Saturday, March 28, 2009

1.7 Echoes

Summary and spoilers

In the present:

Two college students enter the lab at Fremont College and find their friend Owen Johnson almost naked on the floor, talking to flies. When they approach, he bangs his head on the window glass until he bleeds and it shatters. The two students first try to stop him, but then cannot stop laughing.

Clive Ambrose, chairman of the Rossum Corporation, visits DeWitt. He needs to recover a missing vial of a promising memory drug. This is the drug that Owen Johnson was on before he killed himself. Topher interrupts the meeting to salivate at meeting Ambrose, whom he adores for being one the richest and most powerful men in the world. Ambrose wants Topher to create an antidote for the drug while an army of immune actives track down the missing vial.

While Paul makes breakfast, Mellie does her best to convince him that he should drop the case. It’s unclear if this is how Mellie feels, or if this is another manifestation of her hidden active.

Victor takes over operations at Fremont as the highest ranking NSA officer, which elicits a chuckle from the outranked Dominic, who quickly curses Topher for setting him up.

Echo is just tieing up her date Matt and getting a video camera working when she accidentally sees vision from the news story about Owen Johnson, whose tragic death happened in the Rossum Building on Fremont College. When Echo sees the building on-screen, she flashes back to an unpleasant memory that took place there. Immediately, she tells Matt that she has to go to help some mysterious ‘him’. She goes, leaving Matt still tied up.

Topher injects Mellie with the memory drug. He says she is immune; he is attempting to create an antidote. DeWitt prods Topher to find an antidote quickly.

Echo arrives on campus at Fremont College, wandering around in a daze, and is picked up and escorted by Victor and his agents. Boyd has tracked Echo there; he alerts DeWitt, who tells Boyd to get her out of there.

Echo has been escorted to a secure area and is assumed to be effected by the memory drug. Sierra (as an active doctor) wants to give her another drug to negate the effects, but Echo refuses. Sam, one of the laughing students who in the lab earlier with Owen, is recovering there. Echo tells him she needs to save someone; Sam agrees to help her get into the lab. Boyd tries to intercept Echo, but he has been affected by the drug and is losing his grasp on reality.

Having found and sedated 14 infected students, Victor has the situation under control until the heavily armed Dominic is affected. A brief standoff ends when Dominic drops his too heavy gun and meekly allows himself to be escorted to the sedation area.

Back at the Dollhouse, Topher is unaware that he has been infected. A touch of DeWitt and she becomes infected as well, and together they babble incoherently about lentils, brown sauce, and being British.

Mellie suddenly begins flashing back to her relationship with Ballard, her attacker. She recites part of the trigger phrase that will turn her into a killer, which terrifies Topher and DeWitt.

Echo has remembered a way into the lab through a storm drain. She and Sam are proceeding toward the lab but are intercepted by Dominic, still under the influence and professing his apologies to Echo for trying to kill her in the episode True Believer. They get past him, but others are not so lucky: Sierra glitches and remember her rape, and shoots Victor.

Sam and Echo enter the lab. Sam immediately finds the drug and uses it on Echo before she realizes that he is the one she is supposed to stop. Sam plans to sell the drug for billions of dollars to a Swiss company. Prompted by the memories of her first break-in to the lab, when Liam was shot and killed, Echo wills herself to reject the drug. Memories of past and present blur, but Boyd arrives in time to take out Sam. Echo is finally ready for her treatment.

Mellie moves out of her apartment for awhile; Ballard decides it is better/safer if he does not know where she is going.

Sam complains to DeWitt that she has no right to hold him. DeWitt offers Sam the opportunity for a new life that will ensure that his mother is well looked after. All he has to do is agree to work for the Dollhouse for five years.

In the flashbacks:

Through flashbacks, we finally get to know more about Echo before she became an active. She was a concerned animal rights / anti-war activist, a bright girl with a social conscience. Appalled by animal testing being conducted by the Rossum Corporation, she led a raid on their labs in the hopes of videotaping the animals and causing shame to Rossum. Caroline bribes a government clerk and gets plans that allow her and her boyfriend Liam to enter the lab. They find caged monkeys and rabbits that have been operated on, and other evidence of mind experiments. Caroline and Liam are discovered by a guard; Liam is shot and killed in the ensuing chase. Later, DeWitt visits the injured Caroline in the hospital, but Caroline escapes before DeWitt can talk to her. Eventually, Caroline is caught; DeWitt tries to convince her to dedicate 5 years of her life to her new role for the Rossum Corporation (Dollhouse); in exchange for this service, DeWitt says she will be free to have the rest of her life to herself.


Any episodes written by Joss Whedon are going to be clearly better than the ones that are not. This not. It feels overplotted, like the writers used a checklist to sure that their script had all of the elements that needed to be in Dollhouse.

The basic concept of this episode (a substance that makes the entire cast simulate intoxication) reminded me of the Star Trek (the original series) episode <em><strong>The Naked Time</strong></em> and the Star Trek Next Generation episode <em><strong>The Naked Now</strong></em>. Homage?

It’s about time that we began to get some of Echo’s pre-Dollhouse backstory. I’m a little surprised that this information was withheld for 6 episodes, when it could help viewers to gain more empathy for her character.

The monkeys and rabbits in the Rossum lab were probably used for prototype experiments in the type of mind control and imprinting that is being used on the dolls in the present.

Memorable Moments

  • I love Olivia Williams / DeWitt, so it was wonderful to watch her get out of character and loosen up for awhile. We might never see that happen again. Conversely, it was difficult to tell that Topher was drugged at all!

Quotable Quotes

"As long as we keep the place locked down and don’t have any more X-factors, then…here I come to save the day. [pause] Can you get me a juice box?"
- Topher to DeWitt

"Sure, now you’re experts. Four hours ago you were discussing your love for apple sauce."
- Dominic dissing the actives

DeWitt: We need to know what it is.
Topher: Yes, well…we will – when I figure it out.
DeWitt: And, reverse the effect – are you making any progress?
Topher: I’m working! What are you doing, besides…being –
DeWitt: Being what?
Topher: Wait a minute -
DeWitt: Sarcastic? Unfeeling? British?
Topher: It’s an animal.
DeWitt: Where?

Dominic: I am so sorry I tried to kill you.
Echo: It’s okay.
Dominic: No, it isn’t. I tried to burn you to death. Who does that?

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