus, but with the motivations of Twilight - awesome! Love how everyone's morality is pretty much twisted in this show - the good guys are doing bad stuff while still trying to be good, you can't really tell how bad the bad guys are ('cept maybe Alpha). Brilliant writing and acting. Can't wait for the finale. This show had better get a second season - there's soo much more to develop!
So Dollhouse HQ is simply called "The Center"...too bad it's in Tucson rather than Blue Cove.

In most episodes, I really like Adelle. But in a few, including this one, I completely despise her. I think she's the most clearly evil of the lot. Ballard's motives are questionable, but he's right. Do we really think she's unaware of the Sierra/Priya situation, for example?

And to go back a ways, I don't think we've seen the whole story with Caroline. We see her breaking into Rossum, her boyfriend getting murdered, and then some time in the future, the conversation with Adelle. Where, IIRC, she says something about this going on for a couple years.

There are twists yet to be turned, and I don't expect everything to be revealed in the next episode (or two). But I feel like Adelle is the very human, often likable person who knowingly does horrific things. No less a villain than the boogey man Alpha.
Am I the only one that thinks mini-Susan is related to Alpha and/or Echo somehow?

Whole thing with blades had me wondering, and then Echo saying she'd come back. I feel like they're related somehow.

I'm probably completely off-base.
I don't know how to add a link, but it's on Hulu now.

http://www.hulu.com/watch/71001/dollhouse-briar-rose
I agree with Simon... Briar Rose (or Rose Red) is one of my favorite characters in Fables. But then it's hard to find a character in that series I DON'T like. *shrug*
re: upthread question 'bout who we rooted for in Ballard-Boyd fight -- my true answer has nothing to do w/ who I think has the least dark grey to their moral t-shirt at this point: I was rooting (mostly) for Ballard, but mostly becasue my unconscious always kinda roots for the person who seems to be moving the story foreward...Heck, we have all been rooting a little bit for Alpha (even before/despite the charming man playing him) because he, like any good villain, is an engine of narrative that forces interesting/cool/heartwrenching things to occur/be revealed.

ETA: The other twist on the who-to-root-for thing: Paul is righteous, but not great on subtly. Forgetting the exact phrasing of what Boyd says to him mid-fight, but it was something similar to what was pointed out in "Needs" -- that just freeing the dolls by letting them go was kinda like releasing a bunch of domesticated chihuahuas into the Everglades and thinking you'd done a good thing (well, maybe if you hated chihuahuas and liked well-fed alligators it would be a good thing).

[ edited by doubtful guest on 2009-05-02 16:06 ]
Paul is a doll
Saunders is a doll
Adelle is a doll
Echo is an imprint of Caroline, who is actually someone else
Someone will die: my betting is on Sierra.


I thought Echoes ruled out Adelle as a doll.

But I totally think that Caroline was an imprint. It looked that way from the previews. And it would get rid of the one glaring weakness so far: which is that Caroline's story was dull, bordering on cliche. And since all the imprint MoTW stories have been cliches I think that's a flag that that's what Caroline is.

November is more likely to die. Sierra is played by an actress who is really versatile and good. Am guessing that Paul will have something to do with her death (either fail to prevent it or inadvertently cause it).

Saunders is a doll. It'd be more fun if Paul was just a guy who has been deeply manipulated by Alpha than a doll.

Great episode.
Did anyone else think Alpha had a lot of Topher's mannerisms, inflections, and way with words?

And yeah Saunders is totally Whiskey. Alpha slashes the faces of Dolls, to mark what's not real.
re: feeling for Mellie

Although she is a programmed personality, November's body is still going through what Mellie goes through (the attack from Hearn, intimacy with Paul), her mind feeling the thrills, fears, and anguish that Mellie feels. It's not hard or even strange to sympathize with Mellie, despite her being a temporary creation. She doesn't know she's false, so everything that happens to her still officially happened (especially since they keep putting that personality into November). It sucks to see her going through the more difficult scenes with Paul (and Miracle is awesome, though her speech patterns/line deliveries are unique, so I can see how some viewers might not be completely on board with her sometimes). Until the Dollhouse stops using Mellie for good, she arguably matters as a being. And, IMO, I do think it's sorta sad that she'll cease to exist at the whim of Adelle and the push of a button by Topher, despite her being made up of other people's personalities and traits.

Yes, in the long run, the ideal scenario would be to have all the dolls restored to their original personalities (unless some of those personalities are evil, maybe ? In which case it might be arguably better for society if they're imprinted with nicer personalities ? But then you get into arguments about the death penalty and whatnot and Babylon 5 already did the new-personality-as-death-sentence episode, though it could seriously use some further explanation).

re: Alan Tudyk

I managed to stay away from the Alpha spoilers, but the fact that such a huge deal was made about who was playing him kinda tipped me off to the possibility that Tudyk's guest spot might be as him. Though I wasn't convinced much during the episode until he started getting really into turning off all the security features. I wish I hadn't known about the Tudyk guest spot well in advance, but I would've seen his name in the opening guest credits anyway. There's only so far they can go to hide the reveals, I suppose.

Didn't catch the "whiskey" from Victor/Dominic as being pointed at Claire Saunders (like another poster said, I thought we were done with the doll reveals, at least for this season...and despite Saunders and Ivy not being in "Echoes"). Good catch, all. It did seem like a suspicious word, but for whatever reason I totally didn't think of the military alphabet while watching (could be because I caught this at 3am this morning after finally having some time to myself around midnight to catch up on In Treatment, The Office, and Real Time with Bill Maher. Dollhouse was the dessert after the full course meal).

Paul's determination/dedication is admirable, though yes, as others have mentioned, it makes him dangerous because there's no telling how extreme he'll get to accomplish his goals (though I don't think he's gonna go too over-the-top, from what we've been shown of his character. He's not gonna start gunning people down left and right or anything. He just hates an abusive conspiracy, is all). I like him, but he's in way over his head. If he disappears, perhaps his friend Loomis at the FBI will take up his cause. She's the only one who'll notice/care about his absence, unless they decide to introduce family and friends or other colleagues.
Alpha slashes the faces of Dolls, to mark what's not real.

Well, he also slashed Samuelson, who was presumably "real". And that park ranger.
In the middle of watching now... Dominic (in Victor) just said "Whiskey" as he was looking at Saunders. W in the phonetic alphabet.

Aughhh... not sure what this emotion is. Feel slightly sick.
Regarding Saunders' possible Doll status: I wonder if there is a narrative term for something similar to Occam's Razor that states, well, not that the simplest answer is most likely true, but that the simplest premise that allows for maximum interesting narrative possibilities is probably true. Not expressing this well, but here is what I'm going for:

I have previously mentioned that I think it likely Claire is an ex-doll, rather than a current doll. One reason I like this theory is that it allows a huge amount of new narrative possibility (endnote 1) while requiring relatively little handwaving/phlebotinum-burning to make it plausible in the context of other known facts (endnote 2). For this reason, I prefer it to a lot of "she's a (current) doll, but a secret one that only Adelle (or maybe only upper management) knows is a doll," etc.

By the way, I am truly curious if there is a concept/name for this approach to narrative probability in teevee series -- I've read people like Joss or Jane discussing things like what makes a good series premise and how complicated it can be, and this seems like a micro version that I'm trying to articulate.

endnote 1: new/interesting narrative possibilities. We don't yet have a character who is an ex-doll, an interesting viewpoint. Also like that seems consistant with the depth of (tortured) introspection that seems ongoing with Saunders, that she seems to have a unique perspective on what it means to care for the dolls, and that her motives are potentially so tortured even she isn't sure which "side" she needs to be on in any given crisis. Also, if she is an ex-doll, maybe she was active when the tech wasn't quite as developed -- perhaps she predates Topher and any clever programming tweaks he brought to the process. Or perhaps she predates simple things like the right formula of drugs in the sleep pods and being a sleeping doll used to be more tortured/nightmare-filled, giving her a reason to want to find a way to remove trauma from the doll's daily life (there were doctors in the 18th century who joined slave ships not because they approved of slavery but because they felt that, while they lacked the power to end it, they could try to reduce needless suffering/death of the captives in the meantime.)

endnote 2: phlebotinum economy. being an ex-doll is consistent with things many of us are hypothesizing are doll-specific, like being targeted for scarification by Alpha, or whether the drugs in "Echoes" might have affected her (hence her absence from that plot), yet doesn't require wave after wave of complexity about how her records are stored/hidden or whether we can take her tortured persona as "real." Much as I love the twistieness of some of the theories like "Alpha killed the real Saunders, but they brought her back and implanted her old mind in her," they seem unnecessarily complex to get a bang for our buck from the character. If she was an ex-doll, she need only to have been active either at another dollhouse, or far enough in the past that relatively few people currently at the L.A. site (Adelle, Dominick, perhaps a few others) would know her history, hence her desire to cover up the "Whiskey" slip.

[ edited by doubtful guest on 2009-05-02 15:59 ]
Alpha slashes the faces of Dolls, to mark what's not real.

Well, he also slashed Samuelson, who was presumably "real". And that park ranger.


The difference being he killed both the park ranger and Samuelson, but only scarred the faces of Victor and Saunders/Whiskey.
I would HATE it if they kill November. She's the most interesting doll for me, thus far.

As to who to cheer for during the fight scene. I don't think I really wanted either of them to win. It was mainly a lot of cringing and watching between the fingers of the hands held over my face. I like Boyd and Paul a lot. Both of these men are fighting for what they view to be in the best interest of their obsession. The fight was painful to watch.

Alpha is spooky in the crazy Dru way. Comes off simple and innocent and then goes full on psycho before our eyes.
Nasarius-

With regard to "Do we really think she's unaware of the Sierra/Priya situation"

I took it as Nolan framed Priya in such way that she was in position where the Dollhouse organization offered her a "deal."

We've been shown two people in trouble pressured to serve as dolls, and an arrest record for a third. Nolan could've setup Priya for some crime/trouble that would bring her to the attention of the DH org.

Of course the DH org. could be evil and willing to just take Priya to please a client, but doing so would remove a shade or two of gray. With DH, my bets go on gray and not B&W. :)
I'm very pleased Alan has come on board. Joss has said he looks first for comedic ability in actors because comedy is harder to do successfully and those people can convey other emotions well. Alpha is off-the-chain-and-meds scary.

Did anyone else notice in the very beginning how the pre-corpse Kepler dismissively noted the light bulb packaging in the dumpster????
Best episode yet, and much love for all involved.

But, question: how did Alpha manage the timing? How did he know to plant the body at the exact time that Ballard stumbled on the designer? I'm sure he led Ballard to the designer somehow, but on the same day that Ballard found the building? Was there time to kill Kepler and get the body to Tucson before Ballard showed up at Kepler's door?

Maybe the super-high-tech bugging device Ballard found wasn't from the Dollhouse, but was Alpha's?

Personally I got the impression that Adele let Ballard in, or at least was aware of Ballard's presence. It also seemed really odd to me that Ballard said they'd be on camera as soon as they stepped out... and then he stepped out. How would he have known where the cameras would start, or that there weren't cameras in the vents? And how did he know how a doll would react to his instructions? Or that the guy he stopped was a doll in the first place? Maybe it was a very laid back security guy, or a janitor, or the owner in his pajamas.

Also thought the fight scene went on a little too long, with a few too many times back up the stairs. But Alpha was right; gotta watch those risers.

Otherwise, incredible episode, incredible script, and best acting yet from everyone involved.
Wasn't it stated or implied that Alpha killed dolls during the event in the Dollhouse? I was thinking that Dr.Saunders and Echo were the only ones to face Alpha and live, and Echo was singularly unslashed. I may be mis-remembering as it has been a few weeks since that episode.
Well, he also slashed Samuelson, who was presumably "real". And that park ranger.

Richard or his goon killed the ranger. Alpha killed the goon-fake-ranger, and good point, with the slashing. At this point I'm starting to think the handlers and support staff and whatnot may also be Dolls. Alpha seemed to be ensuring the security staff would keep sleeping, in this past episode. "Security team... sawing wood." And now there's Whiskey. I wondered, when she didn't recall leaving the Dollhouse any time recently.

The difference being he killed both the park ranger and Samuelson, but only scarred the faces of Victor and Saunders/Whiskey.

No, he killed a bunch of Dolls in the shower.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2009-05-02 16:21 ]
yes, he killed dolls, and we even saw some bodies (in the shower where Echo was found), which suggests he only saved dolls he had some consious or unconsious and as-yet-undisclosed reason to see as special.
No, you're right, it was implied he killed every other doll in the Dollhouse at the time, except for Echo (and possibly Saunders, though I'm leaning toward her being an ex-doll, and therefor no longer really "Whiskey", as presumably someone else would've taken that name's place at this point).

falina observed:
"Did anyone else notice in the very beginning how the pre-corpse Kepler dismissively noted the light bulb packaging in the dumpster????"

Ah, I didn't see that. Nice touch and specifically put there for re-watches, which is rare and always nice (also a barely-there, early clue for the dude who Ballard finds being suspicious). Heh, I guess Real-Kepler was dismissive because the light bulbs weren't compact flourescent ?

Edited to add: I could be remembering wrong. Maybe it wasn't at all implied or clearly stated that Alpha killed every doll in the LA Dollhouse at that time except for Echo. Maybe we just saw many bodies in the shower and I assumed it meant Alpha killed everyone except Echo.

Question: Was it actually Alan Tudyk's naked back (and apparently dyed hair) in the last scene of the premiere, "Ghost", or another actor standing in for that character ? Unless Alpha is imprinted on more than one dude.

[ edited by Kris on 2009-05-02 16:25 ]
Someone on another forum pointed out that Alpha has many of the same mannerisms and speaking habits as Topher, even to the same gesture with the thumb and forefinger touching (can't vouch for that last myself, need to watch again). Maybe Alpha has imprinted himself with lots of people whose skills he wanted?
I thought the real Kepler was the corpse. Figured the light-bulb thing was a cute callout.
I love avoiding spoilers.

This was a win all the way around in our house. =)

Charen grendillo fai. Jane, Joss, Alan, everyone. Amazing work.

/fangirl
Holy hell this thing is good on rewatch. I totally missed Echo not only helping Boyd during the fight by tripping Paul, but doing the exact thing Alpha-as-Kepler was paranoid about.

Watching it again I'm more sure Alpha has some Topher in him.
C.A. Bridges, maybe I'm confusing the issue, but which corpse are you talking about ? Alpha faking being a dead body in the dumpster (when all we see is his hand/forearm) in the teaser of the episode to surprise and kill Kepler ? Or the body that was found in Tuscon (which was that man from the teaser who Alpha-in-dumpster killed, the real Kepler, yes), the one Sierra was sent to investigate ?
deleted link

[ edited by April November on 2009-05-02 16:40 ]
Sorry, my confusion. Missed the first part of the opening.
Does anyone else think that Alpha might have been Topher's birthday buddy one year? Quite a few people thought Topher had imprinted himself on Sierra, and if he'd done that to Alpha it could explain why Alpha knows how to manipulate and remote-wipe imprints.

And I'm still not convinced that Saunders is a doll. She's the one who was so quick to deflect Victor/Dominic's "Whiskey"; I can't remember right now if there was anyone else present who didn't get silly during "Echoes". Time to re-watch this completely AWESOME episode.

ETA: If Saunders is an ex-doll, that would also explain her deflection of "Whiskey". Maybe she doesn't want to be reminded or she doesn't want anyone who didn't know already to be aware of her past.

[ edited by ActualSize on 2009-05-02 17:12 ]
Still a couple of things confusing for me.

Why would Alpha need Paul to help break into the Dollhouse? Nothing we saw couldn't have been done by Alpha alone. Did he want Paul as a diversion once in? Surely that would, or should have raised the alarm and caused a lockdown once he was discovered. Alpha would have been far better off breaking in alone, dressed as an active, with no one knowing anything until it was too late.

And secondly, if Alpha's only goal was rescuing Echo, why do it when she's in the Dollhouse? He mindwiped her while she was on an earlier mission, why not just do that and then grab her then, with only one handler at most to deal with? He clearly has access to the imprinting technology. Why wait until she's back in the fortress before you try and rescue her?
Did he only need her memory so he could put it back in her body? If so then surely he could, from what we've seen of how easy it was to break in, get in, steal her personality hard drive and escape without anyone ever knowing.
"Someone on another forum pointed out that Alpha has many of the same mannerisms and speaking habits as Topher, even to the same gesture with the thumb and forefinger touching (can't vouch for that last myself, need to watch again). Maybe Alpha has imprinted himself with lots of people whose skills he wanted?"
C. A. Bridges | May 02, 16:23 CET

I think it is more likely that Alpha was one of Topher's 'friend for his birthday' imprints once and retained all the knowledge because Alpha has pretty much retained EVERYTHING. It was interesting that when Alpha moved into the pot lab he seemed to chill out (not a surprising weed side effect) but still retained a lot of Topher (Topher did say he had an addictive personality!).
Why would Alpha need Paul to help break into the Dollhouse? Nothing we saw couldn't have been done by Alpha alone. Did he want Paul as a diversion once in? Surely that would, or should have raised the alarm and caused a lockdown once he was discovered. Alpha would have been far better off breaking in alone, dressed as an active, with no one knowing anything until it was too late.

I think Alpha did need Paul as a diversion. Too many people in the Dollhouse would recognize his face, which he conveniently turned away from Topher and the random Doll. Also, the Dollhouse staff knows Ballard is sniffing around, knows he's been suspended and is working on his own, and wouldn't expect a partner in crime. Alpha may have figured they would focus on Ballard while he faded into the background and achieved his own objective. Which does appear to be getting one or more hard drives so he can imprint Echo and others.
embers, great minds think alike! :)
Paul's so 'loud' (I'm gonna save the world!!!) he creates a perfect window for Alpha to do his thing.
The naked guy seen so long ago was not Alan Tudyk. Alan says this in the interview where he relates how Joss first mentioned Alpha to Alan. The interview is on today's headline page.
I've never been gladder for avoiding spoilers than I was with the reveal of Alpha. (Although, the resulting heart attack of shock wasn't so fun.) Such a huge and amazing twist, especially with such fantastic acting by Tudyk- man, was he scary.

And is it bad that I found him so very, very pretty?

Originally, I adored Paul, but lately, he's just been creeping me out. And he does seem to be of a one-track mind, to put it lightly. What bugged me, though, was when, upon seeing November in the pod, he simply dismissed her with "They flip a switch- you'd kill me without even knowing it", before rushing off to Echo. Coincidentally, with a simple imprint, she could be capable of the exact same thing, and yet, he doesn't seem to extend this logic to include Echo.

But, wow, was everyone brilliant. Enver's acting- I can't rave enough about it. He was Dominique.

The most amazing episode of my life, basically. Only problem is, if Dollhouse doesn't get a second season now, my life loses all meaning and I'll be forced to lock myself in a small room with just a tv and the Dollhouse DVD.

Also, carrots. Brilliant.
He also does that "yay I saved the princess" smile with Echo and not November. He's not being logical, he's pursuing his fantasy and rationalizing to himself why he doesn't care what happens to November at this point.
In Paul's defense, what was done to him psychologically with the Mellie/November character was pretty damn traumatic -- heck, he first kissed her in a moment of committing to the "real" girl next door rather than the "ideal" damsel in distress, then had to worry that he had brought her into deadly danger, then lost her, then found her, only to find out she was a sleeper, then had to figure out how to hide this knowledge from her without weirding herself or himself out about their relationship, then had a horrible moment of moral/ethical transgression, followed by the scene of regret in the shower. Is there a single good implulse he ever had towards Mellie that he didn't end up getting punished or humiliated for? Or, worse, lured into violating his own ethics for or pushed into self-hatred and guilt for? Not to mention the "you will kill me without knowing it" thing! (Heck, when he says that line in this ep while looking at her sleeping, I thought it was pretty clear he was filled with a hell of a lot of regret but felt he didn't really have a real option to take her with him then.)
doubtful guest, I agree with you -- and would also add that Caroline/Echo has not been similarly compromised in Ballard's mind. She embodies all the good he hopes to do by exposing the Dollhouse and liberating the inmates. She's more a symbol than real person to him at this point.
Actual Size and Gossi, as we saw it the Paul diversion worked.
But it shouldn't have.

Boyd shouldn't have got close enough to Ballard to be disarmed, he should have raised the alarm and had the entire place locked down, Saunders should have raised the alarm the instant she saw Victor had been attacked (not just wandered back to her office without even wondering who was fighting), someone should have seen the ten minute fight in the middle of a CCTV covered Dollhouse, Adelle should have called a full lockdown and search as soon as she realised Ballard had broken in (not just assume he came alone) and she should very defiantly called security and a lockdown when she saw Alpha start to imprint Echo.

All these things happened to let Alpha succeed, but he would have had no way of predicting or assuming it would happen this way. A genius does not "plan" for the head of security to make a rookie mistake or for Saunders to not bother to raise the alarm.
Such an exciting ep, great writing and great performances as per usual but even more so! I was spoiled for the Alpha thing (I'm not as careful about spoilers as I should be, really) but my honey wasn't and his reaction was fun. He wasn't totally shocked, he'd had an inkling as the episode went on, but it was fun for him to get confirmation without "knowing" for sure beforehand.

I was so ickily unsettled by the Dominic scene, and it was interesting to watch Topher and Dr. Saunders clearly struggling with it, while Boyd seemed just fine. I instinctively like him, as I'm supposed to, but he's a tricky character. Totally agree with everyone else who was impressed by Enver. He just blows me away every week. What a talent. Also, how ick that Adelle chose Victor of all the dolls to embody Dominic, with whom she clearly had had a close (of some kind) relationship.

The Boyd / Ballard fight scene and who do we root for was one of the episode highlights, I thought. I found myself rooting for Boyd pretty completely, and it's fascinating to wonder why. But what gossi said is definitely a part of it:
Boyd knows what they're doing is wrong, but he's doing it anyway. But he's doing it with heart. I like him still.

Paul - in theory - is doing the right thing. But he's totally one minded - blinkered. Which makes him dangerous. I don't like him at all.


MattK yes the closing shot totally echoed (!) Spike and Dru for me.

I'm *really* excited now to see how this wraps up, and so sad that the odds of a second season are looking dire.
We first encountered Echo imprinted with the experience of traumatic physical assault, and later November, recently abandoned by the great love of her life, weeping near the side of a bridge. Then we met Dominic in Victor's body.

We were meant to be totally creeped out well before the Alpha reveal.

And awesome the reveal was! I spoiled myself on the Alpha casting sometime during the first several episodes. I was hungering for a Joss show and wasn't quite getting that fix during episodes 1-4. The spoilage kept me coming back with hope, so no biggie in the long run. Because I was still freaked the hell out by Alpha's reveal, omg! I never knew Wash could be so creepy, yikes!

I am loving Alpha.

It's official.

DH got a Big Bad.

ETA: And ooooh, I forgot Ballard. Several weeks ago I told a friend not crazy about him, C'mon, it's Helo. He can do whatever he wants, he's Helo, I'm sold! :) After last week's episode, I might adjust my tune a bit. I think we're not meant to like Ballard very much, at least for awhile. The DH is taking the darkness in his life to new...er dark places. I mean, so much for saving Lost Girl Caroline. Bigger fish to fry now.

I totally hope Paul begins working in the Dollhouse.

[ edited by April November on 2009-05-02 18:55 ]
I'm with zz9 on the security take. Also the memory stick sent to Dominic suggests he should think he's going to be facing Dominic, who is not only hard core but ruthless. I think Alpha needed Paul for a reason that hasn't been revealed yet.
zz9, I need to rewatch, but my impression was that Adelle was aware that Ballard was in the building and she sent Boyd to take him down. I assume there's a reason she didn't just unleash snipers on him -- she wants him alive, and we'll (I hope) find out why. Everyone was likely aware of the fight going on, and Saunders (rightly) attributed Victor's initial injuries to it. She did her job and expected Boyd to do his. Once Alpha attacked, she didn't have the opportunity to do anything.

The Dolls were asleep and made more soundly so by Alpha's manipulation of the oxygen and CO2 in the pods.

Adelle would have been counting on Topher to notice computer security breaches, but there actually wasn't one -- Alpha had the passwords. And Topher was unconscious.

Everything happened very quickly in the end, and it was convenient that Alpha was able imprint Echo and get out so quickly, but Adelle and Boyd were busily interrogating Ballard, thinking they had neutralized the threat.

I may be giving the writers too much credit, but it worked for me.
Remember, when they saw Ballard on the screen they just saw him with what looked like a doll. No reason to suspect he had a partner at that point. He never has before.
I'd like to express an impression that might be unpopular based on what I've read, but here goes. In some ways, Paul reminds me a little of Mal.

Even going back to Paul's comment to Loomis "I got shot... right here!" (ala stabbed, with Mal), I've seen a few parallels, unintentionally or not. Mal enlists with the Independents to gain access to fighting for a noble cause, only to have his superiors leave him completely stranded (sounds like Paul getting shafted by the FBI even as he was calling for more support from them). Mal is deeply traumatized by Serenity Valley, losing his belief in, well, anything. In "Briar Rose" Paul asks helplessly to no one in particular "Is my entire life a lie?!" (showing he no longer trusts in anything, really. Somehow, Mal and Paul both manage to come out on top in spite of Mal being "The easiest man I ever marked" on some occasions, and Adelle saying to Paul, "Yes, Alpha made it out, but HE was clever..." (paraphrasing).

Edit: Another layer I thought of was the parallel between Paul/Mellie (before he knew she was November) and Mal/Nandi. Mellie was all, "I'm not her..." but Paul used her anyway (even *before* he knew she was a doll!). Also, both men can't seem to help wanting to protect a certain woman who is both gorgeous, out of reach, and whose occupation is entirely based on lies, selling of human flesh, and people-pleasing.

I'm not saying Paul *should* be interpreted this way, and I'm *certainly* not saying it's an intentional tribute, but it helps me not hate him, since Mal probably went through this process, albeit with different specifics, as well. And I don't hate Mal in the phase of his life that we got to know him (even though he IS a bad guy on occasion).

Redeem147 suggested Ballard had only two choices: work for the Dollhouse or become a doll. If Paul continues to have another point or two of comparison with Mal, he might escape his own "Serenity Valley" defeat against ALL expectations/odds, and escape to The Black, disillusioned, downtrodden, despairing, but moving forward one day at a time. Paul'd still fight against injustice when it crossed his path, and maybe actually have a moment when he broadcasts the Signal, and reveals the truth about the Dollhouse to a point at which it can't be denied, but Paul might not exactly go rushing for Dollhouse (i.e. Alliance) territory as his first preference. Guess we'll have to wait and see! :D

Hehe, I love a show that makes me think. :)

[ edited by CellarDoor on 2009-05-02 19:25 ]
Sunfire, didn't Alpha send Dominic the memory stick in order to get him out of the way? The murder was supposed to have taken place in Tucson, which is (if I heard right) the home of the Dollhouse main office. If Alpha was getting close to the really big kahunas, Dominick could have gone haring off to investigate, leaving a big hole in LA security.
True, that might've the reason he sent that. I just don't see a reason he'd need go to all the trouble to fake an identity and convince an obsessed FBI agent to "bully" him into breaking into the Dollhouse. Not considering how much he already knows about the place and his clear ability to quietly disable its defenses. I like gossi's point about Ballard being the loud annoying distraction but that doesn't seem to be quite enough considering the amount of effort put into the scheme to fool Paul and the amount of real risk that including Paul introduces into the thing.
Interesting comparisons, CellarDoor. I was listening to the commentary on "Train Job" the other day, and they were talking about how Mal's character was originally going to be a lot darker, and specifically that had it not been for that change he would not have returned the stolen medicine. It seems to me that Paul is maybe a glimpse of how that darker Mal might have developed.

However, I love Mal to pieces and I really don't like Paul much (I think he's more or less on the right side but I am not impressed with his methods), so make of that what you will.
ActualSize, yeah you posted about Topher's birthday pal once having been Alpha while I was in the middle of writing and posting my comment.
I just found every twist and turn to be made of awesome in this episode. I really do think I love Dollhouse more than Firefly now, which is going to make it very painful for me.... *sob*

Sunflre, I don't think Alpha would have needed to be bullied by Paul if he hadn't gotten so stoned (which is IMO Topher's personality coming out in him). I think we'd have seen a different scenerio (and more rope) if Alpha had been straight, although ... wait... he'd still have been crazy/schizophrenic!

[ edited by embers on 2009-05-02 19:21 ]

[ edited by embers on 2009-05-02 19:22 ]
Yeah, Mal is at the top of my favorite fictional characters of all time list (Fighting it out with Sam Gamgee, Puddleglum, and a few others), and Paul... is not. But I guess I'm arguing that just because he's acting like despicable scum lately doesn't mean it's quite fair to dismiss him yet, entirely. At least Paul seems to hate himself as much or more than most of us do (if that's a good thing, hrm...) Hard to believe we'll see many more layers in only one more episode though. :( Please Fox, at least one more season!
embers, I loved it too! And I will be right there with you in pain if...

Nope, won't even type it.

Don't know if Alpha thought of this (although he is a genius :) ), but wouldn't even Ballard have been suspicious if he'd just agreed immediately to help? Maybe not; Ballard is so fixated on the mission that he doesn't seem to notice much else.
Hey, I just noticed something... Where did Paul get the badge he flashed at Alpha?
Other than Echo, Paul is the character whose "journey" of character development is in its earliest stages in this show: we see him going from straight arrow FBI agent straightforwardly pursuing a clear goal of finding the dollhouse to having his every assumption about himself and his world twisted. Even Boyd, who is new to the Dollhouse at the start of the series, is implied to have had a full law career before (that came to an end for reasons we still don't know) and carries more of the classic Noir hero-esque jaded-by-experience vibe. Paul has, we know, a divorce in his past, but we don't have much to suggest that his professional/non-domestic world view has had to undergo much world-shaking prior to the events of this season. In this way, Mal, when we meet him, is much much farther into his own journey, and has almost too much past history weighing on him, which, arguably, gives him a tad more wisdom and judgement than Paul would have had in the same circumstance (?Paul perhaps would've gone on a suicidal raid to free River's fellow experimental subjects the minute he met the Tam siblings?). Come to think of it, Paul starts in a somewhat similar place to Helo, who starts BSG with grand noble gestures (giving up his place on the raptor) then spends multiple seasons being emotionally mindf***ed to the point that he could have gone in any number of directions with his moral development.
Unfortunately, I was spoiled long ago with 'Alan is Alpha' and so part of me spent the whole episode waiting for the change and knowing that it would come when Dr. Saunders saw him. Didn't expect the slashing of Victor though, so I still jumped - and everyone else in the group I was watching with jumped and/or gasped loudly! Still a brilliant episode and brilliant acting by everyone, especially Alan and Enver.

My understanding of the opening that it was a dumpster diver going through the garbage who found the body that Alpha had dumped there (having killed him in LA and somehow transported him to Tuscon). Alpha made sure they knew that something was happening in Tuscon and that he was most likely there by sending the flash drive. My reading of that was that he knew Dominic was in the attic but also knew they could access the information. (Maybe I'm giving Alpha too much credit but he seems to know what's going on there and appears to have slipped in and out at least once that we know of - if he's the one who changed Echo's imprint (and Mellie's?) to give Paul information.)

The interesting tidbit to me was when Dominic said that Alpha liked to use the Greek version of his name while in art school, or something to that effect. (I must rewatch today - and again and again.) I forsee rewatching Dollhouse at least as many times as I do Buffy, because every time I watch an episode, I pick up something new, and there are so many things to pick up on!

Alpha obviously has some reason he wants Paul to find the Dollhouse, since he kept sending him clues. I think at this point he was using him mostly as a diversion. I agree with ActualSize's analysis of the security situation. I think Adelle was aware of Ballard being in the Dollhouse as soon as he stepped out in front of the cameras, but she/they wanted him alive and knew he was obsessed with Caroline so of course that would be where he was going. They just had to stop him from taking her.

I think Alpha needs the chair to do whatever imprinting he's doing. Yes, he wiped Echo remotely, but he would have had to program that reaction into the imprint beforehand.

We definitely need more seasons of this show. Joss at his best!
doubtful guest and CellarDoor, (great names, btw), you raise great points. At this point in time, Mal is my favorite Joss-character ever. I was very gung-ho on Paul Ballard at the start of DH pretty much because hey, it's Helo. Both of you raise Young Ballard as Mal comparisons that work well.

The worse Paul gets the more I love him. Thanks, Joss and Tim! I expect to be taken to some very dark places and will be let down if I'm not.
Eh I'm down with the Ballard hate...rooting for Boyd all the way and when Echo hit him on the stairs I thought that was pretty indicative of how she did not want him rescuing her!

Alpha was hard-core!! The cutting Victor scene was a little meh, but when B and B were fighting on him and when he told Saunders, he could not have been cuter!!

I'm pretty okay with Alpha using Ballard for entry and he probably told him about the camera situation on the way so that wasn't an issue...

So where do they go from here?
samatwitch, if your take on the dumpster diver were correct, Stephen Kepler would have to be able to kill people while dead; the 'body' that the dumpster diver found in the garbage suddenly reached out and grabbed said diver's neck. Also, the dead body that forensics Sierra analyzed - the same one that belonged to the dumpster diver - came up as Kepler.
Add another vote for Enver-love (in a manly way), Tudyk-awe, and for Shey's comment: "This was ultimate multi-layered, sub-texted Joss/Jane, at the top of the game. It doesn't get any better than this." I get a kick out of being told what is going to happen (like the hand reaching up through the stairs), but not realize it until hindsight.

I commented after the Echo/Ballard fight that I was looking forward to the Boyd/Ballard fight. Whoa baby! I like how these two characters recognize something honorable in the other, while still trying to beat the bejabbers out of each other.

One of my favorite moments was when "Kepler" was drinking coffee in his apartment. My first thought was to wonder what kind of brew a paranoid ecologist would use. Tudyk spitting it out, without any comment, got me laughing. (And just now I realized, another clue to his identity!)

For Dollhouse security, I'm going to vote with ActualSize and against zz9/Sunfire. Boyd/Adelle were contemptuous of Ballard's invasion, but were completely oblivious to Kepler/Alpha. So I get the impression that security would have caught *any* single intruder, but Alpha could fool/thwart the procedures by having "blundering" Ballard in front. It might be that only with Ballard would Boyd & Adelle take their time to capture him quietly, instead of instant alarms/lockdown. (Topher mentioned it was quiet except for Echo coming back, which explains the Handlers not being around.) Or it could be a terrible plan that Alpha's does to get ego-stroking, to be fooling all these people.

Mercenary: When Ballard flashed the badge, he deliberately had his fingers covering up at least half of it, including picture and name. :-)
Alpha needed to "be" Kepler in order to attract Ballard's attention, and he also used Kepler's body as a distraction to focus the Dollhouse's attention on "Alpha in Tucson, near HQ -- OMG!"

ETA: I wonder if Ballard swiped Loomis' badge. Or ordered one off the internet.

[ edited by ActualSize on 2009-05-02 20:23 ]
Did anyone else think Alpha had a lot of Topher's mannerisms, inflections, and way with words?

Completely. He was so clearly Topher to me that I knew something was up, although I did not have it sussed out until it was over that it was just Alpha was basing his ‘character’ on the only supergeek he knew well.
Yeah Ballard mentioned getting Loomis' badge off her so that was probably what he had...
I don't understand a lot of the Ballard-hate. Yes, he has his flaws (he was pretty thoroughly played by Alpha, and he is somewhat single minded) but the morally compromised position he found himself in in Spy and Haunted isn't one of them. I think he psychologically punished himself more than enough for that. I didn't see him as being overly dismissive of November; he really cared for her back when he believed she was Mellie. He didn't care about her less when he found out she was a doll, but as doubtful guest basically pointed out, he was in a situation where he had to teach himself to be dispassionate toward her, and that's what he did in the end.

I've always liked Ballard; when he's on screen, he becomes the main character to me (credit to Tahmoh for that). I like Boyd too (especially now that we see how he's trying to make the best of a bad situation for Echo) but I was rooting for Ballard because he had the higher goal of getting her out of the Dollhouse. (Maybe not a highly realistic goal, but a noble one.)
Mercenary, I stand corrected. I somehow missed the body in the dumpster grabbing the guy. I knew it was Kepler's body they found in Tuscon, but the fact that Sierra-as-FBI stated that he didn't smell like a homeless person or that the layer of food was only a few hours old, fit with my theory that it was an anonymous dumpster diver finding Kepler's body where Alpha had left it. Now that I see the grab, I don't understand why Kepler, who apparently was an agoraphobic, would be out looking through dumpsters - and looking like a homeless person.
Well, we don't KNOW that Kepler was an agoraphobic.

We just know that "Kepler" said he was.

(I'm actually unclear on how we're supposed to interpret Alpha-as-Kepler. Is he pretending to be Kepler or is he actually enacting an imprint (but in some cool Alpha/composite way that allows him to switch)? Was he, for that matter, really stoned and nuts or just pretending?)
Funnily enough, if I'm right then Alpha actually told the truth when he said those plants were there when he arrived...

Mercenary

Also telling the truth when he answered Paul's question "Are you Stephen Kepler?" with "There are so many aspects to that question" or something like that.

I'm also thinking now that Alpha was the agent inside who sent Ballard the messages through Echo and November. He could remote deprogram Echo, maybe he could somehow remote program those parts, giving Ballard a further shove toward actually finding the Dollhouse.
Just had a thought. Was trying to imagine who it is that Alpha imprints Echo with and came up with one (admittedly unlikely) possibility: It really is Caroline. During the two years on the run, Caroline (a) gained some wisdom/maturity/smarts beyond the callow, somewhat naive do-gooder we met in "Echoes" and (b) hooked up with another radical underground type, namely alpha, who either was about to end up as a doll or who was already compositing and doing a little bit of sneaky stuff. So the devious reveal is that the scene of Caroline arguing with Adelle that we are so familiar with was actually Caroline purposely allowing her own capture/induction with some ulterior motive already in the mix. Or it could be bunnies.
Alpha's kind of a nutball. Maybe he implanted himself in Echo.
@doubtful guest - two years? I don't remember that info.
opening scene of "Echoes": "you and I have been doing this dance for almost two years" (Adelle)
One possible problem with the idea of Alpha being the one who was sending the messages to Paul via the dolls is that it potentially renders all that stuff do with "finding the purpose of the dollhouse" as meaningless misdirection, which seems somewhat pointless. If all of that was just part of Alpha's clever trickery to get Paul on the right track then it seems to imply that there is in fact no "grander" purpose of the dollhouse (or at least not that Alpha knows about).

As far as I can see, the only way that the whole "purpose" thing can remain relevant is if:

A) Alpha actually has some grander design which involves discovering the wider purpose of the dollhouse or those who are behind it, then fighting them on that level.

B) There is another insider with (potentially) benevolent motives who is legitimately trying to discover the purpose of the dollhouse. It is also possible that this "other insider" could be Dominic, but I don't really see that as being right.

I would be a little disappointed if it was all just misdirection. The exploration of the dollhouse's purpose seems to me to be one of the most interesting avenues for further development if the show gets renewed (fingers crossed).
Well, we don't KNOW that Kepler was an agoraphobic.

We just know that "Kepler" said he was.


I'm thinking he was at least seriously anti-social. He's out skulking around dumpsters alone at night, and his social life is sufficiently limited that no family or friends noticed that he had disappeared and a strange guy was living in his apartment. And it would be a decent reason for the Dollhouse to leave him alone even though he has potentially explosive information.
@doubtful guest - Oh, yeah! I'd forgotten. I assumed they had a prior relationship before Caroline decided to break into the Rossum lab, but your theory is intruguing.
Strangely disappointing. Kind of want everyone to die in the last episode except for Topher to just get old fast.
Why did Alpha need Ballard to get in? Just for a diversion?
I've seen multiple comments that Topher imprinted Alpha with himself. Why not the other way around???

I think it's easily as possible Topher is an imprint of Alpha. If Alpha (the genius) was the first doll, why couldn't Topher be an experiment that came in handy when Alpha went batshit???

Oh, and Paul threatened to call the DEA about the medicinal carrots, not the DA.
What a fantastic episode. Stellar acting all round. Also loving the idea of Alpha and Echo being the Dollhouse equivalent of Mickey and Mallory Knox.
You know, the more I think about this episode, the less it actually hangs together and makes sense. First, how in hell did Topher manage to get the imprint of the young girl who had been so badly abused. I thought it took time and energy to gather that kind of information from a human being, as per Adelle's dead friend- it takes many sessions over time, and costs a great deal. So how did they do that here, with an abused girl? By abusing her some more?

Second, I find it oddly convenient that Ballard's work brings him to Alpha right at the time Alpha needs to make his move to rescue Echo/Caroline. It was simply his sleuthing that led him Kepler (a bad choice of name, since Kepler was the character played by Liev Schreiber on CSI 2 seasons ago). And how easily Kepler hung back and led Ballard in, a man who is a trained agent, working at finding a place where he knows that anyone can be an imprint/agent.

And like the smoke creature on Lost, I don't suppose we will ever find out who programmed Mellie and Echo to get information to Ballard.


AS to a possible death next ep. It is obvious that the logical death would be November; she lost purpose with the break-up with Ballard, she is in the DH because of the death of her child, and she has nowhere to go in the arc- though that can change. I cannot see it being Victor, not after that slashing. Echo would be bold, but it's ED's show. Sierra is a sad story, there against her will, and as always in a Joss show, it is the lovable innocent who gets killed. Therefore, Sierra.

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2009-05-02 23:21 ]
Edited because double posting is against my principles. :-)

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2009-05-02 23:21 ]
..how in hell did Topher manage to get the imprint of the young girl who had been so badly abused

Dana5140, I don't think it was an imprint; I think it was a brain scan. Now, how Topher got hold of something that should be a private medical record, I couldn't say. We don't know how he found out about the girl; maybe there will be some kind of follow-up.

I find it oddly convenient that Ballard's work brings him to Alpha right at the time Alpha needs to make his move to rescue Echo/Caroline...

I think Alpha orchestrated this, just as he left a dead body with Alpha-signature wounds in Tucson to distract the LA Dollhouse. And I really don't know why the writers of Dollhouse should be concerned about character names on other shows.
Dana5140: Kepler was the character played by Liev Schreiber on CSI 2 seasons ago

ActualSize: I really don't know why the writers of Dollhouse should be concerned about character names on other shows

Besides, we all know that the character played by Liev Scheiber is Victor Creed, a mutant with long claws. (Checked imdb, the CSI character was Michael, not Stephen.)
I concur that what Topher and Ivy were looking at was a normal brain scan of Susan, not a Dollhouse Identity Scan, for lack of a better term of art. Indeed, all that's required there is that Topher got access to the kids medical records, not that the kid underwent long and painful Dollhouse Identity Scans.
I was completely rooting for Boyd. Not because I think he's right or good. Just because I like him more than Ballard. Sad, but true.
That's why I love this show.
jcs, I'm not sure I like Boyd more but I trust his motives far more than I do Ballard's. Boyd has Echo's best interests at heart. I am still not clear why Paul Ballard is obsessed with Caroline, the Briar Rose analogy notwithstanding (and which applies to all three of them: Alpha, Paul and Boyd are all the Prince).

Simon, I don't know who Mickey and Mallory are but if you mean sort of, like Sid and Nancy, Charlie and Caril, Bonnie and Cl... Okay, you get the drift - the couple who crime together, stay together. Maybe this time it sticks? Maybe for a few episodes next season. And now, there really needs to be a Season 2.
Mickey and Mallory are the main characters from the film Natural Born Killers.
For what it's worth, Dana, Kepler, as a somewhat unusual name most famously linked to one of the most significant scientists of the past thousand years, will always be on the list for possible "significant" names. The two year old CSI connection seems pathetically trivial as something anyone on Dollhouse should care one billionth of a gnat's testicle about.

[ edited by doubtful guest on 2009-05-03 00:38 ]
The Earl Of Slander, yeah that flaw did occur to me, but somehow I can believe that it wasn't just misdirection. Adelle does seem to believe in a higher purpose for the Dollhouse. Well, maybe we'll find out next week. There do seem to be a lot of loose ends to be tied up in one more broadcast episode.

The Ballard/Boyd fight was a toughie. I found myself rooting for Boyd, I think because he seems to really want to protect Echo, whereas Ballard is trying to "rescue" Caroline out of some sort of ego thing, not because he's thought through what is best for Caroline and the other Dolls, but maybe just because Boyd seems so reassuring and decent while Ballard seems like the crazy. One thought I had about that - if Ballard had succeeded in bringing her of the Dollhouse, she would have lost all opportunity to ever become Caroline again.
What a fantastic episode. Stellar acting all round. Also loving the idea of Alpha and Echo being the Dollhouse equivalent of Mickey and Mallory Knox.

I thought that exact same thing, Simon. Maybe it was the accent...
Hmmm. Wouldn't surprise me if Boyd and Ballard team up to rescue Echo from Alpha.
During the fight I was rooting for Boyd. I appreciate Ballard's tenacity, but once he skipped November to find Echo I lost lot of respect for him. Boyd isn't deluded about what he does. Ballard is. He's Dominic, but with a rescuing prince fetish.
I've noticed quite a few mentions of this, notably from Dana and falina, but it's been a recurring question in several articles on whedonesque.

Regarding the "zOmg, they're all dolls!" theory: The episode "Echoes" established that non-dolls reacted to the memory drug one way [tripping out of their minds and experiencing a sort of euphoria], and dolls reacted to it differently. The dolls received vivid flashes of past events [Victor's was of war combat, Sierra's was of being raped, Echo's was of the death of Caroline's boyfriend].

That said, Adelle, Topher, Boyd, and Dominic could not be dolls. Topher can't be an imprint of Alpha. Dr. Saunders, however, was mysteriously missing from that episode. As was Ivy, Topher's assistant. This could have been done intentionally to allow the chance for them to be revealed as dolls at a later time.

My theory on what Alpha is doing is too elaborate to explain fully, and it kind of makes my brain melt, but the short version is that Caroline isn't the first Echo. Like how Sierra isn't the first Sierra, which makes me think the first Sierra may have been killed by Alpha or in the field sometime after Alpha's attack.

I think Alpha imprinted Echo with "Echo the first," an Echo that had begun to composite like him. Possibly she was killed in the field and this led to Alpha's composite event, where he killed indiscriminately during his escape but spared the new Echo because she had the potential of becoming a resurrected version of his former love.
The only reason I don't think Ivy is a doll is that she's to adorable for the Dollhouse to waste her as a full time assistant to Topher. Plus, if she were a doll, why would Dominic choose her as the spy scapegoat? I find it unlikely that they would believe a doll could be capable of that kind of duplicity seeing as they would probably keep tabs on her with a handler in the hours when she was off duty as Topher's assistant.
This could have been done intentionally to allow the chance for them to be revealed as dolls at a later time.

Or to lead the audience to speculate that they might be.

Caroline isn't the first Echo.

Or the only Echo. There's a lot of Dollhouses. I know that wasn't your point, crazykidben, but there's only one military alphabet (or whatever that alphabet is).
Redeem147, you bring up a point I debated with a friend of mine a week or so ago. What codenames do the other houses use? Would they go by the nato/military alphabet? Or would they go with a different system? Would a house in Tokyo use kanji?
The "NATO" phonetic alphabet has, broadly, a more international history, designed, among other things, to make use of words pronouncable by non-english speakers, so it is probably widely (internationally) used by any organization that adopts it. In other words, having chosen to adopt an internationally recognized code system such as this, it is doubtful the dollhouse organization would not use it throughout its organization.
The whole NATO designation thing is a bit confusing though. Does it mean that no branch of the Dollhouse can have more than 26 actives? Do they re-use them? They must do, but then wouldn't that in itself be confusing? What if an old client calls up and asks for "Sierra" and then complains when he doesn't get the Sierra he's used to?

Do different branches work together? What if the New York Dollhouse has a client who wants an active to travel from NY with him to a party in LA? Would the LA branch make its facilities available if needed? There'd then be two "Sierra's" or "Victor's" running around.
zz9, the New York Dollhouse tends to be too high to keep the alphabet straight, but does put on a hell of a good show. Meanwhile, back in the jungle....
zz9, I think they re-use it... There's a line in episode 3 (I think) that was like "So this is the new Sierra? What happened to the other one?".
I got a kick out of watching the show in Tucson and hearing them imply that the Dollhouse's HQ was in Tucson.

And cheers to most of you here for spelling Tucson correctly. Doesn't happen very often :)
Good catch Max, I'd forgotten that line.

And JiB, where is that statue then? And is there a big office block overlooking it? With lots of CCTV? And black vans?
Dana said:
"And like the smoke creature on Lost, I don't suppose we will ever find out who programmed Mellie and Echo to get information to Ballard."

Pretty sure you've previously said you stopped watching Lost during Season 2 or 3, right ? So you've missed quite a few heavy hints and outright major revelations about the Smoke Monster, especially in Season 4 and 5 (the show really has paid off for those of us masochistic enough to stick around, heh. In spades. The writers finding out when the end date would be around the middle-to-end of Season 3, getting a commitment from the network to allow them to end it, resulted in a noticeable drive to speed things up and knock down all those dominos they'd set up). Even in Season 1 and 2 we got at least two glimpses or implications of its nature per year.

There is the season finale and the coda episode, #13, for the DVDs most likely. Two guaranteed episodes of Dollhouse yet to go. Why the assumption that we won't get answers to the question of who programmed Mellie and Echo in that space of time ? Doesn't it look likely it's Alpha at this point anyway ? (though I realize that might be too obvious) Why the premature griping ?


"As to a possible death next ep. It is obvious that the logical death would be November; she lost purpose with the break-up with Ballard, she is in the DH because of the death of her child, and she has nowhere to go in the arc- though that can change. I cannot see it being Victor, not after that slashing. Echo would be bold, but it's ED's show. Sierra is a sad story, there against her will, and as always in a Joss show, it is the lovable innocent who gets killed. Therefore, Sierra."

If we are getting a season finale death (likely, but I don't see why it's required in TV finales, I'd be just as satisfied if the situation got completely fucked up--kinda already is with Paul Ballard captured--but everyone still lived, since nearly all these characters rock or at least have potential if explored further) I really hope it isn't November. Not for demographic reasons (though it would be nice to keep the hot full figured girl on longer, I'll never ask/demand that a character be kept alive simply because they're under-represented), but because her character and story feels unexplored.

The loveable innocent already didn't get killed when most figured she might ("Mellie"), but then I wasn't spoiled for the reveal of November in "Man on the Street" and had no prior knowledge of Miracle Laurie's casting. So Joss isn't being predictable with that aspect, so far. I wouldn't figure on Sierra getting killed. Aside from Doyle on Angel (but that was apparently a forced hand thing due to Glen Quinn's personal issues/drug problems ?), Joss and Tim have never killed off a main credits character in the first seasons of any of their shows. Nor up until their fourth seasons either (if we're talking Buffy & Angel shows). First time for everything, sure, but if you're basing your predictions on the patterns of the creators/showrunners, then yes, the lovable innocent will get killed eventually (though I'd say Victor fits that just as well as Sierra, unless his real self did something horrible in his military career), but not this early in the run.
I didn't realize at the time that Wash was the lovable innocent on Firefly. I thought it was Kaylee for some reason;).
Yeah, Wash wasn't really a lovable innocent on Firefly. More like a lovable non-innocent, like Xander. They both have several perverted humor moments of the course of their respective shows. In fact, Wash is almost Xander in every way.

Come to think of it, the first (chronological) time we see Kaylee, she's having sex. So maybe sexual innocence isn't necessary for Whedon-innocence. So Wash could be a lovable innocent anyway? I've confused myself.
zz9, I've never seen that particular statue in Tucson. There is a similar statue, but it is in the middle of town with no office buildings anywhere within miles (fairly far from downtown Tucson). Also, there are no pine trees anywhere nearby (we're in the middle of the Sonoran desert - not too many pine trees around here).

Here is a pic of the actual statue:

http://www.roadsideamerica.com/attract/images/az/AZTUCmuf_jeff.jpg

Apparently, one of the writers has been here before and noted this oddity (the lumberjack statue has nothing to do with any of the businesses around it - I think it is some remnant from something in the past). It is literally on a street corner of a fairly busy thoroughfare.

And I must say, they picked a pretty crappy part of town for the Dollhouse HQ if Adelle could see it out the window of "The Center". And there's no CCTV anywhere in sight - though they could be cleverly disquised ;)

[ edited by JossIzBoss on 2009-05-03 06:57 ]
Just to add my voice to the chorus - in the vernacular of movie marketing, I thought this week's episode was a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat, nerve-popping thrill ride - or words to that effect. And it was so much more...

This show is just getting better and better - the acting is ace, it looks like a million bucks, and now I am completely happy with the richness of its stories - the questions raised, the complexity & ambiguity of its morality, the volatility/malleability of its characters - I find all of it so interesting to watch.

Paul Ballard is not our pure white hat, and neither are Adele or Topher simply black hats. They - and other aspects of the show - force us to look at the nature of our assumptions about humanity - our motivations and our delusions and our denials, as well as our desires, satisfactions and our strengths.

In terms of the believability of the show - the practicality of it - the logistics of it all: I find it helps to think of the episodes as fairy tales, like "Briar Rose" or "The Goose Girl." I find that questions like "But why does the King pick straw for the girl to spin into gold?" and "could Jack really have beaten a Giant racing down a beanstalk?" help me see these kinds of concerns in a little different perspective.

Anyhoo - I devoutly hope, as many of you do too, that 1) Episode 13 airs one week after Episode 12 and then 2) Dollhouse gets renewed for another season. I think it was worth all the work and the fuss and the metamorphosis from ordinary action-drama to complex, satisfying storytelling.

Those were some mighty fine red bison this week.


ETF: my own logistical impossibility...

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2009-05-03 06:53 ]
Off topic... and @ Doubtful Guest:

"You are very clever, young man, very clever. But it's turtles all the way down!"

That was one of my favorite quotes from that book. It was so awesome to see a reference to it here! Thanks for that! :)
I was wondering if one of Alpha's imprints was that of Caroline's boyfriend.
I don't think anyone's mentioned this yet, but do we have any idea what Adelle is whispering to Boyd when Saunders is sticking Dominic/Victor with the needle?

It was very curious to me.

Oh, and Alan is a god. Really. I watched the ep again just to enjoy his performance one more time. (though I also loved everything else)
The plot thickens JiB. Where is The Centre....?

And someone earlier wondered about Dominic saying Alpha used to sign his name that way "in art class". I took this to mean while he was painting as one of the activities in the Dollhouse, not that they knew each other pre-Dollhouse.
Upon re-watch, zz9, I came to the same conclusion.
I am so, so glad that I've managed to avoid pretty much all the spoilers for the entire Dollhouse run - so it was a delicious shock when the identity of Alpha was exposed. Delicious!!!!
My favourite part was probably when 'Kepler' got his phone out of the fridge. Everything else is a pretty close second though.

Also off topic: Tarae, I just realised when you said 'that book', there's actually a fair number of books you could be referring to. I'm gonna assume you mean ABHoT but that story, or some element of it at least, has been referenced in many more books than I've ever cared to think about until now. Huh.
I'm pretty sure I'd heard the turtles anecdote first in the Hawking book, though I thought it was either Wm. James or Feynman it was attributed to, but a quick jog over to wikipedia gives a pretty thorough overview of the anecdote's history
I think one of the reasons Adelle didn't do a big o' lock down when she realized that Ballard was in the Dollhouse is because she didn't want to be put on the spot in front of her staff to send him to the attic (or kill him or whatever). She secretly wants to keep him stay alive and kicking because I think she's the insider that has been sending him messages. Totally a theory, but there ya go.
I find it interesting that people are siding with Boyd, rather than Ballard.

It seems to me that 'Caroline' would be on Ballard's side, since she is just as much of an idealist as he is... For example, in 'Needs', she led all of the dolls outside without thinking about how they would cope with the real world. This is pretty much what Ballard wants to do. They both have an unwavering sense of right and wrong.

On the other hand, clearly Echo sides with Boyd, since she trusts him, and doesn't have the same sense of outrage about the dollhouse, in fact she wanted to "help" topher find the spy.

I guess who you side with may depend on who you like better, Caroline or Echo... and I think most people like Echo better.

Isn't it interesting that we're siding with the morally ambiguous and complex characters, rather than those who are unabe to bend their own moral views. In fact, Caroline and Ballard have both been shown to be kind of 'dumb' at different times.
mortimer: i think we are just more intrigued by them. it's also why we loved the lonely hearts engagement, and boyd.
Yeah, but you can be intrigued by a character without siding with them... I was always intrigued by Spike, but I never wanted him to kill Buffy, Xander or Willow.

It seems from this thread that alot of People wanted Boyd to Beat Ballard in the fight... personally, I didn't want either of them to be hurt. I was worried about both of them, because they both seem to be fighting for "good" reasons (or at least what they think are noble reasons).
To Clarify, I guess my main point is that it appears that Ballard was fighting for Caroline, with a caroline perspective of things (i.e: Clean cut moral rights and wrongs), where as Boyd was fighting for Echo.

(Because in my opinion, Echo is a completely different person from Caroline, since the experiences that appear to be informing echoe's beliefs, reactions, and feeling the most, are from her memories of past missions that she has been on... and not so much from memories of being Caroline)

[ edited by mortimer on 2009-05-03 18:00 ]

[ edited by mortimer on 2009-05-03 18:38 ]

[ edited by mortimer on 2009-05-03 18:39 ]
Although if Boyd believes that (1) Caroline volunteered and (2) it's possible to volunteer, then to him fighting for Echo is also fighting for Caroline.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-05-03 18:41 ]
Good Point One True b!X, but personally I don't think that Boyd really believes that... He seems to see the dollhouse as an inevitable and unbeatable evil, and, with this in mind, is just trying to make the best of a bad situation... by protecting Echo.
worth remembering that, when Echo "sides" with Boyd, it is a somewhat artificial choice, even beyond her previous bonding/"trust you with my life" routine with him: She is retaining memories, but she is retaining limited memories, so she remembers saving Boyd (he must be the good guy!) and fighting Ballard in the alley (he must be the bad guy!), but it seems likely she doesn't remember the full context of the Ballard encounter. In particular, her "sleeper" dialogue with him mid-fight? If she remembered that, she might be on Ballard's side (or maybe would help Boyd for different reasons, since she TOLD Ballard not to try to find the Dollhouse directly). The point: I think we're deceiving ourselves if we give Echo's help of Boyd in this particular fight the deciding vote on who is more righteous, Boyd or Ballard.
Sunflre, I don't think Alpha would have needed to be bullied by Paul if he hadn't gotten so stoned (which is IMO Topher's personality coming out in him). I think we'd have seen a different scenerio (and more rope) if Alpha had been straight, although ... wait... he'd still have been crazy/schizophrenic!

Alpha was pretending all that. Or well, I think he was tapping into personas he has access to become what he needed to be to trick Paul. He's a genius with 40-something personalities in there. Note that he's completely different once he doesn't need to interact with Paul anymore. He drops the chattery annoying paranoid stoner agoraphobic stuff the moment he doesn't need it. Which is the moment Paul is gone and it's just Alpha shutting down the security.

Speaking of which, I'm a little confused about Alpha's laying the Kepler trail for Paul. Paul finds Kepler's name by doing some research on the building contractors after tracking November to that address. Alpha would have to anticipate what Paul's going to do next pretty damn well, since he's made sure his own photo appears as "Kepler" in that database.
Watched it today, very emotionally confusing. I can't decide who I want to support, which is not a normal state of affairs. I like everyone, have a soft spot for Echo and don't like the thought of Adelle or Topher getting hurt (although, the dollhouse is not something I would morally support).

I'm leaning towards the Echo composite morphing into Omega and saving the dollhouse, but being wiped at the end. It's all very interesting, like a giant puzzle.
Sunfire, trying to work that out actually kept me awake last night. I still haven't sussed it.
You know, thinking on the photos that leaked...
Simon, I don't think that'd be possible. The whole shebang with Caroline is that she became involved with these people after her boyfriend already died. Unless we are now saying Caroline was an imprint, but then that'd mean her boyfriend was a doll, and I don't think they'd let a Rossum security guard shoot and kill a doll. I take Echoes at face value. Especially when you put the preview for next week in the mix.
Good golly Miss Molly, what a fan-freakin-tastic episode that was. Alan's performance was amazing, and even though I had a hint or two that maybe he'd be who he was, I had no idea of the relationship between him and Echo. That was great!
Sunfire,I'm thinking that maybe he had his hand in the extra parameters given to Echo and November. So when Mellie told Paul that she was a Doll he (Alpha) assumed that the next logical step for Paul would be to investigate Mellie and set it up so he can follow her back to the HQ, which is exactly what he did. Remember Alpha is a genius so to speak so we can let a lot of things slide.

That's my thought on it anyway.
Sunfire, Kepler is somewhat unique in the list of building contractors in that his specialty is somewhat unusual, and Ballard's intuitive leap that Kepler's specialty would be valuable in hiding the existence of a facility (especially one underground, which we know to be Ballard's hypothesis) is fairly plausible, all things considered. And if we can accept that much, it isn't hard to imagine Alpha intuiting that Kepler is a very likely role to take on. Given his obvious facility with things like forging data trails (the fake background of the client in "the target"), not to mention remote doll wipes, etc, it is also not hard to imagine Alpha having a data spider or two monitoring Paul's computer and/or the FBI computers that lets him know which investigative paths Paul is working on, which would, of course, be key in determining the right moment to kill the real Kepler and expect a visit from Ballard.
I finally got to see the episode via iTunes. Even completely spoiled, it was excellent. Speaking of iTunes, the Supernatural download this week had a promo at the end for the next episode. Wouldn't it be great if they could put a promo for Epitaph 1 at the end of Omega? There's no reason for the network to show one if they're not going to air it, but it could at least raise interest for the DVD.

I agree, doubtful guest. Also, Alpha could have planted that picture long before. He knew what lead having the address of the Dollhouse would give a cop, and he could have told Paul where it is any time. I doubt that the one in this episode was his "A" plan. For instance, it now seems very unlikely that he meant to leave Echo helpless and in mortal danger when he remote-wiped her. More likely, it was an early effort to bring about Composite Echo (if that's what she is.) The Target may have been another.
There was a moment that seemed to be significant to me in this (wonderful) episode and which then didn't appear to lead anywhere, and which no-one else seems to have commented on here. I wonder if it was just me trying too hard to look for clues, or if something was planted for later?

After Victor/Dominick comes out with "Whiskey," Dr. Saunders is told to give him a shot to make him more cooperative (a 'truth serum' of some kind seems to be implied). She gets the syringe, and goes over to jab V/D in the arm--but she does it right down by the arm restraint, so we can't actually see whether the needle is going in or not, and at the same time we get a close up on Dr. Saunders giving him a look that seemed to me to be like the look she gave Echo in "Needs"--a kind of "don't say anything, I'm on your side but we're being watched" look.

On the other hand, V/D seemed to give up all the info they needed, and then get wiped, so if there was meant to be anything in this moment it certainly didn't seem to get paid off in the episode. The only thing I could think is that Dr. Saunders wanted to grab a moment to ask about the "Whiskey" thing--but that would be more of a reason to pump him full of truth serum than not.

Did anyone else think something was going on at that moment, or was it just me?
If I was Saunders and wanted to make people think I'd injected someone with a serum I'd just inject them with something harmless instead. Looks far more convincing and there's no way they'd know. Unless it was a spur of the moment decision.
snot monster- Personally, it does seem like you are trying to read something into that exchange, but what do I know!
snot monster, when I first saw the scene on a clip, I thought that "Whiskey" was a partial concession. Him giving them some information that they didn't have, trying to ward off the shot. It also seemed to me that Claire was the only one who understood it, and that's why he addressed it to her, and she covered it awkwardly. I didn't notice anything funny about the adminstration of the injection. But she's the foremost expert that we know of on Doll pharmacology, which we've been told is not normal, and could fool her bosses about what she's doing. I'm pleasantly perplexed.
Loved the ep. :D

Adelle's office - is that underground too? If so, are the cityscape views from her windows simulations?
Here's something that I think I noticed but haven't heard anyone else mention. When Alpha is in his stoned Kepler persona, inside Kepler's apartment, babbling in fear about the Dollhouse, doesn't he say "they'll kill me again"? Or did I just hear that?

Also, personally I thought what Paul did to Mellie in this episode was far worse than his having sex with her in the previous one.
Good to have you back, snotmonster. I didn't notice that moment but when I rewatch the episode I'll look out for it
I did notice that moment, snot monster, and thought the same thing. But, when nothing seemed to come of it, I figured I was just imagining things.
fangless, Adelle's office is above-ground, hence the need to take an elevator to get to it.

barboo, he said "they'll kill me, kill you, and kill me again" (or words and sequence to that effect).
It also seemed to me that Claire was the only one who understood it, and that's why he addressed it to her, and she covered it awkwardly.

Yes...it felt that way to me, too--although I have to say that I can't come up with a scenario in which Adele (at least) doesn't know who "Whiskey" is. The way I read it, actually, was not that we were meant to think that Claire had successfully fooled Adele et al. into thinking that he really wanted Whiskey; I saw it as Claire doing her best not to show that she too understood the reference. That is, I think Adele and Topher and Boyd probably all knew what Dominick meant by saying "Whiskey" AND they all think that Claire is not supposed to know--so she was ostentatiously playing dumb (certainly if we were meant to read it as a smooth diversion of attention, it failed miserably).

If I was Saunders and wanted to make people think I'd injected someone with a serum I'd just inject them with something harmless instead.

Yeah, I agree. On the other hand, if she was responding to him saying "Whiskey" then she may not have had anything on hand. That is, she could have walked into the room with two prepared syringes and then suddenly he hits her with "Whiskey" and she thinks "crap, for some reason that smfos won't be able to figure out I mustn't administer syringe #2 to him!!!"

I tend to agree that I was probably seeing something that wasn't there, but I am pretty sure that if you watch the scene again (which I plan to do shortly) A) the needle is obscured by the arm restraint--which means she's sticking it in a somewhat odd place (sort of mid-forearm--when I'd have thought the crook of the elbow is the usual place) and B) she gets a close-up shot for a look heavy with emotion of some kind. Perhaps it is just meant to show her compassion, her distress at what they're doing to Dominick/Victor, but it seemed on first watching oddly excessive unless something else is up (of course, it could be nothing more [or less] than that she is another NSA agent, and she's just giving him a "god, I'm so sorry I have to do this to you, but if I don't, I'll blow my cover" look--hey, I kinda like that theory!).
I did notice that moment, snot monster, and thought the same thing.

Yay--I'm not totally delusional. Unless, of course, I just made up the comment to which I'm replying.

Adelle's office is above-ground, hence the need to take an elevator to get to it

Has that been established for sure? I mean, I know that the elevator bit is definite, but that the elevator goes that far up seems less clear to me. Remember the great single-take shot when they enter the elevator in her office and exit in the dollhouse? That seemed too short a ride to get us from the elevation apparent from her office windows down to the depths suggested by Ballard/Alpha's ventilation-shaft spelunking. I think the view might be fake.
Express elevator? Continuity error? Um.

But, no, it hasn't been expressly established for sure.
The thing I found curious about that scene is that around the same time, Adelle whispers something into Boyd's ear. Not sure what was so private.
I took Dr. Saunders' behavior there to mean she didn't recognize the name as an address to her, but it was one more weird thing in a weird situation, and it just made her a little more uneasy and lead to a sort-of joke. Adelle did a masterful job of disregarding the truth in the statement and turning it fully into a joke about Dominic. I don't see how Topher can be unaware of Saunders being a Doll, and it seems like this would be one of those things Boyd would be aware of in his new position. Either way, Adelle certainly knows. She adopted that polite I-need-your-expert-opinion-please tone that she uses with Dolls she's relying on directly.
It is a perplexing scene. As he's being given the shot, Dominic looks at Boyd and says "Whiskey", Saunders immediately jumps in with "he wants a drink instead", and Adelle without missing a beat and very blase adds "I'm not surprised". No matter how many times I rewatch, and no matter how many potential explanations I read here or elsewhere, I'm mainly left with: They'd better explain WTF happens in this scene, because obviously everyone in that room would first think "the active" when hearing the word "Whiskey", and yet no one remarks upon it, asks about it, or follows up on it.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-05-04 01:43 ]
That is, she could have walked into the room with two prepared syringes and then suddenly he hits her with "Whiskey" and she thinks "crap, for some reason that smfos won't be able to figure out I mustn't administer syringe #2 to him!!!"

Quite possible. If she has become self aware, ie she is a Doll and knows she is a Doll, then must suspect that if Adelle finds out she knows she'll wipe her again.
So she'd assume that if she gives Victor/Dominic a truth drug he'd tell everyone she was a Doll, and she'd be the one being forced into the chair.

But....

That assumes she'd know that if she pretended to drug him he'd go along and pretend to be drugged and give up the password.

That would suggest they are/were working together. But then why would he call her by her code name and risk blowing her cover? It seems odd that he'd default to that under crisis after working with her as Claire Saunders for months. Maybe he worked with her as Whiskey for far longer?

My brain hurts....
Express elevator? Continuity error? Um.

Both possibilities (hey, if you can master mind-wipes and personality implants you can probably figure out the super-express elevator too; maybe that's the Dollhouse's real "purpose"?). But a more serious objection would be this: Ballard says he was allowed to roam all over the above-ground portion of the building, without seeing any unusual security or anything suspicious. Something suggests to me that Adele wouldn't want Ballard (or anyone else) getting that close to her office without encountering some pretty impressive security tech.

The thing I found curious about that scene is that around the same time, Adelle whispers something into Boyd's ear. Not sure what was so private.

I assumed it was something to do with Whiskey's identity; you could imagine that Boyd knows that Dr. Saunders is/used to be an Active, but wouldn't have been told which particular code-name she went under. Of course, that's building a pretty big castle of speculation.
He's looking at Boyd? Huh. I took the mutual non-comment afterward to mean everyone knows except Whiskey/Claire, who takes the comment to mean alcohol.

I reconsidered my Topher-Doll theory in light of comments about "Echoes" which are totally right, he can't be an Active given what we were told about the drug's effects. So I think it can only be Saunders who is an Active in that room. And Alpha's interaction with her is pretty damn suggestive of the same idea.

The whispering could be anything related to the NSA mystery they think is afoot at the time or what had just happened.
Ballard says he was allowed to roam all over the above-ground portion of the building, without seeing any unusual security or anything suspicious. Something suggests to me that Adele wouldn't want Ballard (or anyone else) getting that close to her office without encountering some pretty impressive security tech.

Her office could be on a hidden floor.
He's looking at Boyd?

Well, he's looking past where Saunders is based upon the injection, and Adelle would be too far over for him to be looking at her. Only person he could be looking at is Boyd. (We don't actually see who he's looking at, but it's the only angle that fits, I think.)

ETA: I step back partly from this. I still think it looks like he's got to be looking past where Saunders is, but there might be enough wiggle room for him to be looking at Saunders.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-05-04 01:51 ]
There is nothing in Adelle's office that is out of the ordinary for any upmarket office, so I imagine it would be quite easy to be secure and unobtrusive. If it's only a small, public-facing, office suite then Paul would certainly reject it as "The" Dollhouse complex. Far too small.

When Echo was hanging Dominic out the window it looked like about the tenth/twentieth floor. Add that to five or ten floors underground and an express lift, sorry, elevator could do that in what, twenty seconds? A bit longer than the elevator shot we saw but not unrealistic for a TV show.

But does make Adelle's "Take the stairs!" order to Dominic that time more of a punishment!
D'oh! Domininc hanging out the window! No wonder I originally thought the case had been settled. Never again will I walk back a thought I'm so sure of. Heh.
What I want to know is where's Boyd's new office, and is it spiffy? And does the NSA call him sometimes and pretend to have a wrong number and hang up?
ETA: I step back partly from this. I still think it looks like he's got to be looking past where Saunders is, but there might be enough wiggle room for him to be looking at Saunders.

The sooner they perfect 3D TV the better!
I thought he was looking at Saunders.

Overall, there's a lot going on in this scene, just as there is in the whole episode.

And, as enjoyable as it was to watch this episode, I feel like the pacing of the series is off. Specifically, not much happened at the beginning and stuff that was pushed into the final few episodes could have been spread out more. How great would it have been if these interactions and character developments had spread out over three or four episodes?
True Sunfire! He's promoted to head of security and like Dominic hasn't even got an office! Everything takes place in Adelle's office.

Oh the drawbacks of TV budgets. It's like Smallville where Lex's "Mansion" only had one frackin' room! Whatever he was ever doing, business meeting, romantic dinner, fencing lesson, kickboxing practise, whatever. It was always that one room!
I half expected one day for his Porsche to need a new gearbox and it'd be in the bloody room next to his desk, up on a ramp with a mechanic working on it.
Re: elevator. Actually seems easier for the dollhouse to keep a nice upper level office in which to put on a good presentaion for clients, who might or might not get to take the express elevator down to the magic spa. This keeps them from having to find ways to get random clients in past the mystery underground security. And, since all the real stuff happens in the underground area, Adelle's office only needs to look like a fairly straightforward fancy executive office for some random consultant service or whatever (Wolfram/alpha, perhaps?). All it takes is a well-vetted secretary at the front desk. Actually, I think a few things in the show have suggested a larger spatial distance between dollhouse proper and Adelle's office. One is the revelation that turning off the phones in the dollhouse didn't seem to relate to turning off the phones in Adelle's (which Echo uses to catch Dominick). And, of course, we get someone dangled out the window in that same scene. Another is that the slam when Adelle tells Dom to take the stairs is kinda lame if all it means is a quick jog up one flight of (admittedly treacherously riser-less) stairs. And, finally, anyone with as much taste as Adelle obviously has, if stuck in a below ground office, would find a better way to make her space cool than cheesy fake views.
What about the episode Stage Fright where it seems as though Adelle controlled the amount of sunlight entering her office? Could be a computer controlling the window tint.. or not. I was pretty convinced that the scene was a stimulation (like in Resident Evil 1). However, someone mentioned Dominic's dangling...
I wish my window was a stimulation!
Also, in the Spy episode, when Interrogator Echo mentions a phone call out Dominic points out that the phone lines were shut down from the Dollhouse, and she answers "But not here" or something to that effect, referring to Adelle's office.
Makes sense. The Dollhouse itself doesn't exist. Adelle's office needs to exist, just under a false identity as a front. So the two need have separate systems for stuff like electricity, phone. Except her IT setup would need to be super super awesome for even a very posh office suite.

It can't be just her office though. There's got to be space for an impressive reception area, someone who's handling payments and the fake papertrail, someone to bring Adelle tea and ignore the weird scene unfolding within.
Could be a computer controlling the window tint

Maybe it really is the Wolfram & Hart office. :)
Don't have time to read everything, just wanted to add something to the discussion.

I've been thinking, as a writer, how cool it would be if Saunders was a doll since the ep with the flashbacks. When Topher says, "Doc Saunders looks like a jigsaw", combined with it not making sense that Alpha would kill so many, leave one alone, and wound another, it made a lot of sense. He chops up Saunders into pieces. He cuts Whiskey because, as evidenced by Victor, he wounds dolls and makes them less useful. They need a doctor and have an active they can't use -- new Dr. Saunders.

Everyone's focusing on the line about whether she always wanted to be a doctor, which is the first clue, but the confirmation comes in his requesting details about how they first met -- he's fascinated by what they've done to Whiskey, after knowing Saunders, killing her, and cutting Whiskey.

All this is fine, but I reiterated some things because my current question is whether it's possible that Whiskey is the personality that Alpha has put into Echo. Perhaps she was his original lover? Probably not, just a thought.
I really hope Victor isn't dead, I love him. He messed up his face.

This episode was so freaking interesting.
But if he goes for the cut instead of the kill when it comes to Actives, why is Echo lying in a pool of naked dead bodies in the shower? I took that scene to mean that he really killed Actives too.

Nice catch on the foreshadowing of the badge. I totally missed that.
doubtful guest (and others) has satisfied my questions re Adelle's office. I did have a vague recollection of someone being hung out the window during the ep/scene where Echo fights Dominic. But part of me wondered if it would be too dangerous for her to have her office above ground, considering the blacker-than-black-market nature of the business, and the fact that the rest of the 'House is underground. Good additional observations about the phones etc. And of course that 'take the stairs!' quote (which I had also forgotten) seals the deal.
Busy thread, this. Took all day to read through. Now I'll return the favor. ;)

Methinks Saunders is the doll Whiskey, but during her interrogation by Alpha, we find out she is not apparently aware of her being in a new body. Claire Saunders could be a pastiche of the original Doc Saunders (no telling if that was male or female originally) modified to make her unaware of her being in a doll's body and to be rid of any desire to leave the Dollhouse (like to visit family, have a home, see the outside, grab a bit of takeout, etc.). We saw how Dominic reacted to waking in Victor's body, and waking up and finding out you'd been butchered and given a new body (with scars on it) would probably be rather more traumatic. Besides, if Claire knew she was Whiskey, she'd have clued into Alpha's mockery when he made her nod and answer his question (like a puppet) and said her always wanting to be a doctor was a lie, so maybe Doc Saunders was made into the synthetic persona of Claire Saunders and imprinted onto Whiskey by Topher after the original Saunders was chopped up by Alpha. The reason Dominic called her by that name could be that it was part of a pre-coded activation sequence as a Dominic-created sleeper, but it was circumvented by the injection. Or not. I'm not sure about that part just yet, but fairly certain it will be revealed next ep. (I'm also none too sure about Topher, either. He's way too young to have invented all that technology. A permanent personality transplant that is imprinted long enough might've allowed the 'indicator' drug to act the same as on a native mind. But since it seems there was a specific intention in that episode to establish who was and wasn't a doll, perhaps the given answer is really the truth in that case.)

And does anyone else wonder where the extra pod is? I mean, they have the pods in groups of five, but there are twenty-SIX letters in the alphabet. Either they don't use one of the letters, they added four more letters, there is a room with six pods instead of five, or they keep one pod separate for some purpose.

As for DeWitt's office, since Ballard went all up and down the floors looking for something suspicious and finding nothing (a process which likely involved at least a day or three, and therefore Alpha's data trail left for Ballard isn't so out-of-the-blue planned ahead with uncanny prescience; it was what illusionists and mentalists call a 'force', and Alpha knew Ballard was specifically coming when his planted photograph was accessed) the likelihood is that DeWitt's office is essentially isolated from the rest of the building or the access to the Dollhouse from it is very well disguised. How else could there be an elevator and a staircase to her office which Ballard would not have found or noticed by its disruption of the symmetry in the rest of the building? (Also this would make taking the stairs a much more odious trip, since there would be no way to get off at another floor and take the lift from there.) Unless, of course, Ballard really is that dim and gullible.

Roll on Friday, though. I simply MUST find out who (yes, methinks it's a who) Omega is. A new doll (Ballard, perhaps)? The personality Alpha imprinted Echo with? Another reveal of a secret doll we didn't expect? Then again, the phonetic for "O" is usually Oscar. Omega would be a counterpart to Alpha, implying the completion of his transformation. I hope it's not the end of Alan Tudyk's presence in the show (or the show's presence around Alan Tudyk, for that matter).
Grotesk, I don't think Topher invented the technology, I think he's "just" one of the techs that every branch of Dollhouse has. In this episode we find out that he didn't even know where the Dollhouse HQ is.
Regarding Paul and Mellie - in the car with Alpha he SPECIFICALLY SAYS he will go back for her (Mellie).

Caroline is his primary focus, but 1) Mellie did say she could kill him and 2) he'd be stupidly suicidal to chance her programming at this time. All it would take is a green flower and he'd be dead.
Falina, I've quickly figured out that Ballard is always wrong and never entitled to the benefit of the doubt :) There's a sort of Kantian silliness to the idea that only if he had taken ANY Active OTHER than "Echo" could Ballard be considered to actually be trying to help. All we know for certain from the episode is that he chose not to make the only Active he knows is hardwired to kill him his top priority.

I tend to think his loosely formed plan was that he wanted to get an Active out to have as proof of the Dollhouse so he could return in force. He'd have been better off capturing Topher, but he couldn't have known how valuable Topher was compared to an Active.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2009-05-04 16:14 ]
Ballard should learn from the FBI dealing with Al Capone in the 1930's.

Go after the Dollhouse for tax evasion. There's got to be something dodgy in their returns!


/This might be a slightly less exciting show.
On DeWitt's office: D'oh--I'd forgotten the dangling Dominick scene. I'm still puzzled, though. It's not true to say that DeWitt's office is an innocent space that doesn't need the same kind of protection that the Dollhouse itself needs. DeWitt talks openly in that office about Dollhouse activities; imagine the damage a single bug could do if you managed to place it there. It's possible (I believe) to use a laser to record conversations from the vibrations of windowpanes--for DeWitt to merrily chat away about Dollhouse activities in an above-ground office with many square-feet of window space is amazingly lax security.

Not only that, but for much of the time DeWitt has supersize LCD screens showing CCTV coverage of the Dollhouse activities. Had Ballard wandered into that office during his exploration of the building, chances are he'd have seen something deeply incriminating. And, failing that, simply filming the interior of the office through the windows could get you some pretty damning evidence.

It's hard for me to see why you need to go to all the trouble of building multiple stories of underground office tower if you are going to have the very nerve center of the operation--the office that actually handles the stuff that a police investigation is likely to follow (money transactions, arrangements with clients etc.)--in a position of maximum exposure.

There's a sort of Kantian silliness to the idea that only if he had taken ANY Active OTHER than "Echo" could Ballard be considered to actually be trying to help.

Yeah, I've been deeply puzzled by this stuff in this thread. Ballard even says when he opens her pod something to the effect of "I can't take you, you're programmed to kill me when they flip a switch"--which seems a pretty reasonable basis for his decision.

Also, re his "obsession" with Caroline. Yes there is, obviously, something obsessive in this, but that's not all there is. Caroline is the only doll for whom he has a "real-world" name. It isn't much, but it is, at least, a lead to follow. It makes good sense for him to focus on rescuing the one doll who A) clearly has someone working for her on the outside (the packet that was sent to him), B) is clearly connected with people on the inside who are trying to bring down the dollhouse (the messages that Echo and Mellie gave him), C) he can place in several dollhouse-related missions and D) whose real-life first name he has reason to believe that he knows. What other doll offers him such promising investigative leads without also being a potential killing-machine? With Caroline he has his best shot of getting something that will make his FBI bosses sit up and take notice.

One last thing, too, about people's responses to Mellie. I'm interested how many people seem to be invested in Mellie's emotional responses to Ballard's "meanness" to her, without stopping to think that that response is just as meaningless as her preprogrammed love for him, or any of the Dolls' programming. Paul ditches her brutally because he calculates that that will send her back to the Dollhouse--which it does. Her suicidal misery, however, is just as factitious as her "you can do anything you want to me" speech in the previous episode. If you think Ballard should have ignored the first, then you should also want him to ignore the second.
Oh, p.s. I rewatched the episode last night. I still think there was something going on with that second injection Dr. Saunders gives Victor/Dominick--we get a close up on her grabbing the syringe: which seems to be a kind of "watch this carefully" cue. You'd think if all they wanted to do was to make it clear that an injection was being given (as opposed to a shot of whiskey) that the natural close-up to give us would be the classic one of the needle entering the arm.

Also, re Victor's cuts. When I first watched this, I thought that what Alpha was saying to Dr. Saunders was that Victor's cuts were much deeper than the cuts he'd given her. But on rewatching his statement seemed ambiguous. If he was saying that Dr. Saunders' cuts were much deeper than Victor's, that would seem to be laying the ground for Victor to heal up completely in future.
I've lost track of "is Paul a jerk for not saving November" thread now. I don't know what the sides are anymore.

You do realize Echo has already kicked his ass though? And he has no idea if they all have mad sleeper-Doll skillz, but clearly sometimes she gets some kickassery? It's not self-preservation or prudence dictating who he tries to rescue there. Not matter which one he tries, yes. But it's really telling, the difference in his reactions between the two of them.
SMFOS -- I think a bit of fancy window tech could answer most of your concerns about security. If they can do the artificial darkening thing (which, by the way exists already), surely they can do some treatment or layer that makes exterior photography or lasers or whatever ineffective. Not to hard to imagine good bug-sweeping and good computer password protection. As for Ballard or others wandering in, all it takes is a half-competent administrative asst in the foyer putting on a good show of "Welcome to Wolfram Consultants, specializing in Livestock Futures and Tariff policy, how can I help you?" to the unexpected visitors -- I don't think we're meant to think Ballard literally broke into every inner office, and as long as the mundane cover business is in place, nothing would tip him off about the spatial arrangement, assuming someone was clever enough to mark the interior office elevator shaft as some other sort of ductwork or plumbing. I still think it is easier to ensure overall security by locating the fancy office/meeting space for clients, etc, somewhat isolated from your real hidden complex, even if you have to sacrifice some perfection of isolation. Heck, I'd imagine most CLIENTS of the Dollhouse assume the actives are kept out in some desert compound or something, rather than below this downtown L.A. building.
Great points, snot monster -- Obsession, sexual attraction aside, Caroline is the only logical, rational Active for Ballard to focus on rescuing. He has her name, he has her reaching out to him for help specifically (and it was Caroline who asked, which I consider trumping "Echo" protesting). And he doesn't have any reason to think she'll try to kill him.

As I posted elsewhere -- what if the Dollhouse was a POW camp or something, and the Actives just self-aware prisoners? How would "Echo" react if Ballard were to say "I'm sorry, I can't free you because I find you attractive and therefore have to question my own motives"?

Think she'd have said "I understand, you should rescue someone else because of your obvious bias"? Or "WTF, are you challenged? Get me outta here!"?

And, you're right, getting "Echo" out is his best evidence, because he can tie her to Myner, he can tie her to the religious sect and get other federal agents to confirm she was there. Two entirely different personalities, same woman, who stand before them as a chemically induced infant. They could probably EEG her or such to show the alterations to her mental state, and probably identify most of the drugs in her system. In other words, "Echo" unequivocally would prove that the Dollhouse exists. And Ballard, knowing where they are, could get the FBI to come in on them. Taking "Echo" was actually the smartest thing he could have tried, the more I think about it. I'm not sure he had a better play he could have made, he just happened to get caught.
I think a bit of fancy window tech could answer most of your concerns about security. If they can do the artificial darkening thing (which, by the way exists already), surely they can do some treatment or layer that makes exterior photography or lasers or whatever ineffective. Not to hard to imagine good bug-sweeping and good computer password protection.

I'm happy to concede any of these points (whether they're true or not in the real world, they can easily be TV-true). But then why bother putting the Dollhouse underground? If her office can be made super-FBI-agent-proof above-ground why go to the insane expense (not to mention the incredible risks of drawing the very attention you're trying to avoid) of building the "invisible" underground building? Why not just use the same technology that you have in her office to cloak an above-ground Dollhouse?

You do realize Echo has already kicked his ass though? And he has no idea if they all have mad sleeper-Doll skillz, but clearly sometimes she gets some kickassery? It's not self-preservation or prudence dictating who he tries to rescue there.

Mellie told him in so many words that she was not like the other Actives--that she had a trigger that could be used to turn her into a killing machine. He knows that Echo can be programmed to attack him, but he also knows he's rescuing an unprogrammed Echo, and he knows that she doesn't have a built-in trigger (note, Mellie's trigger is not part of her Mellie-programming; she is a different kind of Active).

As for it "not being self-preservation"--that seems an odd claim when Ballard says, quite clearly, that the reason he isn't rescuing Mellie is because she has the trigger which can be used to make her attack him. Are you saying he's lying in that scene? To whom? Sleeping Mellie?

ETF clarity.

[ edited by snot monster from outer space on 2009-05-04 17:50 ]
I think hiding a full dollhouse complex (sleep pods, yoga studios, banzai tree forest, banana pancake assembly unit, etc) WOULD run into a situation where hiding the amount of space/energy/etc being used would be tough. Underground, all you need to do is erase the enrgy footprint (by hiring Kepler) and, um, be careful not to let your vans be followed by questing FBI agents and no one even suspects there's a "there" there. Above ground, more questions get asked. Adelle's office does not appear particularly large for an upper level executive, and, other than the conversations it houses, the elevator, and the data on the computer, has basically nothing suspicious about it that doesn't exist in several thousand similar offices across the L.A. Metro area, so the odds of getting a random person suspicious are essentially nil.
Paul's lying to himself in that scene. It's all about Echo. He has no idea what a wiped Active is or isn't capable of. He has no way of knowing that. We know, but Paul hasn't seen what we have.
I actually took a lot of what Alpha said as Kepler quite at face value. You would look for self-sufficiency and you would try not to use the grid. Eden didn't have a power plant. You may wanna look for a separate place for the clients to meet Adelle and you may actually make all these designs taking into account how she is not very comfortable with them and likes working with dozens of proxys actually interacting with them. That design choice explained a lot relationships for me when we first got into the show. Boyd has to run from her office towards Echo in "Ghost" because the distance is so long. The first interaction between Adelle and an Active is in episode 4.
It doesn't help the Dollhouse that they have about the most conspicuous motor pool ever. Who actually drives those things? They should be using neutrally colored minivans, like Routans or Town & Countrys or whoever pays the most. And it probably wouldn't hurt for them to at least make a pretense of that being an employee only underground parking entrance, have it gated, have those pop-up barriers or tire spikes or something built in.

Sunfire, you're missing the point -- he doesn't have to know what a normal wiped Active can't do, he just has to know what "November" *can*. And what she can do, if he believes his contact, is kill him at the flip of a switch. He knows she's "special". He doesn't have any reason to suspect that's the case with "Echo". I take it you'd err on the side of him telling a fully conscious and self-aware Caroline he can't save her because he's attracted to her?
Sunfire, surely that's just your interpretation. He has been directly told by November that she is a special "sleeper" doll with sleeper skills (and we have seen enough of those skills in action to know that this is true.) True, he doesn't know what a wiped active is capable of, except that he has already guided a passive one out to switch clothes with Alpha. All things considered, chosing between an active he's SEEN go into sleeper mode and been TOLD has special status and can kill him easily and an active who is more likely to be like the clothes-switching guy in wiped state is not a tough choice. If you are arguing that there is greater psychological complexity and pain going through his mind in addition to pragmatic concerns, I don't think you'd get much argument at all, but surely, given what he knows, Mellie is NOT the most pragmatic gamble to take.
I'm not refusing to see that there's some nobility in what Paul is attempting, nor am I saying a "real" rescue requires completely unrealistic and contrived constraints. I am saying the man's a mess and driven by an obsession that's at least as strong as his noble ideas. And that he can't really rescue anyone here, in this particular case. Not because he's obsessed, but simply because walking a wiped Active out of there is not a rescue. There is no "pragmatic gamble" here. All floor-coffin options lead to FAIL.
By the way, 23 Flower Street  is a clever choice of address for the Dollhouse. It doesn't exist, of course. But more interestingly, the reason it doesn't exist is because right at that part of Downtown L.A., Flower curves to join with "Hope Street," right where sits the recently built Disney Concert Hall (and the older Dorothy Chandler Pavillion, until recently the site of the Oscars). Wonderful imagery to put the fictional location right at the sight of two icons of Hollywood fantasy, one of which bears the name of a creepy guy known for making fake isolated high tech worlds!
I think hiding a full dollhouse complex (sleep pods, yoga studios, banzai tree forest, banana pancake assembly unit, etc) WOULD run into a situation where hiding the amount of space/energy/etc being used would be tough.

Well, we quickly get into Quotergal's "but why spin straw" areas here, so maybe there's nothing more to say than "this is the way it is." Still, if one wants to play the hypothetical "how would this work in the real world" game, I don't really buy the distinction you're making. Why shouldn't the Dollhouse simply own half that office tower under a fake business name? I'd have thought that an office building using lots of power is a lot less suspicious than a building that doesn't exist having a steady stream of traffic (not just the Active's mission-vans, but the handlers, the art tutors, the masseuses, the chefs, the security people etc. etc.) in and out every day). Don't the legit people who work in that building ever look at these dark-windowed black vans zooming in and out of the parking garage (to which they don't have access...hmmmmmm) and say "what the hell business is that? It sure ain't listed on the building's directory!"

I mean, if the point here is that the Dollhouse needs to be so secretive that not even a front-company is adequate cover--if it needs simply to "disappear" it seems really weird that you'd make it's actual operation-center into the one part that wasn't "disappeared." Presumably DeWitt's office is, in fact, rented in the name of some kind of front-company--which seems like such an unnecessary risk (if, at least, we're in a world where we are to assume that front-companies are so terribly risky that the Dollhouse couldn't hide behind one).

And then you have the problem that you've built the Dollhouse as this utterly self-enclosed and self-sufficient space, and suddenly you pull a whole bunch of wires up out of that space and across multiple floors of a publicly accessible office building and into DeWitt's office. Again, think how much you're begging for a tap on those wires. Think how easy it would be for someone doing work on one of the offices below DeWitt's to stumble across those wires and say "hey, where the hell do these ones come from?" Etc. etc. My point is not really so much "hey, this isn't realistic" as "hey, this doesn't gibe with the symbolic resonance of the Dollhouse's 'underground' existence." If it's going to be underground then surely it's operating center should be underground too?
And that he can't really rescue anyone here, in this particular case. Not because he's obsessed, but simply because walking a wiped Active out of there is not a rescue. There is no "pragmatic gamble" here. All floor-coffin options lead to FAIL.

Why? Given what Paul knows, he has a reasonable chance of success. If Kepler hadn't been Alpha (and there's no reason for Paul to suspect that), all Paul had to do was use his magic stun-gun thingy to neutralize Boyd and they were out of there.

The simple fact is that he has good reason not to take Mellie (again she specifically told him that she was a special kind of Active, implanted with an instant-killer-machine trigger), and he has an equally good reason to single out Caroline (she is--by far--his best potential lead). Yes there are layers of twisted obsession on top of all this, but even if Ballard were an ice-cool calculating machine, he'd still have made the same choices here.
I admit I'm so happy that SMFOS is posting again that I'm tempted to start arguing that straw really is an inferior gold-spinning substrate.
Ok, since no one seems to get what I'm trying to say, let's assume for argument's sake that this horribly planned plan actually works. He makes it out! With Echo! Now the Dollhouse hunts them down. Ok, he's FBI-trained, let's again assume they're able to evade the Dollhouse and really get away, neat and clean.

Now what? This is Echo, not Caroline. Yes, she's more capable than an Active should be, a not-so-blank-state, but she's still relatively blank. She has no idea who she is. Not many memories that are really hers, compared to a normal person. She's got flashbacks-- to all kinds of things, real and not. But otherwise, not much to go on. I imagine it's going to be quite traumatic to deal with, outside of the so-creepy-so-safe spaland.

The Dollhouse took her personality away. The real rescue is giving it back or helping her get it back, if she evolves to a point where she realizes she's lacking part of herself. Rescue is not making the separation permanent or doing a good deed without really caring what it means for the person you are "rescuing." Paul does not understand that, or does not care.

Echo has a lot of would-be rescuers. Not one actually wants to give her back herself. Except maybe Boyd, but wanting isn't doing in his case.

And I'm willing to believe Paul really wants to give her herself back. I just don't think he's got any chance of doing it, because he's acting out of desperation here. This is his one manic attempt to save her before the Dollhouse kills him.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2009-05-04 18:36 ]
King of Cretins: you are certainly entitled to your opinions which you change within minutes. How about you label them as such instead of the blanket "Paul is always wrong, etc," as though that statement is an incontrovertible fact?

Same as my comment about Mellie & Paul, the preceding is fact-based. Just read the posts.
And I'm willing to believe Paul really wants to give her herself back. I just don't think he's got any chance of doing it, because he's acting out of desperation here. This is his one manic attempt to save her before the Dollhouse kills him.

Well, I guess we're in the realm of speculation here (and now that Paul's been caught, we're not going to know), but do you really think that getting Caroline out of the Dollhouse was the be-all and end-all of Paul's plan--that he was going to, what, fly away with her to Fiji and live out his days on a beach? My assumption all along is that he is trying to get something hard and fast to show to his superiors at the FBI so as to get them to come in mob-handed and A) shut the Dollhouse down; B) get the Dollhouse to restore ALL the Active's personalities; and C) earn the undying love of Caroline who will then run away with him to live on a beach in some island paradise (hey, I said I accept that there are layers of twisted obsession here).

Nothing he's done so far suggests that he has given up on the possibility of government-backed action against the Dollhouse. If that is his plan (and, to me, that seems the most reasonable reading of his actions), then getting Caroline is clearly the best shot he has of getting the FBI to say "hey, there's something here that needs investigating." He can put Caroline on the scene of several Dollhouse missions (to be sure, most of them only on the strength of his say-so, but he has video footage her at the cult stronghold). Unless the FBI is in Rossum's pocket, if he gets them Caroline they've got all the "probable cause" they need to go busting into the Dollhouse.

Falina: I think KoC was being ironic when he said "Paul is always wrong"--IOW, I think he was agreeing with you.
Falina, you must have missed the dripping sarcasm -- I was taking a swipe at Ballard's critics, of which I am decidedly not one.

Sunfire, nothing you've said makes leaving "Echo"/Caroline to continued slavery and abuse a rational option. No, "Echo" is not Caroline, at least not Caroline as she should be, and no, Ballard has no way on his own to fix that. But in what universe does that make the Dollhouse a better fate for her? Get her out, get the Dollhouse shut down, and then figure out what has to be done to fix her. If that means breaking Topher's fingers until he fixes her, so be it. But Ballard could no more trust the Dollhouse to fix her when he's on their turf than Caroline herself did in "Needs".

Snot monster is right in that Alpha being there makes most of Ballard's (and Boyd's) plans moot, but yes, Ballard's limited plan of "get 'Echo', leave Dollhouse" was very viable. The Dollhouse would hunt them, sure, but it's not like the FBI are just nincompoops with spitballs, and there's no reason to think he wouldn't have marched her right in there to his bosses and said "here's the proof, 23 Flower St, lock and load".

And, actually, Ballard is the only one who wants to give Caroline her life back. Boyd is protecting "Echo", and there's been no outward indication he gives a tin crap about the woman for whom "Echo" is the result of torture and abuse and slavery and mind control. Alpha doesn't seem to care about either Caroline or "Echo" but rather about whoever or whatever he imprinted. And what Ballard has is Caroline herself begging for help, a request that noone, not even "Echo" can revoke.
Reading an exchange between wilder, snakebyte and Jobo on a different thread that relate to previous discussion of Saunders/Whiskey/Doll/Non-Doll/Ex-Doll, I found myself imagining a "what if." What if the Dollhouse (assuming it honors the five year agreements) lets discharged actives keep some skills as partial payment (probably not ninja skills, but maybe languages or ballroom dancing or the like)? What if a doll were permanently disfigured or disabled on an engagement? Depending upon just how good the tech really is, an active at the end of their five years would not necessarily be traumatized by all the stuff they no longer remember, but they probably would need some counseling and an adjustment period if they found they were now disfigured/disabled. Presumably, the Dollhouse would prefer that they undergo this adjustment/counselling at the Dollhouse so that they are stable when they leave.

(and, yes, I am assuming, seperately, that it is easy to come up with good reasons why a stable ex-doll would think it not a good idea to betray the dollhouse, but that's an entirely separate argument from what interests me here!)

We could imagine a disfigured ex-doll, passing a few weeks or months getting used to their new circumstance, deciding something like "y'know, I think I know what I wanna do with my life right now! I want to help other dolls avoid my trauma! Can I be given a set of skills to do this with, such as those of a physician or a psychologist?" (Certainly, in the real world, lots of people choose careers in things like medicine or law in part based on challenges they went through themselves -- the cancer survivor growing up to be an oncologist, etcetera.) This gives us a "real" person with a small set of "doll" skills as a character option, which is sort of interesting.

Actually, while this thought was triggered for me by other people's thoughts about what might have happened to the "real" Dr. Saunders or to the doll Whiskey at the time of Alpha's rampage, a similar scenario could exist even if Saunders was already the doctor we know in the series at the time of the rampage: If, say, the technology WASN'T perfect or for some other reason, Claire finished her five years in a somehow psychologically traumatized or unstable state, this could trigger the rest of the scenario I proposed (that she decides to stay on as an employee based on her own experience as a doll and becomes -- or is implanted with the skills of -- an M.D.). This would satisfy the mystery of Alpha's cryptic Q&A with her about "did you always want to be a doctor?" as well as his presumed habit of scarring the faces of the dolls/ex-dolls other than Echo that he doesn't kill, and makes for a bit simpler chronology around the time of the Rampage.

Either way, I guess it's obvious I'm really rooting for some version of an ex-doll as the most interesting dramatic possibility for Claire's background.
Boyd is protecting "Echo", and there's been no outward indication he gives a tin crap about the woman for whom "Echo" is the result of torture and abuse and slavery and mind control.

Assuming that we don't get this in the next two eps, the thing that will most bug me about not getting a second season of Dollhouse (should that unfortunate eventuality, er, eventuate) is not getting to learn what Boyd's backstory and motivation are. He is in so many ways the most sympathetic-seeming person on the show. How on earth is he not working to bring the Dollhouse down? Or is he, in fact, doing so, but sees Ballard as moving too soon--as somebody who is getting in the way of a bigger and more wide-ranging investigation? Or does he, like Adele, think that whatever the Dollhouse's "bigger purpose" is is genuinely worthy? Are the lives of the Actives an acceptable sacrifice, in his view, for some as yet unrevealed greater good?
I agree, Boyd is a big mystery. I'm not sure if he's rooting for the Echo personality or any personality in that body or Echo's personality in any body. And how deep does Boyd's loyalty to the DH extend?

Besides, does Echo have a personality other than her active assignments?? She did ask Topher to make her capable of exposing Dominic, she may have shown a couple of other independent thoughts, but how deep does the wiped mind/personality go?? She apparently retains loyalty to Boyd, but are any critical reasoning skills in there without programming??

And if Boyd is working to bring down the DH from a law enforcement perpective, there's a tremendous amount of left/right hand blindness going on. Which is not impossible to believe.
(last jump into this topic for me)

Sunfire, your basic point about the unintended and kinda awful consequences of rescuing a "wiped" doll you don't know how to fix is certainly true, and not that controversial, I think. It is, in fact, alluded to by Boyd during the fight ("...you think you're helping her! You're wrong!..."). This is, I think, one essential difference between Paul and Boyd at this point: Boyd has seen enough about how the Dollouse works to know that, no matter how creeped out he has gotten recently (as seen in various conversations with Saunders and others), rescuing the-being-that-is-Echo-and-or-Caroline without a bigger plan will likely not help anyone.

Paul, of course, knows nothing about the inner science, some of which Boyd has at least witnessed. For all he knows, actives in between engagements are just "brainwashed" in the old Moonie sense, which, difficult as this can be to reveres, doesn't require fi-sci tech. He is also almost certainly naive about how much the FBI could really help -- of course they would try, but I kinda find myself thinking of the last scene of "Raiders of the Lost Arc", with some beaurocratic trickery leading to the "evidence" (Echo) disappearing. Basically, Paul, despite the messages sent to him, is a bit naive about just what challenges (both scientific and power-structure wise) need to be overcome. But, of course, this doesn't mean that his plan can't seem otherwise sensible to him initially GIVEN WHAT INFORMATION HE HAS. I think this is where SMFOS and others are going with their version of Paul's plan.

The main reason I think you got so much pushback, Sunfire, from me and at least some others, was your insistance that, because Paul's rescue plans were a bit either naive or half-baked, this somehow meant that his specific reasons for not rescuing Mellie were primarily based on emotional turmoil and self-deception. Even granting every single other point about what Paul does and doesn't know about his chances of success with Echo and/or Caroline, this does not in and of itself erase the separate and quite reasonable case (again, GIVEN THE INFORMATION HE HAS) for not rescuing Mellie at that time. The fact that his judgement of Task A is wrong does not in itself mean his judgement of Task B is also wrong.
And if Boyd is working to bring down the DH from a law enforcement perpective, there's a tremendous amount of left/right hand blindness going on. Which is not impossible to believe.

Yeah--truth is definitely stranger than fiction on that score ("we must keep this information secret from our enemies at all costs!" "Yeah, those KGB guys are everywhere." "KGB? I'm talking about those bastards at the NSA--no way are they getting bragging rights about this one. I'd rather see another major terrorist attack on the US than have to face that at the next inter-agency basketball game!").

He is also almost certainly naive about how much the FBI could really help -- of course they would try, but I kinda find myself thinking of the last scene of "Raiders of the Lost Arc", with some beaurocratic trickery leading to the "evidence" (Echo) disappearing.

One of the neatest tricks the Dollhouse could do is to hide in plain sight. That is, program all the Actives as versions of themselves and give them all some plausible (o.k., TV-plausible) reason for having skipped out on their former lives and started working in this underground complex in the middle of LA. They could all say "yes, I'm so-and-so, but no, I'm not being held here against my will, and no, I do not want you to inform my family of my whereabouts, it was my choice not to stay in contact with my family." It would present an intriguing legal challenge, wouldn't it--how far can officers proceed with people who seem entirely rational and entirely capable of deciding for themselves and who claim to be voluntarily choosing to lead the lives they're leading? Just how skeptical about someone else's "free will" can you reasonably (and legally) be?
SMFOS -- I like your twist on my mention of disappearing evidence, especially since it is, essentially, what Adelle told Dominick she would do if his NSA buddies came looking for him.
One of the neatest tricks the Dollhouse could do is to hide in plain sight. That is, program all the Actives as versions of themselves and give them all some plausible (o.k., TV-plausible) reason for having skipped out on their former lives and started working in this underground complex in the middle of LA. They could all say "yes, I'm so-and-so, but no, I'm not being held here against my will, and no, I do not want you to inform my family of my whereabouts, it was my choice not to stay in contact with my family." It would present an intriguing legal challenge, wouldn't it--how far can officers proceed with people who seem entirely rational and entirely capable of deciding for themselves and who claim to be voluntarily choosing to lead the lives they're leading? Just how skeptical about someone else's "free will" can you reasonably (and legally) be?

That is an amazing observation. I have never thought through what would actually happen if Paul could convince the FBI to investigate it. The suffering of these people has the reflexive possibility to deny itself.
I think it would be possible to proceed. I assume you're imagining the FBI raiding the place and finding all the Actives doing customer service on the phone or something. Ballard would still have proof of "Echo" being with Myner and being on that compound -- and of the agents there being under the impression she was somebody completely different. This "hide in plain sight" idea would be problematic, but not necessarily decisive.
But can't they simply take it a step further? Imprint them to be actors, claiming to have done all these things in character? (This show is ridiculously hilarious.)
Ballard would still have proof of "Echo" being with Myner and being on that compound -- and of the agents there being under the impression she was somebody completely different. This "hide in plain sight" idea would be problematic, but not necessarily decisive.

Oh sure--it would definitely be a risky shot, but you can imagine ways it could be written so as to work without completely breaking your suspension of disbelief. As far as I know, Ballard only has "proof" of Echo being at the compound. He knows she was with Myner, but can't prove it (he can probably prove something about a payment, and probably place Myner as owner of that house, but he can't actually put Echo into the house with Myner except by his say-so). You could imagine a scenario in which the FBI guy leading the raid says to Ballard "hey, all you have shown me is that this kooky girl used to be a member of a kooky cult. How is that a surprise? And how does it prove that she was being held hostage by this nice, eco-friendly underground office which clearly lets its workers come and go as they please?"

Of course, we also have to assume that in fact the Dollhouse has someone on the inside at the FBI (Mellie's appearance/disappearance off the computer database suggests at least that much), so that could put a further spanner in the works. None of this says that Ballard's plan isn't perfectly reasonable given what he knows, it's just to say that even if he does manage to get to the FBI with enough evidence to make them raid the Dollhouse, there are ways that the Dollhouse could survive that.
It strains credulity, especially after "True Believer" -- all those agents that were briefed would need to be bought or eliminated, because no way would any of them believe or validate the idea that an actress was this perfect mole that none of their trained undercovers couldn't be. Ballard's proof about the compound isn't that "Echo" was a member, but rather that she was an operative of some kind of unknown origin placed there. He doesn't have this as personal knowledge, but it's nothing he couldn't easily find out from any of the ATF agents in that operation. They could, incidentally, also ID Boyd.
In my experience, credulity can be pretty hard to strain :)
KoC--you're right, of course, about the ATF agents--they would certainly be able to say "hey, this woman-child was a kick-ass freelance agent for us during that raid." Ballard doesn't know about them, though, does he? All he knows is that she was one of the cult members. I assume the FBI would approach the ATF and ask if they knew anything more, but it's plausible that they wouldn't cooperate, isn't it? I mean, they didn't cooperate with Ballard--and he was still an active agent then, wasn't he?

Sorry--we're pushing far out into speculation about a scenario that isn't going to happen. Probably best to leave it there.
It's not all that plausible that they wouldn't cooperate, IMO. If Ballard or the FBI went back asking for information specific about that woman, asked the agents on scene if they recognize her, the jig is up, basically. There's no reason they would be prevented from speaking to them. It was only the lead agent, who had something to hide, who didn't cooperate with Ballard, but there were a couple dozen federal agents on that operation at least, all of whom were there when Boyd briefed them.

Yeah, it's not going to happen, but it's a hole in the idea that the Dollhouse is just impenetrable to being proven extrinsically, since it definitely isn't. Especially since the first agent that mentions to Ballard that the lady on the inside had a handler, african-american, mid-40s that he begins running through every photographic record of what went down at the compound and gets one of them to ID Boyd. IDing Boyd, with completely-different-woman-"Echo", together at that compound, would blow a bazooka hole in any cover story the Dollhouse would want to prop up.
IDing Boyd, with completely-different-woman-"Echo", together at that compound, would blow a bazooka hole in any cover story the Dollhouse would want to prop up.

Wait a second: can the ATF guys ID Echo? They get to see through her eyes, but did they ever get to see her? I can't remember. Did she ever look at a mirror while they were monitoring her eye-cams? If not, that could plausibly leave them just ID-ing Boyd, which reduces the Dollhouse's problem to hiding Boyd--not so difficult (as long as one ignores all the other problems like hiding the bodies in the "attic" and hiding all the brain-rewriting equipment and all the financial records etc. etc. etc.--but those are real-world problems that could, I think, be brushed by with acceptable TV-show-logic). Sorry: last kick at this somewhat OT can, I promise.
The main reason I think you got so much pushback, Sunfire, from me and at least some others, was your insistance that, because Paul's rescue plans were a bit either naive or half-baked, this somehow meant that his specific reasons for not rescuing Mellie were primarily based on emotional turmoil and self-deception.

The suggestion that Paul has an emotional connection to Echo that's driving a lot of what he's doing and that he won't face for what it is has been in pretty much every episode so far. It's not just the scene where he opens the sleeping pods. That's just the latest and most striking one. The plans being half-baked is my argument against everyone saying "well he has to do what's plausible and safe." Dude left plausible and safe behind about 4 episodes back, and he was verbally switching out things to indicate he was preoccupied with Echo even before that.
Not to start another shoe controversy, but were Alpha and Topher wearing the same style sneakers?

It's something that occurred to me with the various comments about similarities between the two characters/the idea of Alpha having been imprinted with some of Topher's knowledge since wardrobe is something the show can tweak to send subtle messages.

And speaking of wardrobe, why couldn't Topher have been wearing one of those dinosaur shirts with the "sudden but inevitable betrayal" quote?
It's not just the scene where he opens the sleeping pods. That's just the latest and most striking one.

If that's the "most striking" case of Paul's irrationality, that doesn't say much for the strength of the others. Mellie specifically warned him that she was an Active unlike all the others; that she was designed to be 'triggered' as a killing machine.

I'd be really interested to hear why you think Paul should simply ignore that warning.

Ironically, I agree with you that Paul has been acting irrationally, but I see that coming out far more in his complex feelings for Mellie (or 'Mellie,' I guess) than in his feelings for Caroline. Obsessed as he is with Caroline, it still makes perfect sense for him to see her as the most sensible choice of Active to try to spring from the Dollhouse. Where he acted really irrationally was in not playing the double-agent with Mellie. He should--rationally--have done everything he could to allay her suspicions. He should have been loving and warm with her, have told her that he was giving up on the search for the Dollhouse, that he was trying to get his life together (either by going back to work for the FBI on other cases, or by seeking some other employment), and then spent every spare moment of the day tracking her moves until she lead him, unsuspectingly, to the Dollhouse.

Forcing a rupture with Mellie (which he only did because he found himself incapable of living a lie with her--something that stems from his feelings for her, not his obsession with Caroline) certainly got him to the Dollhouse more quickly than a covert action would have done, but at the (high) cost of almost certainly putting him on the Dollhouse's "to kill" list.

So, I agree he has acted "irrationally" here, but not because of the Caroline fixation. And once he does follow Mellie back to the Dollhouse, everything that comes after seems to me perfectly rational. He can't get the FBI to sweep in on his say-so. He needs evidence. He has only a short time frame in which to get that evidence. He can't take Mellie as his evidence (she's got the kill-trigger, remember?). Caroline is clearly his best bet (for all the reasons outlined above), so he tries to get her. And, what's more, with a plan that very nearly succeeded: should he really have bet on Kepler being a double-agent? Or that Echo would fight his rescue attempt? Those were unforeseeable problems--and more than that, they were risks worth taking in light of the fact that the best probable alternative was being hunted down and killed by an Active.
In short, there's a small mountain of advantages to "Echo" being the Active Ballard escapes with, ways to validate her existence as a Doll independently of Ballard's say-so. If he were to drag "November" in there, even if she didn't kill him... all the bureau is going to think is that he lost his damn mind and kidnapped his girlfriend, that chick that brought him lasagna and has known him for months.

Since there's no rational, objective argument for an impartial rescuer to take "November", any imputed bias on Ballard's part is completely irrelevant. Who would, say, Seely Booth try to take with him if he'd been in Ballard's position? "Echo". Who would, say, Jack Bauer take? Well, no, Bauer would shove sewing needles into Topher's nipples until he restored all of the Actives. But, okay, who would Dana Scully take out of there in Ballard's position? "Echo". Who would Olivia Dunham take out of there? "Echo". And so on.

It's actually kind of sad that "Echo" fought the rescue -- she has a memory flash to a totally artificial moment that convinced her Ballard was a threat and she had a flashback to at least one of several artificial moments with Boyd to decide he was her friend. And yes, artificial. "Echo"'s trust for Boyd, even in her vaguely self-aware state, is still originally premised on a program, she'd have only allowed herself to be in situations with him where real trust could form because of the bonding. So the very fact that she's an Active led her to sabotage her own rescue.

snot monster, have to disagree on one point -- if Ballard hadn't dumped Mellie, how would he have prompted her back to her handler and the Dollhouse? The only times we've seen her brought in (and the only time Ballard could infer she was) was after she killed Hearn. Seems like they only bring her in when they can tell or she somehow cues them (like, say, by contemplating killing herself) that she may have something worth reporting. I can't say for sure, but if I were Ballard, I would certainly doubt that a deep cover agent would make contact for the purpose of saying everything was boring and normal. Plus, Ballard was clearly living in something very closely akin to a personal hell trapped under the thumb of a Doll he has to pretend to feel comfortable and loving with who could be turned on him in an instant and getting trapped in a cycle of sexual exploitation.
snot monster, have to disagree on one point -- if Ballard hadn't dumped Mellie, how would he have prompted her back to her handler and the Dollhouse? The only times we've seen her brought in (and the only time Ballard could infer she was) was after she killed Hearn. Seems like they only bring her in when they can tell or she somehow cues them (like, say, by contemplating killing herself) that she may have something worth reporting.

Possibly. I still think the safe and "smart" play for Ballard to make would have been the one I describe. It might prove a bust, of course, but it would be worth a try (for one thing he can use her to try to persuade the Dollhouse that he's no longer a threat--that's a good in itself, even if she doesn't lead him to the Dollhouse). But it's not clear to me that Mellie would never go in for "treatment" if things were "boring." A) she's not programmed as a spy, she's programmed as someone who genuinely loves Ballard. So she's not going to be phoning the Dollhouse and giving them updates on what he's doing. If they want to debrief her, they probably need to bring her in (sure, it needn't work that way [maybe they implanted her with the trait of writing a diary every night and saying it all out loud as she writes it for the microphones embedded in her apartment], but it would be worth a try). B) we don't really know how long-lasting these programs are. Does Mellie never need a "top-up" bout in the chair? I don't think this has been established one way or the other (that is, when Mellie was living next door to Paul at the beginning, we don't know that she didn't go back to the Dollhouse every week).

Plus, Ballard was clearly living in something very closely akin to a personal hell trapped under the thumb of a Doll he has to pretend to feel comfortable and loving with who could be turned on him in an instant and getting trapped in a cycle of sexual exploitation.

Yeah, absolutely. That's why I say his "irrational" (i.e. human) behavior was sparked by his feelings for 'Mellie,' not his feelings for Caroline. Had he felt nothing at all for 'Mellie,' it would have been easy for him to use her to try to exploit the Dollhouse. As it is, though, he couldn't bear it, so he settled for Plan B. Kick her out so abruptly that he knew she'd go back to home base and risk having the Dollhouse decide to eliminate him.
The thing I found curious about that scene is that around the same time, Adelle whispers something into Boyd's ear. Not sure what was so private.

JossIzBoss | May 04, 01:30 CET


I'll never get through all the comments that have gone up since I was offline for a day, but this one struck me. I noticed it too, and then forgot it.
I do think it's significant, and just hope we'll get a chance to find out (that would be in season2). At this point, I don't think Boyd is nearly as much the good guy as I did originally. I think he's been presented as a sympathetic character as a set-up for him being very much not, his protectiveness toward Echo notwithstanding.

Re. the "why didn't Paul try to save Mellie" debate:

Yeah, I've been deeply puzzled by this stuff in this thread. Ballard even says when he opens her pod something to the effect of "I can't take you, you're programmed to kill me when they flip a switch"--which seems a pretty reasonable basis for his decision.


I totally agree. This is shaping up to be one of those polarizing issues, & I just don't get it. To me, it's a no- brainer. You don't try to save the active who has warned you that she could at any time, turn on you and kill you.
And I'm willing to believe Paul really wants to give her herself back. I just don't think he's got any chance of doing it, because he's acting out of desperation here. This is his one manic attempt to save her before the Dollhouse kills him.

Sunfire | May 04, 18:33 CET


This I agree with. But to me, it makes Paul even more of a hero. A rash and possibly Quixotic hero to be sure, with a definite obsession in the mix. But all of that makes him even more interesting, to me.
And besides, Tahmon pretty. ;)
I apologize if this has been mentioned above, but it just occurred to me that even though Ballard successfully followed the Mellie-van, that didn't get him to the actual Dollhouse. He found the above-ground building, which he searched thoroughly without finding an entrance to the underground facility. For anyone other than Ballard, that would likely have been enough to persuade him/her that there was no Dollhouse. Ballard is obsessed, one-track-mind,etc., but he's also creative enough to think of another option, go looking for it, and find it. Probably with plenty of nudging from Alpha, but still well done on his part.

Of course, that could have been Adelle's plan all along -- without the Alpha complication, of course. I can't wait for Friday!
I never said Paul's not heroic in his way. Just that he's other things too. He's a compromised hero, which is the only kind Dollhouse would give us.
I never said Paul's not heroic in his way. Just that he's other things too. He's a compromised hero, which is the only kind Dollhouse would give us.

I think we all agree he's compromised. He obviously thinks he's compromised (re the shower scene, where he accuses himself of being one of the Dollhouse's "clients"). I'd still really like to hear why it is that you think he's simply "lying to himself" about Mellie's trigger. I'm trying to understand your point of view, but it just seems counterintuitive to me. Why do you think he should simply ignore the warning that Mellie gave him that she was a different kind of Active?
I can't fathom it either, and that's why I dismissed it as "Kantian silliness", the bizarre notion that nothing is charitable or altruistic unless it is actively hostile to your own self-interest.

The more time since the episode, the more I tend to think Ballard's plan was actually pretty solid considering the constraints he was working under -- he had to plan every corner of the thing outside of Mellie's presence, under the Dollhouse's nose, and without any official authority or resources. It would have been frickin' awesome if he could have brought Aisha Hands with him, though, and not just Alpha's lame cover. They'd have probably killed her off in the attack, but at least it would have made Ballard's plan look more credible. She could have even been there to infologue the obvious at us about taking "Echo" and not "November" so that people wouldn't be left to just question Ballard's motives.
She could have even been there to infologue the obvious at us about taking "Echo" and not "November" so that people wouldn't be left to just question Ballard's motives.

Yeah, but this show absolutely lives for questionable motives, doesn't it?
Yes, yes it does.
I'd still really like to hear why it is that you think he's simply "lying to himself" about Mellie's trigger. I'm trying to understand your point of view, but it just seems counterintuitive to me. Why do you think he should simply ignore the warning that Mellie gave him that she was a different kind of Active?

I've tried to explain it. The emotional context of that scene doesn't match his words. His face is saying something very different. And his words don't match what we know about Paul, either. We do know he's uncomfortable with and in some denial about how much his obsession with the Dollhouse is also an obsession with Caroline. And his risk-taking and idealism up until that moment suggest a real unwillingness to let the risk that Mellie could kill him stop him, if he was there to save a Doll or who he could or whatever. Moreover, Paul is desperate. He's not holding anything back at this point. This thing has taken over his life, and he expects the Dollhouse will be trying to kill him very soon. Why is Mellie an unacceptable risk in that moment, when he's done nothing but take bigger and bigger risks, and when he's in the middle of taking the biggest one yet?

It's because she's not who he came to rescue. His face shows that when he looks at Echo. It doesn't make the regret less real, but the risk is a nice thing to tell himself. It's A reason, but it's not THE reason. The driving motive here is rescuing Caroline. It's no different from Topher telling himself pain isn't real or Adelle telling herself that what she does helps people. It's a lie that lets them keep doing what they're doing and smooth over the cognitive dissonance.
It's a lie that lets them keep doing what they're doing and smooth over the cognitive dissonance

But, again, how is it a lie at all? If Paul weren't the person making that decision, if you were the one doing it, wouldn't you choose to rescue the Doll for whom you have a bunch of promising leads (Caroline) and specifically avoid the doll who has told you in so many words that she is a pre-programmed killing machine and, as such, unlike all the other dolls? Whatever Paul's mental state, this just seems to be a self-evident fact (quite the opposite, therefore, of the Topher and Adele cases).

Perhaps what is causing our mutual incomprehension here is that you think there is a special reason why Paul should rescue Mellie (rather than, or as well as, Echo)? Perhaps you feel that his reasons for rescuing Mellie are so powerful that they should override the self-evident risk posed by the fact that she is a special trigger-switch killer-active. Is that it?

Surely you'd agree that in the absence of that reason (whatever it may be) he is doing the obviously sane thing in leaving behind the trigger-switch killer-active and taking the lots-of-promising-leads-active, right?

I think there might be a more productive discussion to be had about the idea that he should rescue Mellie (which I suspect is your real claim) than about the idea that he's lying to himself by saying something self-evidently true.
No, I don't think he should rescue Mellie.

He's not in the Dollhouse to continue his investigation, he's there for a rescue. Leads really don't matter at this point.
No, I don't think he should rescue Mellie.

O.K., I just can't see the point you're making then. I did try.

He's not in the Dollhouse to continue his investigation, he's there for a rescue.

We've covered this ground. Absent some new evidence all we've got is that we don't know what his next move was going to be. I don't think it's fair to simply assume that he wouldn't have contacted the FBI with Echo in hand (nor would it be fair to assert that he definitely would have).
"His face is saying something very different." (sunfire)

The thing is, I see in his face exactly the opposite: that he IS tortured by leaving Mellie, but feels he has no choice (for many reasons, but primarily the one he says). But, of course, the only thing more subjective than our interpretation of dialogue is our interpretation of expression and physical action, so neither of us can be proven wrong -- or right -- on this. I'm still a bit puzzled by what, at least as I read your posts, seems to be the sense that you have objectively, rather than subjectively, demonstrated something about Paul's motivations and goals. I guess I'll just resign myself to this puzzlement.
Did anyone else notice that when Ballard kept referring to Echo as Caroline, Adelle said "You seem to know alot of things, except her name"? Does this imply that Caroline was NOT Echo's original personality name? We know that Alpha sent the video of Caroline to Ballard, which started his crazy obsession..is it possible that Alpha isn't fixated on Echo, but on Caroline's personality, he just needed Echo to walk the personality out of the Dollhouse door. When we saw flashbacks to Echo's original personality...the animal rights activist...it doesn't seem to be anything like the personality Echo was imprinted with by Alpha.
It's because she's not who he came to rescue. His face shows that when he looks at Echo. It doesn't make the regret less real, but the risk is a nice thing to tell himself. It's A reason, but it's not THE reason. The driving motive here is rescuing Caroline. It's no different from Topher telling himself pain isn't real or Adelle telling herself that what she does helps people. It's a lie that lets them keep doing what they're doing and smooth over the cognitive dissonance.

I think Sunfire is right, which is why I and others are upset at the fact that he's leaving Mellie and the other Dolls behind.

It's in Paul's face when he compares sees both November & Echo. His job was to investigate & take down the Dollhouse, not to rescue Caroline. What you (& Paul) see as a "lead" is really a "distraction" set up by Alpha. His investigation gave him client names, the shell corporation, the location of the Dollhouse... but Caroline was handed to him. She is the trigger that turned his investigation into an obsession, which eventually made him lose his job (this was Adelle's doing, but it was his obsession with Caroline that tipped them off & lead to this moment).

An honorable intention would be to rescue all of the Dolls, not just Caroline. Caroline herself claimed as much in "Needs".

Paul didn't choose that way. He didn't make a plan. He didn't have any idea of how to get "Caroline" back into her body once he's "rescued" her (except to keep telling her that she's Caroline & that's she's brain-washed; good going on that one). He says he'll come back for the others once he has Caroline, but do we honestly think the Dollhouse wouldn't beef up their security after this break-in? What guarantee is there that there'll be another next time??

None. The path Paul chose was not the "following-leads-FBI-agent" one. It was the "I'm-obsessed-with-saving-Caroline" one. When Mellie tells Paul in "Briar Rose" to (paraphrased) "really look at her, have I ever said anything that wasn't the truth", he replied "you told me just what I NEEDED to hear". His mind was (already) made up on rescuing "Caroline" (he was already packing), and Mellie gave him the words he needed to believe what he was doing was right, even if it meant fulfilling his fantasy.

However, we all know that Paul does not have the knowledge nor the technology to "save Caroline" himself. He knows nothing about implants or where "Caroline" is even stored. He might have walked out with someone, but it wouldn't have been Caroline. This is what Boyd tries to tell him. Boyd's no prince himself, but from his lessons learned in "Needs" he tries to explain the bigger picture here. Paul doesn't listen and they fight.

The "look" that Paul gives November is a standard-Paul look; he uses what he needed to hear to justify leaving her behind (when there's no likely chance he could come back). However, it's the look that he gives Echo that betrays his "objective" opinion- he smiles. Right now she's Echo, not Caroline (he knows this because he tries explaining to her that she's brain-washed). But the smile, the reward, he gives himself is because he "found the girl" (he fulfilled/fulfilling his fantasy). There's no guarantee that she'll ever be "Caroline" at this moment, but his smile revealed that this is not a dutiful mission he's fulfilling, it's a fantasy.
I'm not upset that he isn't trying to rescue everyone else, since I don't think he can really save anyone at all. I think Adelle's pushed him to a point where saving Caroline is all he's got left, so I get why that's what he's trying to do. He's got a certain idealistic rashness and I think Adelle's pushed his buttons until he's lost the bigger mission for the fantastic one. He shouldn't be there at all, if bringing down the Dollhouse is his real objective.

Did anyone else notice that when Ballard kept referring to Echo as Caroline, Adelle said "You seem to know alot of things, except her name"? Does this imply that Caroline was NOT Echo's original personality name?

No, she said (paraphrased) "You know so many things. Facts. Names." Paul knows too many concrete facts, which is why Adelle then asks Boyd if he thinks they should mind-wipe him.
Thanks for clearing that up. I must admit I do struggle to understand Adelle at times. I typically don't have problems w/ accents, but hers is hard for me occassionally. However, I still don't think that the personality Alpha imprinted in Echo was Echo's original personality. It seems to me that his Caroline is the opposite of the Caroline we saw in the flashback episode.

I agree with you about Paul's obsession though, his motivation is Caroline and his hero fantasy. He isn't trying to bring down the Dollhouse anymore...he is just trying to save her, for his own reasons. He is as corrupted as the rest of them. There is no true hero and no true villain in this show...they are all morally ambigous. Even Boyd, who is my personal favorite, isn't above scrutiny. He may be trying to protect the dolls, especially Echo, but he still allows her to be used as the dollhouse clients dictate.
An honorable intention would be to rescue all of the Dolls, not just Caroline. Caroline herself claimed as much in "Needs".

Paul didn't choose that way.


That's simply an assumption. I think it more likely he planned to use Caroline to try to persuade the FBI to go in en masse to the Dollhouse HQ. I'm happy to agree that if the sum total of his "plan" was to walk out of there with "Caroline" and live happily ever after, then he's coocoo for coconuts. Given, though, that he seems aware that he's only got a few days before the Dollhouse has him killed, it's a bit hard for me to believe that that is the extent of his plan.

The path Paul chose was not the "following-leads-FBI-agent" one. It was the "I'm-obsessed-with-saving-Caroline" one. When Mellie tells Paul in "Briar Rose" to (paraphrased) "really look at her, have I ever said anything that wasn't the truth", he replied "you told me just what I NEEDED to hear". His mind was (already) made up on rescuing "Caroline" (he was already packing), and Mellie gave him the words he needed to believe what he was doing was right, even if it meant fulfilling his fantasy.

Actually, you get Mellie's line slightly wrong. What she says is "think about whether I've ever told you anything that I didn't believe with all my heart." When Paul says "you told me exactly what I needed to hear" he was saying, as I see it, two things. 1) at the surface level: "exactly, the problem is that everything you say you 'believe with all your heart' because that is what you're programmed to believe, not because it's true." and 2) at a more ironic level "you just said exactly the right sort of thing to say in a situation like this--which just proves that you're the result of fiendishly clever programming, not that you're a real person."

I can't see how what she said has anything at all to do with his plan to rescue Caroline, however. Surely you're not suggesting that he had doubts about whether he claim to be a specially-designed kill-bot Active was true until she said this? What Mellie says in her Mellie persona would have no bearing at all on what she said when she was conveying her secret message from whoever the operative inside the Dollhouse is. And, remember, we actually know that this is true. We know that Ballard is quite right to believe that she's a special kill-bot Active AND we know that he has pretty good proof of this (the fact that she killed Sierra's handler).

he uses what he needed to hear to justify leaving her behind

No. He uses what she said to him in "A Spy in the House of Love" (and which he absolutely loathed hearing) to justify leaving her behind (i.e., that she is a special kind of Active--one implanted with a kill-bot trigger switch). His decision at that moment has nothing at all to do with her claim to have "always believed with all her heart" whatever lies she was telling him as 'Mellie.'
Yes jabby, I agree with you that Alpha imprinted her with someone rather unlike Caroline and rather like himself. Sorry, I meant to address that too. She is pretty scary there-- I think she was the one to bite him and draw blood in that last scene.

And I agree with snot monster about Paul's line in the scene with Mellie. Paul knows that she'll always say whatever he needs to hear to be convinced they can make it work. Because she's not real! It's really quite cruel, what Adelle's done to him.

snot I really don't think he has a bigger plan. The FBI is not his friend anymore. Showing up with a amnesiac woman and a tale of an invisible Dollhouse is just going to make him look criminal in addition to crazy. He's not exactly shown a strength for planning ahead, so far. Whatever Alpha calls him-- Mr. I-Shock-All-My-Problems, was it? -- is pretty damn accurate. When Paul gets a lead, he follows it immediately. Typically to an ass-kicking he sorta barely escapes from only because he is a force of nature and has ninja skills.

Don't get me wrong, I like the guy. I think he's great. But I also think he's in way over his head and isn't thinking more than a couple steps ahead at the moment.
snot I really don't think he has a bigger plan. The FBI is not his friend anymore. Showing up with a amnesiac woman and a tale of an invisible Dollhouse is just going to make him look criminal in addition to crazy.

Well, that's your guess, and it's fair enough to make a guess. As several of us have pointed out repeatedly, however, he would have a lot more that "an amnesiac woman and a tale of an invisible Dollhouse" if he showed up with Echo. He has her on video at the cult compound. He has the "Caroline" photo sent to him by Alpha. He can tell them of several encounters with her in other locations and with other personalities. If they're willing to run with his lead at all (and, remember, they'd have to be writing him off as genuinely psychotically delusional to simply ignore him at this point) there's a good chance that they could turn up more evidence (of the CSI kind) to place her at other scenes (show a photo of her to the girl from the pilot-episode and say 'was this the beautiful lady who rescued you'?--for one easy example).

Now, you may be right that he simply wants to live out two or three days with Caroline before the Dollhouse kills him and recaptures her--but that is suggesting a level of both personal despair and mental collapse that goes a very long way past what we have been given evidence to support. (And we do know--because he says as much--that he is fully aware that he's living on borrowed time now if he can't shut the Dollhouse down).
I think there might be a middle ground to Sunfire and Snot Monster's takes. For me personally I think it is clear his motivation has morphed into an obsession w/ Caroline and his fantasy of saving the day and getting the girl. That is his main motivation and driving force. That is why he goes to get Caroline and wants to make sure he is her savior. He wants her to see him as the Hero, so his fantasy can be fulfilled, however, he is not totally cracked. He understands that in order to secure his future and hers as his companion he will have to bring down the Dollhouse otherwise he is living on borrowed time. I have no doubt he would eventually contact the FBI or other enforcement agency. He would have to for his and Caroline's own safety, but that isn't his motivation. His motivation isn't about saving all of the dolls, its about saving one specific Doll and having that Doll think he's a hero. His fantasy is the motivator...his obsession is the driving force. The fact that in order to secure himself and the object of his obsession at the end and thus bring down the Dollhouse is only a neccessary step for Ballard. That is why he chose to go get Caroline himself, instead of building up more and more evidence. He NEEDED to be the HERO in his own story. Bringing down the Dollhouse eventually was just gravy for him.
jabby I don't think we disgree. I don't think he's completely nuts or anything, he's just been pushed to a point where he's maybe a bit unhinged. Not unlike Mal in Serenity.
That's simply an assumption. I think it more likely he planned to use Caroline to try to persuade the FBI to go in en masse to the Dollhouse HQ. I'm happy to agree that if the sum total of his "plan" was to walk out of there with "Caroline" and live happily ever after, then he's coocoo for coconuts. Given, though, that he seems aware that he's only got a few days before the Dollhouse has him killed, it's a bit hard for me to believe that that is the extent of his plan.

Unhingeness of Paul:

1) Hasn't slept nor showered in several days, with big conspiracy map up on his wall in "Spy in the House of Love".

2) "I'll get to save her." "Them, you said 'her' but you meant 'them'." "Well, by 'them' I'll first get to 'her', yes 'them'." I think it's MotS or "True Believer" area (between Mellie & Paul).

3) "They'll kill me. They'll kill you. They'll kill me again." "I have to save her." from "Briar Rose" between Kepler & Paul.

4) No rope, lights, blue prints, plan of rescue... as pointed out by Kepler in "Briar Rose" right before they jump down 10 stories.

5) "You're going about this the wrong way." Messaged-Echo from MotS.

6) "You're Caroline. They've brain-washed you. You asked me to save you." from "Briar Rose" while talking to Echo, a Doll.

If he knew that he'd only had a couple of days before the Dollhouse killed him, wouldn't he put a plan in place before he shows up with this girl & hopes they believe him? A girl who's a Doll and doesn't think she's Caroline? What would/could the FBI do anyway? The Dollhouse's power is extensive (we know they're involved with Senators). Think about it. It makes no sense. Which is the point. Alpha & Adelle knew which pressure point to push to tip this guy over the edge.

No. He uses what she said to him in "A Spy in the House of Love" (and which he absolutely loathed hearing) to justify leaving her behind (i.e., that she is a special kind of Active--one implanted with a kill-bot trigger switch). His decision at that moment has nothing at all to do with her claim to have "always believed with all her heart" whatever lies she was telling him as 'Mellie.'

I think the main difference in the fantasies with Mellie & "Caroline" is that he knows Mellie is fake. "Caroline", however, is "real" and wants to be rescued by him. However, Caroline (the real one), has never met the guy and is still on a disc somewhere that Paul will never find. By denying Mellie/November the "freedom/rescue" he promises "Caroline", he denies the fact that he is living a fantasy by the whole "rescue" operation. His "Caroline" is not actually Caroline, but Echo. He doesn't win this way.

Please remember that I'm not upset that he didn't "rescue" November in particular, but it's that he believes that "Caroline"/Echo is the only that can be saved. Pick Sierra, pick Victor, pick Mike or Tango... but he doesn't. He chooses to rescue the face of his fantasy, in order to fulfill it.
I just want to note that I love Paul's Wall Of Conspiracy. He's like Mulder without ever having met the Lone Gunmen and finding out Scully is an alien sent to kill him, and Deep Throat's not real either. Mulder would have a bigger, crazier map by now, and would have smacked "Kepler" around a little. Otherwise, that episode had a very oh-noes-Mulder's-getting-scary Season 4 vibe to it.
I agree with korkster. I might have given Ballard a pass for leaving November because of the trigger thing. But then he saw Echo and got that smile on his face...and I hated him for it. In a good way of course, but boy did I want to punch him for proving "Mellie" right.
I'm not sure why he shouldn't have told "Echo" that she's Caroline and that she's been brain-washed. That is an objectively true statement. The fact that he has no immediate way to restore her doesn't change the essential fact that she is Caroline -- if "Victor" is to be believed, Caroline even then, completely engulfed under the chemicals and controls.

korkster, you've got flat out no text to suggest Ballard thinks Caroline is the only one that can or should be saved. We don't even have text to suggest that Caroline's wasn't the very next cell he opened. And we also, as has been discussed, a lot of reasons why his best actual *evidence* of the Dollhouse comes in the form of Caroline, because she's the one he can most readily document outside the Dollhouse. "November" and "Victor" he'd only have his own say-so.

I can't believe we're actually having a conversation impugning the man for smiling when he opened "Echo"'s cell. I get the feeling, I really do, that if Ballard had scooped "Echo" up in his arms, run out of the Dollhouse, and ran across the ocean to Catalina to hide out with her, I could find 3 or 4 people to say "look, Ballard can't even swim!"
On the smile, you've got to admit that it was a creepy smile, yeah? That wasn't just the pleasure of doing the noble thing.

That said, I agree that taking Echo was the sensible thing to do and that the most reasonable assumption to make is that he would have gone to the FBI with her
What Korkster said. Seriously. It was a really creepy smile -- but that's just the tip of the berg. I really don't like Ballard.

Still love the show though.
I don't think he's completely nuts or anything, he's just been pushed to a point where he's maybe a bit unhinged. Not unlike Mal in Serenity.

I don't think he's completely nuts either. Just a jerk. And I don't see any comparison with Mal. Mal was never into being a hero, and despite his faults I don't believe it's within his character to treat people like objects (or have sex with someone who had no will to really consent just to get out his aggressions.

Mal also took the chance to save River, even when doing so proved a threat to him. You certainly can't say the same about Paul and Mellie. He takes one disdainful look at her in her pod and says the obligatory "I can't save you because you might kill me," thing, and I guess that saves his rep for some people, but not me.
I don't mean they're like twins or anything. Just what I said before-- that they're both people with certain moral stances who've been pushed by circumstances to express a darker part of themselves. And who remain sympathetic (to me at least), but do troubling things at times. Because they're both in bad mental spaces, and the world's gotten kinda hostile. Very different worlds though. Very different mental spaces.
that they're both people with certain moral stances who've been pushed by circumstances to express a darker part of themselves. And who remain sympathetic (to me at least), but do troubling things at times. Because they're both in bad mental spaces, and the world's gotten kinda hostile.

I see what you mean, and I do like characters like that (ie Mal, Post-Season 3 Wesley); I guess I just don't sympathize with Paul. *shrugs* Even in other Whedon characters' darkest times, I felt like I could walk in their shoes. I don't get that depth from this character.
I just thought of something:

Paul's obsession about bringing down the Dollhouse (also known as saving "Caroline") is not unlike Angel's obsession with bringing down Wolfram and Hart in season 2 (and saving Darla.) I actually felt a pretty strong dislike of Angel in that season too (though not as much as Paul.)

Hmm.
Imagine if you'd first watched Angel in Season 2. That's what I feel like with a lot of Dollhouse characters-- they're already at points of moral weirdness that you normally wouldn't see for a couple seasons.
All I saw in the smile, all I *still* see in it, was the pride of performance. I didn't expect to see one, but if it would have come anywhere, that would have been the moment. Not when he entered the Dollhouse, because of the danger. Not when he found Mellie, because of the pain and tragedy of it, of him having had feelings for a woman who doesn't even exist, of taking advantage of her, of being afraid of her, and of having to abandon her there. But when he saw Caroline, saw the authentic beacon of this mission (because -- and everyone just brazenly ignores this -- she did ask him to help her. Merely finding the Dollhouse and closing the Dollhouse are one mission, but he was cast on for this specific other mission as well), he allowed it, and I am pretty sure I would have as well. I don't see how that smile is negative unless one has already taken a firm set against Ballard before that.

It's also worth noting that he immediately started to get her attention, and that he probably thought it would be better to be smiling and friendly about it than stern and frightening.
Let's get something straight: I like Paul. I think his character has to make some of the most important and disturbing choices on the show. He's a hero descending into darkness trying to bring some light with him.

But, that doesn't mean that his little light isn't nibbled at by the darkness. If you dive into mud, you're going to get muddy.

KingofCretins, I don't understand why you think my points are outrageous (or curvy instead of flat out).

korkster, you've got flat out no text to suggest Ballard thinks Caroline is the only one that can or should be saved.

Caroline is the only one that Ballard is willing to save at this moment. But he doesn't have the tools, technology, or plan to do this at this particular moment. Which is why Caroline becomes "Caroline"- Paul's fantasy. He can't save the actual person within his means.

And we do have text to support his fixation on "Caroline". Both from Paul & Alpha. From Paul's perspective, I selected a few scenes in my earlier post. If you want Alpha-proof, just let me know.

We don't even have text to suggest that Caroline's wasn't the very next cell he opened.

Yes we do. You clearly see it in the episode. The first pod that is opened (goes dark) is November's. He closes it. The next cell to be opened right behind him (also goes dark) is Echo's. The only other pod that is broken (the light was on) in "Briar Rose" is Victor's (which is to the right of November's) and that's because Boyd & Ballard "were fighting on [him]" and crashed though the lock.

It comes in the form of Caroline, but not from Caroline. The photo & video were supplied by an anonymous (Alpha) person, who could have been fuckin' with him (as were his co-workers). He did receive a phone call from a person who didn't know who she was (Caroline), only that they might be underground.

If he were actually trying to get a warrant for such a thing, he would fail because in the end he only has his own say-so for her as well.

At least for November/Mellie, he & Loomis witnessed the deletion of November's previous identities (former imprints?). Still no hard evidence, but at least he can count on another's say-so. ;)

I can't believe we're actually having a conversation impugning the man for smiling when he opened "Echo"'s cell.

*looks up impugning*

Look, I'm not attacking Ballard for his faults. Like I said, I like the guy. But I don't see how looking at the evidence in the episodes that you can honestly say saving "Caroline" didn't also serve his own fantasy, or even be the cause of it.

I'm not a hater of any of the characters (love Topher as well). But I do think this is what was intended- just because they may be the "hero" doesn't mean that we have to always like them. And just because they are an obnoxious jackass who works for an evil business, don't mean we have to immediately hate them either. The point is that we carry both types of qualities, and neither should be ignored for our "rooting/jeering".
I'm not interested in discussing the smile, but I do want to say Echo/Caroline did NOT "ask him to help her." It was the PROGRAMMING of the doll. There was no consciousness involved, it was just words recited as part of the message.

Whoever sent the message had the Echo body say the words, possibly as part of the larger 'make Paul nuts' plan, but it was not a real personality of the body.

By the way, looking at next week's promo I think there are way, way too many loose threads to be neatly tied off Friday.

ETA: I still find Topher annoying.

[ edited by falina on 2009-05-07 03:00 ]
No, Caroline called him on her own, when she was going through Dr. Saunders' office in "Needs." That wasn't programming.
Falina, people are referring to when Caroline called Paul and left a message on his phone saying to help free them. It's in 'Needs'
i.e. what Sunfire said
Korkster, I have no doubt that it might fulfill some fantasy on his part. I just don't care, don't see how it could possibly matter. It's irrelevant -- she's a slave, he's freeing her, and his motives are almost completely moot.

I'm talking about the phone call in "Needs". Caroline in "Needs" *was* Caroline, just without her memories. This is black letter text in that episode. The four Actives were given their fundamental personalities back, just not their memories (specifically, not their declarative narrative long-term memory). It *was* Caroline who, while probably having no idea why she knew Paul Ballard, called him and asked him to get her out.

To borrow from King's "The Dark Tower" and his gunslingers, "we may be cast on, but no man may cast us back" -- nobody, not "Echo", not Adelle, not Boyd, not Mellie, not Alpha, can revoke Caroline's plea for help on her own behalf.
If I remember correctly, she says to "help us" not "help me."
Which is a point I tried to make earlier, ShanshuBugaboo. Caroline wants to save everyone, not just herself. In fact, she was "free" with the others, but chose to go back into the Dollhouse to save the others.

And I guess KingofCretins that this is something that we'll have to agree to not agree on. If there were one scene that would explain the dark fuzziness on Paul's hero journey, it would be the dream sequence in "Needs".

That sequence, coupled with the fact that without the Dollhouse's technology (which they are not going to supply), he can't actually free Caroline, makes his motivations worth an honest acknowledgment.
Actually, I was referring to the fight in the alley. MotS? And I'm personally unconvinced by the Needs episode.
Korkster, I have no doubt that it might fulfill some fantasy on his part. I just don't care, don't see how it could possibly matter. It's irrelevant -- she's a slave, he's freeing her, and his motives are almost completely moot.

I think that within the construct of this show, character motives matter quite alot. If you want to ignore Paul's motives (and simply call him a hero) that's fine, but you're not going to get as full an understanding of the themes and ideas the show is trying to bring up.... surely character developments(as shown through character motives) are some of the most important aspects of a Joss Whedon show.

I also think that motives are important in the real world as well, since sometimes all we can control are our own motives.
post 499... who wants 500 the most?
If I remember correctly, she says to "help us" not "help me."


And again with the so what? It still comes back to this completely preposterous argument that his motives can only be clean if he willfully ignores the ONLY Active that he has heard the true voice of and received an actual request for help from. The ONLY Active who provides him meaningful evidence of the Dollhouse's existence. What is this even an argument about?

I have trouble reconciling this relativistic pummeling of Ballard as part of the greater Joss vision behind "Dollhouse" -- this is the man who, per Doug Petrie, said that, yes, Spike should be written heroically when he escaped the Initiative, that he was heroic there. This was when Spike's only rep was as a villain. How do we get from that being Joss to the idea that if Ballard smiles ambiguously, he is pretty much finished as "heroic" in this episode or this series?
How do we get from that being Joss to the idea that if Ballard smiles ambiguously, he is pretty much finished as "heroic" in this episode or this series?

While I'm largely in agreement with you KingofCretins (in that I think that, though Ballard's motives are questionable, deciding to take Caroline out first was the most sensible thing to do and it's most likely what he would have done had he not been obsessed with her) I'm not convinved by this comment. Buffy was a superhero show and it didn't hesitate to show us heros and villains. Dollhouse is something altogether different. As many people have pointed out it takes pains to call into question the goodness of the good guys and badness of the bad guys. I do think the writers are trying to get across that Paul is not a 'hero' - even if he is basically a good guy. (I also don't think there was much that was ambiguous about that smile. It was intended to be creepy IMO. Maybe we'll have to wait for final word from Joss, Jane or Tahmoh on this).

Actually, I was referring to the fight in the alley. MotS? And I'm personally unconvinced by the Needs episode.

Um, what? We know you were referring to the fight in the alley (and yes it was in MotS) but you were trying to correct people who said that Caroline had contacted Paul. So we pointed out that what we were talking about was the episode in Needs. So I'm not sure why it's relevant that you were talking about the fight in the alley; nobody is suggesting that Caroline was saying anything to Paul in that scene.

And I'm not sure how you can be unconvinved that in 'Needs' Caroline contacted Paul. Care to elaborate?
I think there should be a distinction made between Ballard's motives being "right" and "clean"... personally I think that Ballard is heroic, and I like his character, but there is clearly other motivations going on for him other than "lets save these slaves".

And again with the so what? It still comes back to this completely preposterous argument that his motives can only be clean if he willfully ignores the ONLY Active that he has heard the true voice of and received an actual request for help from. The ONLY Active who provides him meaningful evidence of the Dollhouse's existence. What is this even an argument about?


No one is making the argument that Paul's motives can "only be clean if he willfully ignores the ONLY active that he has heard the true voice of and received an actual request for help from". This is clearly a losing argument, which is why you're trying to twist their arguments in to being about that.

If everyone believed that this was the only reason that Paul picked echo/caroline, then that would clearly be a morally "clean" motivation... but some people, including me, see other motivations for his pick.. which various people have outlined above.

It seems to me that this argument continues to rage because neither side is actually listening to the other's argument.

[ edited by mortimer on 2009-05-07 05:38 ]
Hey, there's nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so. Dollhouse is expertly going beyond moral grey areas into the moral subjectivity of real life. Heroism is whatever we need it to be, etc.
absolutely Doublemeat, I agree. I don't agree with the people who think there is nothing good about Paul (or Topher, or Adelle)... but neither do I think that all of these characters are perfect, or even "good".

I just enjoy exploring the complexity of all of these characters.
It still comes back to this completely preposterous argument that his motives can only be clean if he willfully ignores the ONLY Active that he has heard the true voice of and received an actual request for help from. The ONLY Active who provides him meaningful evidence of the Dollhouse's existence.

KoC, I wasn't arguing that he should ignore her -- only that if his motives were "purely" about bringing down the Dollhouse that he would make more of an effort to save others as well.

I'll just leave it at that. I don't like him for a lot of other reasons as well. He's grated on me since episode one. I won't come onto every single thread and repeat how much I dislike him (as some people seem to do for other characters - mostly Topher) because I respect that there are Paul fans on here. But that's just how I feel. I still love the show, and every other character.

[ edited by ShanshuBugaboo on 2009-05-07 10:02 ]
For me motives do matter...and I think that is what makes Paul extremely interesting, albeit less likeable. He isn't a pure Hero...he does heroic things...but his motivations are questionable and kind of creepy. I think the fight between Boyd and Ballard was brillant because of the internal conflict it brought to the viewing audience. Boyd is technically in the story a villain...he works for the evil/bad Dollhouse, but we know his intentions to protect Echo are mostly good and somewhat fatherly. Ballard is technically the hero, coming into the Dollhouse to save the Caroline and free her from her slavery...but we know his intentions border on obsession and not purely for the greater good. When they were fighting it was hard, for me and I suspect for others, to cheer for one or the other. I found myself rooting for Boyd...which essentially means rooting for the Dollhouse and that is just wrong. They are intentionally trying to have the audience examine their feelings about good guys and bad guys by setting up this conflict. If Paul's motives don't matter, he is just being a hero, then that Boyd/Ballard conflict means nothing...just your run of the mill good guy v. bad guy slugfest. We know that's not the case, it was meant to make us as an audience uncomfortable and questioning.
How do we get from that being Joss to the idea that if Ballard smiles ambiguously, he is pretty much finished as "heroic" in this episode or this series?

You're the one who keeps bringing that aspect up, this idea that if Paul's motives aren't pure he's somehow now "finished" as a hero. It's never been my point. He's not the man with the plan some people here seem to think he is, but neither is he some terrible person without any heroic qualities or intentions. His motives are mixed, and have slowly become more personal over time. I don't think that means he's "finished" as anything, just complicated and, as jabby points out, a guy I think the audience is meant to be unsure of at this point.
Topher is the only pure one (dolls don't count). His fall from grace could be the crowning achievement of the series.
What do you mean "only pure one"? He's celibate on camera, making sex the only damning criterion?? He's the only one with "pure" intentions?? What are they (the intentions)? What "fall from grace" has Boyd or anyone else (OK, besides Paul's having a bad couple of weeks) had??

I don't see Topher as distinct from other DH staff. If you do, please list the appropriate criteria.

[ edited by falina on 2009-05-08 03:43 ]
He isn't living with guilt. He's uncompromised.

Why is Boyd working for the Dollhouse? Why does Ballard so desperately need to save Caroline? Why did Adelle need Roger? Dominic came close to purity but my favourite line in the entire series – "Look how that turned out. You were wrong" – where he tried to hurt the one he loved, showed why he failed.

Dollhouse is about Topher.
I don't know if we know enough about topher yet to decide whether he feels guilty or not... he certainly seems uncomfortable with some of the things he has to do at times.. like when he brought dominic back using victor.
I don't think that Topher's lack of guilt makes him the most important character in the show...just the least complex at this point. I think if we get a second season we'll see more to him.
I strongly disagree. If the DH was about Topher I wouldn't watch it. I'd agree with most simplistic and self-centered, myself. No guilt because no one else is important enough for Topher to feel guilty about. In a Topher-centered world, there's only one topic of interest and it starts with T.

But more goodies tonight!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Not the most important, but the most liable to change due to environmental pressure, and so the most interesting if written well.
Yeah Topher feels like he has great potential for an arc that people talk about for years and years. But that'd take more than 13 eps, alas.
You're the one who keeps bringing that aspect up, this idea that if Paul's motives aren't pure he's somehow now "finished" as a hero. It's never been my point. He's not the man with the plan some people here seem to think he is, but neither is he some terrible person without any heroic qualities or intentions. His motives are mixed, and have slowly become more personal over time. I don't think that means he's "finished" as anything, just complicated and, as jabby points out, a guy I think the audience is meant to be unsure of at this point.

I agree with pretty much everything you say, Sunfire, and this has been what I have been trying to get across. Thanks for doing so.

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