Previously on... Yeah, last week definitely picked up the pace. Ballard, suspended for his investigation of the Dollhouse. Sierra’s handler, a scumbag rapist, killed. Ballard’s girlfriend/neighbor, secretly an active, does the killing. And Dominic – still kind of a dick.
We open Friday's (March 27) new "Dollhouse" with a flashback, to before Echo was Echo, when she was still just Caroline. She’s in a bad spot, and DeWitt offers her a way out: five years as a doll. Yes, we’ve seen this before, but we finally learn the name of DeWitt’s mysterious employer: the Rossum Corporation.
[More after the break...]
Jump forward to today, a lab building on a college campus, and into what looks like one of those scare-films they showed us in eighth-grade health class about the evils of marijuana. First student is tripping out. Two other students are immediately affected, while the first guy uses his head to fight a plate-glass window and loses. Whatever this drug is, it is some primo shit.
Which is why, at the Dollhouse, Clive Ambrose, the CEO of the Rossum Corp., wants DeWitt to clean up the mess. It seems the drug is a little project to mess with memory by lowering inhibitions and awaken sleeping portions of the brain. Topher is tasked with finding a cure, while DeWitt sends in every doll to find the supply of the drug, and to contain the problem.
Black vans from the Dollhouse roll onto campus, and every active from the Dollhouse jumps out to play National Security Agent, wearing their best fake badges and real guns.
Not every active is on campus, as it turns out.
Ballard, meanwhile, unaware that his new girlfriend Mellie is actually a brainwashed spy, cooks her breakfast. She demands that Ballard drop the case, which he’s still obsessing about. He refuses.
Echo is also already on a job, as a virginal young thing who’s never ridden a motorcycle before, let alone videotaped herself having sex while wearing thigh-highs and spike heels. Then she sees the news of the suicide on the campus, and something glitches in her – yes, again. She suddenly has to be on campus, she has to rescue someone. She’s so determined that she doesn’t pause to change into something more appropriate than a miniskirt and fishnets. Millions of lonely boys no doubt cheer this decision.
She arrives on campus, and immediately gets rounded up by Victor and his fake NSA crew because she’s acting drugged, or at least very, very stupid. From here on out, Echo is plagued with flashbacks of herself with some scraggly looking guy, who was apparently Caroline’s boyfriend. She says, over and over, “I have to save him.”
Boyd tells DeWitt that Echo has gone off-mission again, and she tells him to get Echo back ASAP. But before he can do that, he gets touched by one of the drugged students – and the lingering close-up leaves no doubt that the drug is passed by touch.
Echo is taken to a frat house, which is serving as chill-out tent for the stoned students. She meets one of the students from the initial outbreak of the drug, who has miraculously recovered faster than anyone else. She tells him she has to get into the Rossum Building, where the lab is located. He says he wants proof that Rossum’s drug killed his friend. And they’re off, walking out of the supposedly secure area, Echo still tottering in those ridiculous heels.
Topher tests the drug on Mellie, even though he says it’s not supposed to work on actives. But – fortunately for us – this leads to him and DeWitt both being drugged. They’re distracted from the crisis by munchies, which leads to Topher’s “drawer of inappropriate starches.” Back at the campus, Dominic is wasted, too, leaving Victor in charge. This can’t end well.
Echo and the student – his name is Sam – stop off at his dorm room so he can change. He, at least, wants a warmer sweater before they assault a secure bio-hazard lab.
Next we see Boyd, at the frat house, playing piano. This is meant to demonstrate that he’s really high, but it fails for two reasons. 1) Nobody plays piano that well when that high. Look it up. 2) Sierra is framed in the background of the shot and holy Christ does she have a pair of legs on her. Seriously, it’s completely distracting.
Sorry. Back to Echo’s attempt to get into the lab, which is looking more an overly friendly Labrador leading a blind guy in circles. One of Caroline’s old professors recognizes Echo, and calls her by her full name, “Caroline Farrell.”
Another flashback: Caroline has found a secret passage into the Rossum Building, where she and her scraggly boyfriend are sure the mean scientists are doing all kinds of horrible things to cute and fluffy animals. He has a moment of sanity where he realizes that breaking-and-entering is not a good thing to have on a résumé. Then she bats her eyes at him, and, come on, it’s Eliza Dushku. He agrees to go.
Echo unburies the secret passage from Caroline’s memory, and she and Sam enter the building. They run into Dominic, who apologizes profusely for trying to kill her. “I left you to burn to death. I mean, who does that?” Is it just me, or is Dominic much more fun when he’s completely toasted? Kids, take notes: drugs will make you more popular.
Then the dolls – who are all supposed to be immune to the Rossum wonder drug – start to glitch, as well. Oh, Topher. Do you ever get anything right? Well, yes, actually. Despite wearing no pants and being incredibly baked, Topher figures it out. The drug is breaking down, which means, good news, that it will flush itself out of everyone’s systems pretty soon. Bad news, it shouldn’t have killed that first student – unless he was given a massive overdose. Even DeWitt is not too wrecked to see what this means: this wasn’t an accident, it was murder.
It was Sam. He killed his friend in the lab to cover up the fact that he’s stealing the drug to sell to Rossum’s competition. But now he has to get rid of Echo. So he forces an insane hit of the drug on her.
The drug pushes Echo to remember everything: Caroline and her boyfriend snuck into the Rossum lab, only to find lab animals and dead babies in jars. Caroline seems a little more concerned about the cute doggies than the dead children, but this is all clearly very, very bad. They’re discovered by a security guard. They try to escape, and Caroline’s boyfriend – oh hey, his name is Leo, now we know that – is shot. He barely seems to mind, and then he’s dead. Not a realistic death scene. But it serves to make Echo tackle Sam, slowing him down enough for Boyd, now fully recovered, to save the day. (And once again, Echo is more victim than protagonist.)
Back at their apartment building, Mellie leaves Ballard. She can’t stay with him if he can’t let the investigation go. He lets her leave.
Everyone at the Dollhouse ends up with a wildly uncomfortable morning-after hangover. DeWitt shakes it off by recruiting a new doll – Sam. In a neat little move, they offer him a solution to all his legal and financial problems: sign away your free will for five years. Just like Caroline did.
Next week: Echo finally gets a chance to be a hero, as she, Victor and Sierra all wake up.
Thoughts on Episode Seven?