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Dollhouse – Briar Rose
The penultimate episode of this season (and possibly this series) since the 13th episode will not air on Fox (and the show may not get renewed). Finally we get some of our questions answered and see a couple different story arcs start to draw toward a close.
Echo’s assignment this week was one of Adelle’s charitable efforts. Echo is sent to an orphanage to assess and help, if she can, a girl who keeps bouncing in and out of foster homes and menacing others with knives and generally being uncooperative with the social workers trying to figure out how to help her. Her imprint is not a psychologist, however-at least, not any old psychologist. She is that same girl grown up into the best-possible-scenario adult. As someone who shares a background with Susan, Echo sets about trying to trigger a reaction that will give her an opening to talk to the troubled girl.
Echo reads the group of children at the home a fairy tale-specifically, the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty with the princess named Briar Rose. Susan reacts with violent anger to the story, pointing out plot holes and the ridiculousness of the prince getting all the credit for saving her when the curse was for 100 years and was going to end anyway…he just showed up on the last day of it and lucked into the role of hero. Echo uses the story as an opening to discuss with Susan some of her own experiences. Her suggestion at the end of their talk is for Susan to read the story again, but to think of herself as the prince. Her way of saying Susan can still save herself, if she is willing to fight through the thorny thicket of mistrust and anger around her heart.
In all a nice, staid assignment that required no face time for Echo’s new handler-with whom I’m fairly sure she didn’t properly imprint the trust bond. At least that was what her expression said to me a few episodes back when she repeats the “with my life” and looks like her fingers are crossed behind her back.
In the meantime, a body is discovered in Tuscon (where there is another Dollhouse office) that is cut up like Alpha’s signature style. Adelle puts a forensics expert imprint in Sierra and sends her off to investigate it.
On the Agent Ballard front, Mellie comes over to find him boxing up his apartment. He dodges the question when she asks whether he’d just have been gone if she had waited until the next day to come by, and he never really gives her an answer about why he’s leaving her. Just that it isn’t working. Mellie goes off to a bridge like she’s thinking of jumping, but her handler swoops in and picks her up, and that is probably the end of that imprint.
Ballard follows her, and then follows the black van she gets into, and finds an address for the Dollhouse. But the building on top is not the Dollhouse-he walks all around its inside to be sure-and so he goes to his friend at the FBI for information on the building’s construction. One name jumps out, a man named Kepler who specializes in closed-off self-sustaining environments. He goes to Kepler’s address and finds a paranoid, drugged out Alan Tudyk (Wash!) with a “carrot plantation” (pot forest) and the knowledge Ballard wants about how to get into the Dollhouse underneath the office building. Their interactions were some of the funniest scenes of the season.
They break in, Ballard Tasers Topher and knocks him out. Kepler starts disabling security and the individual pods, while Ballard goes to find Caroline. (Over this is Susan reading pieces of “Sleeping Beauty,” drawing a parallel between Echo and Briar Rose, and Ballard and the prince. Except is Ballard the real prince or one of the poor fools who got tangled in the briar thicket and eaten by the dragon?)
Just as Ballard has found Echo, Boyd comes in and starts fighting him off. Echo watches, terrified, and they fall into Victor’s cube which totally wigs him out. Eventually the fight comes down to who Echo will help as they fight on the stairs-Ballard, or Boyd. She reaches a hand from under the steps and trips Ballard, because she has memory flashes of fighting with him and of trusting Boyd.
I don’t know about y’all, but I was totally for Boyd in this fight. I am kind of tired of Ballard’s self-righteousness and whining. I appreciate your dedication and all, but get a grip, bro. And a life. Also I think I felt like Boyd was really there to protect Echo, whereas Ballard just wanted to vindicate himself; he didn’t really care about Caroline, nor did he care about Echo. He just wanted to win, and in the context that makes Boyd the champion.
While Boyd and Adelle are interrogating Ballard upstairs, we see Dr. Saunders bring Victor into her office, where Kepler is waiting. When he slices Victor’s face open in no seconds flat, we realize that Ballard made a mistake: Kepler is not Kepler; Kepler is Alpha. Oh hell no.
About the time Dr. Saunders calls for Echo (obviously at Alpha’s command), Adelle gets a call from Sierra about the body in Tucson. It’s a man named Kepler, she says, and the weird part is that he wasn’t killed in Tucson….
To be continued in next week’s finale-which looks totally fantastic. If this show’s going out after this, at least it’s with a bang.