EPISODE REVIEWS: Dollhouse: “Spy in the House of Love” (Episode 9)

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Miss DeWitt is away, being called on the carpet by her mysterious bosses at Dollhouse World Headquarters, and leaving Mr. Dominic in charge of Dollhouse LA. Repairing his equipment from last week’s bullets, Topher discovers a chip in it that gives someone else control over the chair. He (eventually) tells Mr. Dominic, who orders a complete lockdown, and then has Sierra reprogrammed as a CIA goon and has her break in to the National Security Agency, since it’s apparently NSA tech used to hack the chair. While she’s off on mission, Echo tells Topher to reprogram her to help, which he does. She becomes an investigator and questions all the suspicious workers in the dollhouse, and we find out some expositional stuff about a lot of our supporting characters.

Meanwhile, Victor was sent off to nail an old lady immediately before the lockdown, but doesn’t. Instead he gets in a stylish roadster and goes to Mrs. DeWitt’s house, and nails her. The lady is hooked on her own stuff!

Topher’s asian assistant girl is identified as the mole by the NSA documents Sierra stole, but Echo realizes that it’s a plant - Dominic is the mole! He had the NSA plant documents that would incriminate the girl, and then ordered Sierra to go in and steal ‘em. Clever.

After some Kung Fu Fightin’, Dominic is taken down, and taken to DeWitt’s home where she orders him to be sent to the attic (Which, much like the attic in “The Hunger,” is a place you really don’t want to be, for pretty much the same exact reason). She then goes in to her bedroom and breaks down crying in front of Victor.

Back at the dollhouse, after having been interrogated by Echo, Dominic is wiped in a pretty traumatic and awful scene, somehow gets a gun, and shoots DeWitt in the gut. DeWitt just shakes it off until the process is done. There’s some exposition and some denouement, but basically that’s it, excepting that she’s decided to give up on her off-the-book trysts with Victor.

In the Helo plot this week, Mellie goes to see Paul, who’s in full on “The Question” mode (I really do think it was a nod to The Question from Justice League Unlimited - his full-wall board of connections and clues and things is paranoid, rambly, and right out of that cartoon!), but Mellie calms him down and takes him in the bathroom for a little lovin’. When he puts the moves on her, she goes in to reprogrammed messenger mode, and tells him that she’s a doll, that their agent inside has been captured, but they’ll find another way to contact with him, and that he shouldn’t tell Mellie anything, but he should continue looking, then the messenger personality is gone and Mellie is back, and they make out awkwardly.

THE END

OBSERVATIONS:

The story I outlined above was told in a fractured out-of-chronological-sequence style. There was no particular reason to do this, but it does make the episode more fun to watch. Good stylistic choice!

Sierra’s solo raid on the NSA was pretty awesome to watch, like a really good sequence from Alias before that show began to suck.

The Doctor’s plan from last week’s episode seems to have worked: None of the problematic Actives were glitchy at all this week, they were much more focused than usual.

I admit I didn’t see Dominic being the bad guy. A bad man, yes, but a villain? No. Totally surprised. I completely thought it was Topher’s assistant, up until the moment she incriminated herself, and then I realized it had to be someone else. Never figured it for Dom, though.

Lemme see if I’ve got this straight: The NSA had Dominic infiltrate the dollhouse not to shut it down, but simply to rein it in so it’s mind control technology wouldn’t destabilize the status quo? That seems plausible. And in the process they wanted to gain control of that tech for themselves. Also plausible. Ok. Passes reality check.

The actress who plays Echo continues to do nothing for me, even in her skimpy dominatrix gear. Conversely, Sierra is just smoking’ hot through this whole thing. This works on a performance level, too: while Echo was important in this episode, and her individual scenes - like asking Topher to fix her so she could help - were really pretty great, I just don’t like the actress and consistently think she’s the weakest thing on the show. I’m hoping that’ll get better. (maybe it has. I no longer flat-out hate her like I did in the early eps)

Boyd gets the best line in the ep; “We’re pimps and killers, but in a philanthropic way.”

The doctor hasn’t left the Dollhouse since the Alpha incident six or nine months earlier. She’s apparently scared to go out doors. Sensible, after what happened to her. Or is it?

This was essentially a DeWitt episode, all things considered. We learned more about her than we’ve seen before, and I have to admit she’s really grown on me. Yeah, she was pretty enough in a middle aged way, but she never did much for me - I’m not an anglophile - but her need for someone to confide in/relax with, and her obvious self-contempt for the fact that she’s using her own wares was kind of moving. Also, I used to fence, and I admit I have a thing for chicks with swords. The black fencing duds she was wearing were very flattering as well. She’s officially crushable now. As added bonus, the way she just shrugged off a bullet was great as well.

Speaking of which, the scene where she dresses down Dominic and he tries to defend himself verbally was in the fencing room in her house. Nice touch, since they’re verbally sparing at that point.

That said, it didn’t make too much sense to take the guy out to her, particularly since she was incognito, now did it? “Hi, boss, here’s a dangerous enemy you know nothing about. Can I put him in your house so you can talk to him for like three minutes, and then I‘ll take him back to work giving him ample opportunity to escape?”

The dolls are evidently sent out on a lot of sexually deviant missions - dominatrix, for instance, and the doctor tells us there’s a lot of homosexual missions as well. Ewww.

Topher continues to annoy me.

Was it just me, or was there an interesting hint that DeWitt herself might be an active programmed by her overlords to run the Dollhouse? It would make a lot of sense: she’s fanatically loyal to the cause - whatever that cause is - very capable, and reserved to almost superhuman levels - again, witness how she shook off a bullet - I think perhaps she is. It’s just the kind of thing a mind control company would do: use their abilities to get entirely trustworthy managers.

Dominic has been infiltrating the Dollhouse for 3 years, which implies that Echo has been there for some time less than that, but we don’t know how much. It’s repeatedly implied she’s been there quite a while, since Alpha was infatuated with her and didn’t kill her six months ago, and Topher implies she’s been there for several years. At this point she’s pretty clearly their longest-running active.

It appears we’ve got several forces at work here: Dollhouse International, of course, and the NSA who’re fully aware of the Dollhouse, but want to control it. Then there’s Alpha who appears to want to destroy it, or maybe convert it to something darker. We still don’t know what the “Business” of the Dollhouse is, but…I suspect there’s still someone untrustworthy within the place.

Dominic represented one force, which botched it. I don’t think he’s the one who was sending the messages to Paul. Why? Because Dominic was using Dollhouse tech to spy on Ballard, not dolls themselves, and he was interested in protecting the dollhouse from the guy, *not* in giving him clues that would lead him to it.

Ergo, someone inside the Dollhouse was the one feeding the information to Paul. The NSA chip may have actually been something Dominic planted, but he may never have used it, it frankly would be out of character for him to have done so. He’s not a subtle guy.

So who’s the OTHER mole?

Options (in descending order):
1) Topher’s Lab Assistant
2) The Doctor
3) Boyd Langdon

There’s something the doctor isn’t telling us, and we get a window in this when she tells Boyd “We both think the system is flawed, but maybe I see it as flawed in different ways.” Never leaving the house would give her a lot of time to skulk around and do spy stuff, too.

Meanwhile, Langdon is too moral and decent a man for this kind of work, and he’s obviously a good detective, so perhaps he’s infiltrated it for our theoretical fourth outside entity that wants it shut down?

Maybe.

We’ll probably know soon enough.

(PS - Was (not Was) has a song by the same title as this episode, which I totally dig!)

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