“Man on the Street”
Written by Joss Whedon
Directed by David Straiton
Ballard is keeping tabs on likely Dollhouse clients, and he manages to catch one of them in the middle of an engagement...with Echo! He’s an internet mogul who lost his wife the same day he got rich, and every year, he pretends he didn’t lose her. But Boyd snatches Echo away while Ballard is fighting the client’s guards. At the Dollhouse, when Victor touches Sierra’s shoulder, she screams. Dr. Saunders’ medical assessment reveals that she’s been raped, and they try to figure out if it could have been Victor. When Victor’s handler mentions that the whole place is covered in cameras, so how could two dolls be having sex without anyone noticing, Boyd has an idea. He makes sure Victor and his handler are taken away so the real culprit will drop his guard. It’s Sierra’s handler, Hearne. Also, Agent Ballard has been spending more and more time with his nice neighbor Mellie. She’s very interested in his welfare and his job, and after he fails to get the kind of evidence he needs to prove to the rest of the FBI that the Dollhouse is real, he kisses her. She’s been crushing on him super hard, so she kisses him back, but she doesn’t want him to be thinking about his damsel in distress and kissing her. She wants to just be neighbors, and to keep hearing about his work. Hearne tries to rape Sierra again, but Boyd punches him through the plate glass wall. Adelle isn’t happy Boyd did that without telling her his plan, but she gives him a bonus anyway. Then she sends Hearne to take out Mellie, and she sends Echo to take out Ballard. Except that someone tweaked Echo’s imprint, and she tells Ballard a lot of information about the Dollhouse. There are at least twenty of them worldwide, and they have a shadowy, sinister purpose besides their fantasy business. The person who sent Echo wants Paul to discover that purpose. Paul races back to protect Mellie, but Hearne attacks her in his apartment. It’s horrifying and brutal, and then Adelle’s voice comes on the speaker phone and Mellie turns into a warrior ninja. Adelle watches through the cameras as Mellie kills the crap out of Hearne, then deactivates her sleeper agent protocols. Paul finds Mellie sobbing in his apartment. Throughout this whole story, we get little interviews from people on what they think about the rumored Dollhouse. Paul gets suspended from the FBI. Adelle takes steps to make sure a handler abusing his active will never happen at any Dollhouse ever again. A beautiful song plays as Victor and Sierra look at a picture book together and Adelle finds Echo painting a picture of a couple in front of a house. She realizes Echo wants to finish the engagement from earlier, and she sends her to the sad widower.
Now this is a show worth watching. There were hints of it in at least two of the first five episodes, but this is where things really get going. Echo’s engagement doesn’t hog a lot of screentime and it’s extremely emotionally compelling. We get a resolution to the hints that something was wrong with Sierra, and she and Victor get to continue being adorable now that Hearne is dead. We get hints of even deeper intrigue from what Echo tells Paul about the Dollhouse’s mysterious purpose. I don’t even remember how that one plays out, and I can’t wait to rediscover it. The little interviews with the “man on the street” add some nice flavor, too. Overall, a fantastic episode. But I’m still not over Mellie being a doll and my beautiful Paul/Mellie ship being ruined because of it.
Things I Liked
Things I Didn’t
Adelle is an incredibly ruthless strategist. She can lie very convincingly to Hearne’s face that she’s going to use him and he’ll get away with what he did, then sic a very terrified but apparently super deadly assassin on him. Holy crap. *impressed applause*
I really like that Ballard isn’t so single-minded as to be blind to Mellie. Even if she’s a fake person, he’s not, and he can recognize someone so wonderful. But gah, so frustrating that she’s fake.
I love Victor. He’s such a sweetie! He feels bad for doing something wrong, but he’s so confused because he doesn’t have any idea what it is. Hugs for Victor? Or we could just let him keep reading picture books with Sierra. Also, now I’m really interested to know what it looks like when they pretend they’re married. Do they play house like little kids? Is it so precious you could get a cavity from it? I WANT TO SEE IT.
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.