Previously on Dollhouse: Helo (Ballard) has a map of the Dollhouse operations, the Dollhouse head of security was with the NSA, and he was downloaded/tortured onto a harddrive. Harry J. Lennix is told by Doc Sexy Scars that Alpha is dead.
Now then. A flashback filter is on the camera as a bum is picking through a pile of garbage, he finds a hand, and the hand leaps like a snake for his throat.
Dushku (Echo) is reading Sleeping Beauty to room full of attentive kids who are being polite and quiet, except for one, who claims the story is crap. Dushku, who has been uploaded with the most genteel teacher program I’ve seen does a perfect “Excuse me?” which sounds like “WTF you little brat?” Great delivery: actually sounded like a teacher.
Susan, as the girl is named says Sleeping Beauty, or Briar Rose, was a asleep for 100 years, than some prince shows up and takes all the credit for saving her in five minutes. Susan then points out, in order to illustrate her extreme precociousness, that since the princess knew the prophecy about the pricking the finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel, it was stupid of her to wander around an empty castle “groping spindles.”
The young lady goes off on a rant about how Beauty’s parents should have told what was up and she finally loses it and grabs the story book from Dushku’s lap and tears at it, clearly this some sort of half way for abused children.
Considering all the undercurrents of this show; this scene is made all the more wrenching by the fact that Susan clearly isn’t talking about Sleeping Beauty; she’s talking about how her parents failed. Sad to see someone so young already able to bury their pain in metaphors.
And Dushku talks with some sort of administrator, and I totally called it. Half way house. We find out Dushku’s mission is apparently to help this girl. Which means someone paid for it, which means we might finally have a rich person with enough of a conscience to actually act. Sweet!
Helo is packing. Chef Doll is asking him where he’s going, and if this is about “Caroline,” (Dushku used to be her, but it hasn’t be brought up recently.) Helo is being the asshole soon-to-be-ex, and tells the Chef they are not good for each other, and that she’s in the way. All of which is actually true; but not in a way that the uploaded Chef Doll can understand. Chef Doll says Helo can trust her, and that they can fix this.
Helo grimly says “That’s exactly what I needed to hear, and that’s why I’m leaving.” Damn.
“Can’t you see this is killing me?” She asks.
Helo, ice cold after being lied too and used, “You’ll get over it.” Truly, she’s just one download away.
Back the Dollhouse Headquarters Puzzle Palace, Olivia Willams is holding a PNY thumbdrive (subtle!) which was hand delivered. No way to get it open without asking Mr. Dominic. Williams says to ask Mr. Dominic. Lennix laughs and yeah, whatevs. Williams goes all “no seriously.”
Back at the half way house, it’s explained that Susan has been placed in fosters homes, and keeps getting sent back due to cutting school, getting in fights. They’ve apparently taken five knives off of her. They’re not sure how she get’s them.
Dushku says something very inciteful: some delis have them sitting in cups. Nice touch!
Susan’s mother died of a drug overdose, and she was living with mother’s boyfriend, a drug dealer and part-time pimp. The administrator says “Half the age, twice the price.”
I’m going to say, while this story is a might heavy handed it’s refreshing to see the show not skirting the issue.
Dushku more or less reveals that she’s been uploaded with a survivor with the line “She lies to her therapist, she’s useless in group.”
“That’s pretty specific for someone who’s known Susan for all of five minutes,” the administrator says in dismissal. (RANT: WTF lady? You’ve been working with abused kids for how long? You can’t recognize the patterns? What did you major in at the liberal arts school where and when you thought you could save the world? I mean damn! Here’s someone who wants to help and you feel the need to make sure they know you don’t value their time or opinion? WTF? )
Don’t worry, kids, Dushku is on the case.
Oh, great it’s Topher the Tech. He’s looking at some glowy spheres on a screen, which are noticeably different. Topher explains that one is the imprint he gave Dushku this morning, the other is Susan. How they got that brain scan, who knows? Topher says that Susan is “Fraked up” beyond recognition (Oh yes. BSG has a legacy).
Echo’s imprint is the kid grown up, Echo is the “best possible future” of Susan.
That is just a damned brilliant use of the technology. It actually makes all the prostitution stuff seem like a frivolous waste by comparison.
Apparently Topher came up with the entire idea for the engagement. All of the sudden the douche bag has depth! Well done! Then again. . what’s she to him. . . “Everbody wants to be righteous when they can afford it,” Topher says of Williams approval.
Phone rings, and it’s probably Lennix telling him to dust off Dominic. All of his joy is wiped away, and he says it’s time to bring out Viktor.
Meanwhile Chef Doll is walking across a bridge in Los Angeles. Oh dear. Program worked really well. To well. . . her handler shows up and gets her in the black van. She’s devastated and it’s just . . so sad.
Helo is on the mother f**king case; and he follows the black van to the garage.
About ten minutes and we have our really depressing opening sequence. It’s actually even more depressing considering all the plot threads in this episode; but really they are all damned intriguing so I think we’re in for a good show.
Dushku sits down at a table with Susan. Susan’s been industriously defacing the Sleeping beauty book, saying she’s fixing it (ala what River Tam did to Shepard’s Bible in Firefly). Dushku says they call that “editing” (Ha!) and she could make a living out of it (HA!).
Dushku, being essentially this little girl after possibly years of therapy, kung-fu, shooting ranges and rigorous physical fitness, has a really great talk with her about running away.
Susan still apparently deep in the weeds of her own issues, and can’t believe anyone could understand.
“When did you want to run away?” she asks, incredulous.
Dushku says “In the middle of the night, it always seemed like I could run away when it would get light,” and give a great performance giving a speech about pretending things are okay and how a person can feel like they are complicit in their own abuse, because hey, better than admitting that you’re helpless.
“Everytime someone calls me a victim, I feel like I’m biggest liar in the world.”
Goddamn that’s intense.
Helo and his technician friend at the Bureau of Investigative Investigations are bouncing theories off one another. Helo admits he got into the building where the Dollhouse garage is, and found nothing. He could only see the part of the building he was supposed to see, which makes him sound completely crazy. So of course he says it is invisible, and he’s not crazy.
They had an ecological system installed by Wash from Firefly (second reference this episode, for those keeping score), so the building draws no power, is a closed system; doesn’t have bills to pay the electric company, etc. Helo’s technician friend acts like this isn’t actually a pretty interesting thought and says “be glad I don’t think your crazy.”
Hey, in this situation, that’s damned fine police work.
Back the Dollhouse, Troika Doll (Victor) has been uploaded with Mr. Dominic, and actually does a half way decent impression of him. Dominic, in Viktor’s body, flips his lid, since his body is no where to be found, and they want his help. Riiiiight. He’s pretty livid. Who wouldn’t be. He’s given a mild sedative.
At the half way house, Dushku is mapping out how habitual child abusers convince their victims that there is no safety net. “Tell a teacher. . tell a priest,” (FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DO NOT TELL A PRIEST).
Dushku tells Susan to pretend she’s the prince. Susan says “but he’s a boy,” and Dushku says “That’s not his fault.” Heh.
Time for Dushku to go, but before she does, she tells Susan “You let me sit very close to you, which tells me you have a blade on you, so just give it to me now and I won’t tell anyone.” Nice.
Susan gives up what appears to be a switch blade.
Dushku talks to the administrator, who appears to accept that Dushku knows what the hell she’s doing, and says she’ll come back “in awhile.”
Helo shows up in the hallway to his old place, which I think is supposed to another place and knocks on a door. Hoban Washburn has been hitting it really hard lately, and looks like hell. “Steven Kepler, is that you?” asks Helo. Wash is all Bill Clinton about it (“depends on the defition of Steve Kepler. . .)
Helo muscles his way into Wash’s apartment and finds about three quarters of a million dollars in weed, which Wash claims is carrots. Medicinal carrots. That were there when he moved in.
Helo diffuses the situation by bringing up environmental systems. It’s nice to see Wash again, and he gives a great little performance as a sort stoner environmentalist.
“Tell me about the Dollhouse.” Says Ballard.
“They’ll kill me, and you and kill me again.” Says Wash. Helo brings out his heater and Wash whimpers “And now there’s a gun!” Helo just found a new partner, but considering how dour this episode has been so far, I don’t think they’re the next Lethal Weapon.
Back at the Puzzle Palace, Troika/Dominic is being interrogated about the thumbdrive. Williams tells him it’s from the NSA, and he says “No, we didn’t communicate that way, we have phones. Who else would try to contact Dominic covertly?
“Alpha,” says Williams and Dominic at the same time.
“I guess he didn’t hear about the regime change.” Willams says slyly.
Apparently Alpha, like Dushku, liked to draw even while in the Tabula Rasa state; and would sign his name in a way that looked like a fish.
So Alpha is in Tuscon, where some sort of Head Headquaters is.
Helo pulls up with Wash in tow, who is saying they could use some rope (“Charlie Bronson always got rope and they always end up usin’ it.) Helo is pretty sure he’s only got two days most before they figure it out and kill him. Well they’re sort of busy.
As Helo tries to get Wash out of the vehicle Wash says “This is like one of those buddy cop movies where the hardnosed FBI agent and I’m the guy who hates buddy cop movies!” Heh. “Get out the car or I show the DEA your carrot plantation!” says Helo.
Helo has got to get in there and save Caroline, and Wash asks then what? There’s more people in there, Wash argues, and he’s not good with people.
“They’re not people,” Helo says coldly. Where he just an action stud I’d be “damn, that’s gansta” but consider the guy he started out as it is “Damn, that’s depressing.”
Sierra the Human Gazelle is uploaded with forensic psychologist Temperance “Bones” Brennan and is sent of too Tuscon.
Topher says it’s to be a quiet night anyway, as Helo is trying ninja his way into the Dollhouse, Wash whining all the way. It’s a two story drop, and Helo wishes they had rope, instead of the tire iron he apparently brought.
“This is the same expansious [sic] thinking that led to the Trail of Tears, maaaan.” Says Wash.
Back to Susan, reading Sleeping Beauty, as Helo breaks into the Dollhouse in a little “shit’s about to go down” montage.
Helo’s plan is just slightly better than “Get her!” because he gets Wash to dress up as a doll, and then tasers Topher (which I wouldn’t have had a problem with up until this episode).
Wash likes the place, Helo thinks it’s a bad place. Wash says it’s just place with bad people. We find out Wash is terrified by stairs without risers, because something could grab you from between the stairs. Makes sense to me.
Helo sees Troika and realizes even more of what he thinks is bullshit. Just keeps getting worse for this guy. Wash gets another computer and opens Winamp. The plan is run some program or do something that will open the doll’s sleeping chambers. Helo gets in there, apologizes to Chef Doll and then opens Dushku’s chamber. He says “Caroline,” and Harry J. Lennix levels a gun at Ballard’s head.
“Sorry Agent Ballard, you don’t get the girl. Give me your gun.”
“I don’t have a. . .” Ballard begins.
Lennix cuts him off, annoyed that Helo though he could put on over on him “You didn’t come in here if without one, put it on the floor, now.”
Dushku says “Who are you,” Paul introduces himself and Lennix tells Echo to go for a swim.
Helo complies, and then it’s time for this weeks fight! Helo knocks the gun out of Lennix hand, proving the tea-cup is the way to go with handguns, and Lennix comes back with a hard right cross that made my sub-woffer jump. Echo says “You hurt Paul.”
The have a rather interesting verbal duel about Lennix’s real role in Dushku’s life, and Lennix offers him a chance to go back the way he came. I’d describe this fight a little better; but it was really hard to follow since the scene was dimly lit, but they bust through one of the sleeping chambers and scare the crap out of Troika. Lennix tells Echo to run, and Ballard follows after her and says he’s going to get her out.
Echo has a flashback from a few episodes ago where she and Helo had a knock-down drag out fight and decides Helo is not actually looking for her best interests. She elbows him off a balcony and he goes through a table. They like breaking tables in this show.
Helo throws a chunk of the table at Lennix, kicks the gun out of his hand gets ready for round 2. Left right, blow to the throat, and kick into something else breakable for Lennix.
Doc Sexy Scars finds Victor dazed.
Helo knees Lennix in the face, Lennix gets Helo in a half Nelson, they get down to the floor, Helo knocks Lennix in the head with a rock.
Dushku bolts away, Lennix and Helo duke it out on the stairs, and then Dushku yank’s Helo’s ankle from between the steps and that’s it.
Doc Brings Troika into the lab, and Wash shows up and slashes his face, in a pattern similar to the Doc’s. The Doc says “Alpha,” and well, damn. Makes sense, I ‘spose.
Alpha menaces the doctor for a little while, as Lennix takes Helo to Olivia Williams office. . . for a stern talking to?
Meanwhile, Alpha is menacing the doctor some more and while I can’t actually say he’s in the right for approaching her the way he has, I can understand his feelings. The scene spells out that Alpha feels deeply victimized by the Dollhouse, and he’s past the point of caring who’s right and who’s wrong and blah blah blah, f**k it, you’re all going to goddamned die!
Williams and Helo shout over each other Robert Altman style, which is a nice touch even if those sorts of scenes where people measure their aggressiveness by shouting over each other are somewhat irritating.
Williams and Lennix take turns telling Helo he done f**ked up; which is funny. . because I’m pretty sure the Dollhouse only helps little girls through their dealings post tramatic stress once a year at most. Helo says if they didn’t want him to be such a pest, they shouldn’t have filled his life with lies. Which actually makes a ton of sense. In fact, if no dolls had any direct contact with Helo, he wouldn’t have gotten as far as he had. I mean, shit, it’s hard to write something off as urban legend if you keep running into walking proof every couple of days.
Williams asks Lennix if they should put him the chair. Because she’ll just torture anyone to death. Some one’s going to come looking for all these federal agents lady, trying thinking a few moves ahead, you know, like you usually do?
Alpha has the doc lure Dushku into the room, Alpha takes Echo up to the download room.
Meanwhile, Sierra/Bones has figured that the real Steven Kepler was killed in Los Angeles and dropped off by someone else, in this case Alpha who is TOTALLY RIGHT BEHIND YOU!
Actually no, but he does upload something into Dushku, and she’s all like “I remember you,” and then they make out and he says “I told you I’d come rescue you.”
They leave, and the credits roll.
-Hell of a cliff hanger, really.
-Seeing Alan Tyduk is a seething villain was actually kind of neat; and the fact that his stoner Washburn was just an act was even better.
-While this episode was depressing, it was awesome. Good narrative flow, good structure, didn’t care for the edits, but no one’s perfect.
-I’m not entirely sure I’m still rooting for Alpha, as it appears his only goal was to get Dushku, and not deal a crushing blow to the Los Angeles branch of Dollhouse Ultd., I have to wonder if he’s really all that cool.
-Alan Tyduk been busy, he also made a PG porn episode. “ROUNDER VOWELS!”