Episode Review: Dollhouse 2×09: "Stop-Loss"

What happens when your tour of duty is over? How can you get back to your old life?

It’s a problem Anthony Ceccoli has to face twice: once as a veteran of the Afghan War, and again as an Active named Victor.

It’s also something Adelle DeWitt has to face, since he was her imaginary lover when she was Miss Lonelyhearts. As the episode begins, we see her hoping to have one last night of love with Victor, as Roger. Instead, he winds up dumping her, saying there’s someone else. She is upset, revealing that he’s really a Doll who’s about to leave the Dollhouse. Of course, he doesn’t believe it.

She immediately thinks Topher rewired Victor somehow, but he denies it. He is surprised when Adelle admits she was Miss Lonelyhearts. Ivy, his assistant, makes an awkward comment on the matter. Adelle tells Topher to make sure Actives don’t reject the people who had them programmed to love them.

As for Paul, he’s still brain dead after what Alpha did to him last week. Echo is upset because she’s been able to keep his memories while she’s losing her friends. She is also sad Victor is leaving, because she was hoping he’d help her. She makes sure he says goodbye to Sierra, without knowing what it really means.

What it means is that Victor is back to being Anthony, a veteran recovering from PTSD, but struggling to get back to civilian life. For now, he’ll be a lonely guy at a suite in the Hyperion, which may be the same hotel where Angel once lived.  However, there is someone who thinks Anthony could be useful.

Echo reluctantly tells Sierra that Victor has left, but Sierra fells bad about Victor because he’s not ready to be alone. His first night alone, which winds up with him sleeping in a bathtub that is shaped like his old bed, proves her right.

This episode also traces the development of Adelle DeWitt, brilliantly played by Olivia Williams. After having some moral struggles over Rossum’s plans to influence the government through Senator Daniel Perrin (Alexis Denisoff), she now wants to be Employee of the Month if it means keeping her job. However, it also means sipping whiskey more often. When Echo confronts Adelle abut Paul, Echo says she has the advantage because “I have a serial killer in my head”, while all Adelle has is her job. Adelle also thinks her knowledge of the rebellion forming against her is also giving her an edge. Echo, however, tells Adelle to pick a side, either Rossum or her Actives.

Meanwhile, a special ops team breaks into VicTony’s (Victor/Anthony) suite and kidnaps him. They’re part of a military group called Scytheon, owned by Rossum. They ask VicTony if he wants to join them. He agrees, but there’s more than that. He has to wear an implant that links his mind to the rest of the Scytheon army. He’s now part of the RossumBorg, where the mission is all, and individuality is removed.

Echo comes up with a plan to get Victor back, but it includes turning Sierra back into Priya. Topher and Boyd just hope Adelle can stay in her alcoholic haze long enough for them to finish the job. They also learn that Echo can maintain her self, even as several people and abilities are imprinted into her. Some fans suggested it’s improving on The Matrix.

Echo and Priya/Sierra get “caught” in the Scytheon base, but it’s only to get close to VicTony. It’s not easy, but Priya/Sierra is able to get through to him. However, what he sees the rest of the Scytheon army sees. It also works the other way, and that’s how he’s able to anticipate their moves.

Adelle wakes up after too much whiskey, thanks to a call from Harding about what Echo is doing. She confronts Boyd. She’s mad, but so is he. He wonders what happened to the Adelle who would put the welfare of the Actives and Dollhouse first. She says that Adelle is still there, but he doesn’t believe it. She eventually takes a shower with the other Actives, but does the water clear her head, or is she still clouded by ambition?

Echo is able to stop the Scytheon army by injecting a neural radio into herself, and convincing the rest of the Borg, I mean soldiers, to stand down. She, VicTony and Priya/Sierra escape, and make plans for their lives away from the Dollhouse. However, Topher’s disruptor ray disables them all.

We see Adelle looking at Echo, who is tied down as Laurence Dominic was tied down when his true mission was revealed. “You leave a wake of destruction wherever you go,” Adelle tells Echo, and such a Doll can’t be trusted. It’s time to go to the Attic.

She won’t be lonely. Victor and Sierra will join her, right next to Laurence Dominic.

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It looks like Rossum has won, because Adelle DeWitt chose her job and her company over humanity. It’s all for self-preservation. Knowing she has Rossum on her side makes her mighty, while her enemies, which now include Boyd, Topher and Ivy, are in big trouble if they can’t stop her. Even if they could, how can they stop the company?

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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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