'Dollhouse' and the devil you know

Envergjokaj_dollhouse_240 It was the great philosopher Descartes that once said, "Tell me whatcha want, whatcha really really want." Least, I think it was him. Maybe I'm screwing that up. In any case, tonight's episode of "Dollhouse" centered around desire; namely, those yearnings that were causing recurring glitches in several of the dolls. Rather than repress those desires, one employee decided it was high time to unleash them.

That employee? Dr. Claire Saunders, of all people. Maybe you saw it coming, but I didn't. What first seemed like Adele's way of testing Dollhouse security in the wake of the campus-induced Glitch-a-Polooza was in fact Saunders' clever way of solving the consistent ways in which several models were acting in ways unbecoming a blank slate. By exploiting their weak time (during sleep), Saunders concocted a plan to enable Echo, Victor, Sierra, and November to come to grips with a deep-seeded yearning that no machine could fully wipe away.

Echo's desire: FREEDOM! Yup, our smaller, more female version of William Wallace forsook the way-too-easy exit and instead decided to save every last doll. The savior complex that once sought to liberate monkeys went back for a more docile, less feces-throwing pack of animals this time around. She even got a great vengeance and furious anger out upon Topher and Adele in the processing room to boot.

November's desire: MATERNITY! Looks like the Artist Sometimes Known as Mellie is a mother. Well, was a mother. After finding a baby carriage amongst her personal stash of clothes (inside the mother of all walk-in closets), November looked high and wide to find her daughter Katie. And find her she did.

Sierra's desire: EMPOWERMENT! With a scant memory of the man who put her into the Dollhouse, she heads for his apartment. Turns out Mr. Douchebag 2009 decided he wanted her as a play thing, and rather than read "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus," he pulled some strings to insert Sierra into the Dollhouse roster. You know, to take out occasionally for a ride. Like I said, he's the Duke of Douchington.

Victor's desire: SMOOCHIES! He's in lurve. Even as a doll, there's a part of his brain observing. He's unable to resist the programming, but he can still direct a minute bit of attention towards Sierra. Without the programming, he's reduced to reciting members of the 1986 New York Mets, which made this Red Sox loving recapping wicked happy. Sigh.

Saunders' masterstroke involved an implanted sedative activated when the doll achieved closure. Not everyone received a happy closure (especially November who found Katie six feet underground), but it was apparently enough to rewire those pesky synapses always messing with the Dollhouse's expensive mind-warping technologies. And yet, if you watched closely near the end, Sierra's hand print still remained on the wall of the room in which her handler once raped her. Looks like some things can never be removed, no matter how hard you try.

In the life and times of Paul Ballard, he had the strangest dream. No, he didn't sail away to China, in a little row boat to find ya. Instead, he dreamed a little dream of Echo coming in for little "you scratch my back, I'll knock boots with you on your couch" action. All while Mellie watched. Has the writing staff being reading fanfic? In any case, Ballard woke up and searched the house, based on his dream, and found a futuristic bug planted in his vent.

After obtaining the proper equipment to potentially triangulate the Dollhouse by using said bug, he gets a voicemail. Turns out Caroline called Ballard after finding information about him during her little liberation tour. Ballard had this look that said, "I wonder if she's wearing that black number from my dream."

A few more tidbits from tonight:

  1. Nice confirmation to what many thought: that inside the sleep pods is a wonderful mix of sedatives, anti-psychotic meds, and Febreze. You know, for the smell of spring.
  2. Absolutely LOVED the "real" Victor. Is it wrong I was rooting more for him than Caroline? I'm sensing that's kind of a huge problem as far as the show is concerned. Let's have a show based around him, with his catchphrase being, "Anyone else got anything better than aliens?" I would so watch that show.
  3. Loved the subtle but pointed interaction between Boyd and Claire at the end. His not-so-disguised disgust at her being the mastermind of the plan was palpable, as was his sadness of losing his only potential in-house ally.
  4. Having just seen "Watchmen," I couldn't help but compare Caroline's voicemail to Ballard as akin to Rorschach dropping off his journal to the New Frontiersman.

All in all, watching the four dolls helplessly and naïvely seek to escape was effective, but now it makes me want to see them succeed all the more. In addition, it establishes the Dollhouse as a much more powerful threat than in weeks past. Through Adele, the show directly addressed the Dollhouse's essential ineptitude recently, calling it "out of balance." Her duty is to protect the house. But as that hand print shows, the house doesn't always win.

What did you make of the cat-and-mouse game played between the Dollhouse and its troublesome inhabitants? And do you think the right character is the show's lead right now? Take the poll, and explain your choice in the comments below!

Ryan keeps his house in order over at Boob Tube Dude.