Tuesday, October 6, 2009

2.02 Instinct

Summary and spoilers

In addition to programming Echo’s brain, Topher has also reprogrammed her body to produce a glandular reaction - in this case, allowing her to assume the role of a breast-feeding new mom. The possibilities, he says, are endless – and he can duplicate this basic concept for any active. Echo’s nightly feeds are going well, but not so much her marriage to a workaholic. Nate holds baby Jack like it has an infectious disease. He works late or stays locked in his home office to avoid baby – and wife – contact. Fortunately, Echo’s girlfriend Kelly (Sierra) is there to reassure her that things will work out. Echo resolves to be patient and give Nate his space, but this vow lasts for mere minutes. Soon, she is breaking into Nate’s office. She finds what appears to be proof of infidelity: photos of Nate and another woman. When she confronts Nate, he claims that the woman was a past lover who died. There are apologies all around, and Nate soothingly asks Echo to go to bed and rest. Later, Echo wakes up and hears Nate having an angry argument on the phone that ends with a promise to ‘get rid of the baby’.

The real story is that Nate has hired Echo to be the mother of his baby, to take the place of the wife who died in childbirth. Echo truly believes that she carried the child, birthed it, and nursed it. When she incorrectly suspects that Nate is up to no good, she flees with the child before Ballard can stop her. Echo eventually tells her story to the police. While at the station, she is confronted by Nate and Ballard. Echo is separated from the baby and dragged away screaming for her child.

DeWitt visits Mellie aka November aka Madeline, to check up on her and insist that she come in for her scheduled diagnostic. Madeline agrees. While receiving her diagnostic in Topher’s office, Echo is brought in kicking and screaming. The sight of Echo living through the pain of a ‘make-believe’ situation makes Madeline realize how tormented the life of an active can be.

Echo’s treatment does nothing to wipe her mind or relieve her pain; instead, she knocks out Topher and, with nothing functioning in her mind except the mothering instinct, heads for Nate and Jack. Echo is ready to take the baby at knifepoint, but Nate is able somehow to explain to her that she was hired to believe the baby was hers – but that it is not true. Enough of that message gets through, and Echo’s sentience about her role as an active allows her to give the baby back to Nate without being forced to do so.

Ballard offers to take down the Dollhouse without her help, and to have Topher fully wipe her mind and take away the pain, confusion and conflict of being aware of her role-playing, but Echo refuses, preferring to ‘stay awake’.


I’m not sure if it’s such a good idea for the Dollhouse to pursue Echo and the baby in that big hard-to-hide black van.

Is I just me, or is Topher looking more and more like Bruno this season?

Someone has leaked detailed and damning information about the Dollhouse to Senator Perrin, the politician who is intent on exposing the wrongs of the Rossum Corporation. We don’t find out who this person is, but Perrin knows (their name is in the report).

Memorable Moments

  • Echo unexpectedly snapping out of Stepford wife mode after a treatment and knocking out Topher.

Dollhouse Quotes

"I don’t want to use the word ‘genius’, but I’d be okay if you wanted to."
- Topher (about himself)

DeWitt: For your own well-being, come and have your diagnostic. I won’t take no for an answer.
Madeline: No. [pause] I don’t imagine you will.

Madeline: Is it always like that?
Ballard: Like what?
Madeline: She really believed someone took her child, heart and soul.
Ballard: Like I said, it wasn’t real.
Madeline: But it was for her – all that emotion, all that pain.

Topher: Hello Echo. How are you feeling?
Echo: Did I fall asleep?
Topher: For a little while.
Echo: [punches Topher, knocking him out] Should I go now?

Ballard: Think we’re looking at a genius.
Topher: I’m not as comfy with you saying that as I thought I’d be.
Ballard: Think about it: you changed her on a glandular level. Maybe her body was stronger than her brain.

"I’m awake now; I don’t wanna go back to sleep."
- Echo (closing line)

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