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With everything coming to a head this week, this should have been a mind-blowing episode. Ballard finally gets inside the Dollhouse and throws down with Langton and we finally find out who Alpha is. But I saw the Alpha reveal coming a mile away, which may have been the main reason that this episode... really did nothing for me.
To maintain the semblance of suspense that Mutant Enemy tried to create, I won't reveal Alpha's identity until the point that it was revealed in the show.
The episode opens with Echo reading the story of Briar Rose (aka Sleeping Beauty) to a group of children in an orphanage until one has a meltdown about Briar Rose being a victim and waiting for someone to save her. Through some Topher exposition back at the Dollhouse, we find out that the meltdown girl's mother died of an OD when she was very young and the mother's drug dealer/pimp boyfriend decided to turn her out for tricks. Echo has been imprinted with the girl's background and personality as if she had worked things out, in the hopes of helping the girl work out her issues. All of this really serves no purpose to this week's story, other than the girl rereading the story on Echo's suggestion serving as a backdrop for Ballard sneaking into the Castle/Dollhouse to rescue/awaken Briar Rose/Sleeping Beauty/Caroline/Echo.
Speaking of Ballard, we find him packing up his apartment while Mellie begs him not to go. Apparently, this is a last minute decision that Mellie only found about it when she came by for a booty call/reconnaissance mission. Ballard is unmoved by Mellie's sobbing and pleading, and his last words to her are "You'll get over it".
Mellie wanders onto a random overpass, still sobbing, and is met by her handler, who loads her into the van and takes her back to the Dollhouse. As the van pulls into the parking garage, Ballard pulls up across the street. The man is getting smarter about things.
Ballard next sneaks into his old FBI office to borrow his friend's computer and run some background on the building. The exposition fairy takes over and explains that he searched the whole building and found no evidence of The Dollhouse, but he's still maintaining his theory that The Dollhouse is really underground. When he pulls up the records of the building's construction, he finds that a specialist in self-sustaining systems that can run off the grid was hired. Ballard figures this is the key.
In a random alley, a man digs through a dumpster and finds a man's arm sticking out. As he stares, shocked, the arm shoots up and chokes him.
A flash drive arrives via courier for Dominic. Unable to crack the encryption and figuring the drive came from the NSA, Adelle and Boyd imprint Dominic into Victor's body. When Dominic realizes that he's in Victor's body and what that means, he freaks out and is uncooperative, to say the least. After being drugged, though, Dominic is cooperative and hypothesizes that the drive wasn't sent by the NSA, but more likely Alpha. This seems to imply that Dominic and Alpha had been in touch before, but nobody else seems to pick up on that idea. As for the password, Dominic remembers that Alpha used to sign his artwork with the greek letter for Alpha and suggests that would be the password. His guess proves to be right and the drive reveals several files including a picture of Paul Bunyan that Adelle recognizes from seeing it outside the windows of "The Center" in Tucson. Topher picks up on her revealing the location of the headquarters for The Dollhouse's parent company, but that is also dropped for now. Of more interest to them is a report on a murder the previous day, which Boyd decides to imprint Sierra with an FBI pathologist to investigate.
Ballard, meanwhile, tracks the specialist down to his apartment and forces his way into the eccentric man's (played by Alan Tudyk) apartment to find a hydroponic marijuana farm. Ballard repeatedly tells the guy he's not in trouble and just needs some information, but the man gets even more nervous when he realizes that Ballard is trying to find out about the Dollhouse. He tries to pretend that he knows nothing, but keeps letting tidbits of information slip out until Ballard decides to take the man with him to help him break into the Dollhouse.
Here I find one of the episode's biggest plotholes. Ballard is primarily bringing the specialist along to disable the alarms and such in the Dollhouse, but to get to that point, they are somehow able to sneak past all of its defenses, taser Topher, and get into Dr. Fred's office in order to use her computer to shut down the system. Just doesn't seem terribly plausible to me.
Nonetheless, the guy starts by unlocking the dolls' pods so Ballard can look for Echo/Caroline. Ballard actually finds November/Mellie first, but decides that Adelle's ability to trigger Mellie into a killer is too much of a risk and closes her pod back up. He next finds Echo's pod and wakes her up, but Langton has been watching and is now standing just behind Ballard. While the two men fight eachother and alternate between calling Echo Caroline or Echo, the specialist shuts more systems down and gradually seems to become more confident.
Ballard starts to get the upper hand and tries to drag Echo out of The Dollhouse, but she begins flashing back to her fight with Ballard in the chinese restaurant and the times that Langton has saved her butt and thus starts to fight on Langton's side.
Langton finally beats Ballard down, handcuffs him, and takes him to Adelle's office, where everyone engages in the typical posturing and bullshitting until Sierra calls in with the results of her examination of the dead body. First of all, the man wasn't killed in Tucson, but in Los Angeles. Second, he's been identified as the specialist who designed the Dollhouse's self-sustaining system. Which means that the dude who came in with Ballard is, of course, Alpha.
At some point during the fight, Langton fell through Victor's pod and Victor was cut. Dr. Fred finds him and takes him to her office to patch him up. This moment actually happened before Sierra's phone call, so we find out that Alan Tudyk is Alpha when he meets them at the door and slashes an "Alpha" - the Greek letter - into Victor's face. I didn't realize until now that this is what he carved into Dr. Fred's face, too.
After taunting Dr. Fred for a bit, he makes her call Echo into her office. When Echo arrives, she recognizes Alpha, but doesn't know why. He takes her to the imprint room and imprints her with an identity that definitely recognizes him. They begin talking like Mickey and Mallorie from Natural Born Killers and making out and... that's the end of the episode.
Next week, I guess we find out what Alpha's after, eh?
I just realized something... the picture of the systems specialist in the FBI computer was of Alan Tudyk, so I guess Alpha has some serious reach...interesting.
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