Saturday, February 28, 2009

Percolated Recap: Dollhouse: Stage Fright (Episode 103)

Eliza Dushku's talents showcased: An episode-by-episode breakdown.

Episode 1: Her ability to sound business-like.

Episode 2: Her athleticism.

Episode 3: Her singing voice.

I'm going to have to keep tabs at the rate this show is going, so I'm starting now, before there's too many to remember, or Fox cancels this show, whichever comes first. Plus, it's easier than covering the previouslies we're now getting every week, or ranting about how much irony there is in reviewing a life the main character can't remember.

Kansas City

We begin with an extended musical moment, which is either meant to introduce pop sensation Rayna Russell, or the next single for the Pussycat Dolls. There's a lot of dancing Britney-style and even skimpier costumes. I think they settled on having a popstar's life in danger to save on the wardrobe.

The song is generic pop and the dancing is generic pop dancing. There's also a couple of moments when her mouth doesn't quite match the lyrics, which means she's lip-syncing, (a phrase which here means I don't see any other problems with my feed when it comes to audio and visual sync). In short, this means Rayna Russell is probably one of the biggest stars on the planet. All she needs to do next is go to rehab and she'll be legendary.

All right, I need to be honest here and say I'm probably going to be a bit meaner to Rayna Russell than necessary. I already don't like her and not because I know what happens. Nope, it's the actress. Anyone who knows me, knows I'm a bit of a Renthead. It's a bit difficult to do when one lives in Canada, but, despite this Renthead handicap, I have seen the show 9 times (not including the movie). I say bit, because I haven't seen it hundreds of time like some people. (BTW, those people have my admiration for doing that.) I've scoured YouTube for videos that clearly break the no video or photography rule in the theatres. Thus, I would nominate this actress for the worst Mimi ever. Warning, the proof may make your ears bleed.

If you did click on the above link, you'll understand why I'm confident she was lip-syncing.

When the pyrotechnics go off, one of the backup singers, conveniently wearing a red tunic, is set on fire. Well, guess she's done for, but since Rayna wasn't touched, it'll probably be a blip in the press. As the pop princess is rushed off stage, the camera pans the audience, and finally comes to rest on the one person in the audience who isn't perturbed.


Dr. Fred must've done one of her miracle cures, because, Echo doesn't look the least bit injured from her hike through the woods. She's running as if she's never been shot in the leg, or even
had a motorcycle fall on it.

Sierra's the one looking worse for wear as she nearly passes out after getting off the treadmill, only to be caught by Echo. "I didn't want you to get hurt," Echo tells her, "You're my friend."

"Friends help each other out," Sierra replies. It's a reply that'll play a major role in this episode later.

Whatever miracle cures Dr. Fred works with the dolls are not available to their handlers, as Boyd is still recovering from his arrow-related injure from last week. While Dr. Fred would rather he recuperate a few more days, Boyd would rather not entrust Echo to another handler. The audience knows why this is the case from witnessing the events in the woods, but Dr. Fred's a little more instinctual than that, certifying Boyd for duty because she's afraid, as much as she doesn't want to admit it, Alpha might still be out there.

While I don't mind that these two share a belief in Alpha's continued existence, I do mind the bad attempt at flirting. At least, I think it was flirting but it was so ineptly done, all I could do was cringe at the attempt.


Mellie catches Lubov attempting to break into her neighbour's apartment. Watching Lubov try and come up with a lie - he knew Ballard from the navy, Old Navy to be exact, amuses me and creeps the hell out of Mellie. He leaves her with a card and instructions for Ballard to meet him, but not at work to avoid the bosses a Old Navy getting pissed off.

Mellie backs slowly into her apartment, her astuteness rounding out her character as much as the neo-flower child outfits and bare feet. This is more the Joss Whedon characterization I'm used to.


Adelle is entertaining Biz, Rayna's manager. She thinks it's a pleasure visit and offers to free up the twins for him. I wonder what they would call the twins? Fox and Trot? Tan and Go? Ho and Tel?

I won't get my question answered because he's there for something else, protection for Rayna. Even though she's had stalkers since she was an obvious representation of Britney "singing for the mouse," only recently has someone been trying to kill her. The girl on fire thing was only one of several accidents on her current tour. Biz wants someone, not a bodyguard, willing to take a bullet for the singer, but not look like she's there to protect Rayna.

I guess this is the premium package since we've learned the more dangerous an engagement, the more it costs. The clue to the mystery in this meeting, which is a little more subtle than the I AM PSYCHO cologne last week's baddie was wearing, is that Rayna probably won't care about the extra protection, just like she hasn't cared about the accidents thus far.

Engagement the fourth: The National Recapper Tabloid

After the tragic fire in Kansas City, singer and former Mouse-we-can't-use-the-name-due-to-copyright-infringement, Rayna Russell has taken on a new back-up singer and BFF.

After wowing the pop diva with a rendition of what we've heard was a song written to sound like an old spiritual, the new BFF was taken on, despite the warnings of Rayna's manager and star creator extraordinaire, Biz. IT was reported that the manager thought the new BFF was "trouble" and has an "attitude."

Rayna, known for her rebellious way of life, immediately put the girl to work. We here at the National Recapper hope that this girl not only has the voice, but the luck of an angel as the accidents that surround Rayna lately, implies taht she needs it.

Creepy music box title sequence.


Dr. Fred isn't pleased with Echo being sent out as pseudo bodyguard, because she's only been cleared for romantic or altruistic engagements. Oh, Dr. Fred, sometimes those are the same thing. Take Topher, for instance. Considering he tries to divert her by implying that the engagement with Rayna could turn romantic, it proves that the types of engagements aren't always exclusive in their purpose.

Topher explains that there are two parts to this imprint. One is the struggling singer, the other is the inherent desire to protect Rayna. In other words, she's a bodyguard who doesn't even know she's capable of being a bodyguard. I have to admit, I'm with Dr. Fred on this one as I don't know how this makes the engagement any better for Echo.

Where Dr. Fred makes her mistake is calling Echo's handler by his first name, allowing Topher, th socially inept genius, to latch on to the simple act of using one's given name as an excuse to do the adult equivalent of "Dr. Fred and Boyd, sitting in a tree." Yeah, this guy is reminding me a lot of Chuck Bartowski's BFF - "there's a million reasons to love him but maturity isn't on that list."

Plus, as if he really needs to prove how wrong she is, Topher assures the doctor that he's sending Echo back-up, in the form of Sierra. Umm, yeah, because I have a past history with Eliza Dushku as Faith, I believe she's capable of kicking someone's ass, but Sierra?

Engagement the fourth: The National Recapper Tabloid

We have more information on Rayna Russell's new BFF - like her name - Jordan and her lack of inhibitions. Within ours of meeting Rayna's crew, Jordan was stripping for ratings everyone during a wardrobe fitting. Is just getting fitted or is she trying to fit in?

This new BFF needs to get a handle on Rayna now, as sources close to the singer say that after a dreadful rehearsal with her back-up dancers, there singer had breathing problems because someone was eating a mint. Rayna's long standing issue with mints has been well documented by the press, particularly during the unfortunate incident outside a nightclub when Rayna threatened a mentos eater by promising to "freshen up the fresh-maker."

In an attempt to calm the singer down, her manager, Biz, sent her to the concert venue early, with her BFF in tow.

Posh Party

In the midst of what looks to be one awesome party, Ballard is in search of Lubov. Hello, Ballard, could you be more obvious about what you're doing? You just need a bright T-shirt saying "Yes, I am a Fed."

Lubov is equally as put off by Ballard's complete lack of subtlety, afraid he's going to wind up dead, and not in a peacefully surrounded by loved ones way either. Besides not finding out anything about the dollhouse, besides having his employers think he might be losing it, Lubov has found out plenty about Ballard. The most important thing he's learned about the federal agent is that he's one step away from becoming the Bureau's next Fox Mulder. Although, Ballard has to learn to look like he has sexual chemistry with everything while not emoting in order to truly become Fox Mulder. He also needs a hot red-head. I wonder if Mellie would be interested in applying for that position (pun intended)?

Proving he's the life of any party, Ballard gives a speech about how humanity always comes up with technology and then promptly uses it to wreak havoc on other humans. Sure, it gives us the motivation behind Ballard's character, but I enjoyed this philosophy a lot better when Agent Smith described humanity as a virus.

In a moment which makes me slap my head against a wall for missing it earlier, Lubov, though believing there isn't a dollhouse, wishes he could sign up if there were one to "wipe all of my terrible burdens away."

"I'll keep you in mind," Ballard replies. I groan.

Engagement the fourth: The National Recapper Tabloid

Is Rayna Russell's new BFF a back-up singer or a bodyguard? We at the National Recapper are uncertain since she's noticed holes in the security Biz and the security team missed.

We're starting to wonder what Jordan's real agenda is.


While Topher is trying to tell Boyd how much he'll hate Sierra's handler, Joe (a phrase which here means, want to beat senseless due to a complete lack of professionalism), Boyd's got something else to worry about: Echo's debut as a singer. He's acting more like a nervous parent than a handler, much to Topher's amusement. Sure Boyd tries to cover it up with fear for Echo's safety, but he's really worried about protecting her from making a fool of herself.

Topher, after being disappointed that Rayna is like every other vapid and narcissistic pop princess on the planet, reveals that he can multi-task. He can wipe Victor's imprint while helping monitor Echo and Sierra.

Concert Venue

Crazy fan from the beginning, limps into the concert hall, crutches and all. Sometimes, evern though a cigar is sometimes just a cigar, a crutch may be a crutch for something else.

In this case, the crutches hide all the pieces necessary in making one hell of a high-powered rifle.

Engagement the fourth: The National Recapper Tabloid

While last night's performance was a knock-out, the focus on Ranya's new back-up singer and BFF, leads this reporter to believe it was as much a showcase for Jordan as it was for Rayna.

The audience did not seem to notice the shift in focus as one fan, a mousy Australian named Audra gushed, "Rayna was awesome! I don't know what you mean about someone else being up on stage. All I saw was her."

After last night's smash performance, a strange incident at the after party put a damper on the evening. No, it was not the presence of Rayna's "Number 1 fan" Audra, nor was it a creepy red-headed man who managed to sneak into the party, even though he looked more like he should be in his mother's basement playing D&D. Surprisingly, it was not a temper-tantrum from the pop princess herself, as is usually expected.

No, Jordan, the mysterious BFF who this reporter has been unable to find a damn thing about, like she just popped into existence yesterday, thinking she was protecting Rayna, attacked a member of the press by pushing him over a railing. Perhaps the paparazzi might want to think twice about snapping Rayna's pic if Jordan is around.

Unfortunately, this means we may miss Rayna, just for kicks, convincing her biggest fans to run down the street, naked. We've been told by reliable sources that her fans are willing to do that, even if underwear is optional.


Setting up Agent Ballard, Victor/Lubov sends the fed on a wild goose chase to the derelict Devonshire Hotel. If Victor/Lubov thinks the agent inspires pity before this, Balard single-handedly beating the crap out of Russian mobsters, after being ambushed and shot by the three of them, might inspire a shit-load of fear instead. Even with a bullet in him, he's able to interrogate the one conscious mobster about the dollhouse. Like all good red herrings, the mobster knows nothing.

Once all three of the Russians are taken out, Ballard is still able to stay conscious long enough to call for help. He's either the sturdiest man alive or half-terminator. I'm going to withhold judgment on this until I get more evidence.


Sierra's handler is quite an ass, taking a 40 minute coffee break and not bringing Boyd back anything. Joe isn't the least bit interested in the job, but he is interested in whatever Boyd is looking at on the internet.

That is, he's interested until he realizes it might be some actual work. Boyd's looking up Rayna's fan sites, hoping to find the crazy stalker before Echo is put at risk. In fact, the only interesting thing Joe Hearn can bring to the table, is his experience. Since Sierra is new, Boyd rightfully asks what happened to the old Sierra. The answer Joe gives is very generic, (she got the job done) but the subtext is clear: Boyd shouldn't get attached as there will be a new Echo, someday.

Engagement the fourth: The National Recapper Tabloid

Reports have surfaced of Rayna Russell's erratic behaviour. Considering her recent brushes with death, the singer was upbeat before tonight's disastrous performance. She was described as "manically happy" one source close to the singer said.

An inside source says the singer's dressing room was filled with white orchids. She also received fan mail, something her spin team has been telling the press, isn't supposed to happen. Rumour has it she's only been keeping one particular fan's mail and calls the writer her number 1 fan. I guess we aren't the only ones wondering when Rayna's finally going to go off the deep end and shave her head.

Pop-diva Rayna Russell's night ended with a bang. Well, more like a gunshot. In the middle of her performance, an unidentified suspect to a shot at her, and this reporter does not mean a shot at stardom. Without the quick thinking of Jordan, the mysterious new addition to Rayna's posse, Rayna would have made quite a splash; the type of splash the audience would not be able to wash out of their clothes.

Later, reports surfaced that a background singer, Jordan, the newest addition to Rayna's entourage, found a threat underneath some orchids delivered to the singer's room, saying this even would be her last. Even though Jordan was supposed to be on stage, she was spotted rushing around backstage, trying to notify the security of the impending threat.

Allegedly, Jordan attempted to warn her boss, moment before she stepped on stage, but Rayna's response was only the cryptic, "I want to be free." This reporter wonders what exactly she needed to be free from? Her money? Her good looks? The constant adoration? The hypocrisy of people seeking fame only to complain about being famous?

At the time of the shooting, Rayna had just introduced her "number 1 fan," Audra, was also in the line of fire. Without the quick thinking of the backup singer, who used a spotlight to blindthe shooter, Audra might just have easily been shot. While Rayna may do whatever she wishes in her own life, will she really maintain her fan base if not only will she put fans at risk, but also call everyone, from an innocent Australian to a crazy stalker, her number 1 fan?

Despite all the panic, everyone was ushered out safely.


I have to scrap my terminator theory, since all the emergency personnel are still living, despite treating Ballard. Plus, he has a heart attack. Again, since it's way too early to be killing main characters, I'm not getting the sense of urgency I think I'm supposed to have. Nor was I fooled by not showing the patient immediately as if I was going to fall for some lame trick that it might've been someone from the concert.

Engagement the fourth: The National Recapper Tabloid

The aftermath of the shooting has brought some harsh realities about the woman idolized by millions, into the light. Rayna Russell was more upset about not dying than she would have been if she had actually died.

Please note: The Daily Recapper does not support or deny the existence of the afterlife and the above statement is simply a turn of phrase.

Unnamed sources claim that Rayna is angry about being a "factory girl" and everyone's fantasy. She is supposedly afraid what will happen to her if she isn't everyone's ideal being. What's exciting her most is the idea of a reaper being out there, who will one day come and free her. Considering it is believed she had this conversation with Jordan, the mystery backup singer / BFF / ninja we're told that, in a meta-way, the singer was being bluntly ironic.

Shortly after this heated debate, Jordan's rise in Rayna's world came pouring down as the singer was fired.

The National Recapper has just been given an exclusive! After the attempted assassination of Rayna Russell, the young woman, Audra, who was one of Rayna's many number 1 fans, was abducted by the failed killer.

The video shows a crazed, red-haired man, angry with Rayna for not dying when he tried to kill her. He also threatened to kill Audra unless the diva came to meet him, in person. The most shocking detail of all, Rayna has his phone number.

The National Recapper has to ask, what kind of influence is the singer having on her fans, if she promotes crazed stalkers? Do women not have enough difficulty in this world?

Rumour or Reality? Rayna Russell's recently released BFF, is still around. Is she there to really help the singer, or does she have pity for the abducted fan? More importantly, what is reality and what is a rumour in Rayna's life, may not be so clear cut after all?


In what is the most pointless scene thus far in the series, we learn that Sierra's purpose is to draw the attention of the crazy person away from Rayna. Thus, all is to plan.

Why Adelle asks Dominic whether or not he likes Rayna's music, I don't understand. Well, I can answer that question. Considering how he treated Echo last week, he definitely doesn't like anything that's been overly manufactured.

Crazy Stalker's House of Crazy

Okay, I feel terrible for Sierra. What do you want me to say? Do you want me to say I feel worse for her than I would if Echo were in the same situation? Do you want me to say that while the crazy stalker makes Sierra sing the lyrics to one of Rayna's songs, only to join in, that I get the idea of being trapped since the cameras are practically up the actors' noses?

Engagement the fourth: The National Recapper Tabloid

Poor Rayna Russell, she can't get a fair break. Of course, unless that break is a chair over her head, which is exactly what we here at the National Recapper have been told was done to her by her former BFF, Jordan. What caused the sudden rift between former friends? Allegedly, it's over Rayna's lack of action in the case of her missing #1 fan.

"Friends help each other out." Jordan was reported as saying, seconds after knocking the singer unconscious. The voice did not sound like the South Boston girl the press has come to know. Instead, her voice had lost the accent, as if she remembered something from another life.

Crazy Stalker's House of Crazy

A raid by SWAT (or Dollhouse security, it's unclear) reveals a message from Echo's most recent incarnation, promising him Rayna in exchange for Sierra. The deal is supposed to go down at the concert hall.


Okay, so trying to rough up people is a major motif in this episode because Dominic tries to take a piece out of Topher, thinking that something's gone wrong with Echo's programming. Dominic demands to know if the recent glitches are accidental or Topher being a crappy people programmer.

Trying to regain his dignity, Topher goes with the old standby that smart people will often use, insulting the other's intelligence. The problem with that is that Topher didn't have the proper intelligence (as in the information gathered, not gray matter) to know that his defense is meaningless, since Echo/Jordan is now threatening Rayna.

Engagement the fourth: The National Recapper Tabloid

The National Recapper will be dedicating an entire issue to the background of Rayna Russell's former backup singer, BFF, and potential killer, just as soon as we find any background information on the woman. No documentation of the Jordan exists, and all Rayna's people are telling us is that "Jordan left to pursue other opportunities. This life wasn't for her."

Considering last night's events, this is hardly shocking. We've received unsubstantiated reports that Jordan is single-handedly responsible for saving the kidnapped fan, Audra, keeping Rayna out of the clutches of her stalker.

How was this achieved? By threatening Rayna's life, and throwing her off a balcony, with only one wire wrapped around her hands. While the singer was dangling for her life, and remembering the reason she wanted to live, Jordan apprehended the stalker. The man was later seen with what looked to be cuts and bruises about the face, muttering, "she was just a little girl."

Beyond Rayna's expressed relief at the rescue of Audra and the capture of the suspect, all the singer would say on the subject was, "I want to live."

We tried to reach Audra for comment but could not find an Audra fitting her description in the Brisbane directory. She was last seen being escorted out of the theatre, by a man anxious to get her away from Jordan. Perhaps this man knows more about the mysterious woman and we here at the National Recapper highly encourage him to call us. We pay. No we don't.

The National Recapper is now on the hunt for Jordan, who was last seen in the presence of an unidentified man. More evidence that Audra and Jordan may have a past together was evident, since Jordan was asking to beat up the man who took Audra away.


Sure, Adelle and Dominic were listening in on the events and Boyd was ready to intervene at any minute, but the the head of the dollhouse and the security chief, have vastly different takes on what occurred. Dominic thinks that Echo is becoming a risk, while Adelle thinks Echo performed perfectly, even thinking outside the box. The person most likely to hurt Rayna was Rayna , so Echo had to make Rayna face herself.

Thus Adelle won't see Echo relegated to the attic, whatever that means, but despite what Adelle thinks, I have to ask myself one question.

We flip to the living quarters, where Boyd is expressing the same pride in Echo that Adelle is. Dr. Fred is equally worried about Echo as Dominic is, just for entirely different reasons. The last active that was as good as Echo was Alpha.


There's a brief scene change, where we see Rayna singing the same faux-spiritual Jordan did at her audition. Honestly, I think Eliza Dushku's version had more feeling in it. It may be rougher, but it sounds more genuine.

We flip over to the hospital, where Mellie is trying to talk her way in to see the injured agent Ballard. He doesn't even respond to her as there's no way he could miss hearing her outside the door to his room. Bastard. I bet you'd respond if she brought lasagna.

Back at the dollhouse, Echo and Sierra cross paths. Just like last week, when Echo remembered the whole shoulder to the wheel thing, she remembers that it wouldn't be good for the two of them to appear to close to each other. Somehow, despite being in the Quaker state, Echo puts together that with Boyd, Dr. Fred and Joe (and who I assume are other handlers) watching, she needs to be like everyone else.

Therefore, I can only come to one conclusion about Echo's increasing awareness, as she shakes her head, baffling Sierra and sending her away at the same time.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Instacap: Numb3rs: Cover Me (Eppesode 516)

1) Hey, Rob Morrow directed this one! Yay for diversification as long as it doesn't mean ever leaving the show!

2) It's a Liz eppesode! Who knew I would ever be this happy to have a Liz eppesode?

3) Yes, as happy as I am that David's left in charge of her safety, I would like Artemis to back up Athena on this one too!

4) Oh Colby, no you would not look that good in that outfit.

5) This guy so has a crush on Liz. It's about time she found someone else.

6) Charlie was valedictorian of Don's high school class? Ouch.

7) Holy crap, where does Liz buy her underwear? It's so pretty. I doubt she's wearing a wire in that. Oh, screw it, I want Liz's wardrobe in this eppesode.

8) Liz, don't be stupid. Seriously, don't be stupid here.

9) Haven't won a game since 1986? That's got to be a record.

10) I'm so glad that Cam didn't turn out to be a baddie.

11) Amita, you are so sucking up to your future father-in-law. Good for you.

12) Aww, Cam's trying to save Liz, and David's all protective too. Everyone loves Liz (not like that, in David's case.)

13) Vests are good things. Now get yourself to a drug rehab, get out, and make liz happy (just like that).

14) Of course David would move up. If he didn't I would whine. I don't take kindly to people dissing my BFFedcake.

15) Amita wants a ring. Alan wants Amita to have a ring. I want not to be hit on the head by a 2x4.

16) Pillow fight! Hee! I shouldn't find this as attractive as I do, should I?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Percolated Recap: Dollhouse: The Target (Episode 102)

I would include a brief recap of last week, just like the show does, but come on, if Echo doesn't remember it, does it mean I have to mention it? I will on the other hand, say that if the rumour about who is going to play Alpha is true, Joss Whedon, not only have you proven that you'll always go with a Whedon-alumni whenever possible, but also you've hooked me for the long run. I don't want to spoil anyone, but there is a massive hint about who would earn that level of my enthusiasm in last week's post.

I promise not to explicitly say anything about the identity of said rumoured actor. On the other hand, I wonder if we're getting a serious back story episode so early because Joss Whedon has bet on 6 as the number of episodes that'll be aired before the show is pulled.

After a brief fill-in on the important bits last week, we get the handiest plot device in television history.

There's a klaxon going in the background as some dolls in we haven't met are led into their beds. It's obvious they're all in their Quaker state because they don't seem as worried about the alarms blaring as they do about being forced into their beds before they've showered. Now, last week, I theorized that the beds might be to gas them, in case of invasion. Apparently, they also protect them from rampaging actives who have a "composite event." Now, either they're suffering from the longstanding television affliction where editors use snippets from reality TV to create a whole extra episode, showing us shit we've already seen, or it means all of Alpha's personalities combined. Somehow, I don't think all of his personalities were also as fun to deal with as, for instance, beagles.

Oh yes, and the painful bit of obvious symbolism from last week, about never being able to actually clean a slate, comes back to whack us on the head like, well, slate.

Topher's completely freaked out, understandably, but still insists a composite event isn't possible. He also gives us something I was sure we wouldn't find out before Fox canceled this show, the reason for Dr. Fred's injuries. I have to admit, rampaging active wasn't on my list of possibilities. My list may have included things like unfortunate incident when she was really an active and something as mundane and scary as a car accident or mugging, just in case I was being led into the land of the red herring, but not a rampaging active. Quaker states don't usually come across as dangerous.

Leading the response team, Dominic ramps up the creepy factor because I find myself strangely attracted to Reed Diamond. That has never happened before and I would like it to go away, soon. I blame the take-charge attitude while wearing a nicely cut suit.

While everyone is cut to pieces and the security team is scrambling, Adelle looks way too calm. She's either been through this before or has some serious psychopathic tendencies, or both.

While security doesn't find Alpha, the do find Echo, sitting, naked in the shower to help with ratings surrounded by the corpses of her fellow dolls. She can't comprehend what's just happened and pitifully mews, "They won't wake up." There are certainly some better retorts from past Whedon shows that would've been more apt.

Creepy music box title sequence.

Present: Adelle's explaining to a client, Richard Connell, about the opportunities an active can provide. She calls the oatmeal state, I mean Quaker state of the actives the "Tabula Rasa." While Aristotle and John Locke would be pleased with the reference, I'm sticking to Quaker state. Adelle describes the actives as "innocent and vulnerable as children." Nope, you're a little off there Adelle as most children who can walk and talk understand the concept of running when people come after them with a sharp implement.

After explaining the basic model of a doll, Adelle describes the upgraded model, or the imprint, which can be made into anyone.

Intermixed with this are flashes of other engagements Echo's been sent on and the process of wiping the memory.

While Adelle is seeing dollar signs, she misses what I didn't, even the first time around. He's throwing up red flags all over the place. What Richard Connell wants is a woman who actually is what she says she is. That was flag number one as it shows a genuine distrust of every woman. Flag number two is when Adelle says there's a problem and he instantly assumes it's the background check. I immediately wanted to know what could possible be wrong with it to make him react that way. If he has nothing in his background to be concerned about, why is he worried?

What she is actually referring to is that the engagement might be slightly risky, so he has to pay a bit more. Umm, did she at least not notice red flag number 3?

Of course, if he damages the active in an way, he would need to pay more. I was going to do a whole big thing about all the ways that previous statement exemplifies the ultimate wrong, but around point 716, you would probably quit reading.

Engagement the Third: Survivorwoman, Episode 1

Setting: Forest, bright early afternoon on a clear day. The sound of the water almost drowning out the dialogue.

Survivorwoman begins with a leisurely paddle down a level 3 white water current. It's a refreshing, but not too daunting start to the day. This will be followed by a quick climb up a very steep mountain. As none of this is too taxing for our intrepid heroine, she lightens the mood by pretending to almost fall to her death.

Her companion will not find this so funny, as he knows her dark secret. She, on the other hand, thinks she has brothers ready to pound the crap out of him.


Well, Echo may not have brothers, but she does have Boyd, who is a little concerned about the adrenaline readings she's giving off. Assuring Boyd, Topher asks the handler to leave the science to the science guy and OMG? BILL NYE WORKS FOR THE DOLLHOUSE?

Boyd doesn't want to hear any of Topher's humourous banter, and, despite not saying the magic word, abracadabra, gets the technician to align another satellite. Since it'll take a few minutes to align the new satellite, Topher takes this time to declare his deep "man love" for Boyd. Everywhere, even slashers wonder if they want to touch that one.

Boyd isn't alone in the woods. He's with some random driver who would so be wearing a red shirt if this were Star Trek. Therefore, I'll call him Red. Like Boyd, Red hates the woods.

Last week's isolated setting

Not to be confused with this week's isolated setting, it's the cabin where little Davina was kept locked in the fridge. Somehow, Agent Paul Ballard learned about the events of last week and is a little late in investigating. This makes me wonder, didn't Echo have an injured knee last week? Is it really a great idea for her to be climbing rocks? Oh, Joss Whedon, you're usually a little better than this. One usually doesn't catch serious continuity errors this early.

In the cabin is someone who looks really familiar!

Badger takes a moment to explain the official version of events, none of which involve the dollhouse. Paul proves he has the bigger penis by smacking Badger down, verbally. Since someone involved with the shooting would need to blow in the door and Davina talked about the pretty girl, Badger can mock the idea the dollhouse was involved all he likes. Crestejo, Davina's father, is exactly the type of client that would hire an active, plus the official version of things don't add up, and Sierra is the worst crime scene cleaner in history, because she missed Elinor Penn's broken glasses lying on the floor. Oops.

As Ballard exits, having completely destroyed any claim of legitimacy of the official version - the kidnappers turned on each other - he exits to Badger mocking him about his search for who he doesn't know is Echo. "Be careful. Looks here she's pretty bad ass."

Oh the heavy handed foreshadowing of that statement hurts almost as much as an arrow to the heart.

Engagement the Third: Survivorwoman, Episode 2

Survivorwoman is taught by her companion how to use a bow and arrow. There is also some serious creepiness when Survivorwoman uses the closeness needed to show the correct grip on the bow, which only causes Richard Connell to talk about his father. He also show her his super secret sign, slapping his hand to his shoulder to symbolize putting the shoulder to the wheel.

Survivorwoman, demonstrating she has the same survival skill as she does in her Quaker State, ignores the significant, "Do the work. Earn your way. If you can bring down something bigger than you with just this, you've proved you deserve to eat it. If it gets away, it proved it deserved to live."

Thinking this is just some deep meaningful sharing between herself and her partner, Survivorwomand doesn't find it at all disconcerting that after talking about killing things with a bow and arrow, her partner tells her she isn't the first woman he's brought into the woods. It is important to note that after this adventure, Survivorwoman is not going to be asked to eat something odd or survive on just jelly beans and wits for two weeks. No, she's going to be asked to prove she can read the simplest of human signals. We have a feeling Survivorwoman will need some more fine tuning to say, survive.

This scene ends with our heroine and her companion planning on taking down a really big deer. Somewhere, Bambi is crying as Connell gives Survivorwoman explicit instructions as how to kill a living thing, and being sure never to take a shot unless she can take her target down.

We flip to a long time later. I know this because in order to skin a deer and eat, this has to be hours later. Despite this Survivorwoman and her companion still have plenty of energy which they are trying to work out by fucking like rabbits. The kissing is quite distracting, since Richard Connell's tongue keeps flicking in and out of his mouth, a little like a snake, while trying to kiss our heroine.

The tone changes to where the archery, rock climbing and white water rafting were nothing in comparison as to what will happen. Proving he's a complete psychopath, Richard Connell gives Survivorwoman a 5 minute head start before he hunts her. Yes, a man chose hunting over sex.

Finally, the purpose of sending Survivorwoman out in the woods is revealed. Instead of dialogue, we're now going to get a lot of running.


I'm assuming this flashback is within a couple of days from the flashback at the beginning, as shown by the blood on things like the lampshades in the dollhouse. I wonder why, with all the money they're making, they don't just buy new lampshades?

I'm also a little surprised because Adelle is explaining Boyd's job to him and I would never have guessed, from the first episode, that Boyd had only joined in the nefarious deeds at the dollhouse just slightly under three months ago. In fact, his hiring was due to the composite event, so that he could protect Echo, one of the most requested actives. She needed a new handler because the puddle of blood on the floor is one of the largest pieces left of him.

Hey, it's Dr. Fred! I cannot believe I was completely wrong about not learning how she got all cut up before the show gets canceled, but o yay for Joss Whedon speeding up his story telling to accommodate Fox's axe of death.

Looking at the body of Echo's former handler, we learn that Alpha wasn't just trying to kill him. Alpha was trying to inflict the maximum amount of pain and injury. Not that I needed Boyd to tell me this. As little as I can see of the former handler's body, it reminds me of what happens when an aerator hits a lawn. What's really shocking is that Alpha was able to do this in about 8 seconds.

A few questions still remain. The first is why did no one other than me paid attention to the clean slate comment last week, since they're all so shocked that the imprints came back to haunt Alpha? The second is why didn't Alpha kill Echo?

Engagement the Third: Survivorwoman, Episode 3

More running!
More hunting! More dramatic music and scenery! It's all you could ever want from a Survivorwoman episode that didn't involve eating insects for protein! She winds up at the same rock face she scaled earlier. All that stands between her and death is a sheer rock face. She really is between a rock and a hard place in this one.


Ballard calls Lubov while he's in a car traveling on the safest road possible - the one that keeps moving while the car stays still. You all know that road. It was frequently used in old movies so that people could hold important conversations while not once really looking at the street in front of them. It's much easier when the road travels around on a loop and the car doesn't have to go anywhere.

While Lobov is in the middle of trying to get his love-off, Ballard ruins the mood by calling to demand more info on the dollhouse, which Lubov doesn't have. Honestly, I'm not too sure about the purpose for this phone call, other than to remind us Lubov is supposed to be Ballard's snitch.

We could've cut out the phone call entirely and just had the discovery of the envelope containing Caroline's picture in Paul Ballard's in-tray - the same picture we saw at the end of the pilot - and this scene would've been just as effective.

Engagement the Third: Survivorwoman, Episode 4

More climbing! More running! More hunting! More dramatic music and scenery! More evidence Survivorwoman has the survival skills of a dead roadkill squirrel! It never once occurs to her that it's a bad idea to be on lower ground when her hunter is on higher ground, thus giving him a bird's eye view of where she's running. Luckily, Connell doesn't follow his own advice and takes a shot without being sure it'll take her down, so it just grazes her in the leg.

He takes another shot, still not following his own advice, as she runs into the forest.


The satellite is finally coming back online, just as Red spots a park ranger pulling up. The story they tell doesn't come across as awkward or rehearsed, as Boyd and Red are professionals. The ranger buys the story but was concerned about the unsavory elements that will often find themselves in the woods. To prove his point, he shoots Red, justifying Red's name.


Boyd and Topher meet, and Topher introduces himself as "The man behind the gray matter curtain." I have to be honest here and say I watched The Village the day after this episode aired don't judge me on my film tastes and cannot stop thinking of Topher being the guy who couldn't stand wrinkled shirts.

The relationship is instantly established as Boyd being the alpha dog (pun intended) because he immediately points out that Alpha was Topher's creation. Boyd may not be winning friends and influencing people but he's certainly reminding Topher who is the bitch in this pair.

One of the major flaws with the dollhouse is the Quaker state. When they are left with the ability to defend themselves, people got hurt, but when they can't defend themselves, people still get hurt. It's also interesting how Boyd felt absolutely nothing for Echo at the start, describing her as a hat waiting for Topher to stick a rabbit in it. That sentence isn't half as dirty as it sounds.

Engagement the Third: Survivorwoman, Episode 5

More climbing! More running! More hunting! More dramatic music and scenery! Look! It's the expected trip and fall. I have to say, my BFF was totally predicting Echo to fall and hit her head, causing her to remember something she shouldn't and I thought my BFF had a brilliant theory. Unfortunately, we were both wrong.


The satellite finally sends the signal that Echo's in trouble but since Boyd has a gun to his head, there's very little he can do about it.

Okay, I take that back. Boyd has some serious nerves of steel because not only does he manage to take a guy pointing a gun at his head, but also kicks the shit out of said guy for good measure, finishing the baddie with a choke hold. Well, I certainly know who I'm calling if I'm in danger. Although, if I could get a hold of Boyd, I'd probably be unable to remember why I needed to call him.

Back at Adelle's office, the chief of security, Dominic, has found another threat, Agent Paul Ballard. There is way too much sexual tension in the air, as Adelle insists they don't need to kill the agent because this is way too early for Joss Whedon to be killing a major character.

Okay, so perhaps that isn't Adelle's reasoning as she justifies that all "appropriate measures have been taken."

Before Dominic can argue, Topher interrupts with something far more important: the whole gun to Boyd's head thing.

Engagement the Third: Survivorwoman, Episode 6

More climbing! More running! More hunting! More dramatic music and scenery! This time, she finds the raft she'd used earlier with Connell, only to find one big honking hole in it.

Eventually, she comes across a house which looks far too civilized for a nature area. As I was on the phone with my BFF at the time this scene aired, I believe the discussion turned to the story of Bluebeard about now.

The first thing our heroine does is drink out of a canteen that is hanging in plain site. Somehow, I'd rather risk whatever would come out of the taps or drinking straight out of the river earlier as this is just too staged.

The sound of a radio brings Survivorwoman to the closet where she finds, instead of a bunch of dead wives, the dead park ranger. Calling out for help, all she gets in return is some taunting from Connell about whether or not she deserves to live. Usually, I'd be all excited because a scene like this should be really tight dialogue. Instead, it isn't and the only genuinely interesting turn of phrase is "prove to me you're not an echo." Now, as cool as that line is, why doesn't it cause a flashback? Weren't we warned about not referencing her life in the dollhouse last week?

Just as Survivorwoman is trying to turn the tables, going from the hunted to the hunter, the drugs Connell put in the canteen start to work.


Boyd is feeling a bit strange going through the handler/ active imprinting process with Echo. Since he's already indicated Echo will only be just a job to him, he doesn't want to go through something that seems really intimate. I'm not too sure where this might be going, symbolically, but there's a lot to be said about forcing some woman to trust a man she's never met with her life. Hell, there's even a script to go with it.

Boyd: Everything's going to be all right.
Echo: Now that you're here.
Boyd: Do you trust me?
Echo: With my life.

As Boyd is forced to recite the script and hold Echo's hand I wonder who is really bonding to who here. While Echo's being imprinted to trust Boyd, Boyd is clearly feeling like he's violating that trust. He wouldn't feel that way if this were just a job.

Also, this scene disproves what Adelle has been preaching. These dolls aren't clean slates. Even in their Quaker state, with the brain power and personality of oatmeal, they trust their handlers. It's not a clean slate as a faint image of what is put there remains, even after everything else has been erased.

Engagement the Third: Survivorwoman, Episode 7

Connell finds the cabin empty but he's still confident in finding our heroine, since her head is spinning due to the drugs from the canteen. Well, my BFF may have been wrong about how the flashbacks occur, but she was right that they would happen. While lost in the woods, Survivorwoman sees versions of herself: the first being Caroline, the shock of which causes the non-hallucination of herself to fall into the river.


Boyd's trying to get all the equipment up and running, because while Red may be dead, his job is to make sure Echo doesn't wind up the same way. Apparently, a part of his job includes shooting the faux-ranger in the legs to make sure a) he can't follow Boyd and b) he's telling the truth about why he's there. Faux-ranger was supposed to make the handler stall the response team. He didn't know why he was hired or who hired him, since all this was a business transaction over the phone.

Since none of this is supposed to be taken personally, I hope the faux-ranger doesn't take the bullet wounds or the head injury personally either. Besides, I'm willing to bet once Dominic gets a hold of him, he won't have to worry about either.

Engagement the Third: Survivorwoman, Episode 8

The drugs cause Echo to briefly take over Survivorwoman's brain, as she remembers the shower massacre from three months earlier. She turns around only to see Alpha in the shadows, telling her to wake up.

This is weird because we're supposed to be afraid of Alpha, yet I'm not. For some reason, even the shadowed-memory of him is trying to protect Echo. She has to wake up before she's found by Connell.

The river is clearly a TV river, since, instead of drowning our heroine, it spits her up onto a bank where she can drape herself artistically. The voice telling her to wake up this time, is Connell's, because, somehow, the radio not only kept working after being immersed in water but also stayed with her for the entire trip down the rapids. For some reason, Connell's giving her more time to run, instead of just shooting her in the chest with an arrow. I guess he's one of those guys who is just more interested in the chase.

Ballard's Apartment

I'm glad they aren't pretending that just because Agent Paul Ballard is working on a fringe (not Fringe) case, he still isn't freaking hot. This is proven by his neighbour, Mellie, who is baking him lasagna, and no, that isn't a euphemism.

Immediately, I like Mellie. She's isn't the traditional stick-thin TV woman (see Echo) yet she's still gorgeous. Plus, she's doing exactly what I would do in that situation, that is, if I could cook.

Engagement the Third: Survivorwoman, Episode 9

More running! More hunting! More dramatic music and scenery! More me wishing we were beyond this as it's getting a little old! Although, I am relieved Survivorwoman finally ditches her too-white shirt. It doesn't make for effective camouflage.

While the trick of editing leads us to believe Connell is right behind her, Survivorwoman hides behind a tree, following that old adage about walking softly and carrying a big stick. Who she tries swinging it at isn't Connell after all, but Boyd. He repeats the assigned script and the moment Survivorwoman and Echo intertwine is visible. Her shoulders relax, and the terror dissipates as she replies, "Now that you're here."

Unfortunately, the script does not call for an arrow through Boyd's flank.


Boyd is bringing another imprinted Echo back from another engagement, listening to her go on about how she's fallen for someone who is not traditionally good looking (a phrase which here means, heavy). She scoffs at the bombardment of images of people with perfect teeth and hair and abs. She's impressed with meeting a guy who is real. Both Boyd and I are thinking the same thing.

It's even sadder as she tells him that she'll be right back, and he's uncomfortable knowing she won't be. Even though she isn't affected by constantly finding the right guy, because she's imprinted to, Boyd clearly is.

Engagement the Third: Survivorwoman, Episode 9

Instead of Boyd helping Echo, it's the other way around. Because she trusts him implicitly, she will not leave him behind to become a target for Connell. She's also able to confess what she's been seeing during her hallucinations and Boyd knows they are actual memories; because he knows what's been on the slate before, he can read the smudge marks.

The hallucinations have so disturbed her, that she asks Boyd if even he is real. "Yeah, this is real," he replies. Wow, I think that's the most loaded 4 words yet on this show. Unfortunately, Survivorwoman is too concerned with not dying to notice. Trying to confort his charge, he repeats the script, only to be taken aback by Echo's improv.

"No it isn't." Maybe that imprint trust thing wasn't so absolute after all. Topher's really not impressing me thus far with his ability to do his job.
No matter what Boyd says, this imprint, whose name is Jenny (not that the name is of any importance), is convinced that the only way to survive is to kill Connell.

Since this is outside this imprint's abilities, Boyd protests, until she asks, "Do you trust me?"

"With my life," Boyd replies.

Well, she must have the right imprint after all, since none of those fictional brothers she mentioned earlier, are democrats. She definitely knows how to use a gun. Thus, Boyd gives her his bigger gun, keeping his smaller, back-up piece for himself. I'm going to assume that was not intentional symbolism in this situation.

The final
showdown demonstrates the shift in power between Surivorwoman and Connell. She uses his radio to taunt him, just as he thinks he's moving in for the kill. Instead of Connell watching our heroine, she is watching him. She's going to fulfill the promise she made earlier, to kill him.

With this, the character of Connell crumbles. All his brave talk about earning the right to live is bullshit, considering he looks like he's about to crap his pants. If he truly believed it, he would be pleased to be able to prove himself against a worthy adversary.

She gives him a chance not to die, by giving up his bow, but his bravado recovers, although, not before she grazes him with a bullet. It's an eye for an eye thing, but extremity wound for extremity wound doesn't sound as good.

More running! More hunting! More dramatic music and scenery! More radio taunting! Finally, the pair of them come to a clearing for the final standoff, or as Connell puts it, "the best date ever."

The one who stalls in the standoff isn't Survivorwoman, but Connell, proving what a coward he really is. I could do a detailed explanation of the back and forth between them, but really, all that anyone needs to understand is that he keeps trying to negotiate not being killed. Sure, it's pretty cool when they both fire at th same time, but the math between the amount of time the bullet and the arrow take to get to the other person seems to be off. You'd think Connell would already be dead on the ground well before the arrow nicks his prey.

One of the imprints Topher must've used was Faith, because she kicks Connell's ass seven ways from Sunday before he gets in one lucky punch. As he tries strangling her, she sees different versions of herself, watching, disgusted that she's giving up.

She reaches over, grabs a fallen arrow and stabs him in the neck. I hope, that since she's killed him, she doesn't have to eat him now. That would be a whole other imprint, I think.

As he dies, he tells her that she is special - just in case the audience hasn't already figured that out, and that she has to keep her shoulder to the wheel. The last thing he does is that creepy salute, where he slaps his shoulder, before expiring.

To the slow piano music of resolve, she makes her way back to Boyd, just moments before they are rescued by Dominic and the dollhouse security team.


We get the imprint removal special effect, reliving the entire engagement, backwards. This time, Boyd is with her, and showing the attachment between them, he willingly takes her injured hand, to comfort her.

Even though the engagement is over for Echo, it isn't for Adelle and Dominic. The background check that Connell so obviously was worried about earlier came back as fake. Everything in it was fake, including the reference. Unlike the wiping problems and Topher, I don't think this is an indication that Dominic is bad at his job. Instead, it shows that someone knows how to circumvent all of the dollhouse's security measures. It's probably the same person who killed the faux-ranger in the woods.

From the wounds on the faux-ranger's body, as we see when Dr. Fred shows Boyd the corpse, there is only one person it could've been.

No one, except for Dr, Fred (who is just desperately clinging to the idea) thinks that security team killed the rampaging active and Boyd thinks this all leads directly back to Echo.

Boyd's not the only one that's come to that conclusion - so has Dominic. He confronts, as much as one can confront a doll in their Quaker state, Echo about how so many people wind up dead around her. He even taunts her about how she can't feel unless she's told, and that there's no one inside her, but I'm not entirely sure he believes what he's saying. He wants her put in the attic, or the ground, he really doesn't care which direction as long as it's far away from him.

As Dominic walks away, and I want to know what the heck the attic is, Echo proves that his suspicions are correct.