Summary and spoilers
DeWitt, once a woman who protected the dolls first and asked questions later, has now become a sleazy, self-absorbed, sadistic drunk who was quick to send Echo, Victor, and Sierra to the dreaded Attic. There, they are clothed in white cocoon frocks. They each get their own table where they are covered and sealed in industrial strength Glad wrap. So far, it’s not nearly as bad as I imagined. It is a cleaner place than the name ‘attic’ would imply; I expected dark areas, cobwebs, and rusty nails sticking out of old wood paneling. Although there are no nails poking out to get stuck on, there are needles stuck into your head. These seem to annoy Echo quite a bit, so she fakes her own death, then disables her captors and frees Victor and Sierra. There is a brief tussle with guards, and some gunplay, and then Victor and Sierra are gunned down while Echo watches through bulletproof glass, helpless and devastated. And then she finds herself back on her sterile isolation table, a victim of the nightmares that the Attic will visit on her during her stay. She’s not escaping from here that easily.
Topher says that Ballard’s EKG is so weak it’s more like static. Topher may be able to piece together his brain, but DeWitt isn’t sure she wants the petulant Ballard back. She intimates that it might be better to create a more docile version to replace Victor.
Langton wants to know what happens in the Attic. Topher knows little – there is experimentation, forced nightmares, death. No one comes back from there – that’s what Topher says. No one.
Echo keeps reliving that nightmare, and learning from it. She doesn’t panic when Victor and Sierra are gunned down. She finds herself in the Dollhouse, with snow falling and Langton laughing like a mad scientist. Dominic is there, too, saving Echo from the dark, attacking ‘Arcane’.
DeWitt pulls Ivy aside and broaches the subject of a bloodless coup that would oust Topher. Why? She has discovered Topher’s role in the death of Nolan Kennard.
Echo is not the only one living an attic-induced nightmare. Sierra is being raped by the corpse of Nolan Kennard. Victor is back in Afghanistan, fighting against himself and losing. Echo’s nightmare, however is most bizarre and most real. She has determined, through meetings with a Japanese sushi-eater, that all the Attics worldwide are connected.
As imaginatively frightening as the Attic may be, DeWitt is doing a comparable job of creating an Attic-like hell right here at home. She is threatening every employee, or pitting one against the other. Is she purposely trying to destroy Rossum’s Dollhouse investment? Or does she see an end game that will benefit her? Or both, perhaps? She has Langton drinking too now, and even Topher is sipping, as they commiserate over her path into hell.
This dark, superhero Arcane is really a wavering little guy with a British accent called Clyde, killing people in the Attic because their brains are being used as Rossum’s mainframe. If he fails, the world will descend into chaos (well, more chaos), and he knows this because it was his idea. Clyde was one of the original founders of Rossum, backstabbed by his partner and condemned to the Attic. Clyde believes the way to stop Rossum is to stop that backstabber. His mind has been wiped, but he knows of a woman mistakenly put into the Attic who knows their identities. That woman is Echo’s Caroline.
Ballard wakes up. After a brief unscrambling session, he is able to piece together words and understand what is being said to him. He is very unhappy to find out he is a doll, even though it saved his life and he has been imprinted with his own personality, not someone else’s. He is even less happy to find out who is in the Attic. He grabs Langton’s gun and enters in a gun and finger pointing standoff with DeWitt.
Echo is shot and flat lines as a way of getting out of the Attic. Victor kills Sierra, and Echo revives her in the Attic. Victor finishes the job on himself. Echo emerges and meets with the master planner behind this façade: DeWitt, whose real end game is to take down Rossum with the help of everyone.
DeWitt has assembled what she thinks is the full team, but Echo reminds her that there is one soldier missing: the personality of Caroline, the woman who holds the final secrets that could dismantle Rossum.
I’m not sure why DeWitt told Ivy that she could take Topher’s place, or why she insisted on playing everybody against each other. Was there some purpose in this, or did she just want to create a more dramatic moment when she revealed her real purpose? Perhaps this was the safest way to do what she did – make it look like she was out for herself. I know Kirk did something similar as a way of infiltrating a Romulan ship. This made it look like it was all Kirk’s idea, and others were freed of any blame.
Dominic: I chase Arcane, and I try to stop him from killing. The reality changes, but the enemy stays the same. I’ll never rest, and I’ll never catch him.
Echo: That’s pretty cool and all, and I don’t want to ruin your whole Highlander vibe, but I’m pretty positive that this is my mind. I think you just saved my life – for real.
Sierra: In mine, I was constantly making love to you.
Sierra: - and then you’d turn into the rotting corpse of a rapist I’d killed.
Ballard: I’m not afraid to lose my life to take you down.
DeWitt: I’m not afraid to die.
Ballard: Then only one of us is gonna be disappointed.
Echo: Nobody’s ever gotten out of the Attic.
DeWitt: Nobody else is you.