Monday, April 27, 2009

1.10 Haunted

Summary and spoilers

Echo and Dewitt’s story: The Dollhouse is on idle in its post-Dominic regrouping phase, but one client, Margaret (a good friend of DeWitt) has been transplanted into Echo. It seems that Margaret, suspecting her life was in danger, had brain scans captured by the Dollhouse for a year and a half prior to her death; now, she has been implanted within Echo to attend her own funeral and try to find out who murdered her.

Taking the identity of Margaret’s backpacking friend Julia, she infiltrates the household. None of her surviving family (son, daughter, husband, and brother) seems particularly brokenhearted that Margaret is gone, and yet none are ideal suspects. The husband, Jack, was younger and was considered a philandering gold-digger by some of the others, but he seems truly heartbroken. When Julia test-seduces him, Jack is uninterested ᾦquot; and angry that the others are spying on him. He directs suspicion toward Margaret’s brother, William. William claims to have reconciled with Margaret the day before her death and points Julia toward Nicolas and his gambling problems.

At the stables one night, Nicolas confronts Julia, recognizing that she is indeed his mother (he’s a Dollhouse client as well). Nicolas apologizes for not telling her about his gambling debts the first time around. At that moment, in a nearby part of the stable, Victor (who was sent in by Boyd to spy under the cover of a prospective horse buyer) confronts Jack with proof that the racehorse Jack was trying to sell is drugged up and worth much less than he appears. After Victor leaves, Jack goes nuts and starts wielding a shovel around. Nicolas stabs Jack with a farm implement, and he and Julia flee to the house. Nicolas convinces Julia/Margaret/Echo to write a pre-dated letter implicating supposed killer Jack, then loads up a lethal syringe and tries to kill her (again). Jack arrives just in time; he and Julia are able to knock Nicolas out.

Julia writes that letter, but this time it implicates Nicolas. She also gets a chance to re-write her will, and to write heartfelt letters to her daughter, husband, and brother, letting them know how much she loved them.

Topher’s story: Under the pretense of needing to run tests, Topher gains Langton’s permission to implant an active. Langton gives him Sierra. But Topher is really looking for a buddy for a long night of video games and laser tag. What starts out to be another example of Topher being a jerk has a touching wind-up, when we find that this is Topher’s birthday, and he only does this once a year. Dewitt, having also (until recently) used Victor as her own personal play toy, is sympathetic toward Topher, and advises Langton to take no action against him.

Ballard and Mellie’s story: Ballard makes a romantic dinner for Mellie, then, under cover of doing the washing up, bags her wine glass and, later, sneaks into Loomis’ office. Reluctantly, Loomis agrees to run the prints on the computer. Ballard and Loomis briefly view results: Mellie was a woman named Polly Keller (and a handful of other names). Then, suddenly, the results disappear, and the search reports no matches.

Ballard is torn between his feelings for Mellie, her feelings for him, and his knowledge that she is wired as a spy but with no knowledge of her subterfuge. Ballard takes the lead and their lovemaking becomes more intense, perhaps partially in an elaborate ruse to hide his awareness of the situation.


Early on in the first season of Dollhouse, I mentioned that the basic concept of the show was extremely open-ended, with almost limitless possibilities for storytelling. This clever idea (implanting a dead woman to investigate her own death and reconcile with her family) is a good example of this.

Quotable Quotes

“Margaret, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you…you’re dead.”
- DeWitt to Echo

Nicolas: Well…I mean, it seemed like you wanted to -
Echo/Margaret: No.
Nicolas: Subconsciously?
Echo/Margaret: No!
Nicolas: You said you wanted to comfort me.
Echo/Margaret: Not with my tongue.

“Illusions aren’t worthless. They’re at the heart of most relationships.”
- DeWitt to Echo/Margaret

Langton: You know that you’re asking her to voluntarily die when the time comes.
DeWitt: Well, if she resists, I have a new head of security who handles that kind of thing.

Ballard: What just happened?
Loomis: I just started to believe you.

“Well, I guess Topher can make friends.”
- Langton to Dewitt

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