Episode Review: Dollhouse 1×09: "A Spy In The House of Love"

We start with seeing some commotion in one of the secret rooms. It looks like someone is about to be an Active against their will. Echo and Sierra look from below. Echo says, “She made a mistake, Now, she’s sad.”

Turn back the clock 12 hours, and we see Echo returning from an engagement as a dominatrix. “It’s not about the pain,” she says. “It’s about trust.” Boyd just wonders about her whip. When they get back, we see Victor’s off to see “Miss Lonely Hearts” for the tenth time. He does look suave. When Echo has her treatment, it’s Ivy who welcomes her back, while Topher is trying to fix the damage from last week’s “revolt”. Naturally, he says Ivy doesn’t welcome Actives as well he does. We also learn Adelle is off for a performance review with Rossum. She’s hopeful she might get cake, but expects some slaps on the wrist because of what has happened before. After all, any disaster in the Dollhouse falls on her. For now, Dominic is in charge.

As Dr. Claire Saunders looks Echo over, she and Boyd talk about how Actives are being used by people who have hidden needs. He wonders why it has to include S&M. Claire admits the system may be broken, maybe too much, but not for the reasons he has.

Now we see Topher freaking out. He’s found a special chip in the Imprint Chair that can allow anyone to hack into it, and add some extra orders, like make a cheerleader be an assassin. He sort of suspects Boyd, but he’s really worried how he’s going to be blamed for all this. Meanwhile, Echo waves at November, who doesn’t understand why. Echo also notices things are a bit off. So, she volunteers to be imprinted to learn why everyone’s not, well, happy. Topher is surprised, but he’ll go for it.

This episode was originally called “Four Engagements” because four Actives are involved with certain tasks. First, we have November who’s been reimprinted into Mellie. As she sees it, she just got back from a trip to Iowa where she visited Mom. She’s got jet-lag, and is ready to go home. Never mind the Dollhouse doesn’t look like LAX.

Paul’s surprised Mellie/November is back, but she’s more surprised he’s pointing a gun at her. The stress of looking for the Dollhouse has taken a big toll on him. First, his door has five locks because he knows the Dollhouse spied on him with that special camera last week. He also learns the influence of the Dollhouse is deep, even including the FBI, and that it’s located somewhere underground in LA. The big problem is that he’s also very deep in paranoia. This freaks her out, but he admits he’s worried, too. He’s so obsessed with the Dollhouse he can’t even remember why he’s looking for it. Well, we don’t know either. However, Mellie/November figures she can keep him grounded…with a co-ed shower. They’re about to get wet when she stops…and delivers a message from the Dollhouse. This time she explains she’s a sleeper agent, and how she’s been spying on him for months. He is also told that it’s more important to find the true purpose of the Dollhouse than its location. However, he can’t tell Mellie that he’s aware of all this, or Adelle will call her about flowers in a vase. That would be bad news for Paul. Despite the fact he’s got a million questions, like who’s implanting the info into the Actives, he has to go along.

Sierra has been put into Sydney Bristow mode, as she looks for the spy. Before that, Topher and Dominic are concerned they can’t find Adelle, and blame each other for the security glitch. Actually, one of them has something to hide.

Dominic figures the chip is NSA technology. Sierra has to get inside the NSA office, get some files what will uncover the traitor, and get out. She manages to eliminate a worker named Sato in a commuter train. She impersonates her in every way, even with contact lenses to fake her retinal scan. She gets the file, which seems to be a sheet protector that’s also a computer screen.

The third engagement involves Victor as Roger, the perfect companion to Miss Lonely Hearts. As his handler Serena escorts him out, they meet Boyd and Miss Domin-Echo with her whip. Victor/Roger drives to a woman’s house with flowers in his hand. Later, he drives off in a car to his real date, someone named Catherine,…..

…who is really Adelle DeWitt!! Somewhere in Hell, Hearn is yelling, “Hey, how is what you’re doing to Victor different than what I did with Sierra?”

Well, they do look good together, and if loving him is wrong, etc. They share some quality time in the sheets, and a fencing match that’s as intense as their lovemaking. We also learn he accidentally dropped her cell phone into the ocean. It seems that he’s there to share her deepest needs and secrets with. She can always wipe them away. He talks about how she’s helping people in her job, and she just says “Pathetic, self-deluding souls”. But who does that really describe?

Adelle also gets philosophical about relationships. She says on your first date you try to hide your faults, then in a relationship you try to hide your disappointments, and in marraige you try to hide your sins. Since Adelle is married to her job, she may be right. Roger/Victor serves as the guy on the side that eases the pressures of life. Except he’s an Active, and she’s doing what she killed Hearn for.

The next morning, Adelle is crying. She finally found out about the security breach, and who is responsible.

Topher turns Echo into a spyhunter, who plans to question certain people. Dominic doesn’t like the idea, but he’ll go along. He likes the part where she starts her interrogation with Topher. We see that even though Topher thinks he’s a genius, doing things his grad school professors never dreamed of, he is still worried what people think of him.

Ivy complains how Topher uses her as a gopher, while she says she can easily do his job.

Boyd gets to the point: “We’re pimps and killers but in a philanthropic way.” Echo trusts him with a statement like that.

Claire reveals she hasn’t left the Dollhouse since the Alpha incident, and that worries Echo. She thinks it’s not good to be devoted to your job and have nothing else. That’s something Adelle and Paul have in common. It may also explain Claire’s plan to make the Actives glitch-free. If Claire prefers to stay in the Dollhouse rather than step out to the outside world, so should the Actives.

It’s a moot point, because Dominic says Sierra has proof Ivy is the spy. Echo, however, disagrees. By noticing body language, and a few other clues, she knows who the spy really is…

Laurence Dominic, NSA.

Well, you got me, he says…then tries to eliminate Echo, Topher and Ivy. He’ll just tell Adelle that Echo went off mission again. Echo overpowers him, even pushing him to the edge of a broken window. She tells him, “I’m not broken.” In fact, she may be even better than that.

He’s soon delivered to an angry Adelle DeWitt. He points out being in the Dollhouse is no gift, because it’s hurt as many people as it has helped, especially Echo. He also thinks Adelle may bring herself down, especialy if Rossum loses control of the Dollhouse. “The technology has to be reined in and controlled,” he says. “By a clandestine o
rganization with little government oversight?” she asks. Dominic thinks Adelle is just naive, but she’s in charge. So, it’s off to the Attic for him, where he’ll be an Active in a box forever. She does this in a very professional manner, like a business transaction. Since he was with her for three years, she says it shouldn’t surprise him.

Despite it all, he’s still smiling. He predicts eventually Echo will erase them all, and they won’t see it coming. He knows it’s really a Dollhouse of Cards, or maybe one made of straw.

So, we end where we started, with Dominic about to be erased. He tries to shoot himself, and winds up hitting Adelle in the torso. It doesn’t phase her one bit, and it’s really just a flesh wound.  All that’s left is a lot of regrets, and Dominic’s soul in a hard drive. Adelle tries to convince herself that losing Dominic is no big deal. It’s what self-deluding souls do. Still, she can’t understand why she didn’t see this coming. At least she’s decided to break it off with “Roger.” She’s also surpised how Echo found Dominic out, and discovers maybe she is evolving. Adelle’s grateful, and just tells Topher to keep an eye on her. Maybe this is the start of what Dominic is predicting.
Finally, Boyd is promoted to Chief of Security, while a guy named Travis is Echo’s new handler. He reads the script to bond with her, but it’s clear her real bond is with Boyd.

That leaves two questions: was Dominic the one inserting messages to Paul in Echo and November? And do they stop now that he’s gone, or will someone else insert them? If it’s the latter, the list of suspects gets a whole lot shorter.

Again, this episode was all about trust, and what happens when it’s used or lost. Paul has to trust Mellie, or Echo, because it’s his only way to be the Big Bad that blows the Dollhouse down, even though we still don’t know why. Adelle thought she could trust Dominic, and now doubts herself, even though she won’t admit it publicly. Claire has lost trust in the outside world, and that affects her opinion about the Actives. All Echo knows is that she can trust Boyd. With his new job, though, what will happen if he has to choose between her and Adelle?

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Post Author: David Mello

Worked nearly eleven years at a radio station as a board operator, news reader, and assistant producer for baseball broadcasts. Have been a staff writer for Whedonopolis since July 2008

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