So was the episode as good as all the hype that led up to it? In my opinion, hell yes it was! This was the episode that Joss Whedon said was what his vision of the series should be… while the first five were what Fox wanted. Give Whedon his creative freedom and he will produce. Immediately there was a different tone to the episode. It didn’t follow the formula where we followed Echo’s new personality, in fact she was a minor character to the bigger picture in “Man on the Street.”
I really enjoyed the documentary feel of the townsfolk’s reaction to the myth of the Dollhouse. It not only threw in a lot of different perspectives, but it also showed how the public really has no idea what the Dollhouse is capable of.
Agent Ballard had the leading role in the episode. He first followed a lead to a dot-com billionaire (Patton Oswalt) where he expects there to be some Dollhouse interaction. Well, he’s right and who’s the Active who meets Oswalt? None other than Echo. The look on Ballard’s face when he finally is speaking with Caroline is spectacular. Of course, Caroline is Echo and Echo’s imprinted personality is Rebecca… so Ballard got no where speaking to her.
Anyway, within seconds Ballard took out four body guards while Langton extracted Echo from the scene to safety. So Ballard was left with Oswalt and they shared their life stories to each other. Oswalt actually had a very tragic, touching way of using the Dollhouse repeatedly every year on the same day. He spoke about his wife who supported him through the years he struggled with video games. Finally when he got a big break with “Bouncy the Rat” he bought a big house to surprise his wife. On the way to meet him at the new house, she was struck by a truck and was killed. So Oswalt could only imagine what joy she would’ve felt when he told her the news. Instead of only imagining, he pays for the Dollhouse to send his wife in the form of one of their Actives so he could live the happiness he never experienced. This was truly the first really moving story of the series.
Their conversation continues with Oswalt commenting on Ballard’s obsession and love for Caroline. Ballard doesn’t deny it, and neither should you. This creates quite an interesting thought/conflict in the series. Brad Trechak from TV Squad suspects Ballard to be Alpha, which kind of makes sense if he’s in love with her. Since Alpha went nuts, spared Echo, and is now supposedly roaming the world… it could very well be Ballard, right?
Anyway, there’s some funny business going on in the Dollhouse. Sierra has been crying at night and freaks out when Victor touches her softly. It’s discovered that Sierra has been raped and Langton is immediately on the job, which results with him punching Sierra’s handler through a glass screen.
Now in Ms. Dewitt’s office, it’s revealed that she has cameras watching Ballard’s apartment. Ballard has become quite close with his neighbor now and has quite uncharacteristically told her everything about his project of bringing down the Dollhouse. The mean Dewitt then plans to send Sierra’s handler to kill the neighbor, Mellie, and to have Echo revisit Ballard to do some damage.
Well, Echo and Ballard have a totally awesome fight scene, which ends with Echo telling him that someone inside the Dollhouse altered a message to her imprint. She tells him that they’ll be in touch through Echo’s body, but he needs to back off the investigation in order so the people in the Dollhouse won’t watch him so closely. Echo takes Ballard’s hand and shoots a cop and tells him that Mellie’s in danger. Inside the apartment, Sierra’s handler is attacking a helpless Mellie. The phone rings and the machine picks up… instead of it being Ballard, it’s Ms. Dewitt who says a code phrase that turns Mellie into a kick ass fighting machine who kills the handler. And then Dewitt says another code phrase which turns Mellie back to Ballard’s girlfriend. Crazy!
Oh, and the episode concludes with Echo, as Rebecca, meeting Oswalt outside of the house. He tells her the good news to his wife and she explodes with happiness. It was quite emotional.
So this episode definitely moved the series foward. We learned that Ballard is being watched closely by Ms. Dewitt and that there’s someone inside the Dollhouse doing some double crossing. Who can it be? My guess is that it’s Topher’s assistant who would have the knowledge and access to change the imprint when Topher was distracted with Langton. Does that mean that Langton is somehow involved as well? It’s very possible. Langton is the moral one in the show.
Anyway, I hope Dollhouse continues this forward motion through to the next episode. Screw Fox’s limitations… let Joss free!