dollhouse 1×06: man on the street

I’m sorry, but I absolutely must resort to profanity to express how I felt about this episode.  Here goes.

HOLY FUCKING SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That… that was amazing.  Savvy fans knew this episode was going to be a game-changer, and as my roommate and I were waiting for it to start I found myself channeling Oliver Wood: “This is it.  The big one.  The one we’ve all been waiting for.”  Man, how do you even begin recapping something like this?

We began with excerpts from a TV news documentary on the L.A. “urban legend” of the Dollhouse, and these “man on the street” segments became an effective framing device for the episode, exploring different people’s reactions to what the existence of the Dollhouse would imply – the same spectrum of reactions people across fandom have been expressing as they watched the first several episodes of the show.  (I was a little amused by the fact that the Dollhouse’s existence seems to be pretty much an open secret in L.A. – it reminded me of how everyone in Cardiff actually knows about Torchwood.)  I kept waiting for one of the people interviewed to be someone we recognized, either a past Joss actor tossed in to amuse the fans or an actual character from this show, like if they inadvertently stopped Adele on the street, but it didn’t happen.

Ballard is still on Caroline’s trailer (and ass-hat behavior from Mark Sheppard is not going to stop him – hi, Badger!).  Tracing the movement of money through various hedge funds, he concludes that a rich internet mogul is hiring a Doll for something, and goes to investigate.  The moment when he comes face-to-face with Echo!  OH MY HEART!!!  Seeing the object of his search for the first time distracts him long enough for a security guy to taser him, but he goes from being tasered to beating the crap out of about a dozen security guards in no seconds flat.  HECK YEA!!  Meanwhile Boyd pops up out of nowhere and drags Echo out of the house while Paul is preoccupied with beating everyone up.  The body language here was pretty hilarious.  Eventually, Paul and Boyd are going to meet, and each will see the other as a threat to Echo’s safety, and they’re going to have the most epic and bad-ass fight scene EVER.

(Incidentally, all day my roommate and I have been pointing at random articles of furniture and shrieking “PORN!” in an Echo-as-Rebecca voice.)

Paul and the rich client, Joel, have a heavy conversation about the Dollhouse, fantasy, and reality, but Paul can’t arrest the guy because he doesn’t have a warrant.  Oops.  He leaves before he gets arrested, and neighbor girl Mellie helps clean him up from his fight… and they get it on!  That was kind of unexpected, but adorable.  I like Mellie, despite her self-effacing, trying-too-hard manner.

Meanwhile back at the Dollhouse, it comes to light that someone has been having sex with Sierra.  At first fellow Active Victor is the main suspect (“he likes to pretend we’re married!”), but Boyd does some poking around and realizes that the real culprit is Sierra’s handler, whom Boyd punches out and sends through a plate glass window.  Way to turn the bad-assery up to eleven!!!

To neutralize the threat from Paul, Adele sends Echo as an assassin to take him out and sends the creepy handler to rape and kill Mellie, who knows too much.  But after another beautifully choreographed fight, this time between Paul and Echo, Echo stops and delivers a message to Paul: someone on the inside slipped an extra parameter into her imprint to get it to him.  All of this is bigger than him, is the message, but this mysterious person on the inside is going to help him.

Realizing Mellie might be in danger, he races home to save her – but Adele calls the apartment and says a phrase that triggers a super-soldier personality in Mellie, who takes out the creepy dude before reverting to her original personality in time for Paul to come in and find her huddled in the corner, crying.  OMG MELLIE IS A DOLL TOO!!!

In the final scene, after Paul has handed in his badge and gun, we see Echo returning to complete her original engagement with Joel: every year, he lives a fantasy of having one last romantic evening with his dead wife.  It’s a touching moment… and makes us all feel very ambiguous about what the Dollhouse does.  Who do y’all think the “man on the inside” is?  My money’s on Dr. Saunders.  Alpha let her live for a reason.

To anyone familiar with Firefly, a lot of the themes coming to light here should seem familiar.  In that show, the Alliance was all about “making people better,” whether the colonists who became the Reavers or River, who was more or less the prototype for the Dolls.  Oh, Joss.  Thank you for continuing to make television that is both smart and entertaining.  I can’t wait for the next episode.


  • Mellie: “So the one fund got transferred to the other fund, and that’s the same as the other other fund, and that’s all important?”
    Paul: “That’s it.  Exactly.”
    Mellie: “You have a very glamorous job.”
  • Paul: “Tell me about the Dollhouse.”
    Joel: “It’s pink, and it opens up, and there’s teeny furniture, and you put the boy girl on top of the girl doll and we learn about urges!”

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