Saturday, April 4, 2009

1.8 Needs

Summary and spoilers

Ballard’s dreams are haunted – well maybe ‘haunted’ isn’t the right word when your dream is about Eliza Dushku begging you to make love to her. The haunted part comes later, when Mellie shows up and catches them in the act, then starts bleeding from the head. That’s haunted, as is what happens to Echo that turns Ballard into a necrophiliac.

In the waking world, Ballard has found a tracking device in his apartment. He brings it to an electronics expert, who grudingly identifies the device as being futuristic, untraceable, and possible unable to mask.

At the Dollhouse, DeWitt is leading a meeting for all staff about the sentience glitches that multiple actives have been experiencing. DeWitt senses the wave of a bigger problem, and warns all staff and handlers to be on the lookout for any unusual behavior, and to report it. Topher is going to try getting new equipment to do better wipes, and will mess with the drug cocktail used on the actives when they sleep.

Later that night, Echo freaks out in her pod. Other actives wake up around her with awareness of their surroundings but no understanding of why they are there. There are five actives with sentience; one of them, Mike, drops out after being given a treatment, leaving four (November, Echo, Victor, and Sierra). The four decide to attempt an escape. We learn soon after that they have been programmed this way, as a test of the security system. Only limited staff members are aware of this.

Observed by DeWitt and Dominic, Sierra, Victor, and November are allowed to escape. Echo returns to fight from the inside.

Sierra remembers being taken away by men with guns, and that a man named Nolan put her away. November has also remembered details of her past life, including that she had a daughter named Katie. She heads off on her own to rejoin he previous life, but her discovery is that Katie is dead (and, we assume, November was at least partially responsible for this).

Sierra and Victor go to meet this Nolan character. How decrepit is this: Nolan’s sexual advances were spurned by Sierra, so he had her put in the Dollhouse as punishment. He then hires her out as a willing sex slave. He admits as much, so Victor punishes him with a few punches and smacks before security arrives and the actives flee.

While hiding, Victor reveals that he is haunted by the memory of Sierra being hurt in the house while he was powerless to help her. About to be captured, Sierra and Victor promise to look after each other.

At gunpoint, Echo grills Topher. She is about to force him to have a treatment when DeWitt arrives. At gunpoint, Echo forces DeWitt to release all the actives. As the actives walk out en masse, Echo suddenly collapses, as do Sierra, Victor, and November. It is revealed that this was Dr. Saunders plan for provide closure for the troubled actives. Sierra needed to confront the man who put her in the house; Victor needed to get the girl he is in love with; November needed to deal with the death of her daughter; and Echo needed to lead everyone to safety. When this was achieved, the actives self-released a sedative.

And although Echo wasn’t able to lead anyone to safety, she was able to do one thing that was undetected: she sent a phone message to Ballard, telling him that she was attempting a rescue.


At times, the dialogue bristles in this episode, in particular when Echo and DeWitt go head to head. At other times, such as when Victor and Sierra promise to look after each other, it is beautiful and poetic. I thought this episode was an improvement, simply because of the fluent script written by Tracy Bellomo. Tracy is a staff writer for Dollhouse who has also written for Angel, Alias, and Smallville.


The electronics expert looks at Ballard’s tracking device for all of 8 seconds, then gives way more information about it than should have been possible, especially when he says that it hasn’t even been invented yet. If it hasn’t been invented yet, then he’s never seen it before – so how does he know so much about it?

Memorable Moments

  • Victor suppressing his shower arousal by reciting names and positions of New York Mets baseball players (eg: Mookie Wilson)

Quotable Quotes

Mellie: Oh, my god!
Ballard: Mellie!
Mellie: I guess I took too long getting back. You’re already with…her!
Ballard: I know this is confusing – f-for all of us.

"This house is out of balance."
- DeWitt

Topher: Echo?
Echo: Not anymore.

Echo: What the hell is wrong with you people?
Topher: We’re good people! Nice people! We – help people become better people by giving them what they need. I don’t usually do the sales pitch.

Topher: I have your memories. You can have them back.
Echo: You can do that?
Topher: Totally.
Echo: [points to chair] But I have to go in there.
Topher: Well, yeah, but -
Echo: Okay…you first.

Sierra: Who are they?
Victor: Maybe Nolan’s guys.
Sierra: What do they want?
Victor: Take us back, probably.
[shots are fired at them]
Victor: Or kill us.

Echo: You’re letting us all go.
DeWitt: You’re free to leave. Who are you to decide for the others?
Echo: Something you should have been asking yourself.

Sierra: What have they done to us? I don’t know which to hope for; it feels like dieing either way.
Victor: No. We’ll look for each other like we always do. And we’ll finish this; we will.

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