Tuesday, March 2, 2010

2.10 The Attic

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 fa├žade: 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.

Comments

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.

Dollhouse Quotes

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.
Victor: Oh?
Sierra: - and then you’d turn into the rotting corpse of a rapist I’d killed.
Victor: Oh!

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.

Monday, March 1, 2010

2.09 Stop-Loss

Summary and spoilers

DeWitt is shocked to find that her rendezvous with Roger (Victor) is cut short when Roger sincerely believes that he is in love with another woman. DeWitt, who was just using Victor for one last fling before he is released from his contract, thinks she is the victim of a practical joke, and she confronts Topher. Little does she know that the dolls are starting to retain bits of their life, no matter what character they are currently playing.

Topher examines Ballard and finds, sadly, that Ballard’s head is completely empty and incapable of repair. Langton shoots off to bring the news to Echo.

Echo is upset at not being able to see Ballard. She’s also not thrilled that Victor is leaving – she was planning on using him to get everyone out. Langton promises to speak to DeWitt about the Ballard situation. DeWitt has no intention of letting Echo see Ballard – she blames Echo for Ballard’s condition through a roundabout of convoluted logic.

Victor sits in the chair one final time. When he wakes up, he remembers nothing of the past five years. He is given money, job opportunities, and a hotel room, and he’ll be back to the dollhouse bi-weekly for checkups. He walks right by Sierra and does not remember her. He’s a free man – but if so, why is he under observation as soon as he hits the streets?

Alone in his room: able to remember again his tour in Afghanistan, Victor feels that something is not quite right. He grabs a pillow and sleeps in the bathtub, for it reminds him of his dollhouse pod. Echo explains to Sierra why Victor is not coming back. Sierra says that Victor is not ready to be by himself.

When Echo finds that Ballard is no longer in the house, she confronts DeWitt. They are engaged in a power struggle for house control. DeWitt talks big, but she knows deep down that she is outclassed.

Victor is abducted by five ninja from Prank Patrol. Actually, they are not from Prank Patrol – they are ex-military who want Victor to join them – and Victor is willing to do so. They inject him with a mind link device. Now he is part of a hive mind, controlled by no other than the evil Rossum Corporation.

Topher has been monitoring his vital signs and lets Langton know that something bad has happened. Langton heads out, taking Echo to check the hotel room. Quickly they trace Rossum to the abduction. A program called Mindwhisper uses recent Dollhouse graduates to build an army.

Topher says if Victor is not rescued before he is fully absorbed, he will be lost forever. Langton and Echo spring into action, but Miss Lonelyhearts DeWitt just has a few more drinks and slurs a few more words. Echo loads up with an egg carton of useful personalities, from bomb dismantler to acrobat, and then grabs Sierra – as Pria – because she loved Victor as Pria before she became a doll. Echo and Pria head out together (Langton always get left back at base camp).

Echo and Pria purposely get captured to get inside, then Echo knocks off guards until Victor meets Pria. Initially, the hive mind dominates and he is going to kill her, but by sheer force of will, and with Pria’s presence, he is able to gain control.

DeWitt emerges from her drunken stupor to phone call from Harding, informing her that two of her operatives have infiltrated a Rossum training facility. After a quick slap in the face confrontation with Langton, she joins the actives on the dollhouse floor for a much needed cold shower.

Echo has figured out the best way to fully infiltrate the Rossum army: she implants herself with a mind link, and disables the army. Echo is about to release Victor and Pria when the mobile doll disabling device strikes, and all three are recaptured by DeWitt. Langton is detailed, and Echo is sent to the Attic, soon to be joined by Victor and Sierra.

Dollhouse Quotes

"I don’t believe for a second you’d ever stoop to the level of those pathetic souls who have to hire your programmable love dolls to get what they need."
- Roger/Victor to DeWitt

"Now you can be on my side, or you can be on Rossum’s, but the time for playing both is over."
- Echo to DeWitt

Langton: DeWitt’s out cold. We got at least half the day.
Topher: Ooh! After we’re done here, can I go to her office with a Sharpie?

"You really think we’ll be able to pull this off without Cruela DeWitt finding out?"
- Topher to Langton

Pria: Anthony! I’m so glad it’s you!
Victor: [holds Pria by her throat] Anthony’s gone.

"We may not have agreed in the past, but at least we put this house and the actives first. What happened to that woman?"
- Langton to DeWitt