This week's episode uses misdirection and non-linear storytelling to keep us guessing on several plot points, including the identity of the promised spy within the Dollhouse. All two of us that were wondering what the deal was with Victor's "Lonely Hearts" engagements finally get some answers, as well.
The very first thing we see this week is Echo and Sierra gazing up at Topher's workroom, where we see glimpses of a large group of people struggling with another person. The two Actives' dialogue consists of something like:
"She made a mistake."
We then hear a gunshot and blood spatters the smoked glass window that the two Dolls are looking up to.
This, of course, leads you to believe that the traitor is a woman and my short list of suspects gets even shorter. Honestly, who else could be my prime suspect but Ivy, Topher's assistant/gopher? Newer staff, mildly disgruntled with Topher, we know little enough about her that she could have any kind of backstory and it would be plausible.
Or is that exactly what Whedon and Mutant Enemy want us to think? The game, as they say, is afoot!
Next, we go back to earlier in the day. Echo is returning from an engagement as a dominatrix and crosses paths with Victor on his way to one of his "Lonely Hearts" engagements. There's a bit of banter about the Lonely Hearts lady being a lecherous old lady that can't get enough and yadda yadda yadda. This appears to be a throwaway scene thrown in for humor, but my intimation that we'll be finding out more about Ms Lonely Hearts and Victor's knowing smile as they talk about "Catherine" should tell you otherwise.
Within the Dollhouse, Adelle Dewitt has been summoned by the big bosses and will be gone for two days - Dominic is in charge. Thus, things are a bit tense around the house under Dominic's brusqueness. Topher uses his harshness when he ushers November (Mellie) away from her treatment and off to an engagement as an example to Ivy of how not to deal with the Actives.
Echo, who apparently didn't take to the after-effects of last week's wish-fulfillment engagement as well as the others, noticeably picks up on everyone's tensions and we see snippets of everyone else's storylines through her eyes, making some things initially appear to be other than what they are. She waves to November, who is on her way to her engagement but does not recognize her.
Topher approaches Langton about a microchip that he found in the programming chair that apparently enables someone to add additional parameters to any imprint without Topher knowing. Topher has traced it as NSA technology and his initial suspect is Boyd. For some reason, he's giving Langton a chance to run before he calls Adelle, but Langton isn't the spy and suggests that Topher call Dewitt immediately and forget that he offered Langton a chance to run.
Echo sees this and - from afar - two arguments between Topher and Dominic, Dominic snatching up Sierra for an engagement, and a snippet of Sierra's post-imprint conversation with Dominic consisting only of "Kill him".
None of which, I suppose, so much seem to be something they're not, but more make you wonder what the hell is going on. Now it's time for some details.
Victor's handler drops him off at a nondescript suburban home and tells him to have a nice weekend. A woman who appears to be in her seventies opens the door and accepts roses from Victor, who kisses her on the cheek and promptly makes his way through the house and out the back door to a Porsche boxter. He drives through the hills to a mansion, which he enters and calls for "Catherine", who turns out to be... Adelle Dewitt! As they're greeting each-other, Adelle's phone rings. Victor reads the caller I.D. - Topher - and threatens to throw the phone off the side of the mountain so that he can have all of her attention. When Adelle doesn't really put up any protest, he shrugs and tosses the phone, so Adelle apparently doesn't know about the leak back home. Through banter and post-coital conversation, we find out that Victor - as Robert - knows all about Adelle's job and the workings of the Dollhouse, just not Adelle's real name. Or maybe he does, and Adelle is actually the fake name. It's never very clear to me whether "Robert" knows that he's an imprint, but that's kind of irrelevant.
Victor's comment that, if he could make his perfect woman, he would make Adelle freezes her for a moment. The writers resolve it as a catalyst to make Adelle stop doing the Lonely Hearts engagements, but here's a different idea - what if Adelle is beginning to wonder if SHE is an imprint? What if she IS an imprint? Just a thought that I'm sure they'll never explore since Fox cancels good series well before their time, especially when they're written and produced by Joss Whedon.
November's current engagement is being Mellie again, and we see her perspective on the Echo waving thing as well as a far-away view of Langton and Topher's conversation. When she shows up back home, Ballard pulls her into his apartment, tells her about the bugs in his apartment, and tells her that he hasn't checked hers. She decides to just stay with him, but he realizes that he's totally obsessed with the Dollhouse and she'd be safer and better off "back at her mothers". She gives him a perfectly reasonable explanation about not running from her life anymore and being there to ground Ballard and wanting to be with him, but then freezes up and reveals that she's been imprinted in a mission from the spy in the Dollhouse. She tells Ballard that she's an active that's been sent to spy on him and that he needs to not reveal anything more to her, but to also not reveal that he knows that she's an Active, lest the Dollhouse use her to kill him. In short, he has to keep playing along. He's repulsed that he's essentially taken advantage of Mellie's body by sleeping with her and wants more answers, but the Mellie personality comes back and kisses him. He holds her, but has a tortured look on his face.
Sierra's been imprinted as a former CIA or NSA spy that now works freelance. As far as she knows, Dominic has hired her. Directly after her imprint, she observes one of Dominic's arguments with Topher which, of course, was over who was to blame for the leak. The snippet of conversation that Echo overheard was Sierra saying that, back in her days with the Agency, if Topher had been responsible for the leak, she would torture and kill him.
Sierra's mission is to break into NSA headquarters, retrieve a file that Topher has somehow traced back to them and contains the identity of their spy, and sneak it and herself out of headquarters and back to the Dollhouse. Plenty of superspy hijinks ensue, including disguises, ninja skills, and subterfuge, but Sierra gets the file and the last we see of her for a bit is her trying to get to the roof for an extraction.
Echo, seeing all of the craziness and taking some initiative, comes to Topher and tells him to imprint her with something that can help. Seeing no harm there, he imprints her as an interrogation and body language specialist. She demands to interview every employee on a list she's made and wants to start with Topher then go through everyone we've seen, including Ivy and Boyd. Just as she's finishing with Langton, Dominic gets a call that Sierra made it out with the file.
When he checks the file, it implicates Ivy as the spy. She is hauled into the office and threatened with torture and the attic, but Echo then reveals that she isn't the spy. When Dominic announced that Sierra got the file, everyone in the room got more tense wondering who the spy was, except Dominic, who relaxed. Echo also found a log of a call going out from the office to the NSA very shortly before Sierra entered the NSA headquarters. Echo's theory is that Dominic called the NSA to warn them that Sierra was coming so they could plant the file. He relaxed when she called because his plan had worked. The final thing that convinced her, though, is that Dominic unsnapped his holster as soon as she started laying out her evidence.
Dominic attacks and it looks like he'll be able to overpower her, kill everyone, and convince Dewitt that it was necessary, but Echo finally kicks his butt and subdues him.
When Adelle finally gets back, she predictably orders Echo (still in her interrogation imprint) to get what she can about the NSA from him by any means necessary and then send him to the attic. Alone, Dominic won't stop smiling at Echo. He explains that he wasn't sent to take down the Dollhouse, but to rather make sure it kept going until the NSA could get the technology. This makes it seem like he's not the same spy that put the messages into Echo and November's imprints, but then he says something else that makes me wonder. When Echo says something about being able to take care of herself, he says that's why he's smiling - she'll end up taking the whole operation down and they'll never even see it coming.
Anyway, we come full circle when Dominic is dragged into Topher's lab to be mindwiped for the attic. In the struggle, he pulls someone's gun and shoots Adelle in the side, which is where the blood spatter from the beginning of the episode comes from. Finally, Dominic is strapped down and wiped as Adelle and Langton look on.
Afterwards, Topher tells Adelle that Echo volunteered to help and shows an understanding of what's going on. He asks if Adelle wants him to wipe her again, but Adelle says to keep an eye on her, Echo may just save them all.
Langton is promoted to head of security and Echo gets a new handler - some Asian dude that looks familiar but I can't place at the moment. During the bonding call and response, Echo looks away from her new handler and stares at Boyd (who's standing just outside the room watching) when she responds "With my life." To the handler's "Do you trust me?"