Episode Recap: Dollhouse 1×04 "Gray Hour"

Somewhere in a remote ski lodge, a woman is having a baby. An experienced midwife is helping out…or at least Echo is, programmed as the midwife who has more knowledge than the staff of Private Practice. She’s chatty but helpful and lets the new mom know her baby will be a big one. She also reassures her she’ll forget the pain once the baby is born. Just as the kid is delivered, we see Echo getting her treatment and her usual question to Topher about whether she fell asleep.

At the cafeteria, Echo meets Sierra and wonders if she’s the new kid. Echo says she swam 30 laps, but mentions nothing about babies. Sierra says she always tries to do her best and Echo asks her if she really feels that way. Sierra’s not sure, but Echo says if you always try, that is your best. Actually, that sounds right out of Power Rangers. Then she asks a third person if they agree. It’s Victor, who doesn’t sound Russian because he’s not on "fool FBI agent Paul Ballard duty". He does say "Every day is a chance to do better."
Boyd and Topher observe that the three of them sit together at the same table everyday. Topher is worried they are gathering "like a herd", and could become the Cool Kids that tease the Uncool Actives. Boyd says they’re not bison, but Topher says "they’re a little bit bison". 

DeWitt talks to her new client, a man named Diakos. They don’t discuss specifics about the mission, but she assures him he’ll get results. Then, she gets a call from someone in the "upper level". They talk about how she’s trying to keep Ballard away from the Dollhouse. She says everything is under control, although by the tone of the call, her boss isn’t so sure. Neither is DeWitt.

Then we see Echo in her new role: a party girl named Taffy who says "blue skies" a lot. She’s at a bachelor party at the bar. The hotel security guy asks them to get a room and throws in some champagne. Then we see that maybe she was sexually assaulted by one of the guys. She’s taken by Security Guy, and put into his office. He suggests she take $10,000 and sign a "hold harmless" agreement and then leave quietly. She instead takes the cash, and knocks out security guy. Yep, this was a ruse. We see the bachelor party is now a "merry band of thieves" out to steal something.

The rest of the crew includes Vitas (the lead crook), Walton (good with explosives) and Cyril (expert at old stuff). They must infiltrate the building next door and break into a vault that has something Diakos wants. They have to do this in a "gray hour", which is the time when the system is turned off before it’s being rebooted. There won’t be any guards because they aren’t allowed in the vault, which is where they are going. While they get ready, the crew marvel about how cool Echo/Taffy thinks she is. "Bestness means a quiet, head-down kind of life," she explains. She compares that to Bonnie and Clyde, who wanted fame rather than be the best. She points out that got them fame, and eventually death. Anyway, what they need to get according to Cyril is "The Parthanon", or something that’s part of it. Turns out it is technically "stolen art".

Switch to Paul Ballard’s lonely apartment, which looks a little like where Cordelia Chase used to live in season 1 of Angel. He’s still recovering from last week’s ambush, watching HSN. He hears a noise and pulls hie gun…and it’s Victor in Lubov mode. Paul isn’t happy about this, but Lubov is frightened for his life. Paul’s had enough and wants answers. He shows Lubov a picture of Echo when she was once Caroline. He demands to know if she is the reason people are trying to kill him. Lubov tries to explain that he gets a tip from some guy who sounds "Russian Georgian, not sweet home Georgian". He also says the Borodins are using him to get to Paul, which makes more sense….even if it’s all a lie. Still, as long as Paul is fooled, DeWitt and her boss will be happy.

 

Back at the vault, they find the item, one of the "Elgin Marbles" that was technically stolen centuries ago. As Vitas chats up Echo/Taffy for a drink afterwards, we see Cyril try to grab the item and take it away for himself. He stabs Walton, runs out of the vault, and locks them in. Echo/Taffy calls her backup, Boyd, and tells him what happened, He says he’ll find Cyril…then a loud jamming signal is played from somewhere. Then, she is stunned, looks around and asks, "Did I fall asleep?"

Believe it or not, someone wiped Taffy away, and left Echo instead. Since when is this possible?

Topher lecures his new assistant, Ivy, about how cool he is, while he tells her to pick up some stuff from whatever supermarket is near the Dollhouse, when he realizes something went wrong. DeWitt and Dominic at least know about Cyril’s double-cross, but don’t know why Echo has forgotten she’s Taffy. She is scared out of her mind now, asking again and again, "Shall I go now?" Boyd does find Cyril, who says he has a better offer. Boyd still has a gun, who he uses to wound Cyril just enough. Echo’s last phone call is replayed, along with the jamming noise. Topher immediately denies what the noise means. DeWitt does know, however, and tells Topher he said no Active could be remotely wiped. He says what he actually said was it was really untested, and that he couldn’t do it. So, what now? Well, at least he says they have to help her, because being wiped is just like being born, and being stuck in a vault with thieves could send her into a coma or make her "Carrie at the prom." Oh, and and he insists this is not his fault.

Back at the vault, Vitas tries to get Echo back to speed, but no dice. She no longer has any idea what to do, or how to get out. At one point, he slaps her, hard.

But help is on the way: Taffy is coming, only this time it’s really Sierra. It’s always tough to recast. While Taffy 2 is up to speed, Echo looks at all the art. She points to a face that is "broken", but it’s really a Picasso-ish portrait.. Walton, who is still bleeding, says that art is really showing people who we are inside. This crisis is also doing the same for the Dollhouse crew, except for the Actives. Sierra/Taffy2 has just as much attitude as Echo’s version, and points out she was supposed to do that job before Echo got it. She suspects DeWitt was "running two ponies", but that was what Diakos wanted. Well, Sierra/Taffy2 wants double the fee she won’t spend anyway.

Topher, meanwhile, is losing it. He’s convinced there’s a conspiracy to destroy him because it’s still not his fault. He also calls Boyd to let him know what has happened. Sierra/Taffy2, however, tells DeWitt as long as they can contact Echo by phone, she can get her out. At this point, Echo is still looking at all the art with Walton. It includes a painting of some mountains, not unlike the place where she was a midwife. "When I’m there, my name is something else," she says. That proves she remembers something about all the people she was, but not enough to be real. Walton says that if they don’t get out, they’ll find up in prison. Echo asks what that is and he says "a place with no sky." He, meanwhile, is about to inject himself into checking out before Vitas stops him. He has a better idea..shooting their way out.

Soon, the Gray Hour ends, but Sierra/Taffy2 says they still have time to get out before the whole security system reboots. They do get Echo on the line, and talk her through drilling a special hole that will get them out without tripping off the alarm. However, it doesn’t work. They will soon be found by the guards, cops, and everyone else.

Topher, meanwhile, tells Ivy some Japanese programmer named Takahashi is really behind this disaster so he could get his job. Ivy’s more interested about whether Echo will survive. Topher the
n figures there is one person who really could have done all this….but he was killed–right?

As Sierra is about to be de-Taffyed, DeWitt tells Dominic to put two men on standby in case they have to put Echo down. She actually feels regret over making such a decision.

Back at the vault, Vitas is ready to start shooting even if Walton prefers to surrender. Echo has another idea: she sticks the hypodermic Walton was about to use in Vitas’ neck. He winds up firing at the guards while Walton tosses a smoke bomb to let Echo escape. Boyd finds the entrance to the vault, along with Echo…and the wounded Walton. Echo tells Boyd that Walton is broken.  She declares "I’m not broken."

She still needs a treatment, though. As for Cyril, he’ll be sent back to Diakos to be dealt with.

So, what about Paul? Well, he tells Lubov he’s now under the microscope of everybody now, from the FBI to the Russians. Paul figures if the Borodins do grab Lubov, and his body is recovered, how he’s killed will tell Paul if Lubov was with them or not. Lubov is quite stunned by this because this is not how the FBI works. Well, Paul points out "I’m a screw-up" as Lubov mentioned to him last week. Lubov leaves by telling Paul he still cares, and that’s his problem. Too bad we’ll never know if Lubov is right, because he won’t know, either.  He’s an Active, remember?

Back at the Dollhouse, Topher says Echo is all new again, in his opinion. While fearing sudden death, he asks DeWitt if Alpha really did this. She refuses to answer…until he signs some document that raises his security clearance. Well, he does, but not before she admits that trying to deal with Alpha, something they created, has been very difficult because, she sadly admits, "we’re not all powerful." Topher can help by making sure what just happened never happens again…and don’t tell the others, either. He might tell Boyd, since he wouldn’t be surprised to learn Alpha’s alive.

In any case, Topher admits "I’m scared like a little girl". DeWitt, meanwhile, must be a scared big girl, because now she’s trusting Topher.

Echo’s not scared. She’s busy swimming, while Sia sings a classic Pretenders song. She sees herself in a foggy mirror and draws a face…just like the "broken face" from the vault.

But, Echo’s not broken.

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